2020 BH Iron Riding Edition

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riding season



Sturgis counts down to decision on hosting Rally

By Deb Holland Black Hills Iron


STURGIS — Sturgis city officials have set June 15 as they day they will officially decide if the 80th Sturgis Motorcycle Rally is a “go” or “no go.” Sturgis City Manager Daniel Ainslie said the city has reviewed and has prepared a matrix for making a decision on the Rally. A top priority, Ainslie said, is that hosting the Rally would not levy an undue burden on the health of the town’s residents or local health care services. City officials have said they will take into account the spread of the coronavirus in South Dakota as well as the states that normally have the highest number of rally attendees versus the number of ICU beds and ventilators available. According to the city, the primary markets of Sturgis Motorcycle Rally attendees are Minnesota, Colorado, Nebraska, California, Wisconsin, Wyoming, Washington, Iowa, Kansas and Arizona. They represent 50.6% of all attendees at the Rally. But the city has also told its residents that if the city does not host the Rally, the city could be facing a $1.7 million shortfall that would be made up with property tax increases. The city has outlined the scenario in recent weeks on social media saying they would need to make up the shortfall with a 5.3% property tax increase as well as a 7% increase in sanitation fees. The proposal also calls for reduced city services. City officials say that if the Rally is cancelled, more than half of the money the city will lose includes funds that have already been secured with contracts for temporary vendor space, city property leases, sponsorships, advertising revenue, and miscellaneous

fees, Ainslie said. Other variable revenue for the city includes sales tax and vendor fees. Ainslie added that the council would make its official decision about cancelling the Rally on June 15, after it has consulted with interested parties including local businesses, Monument Health, the Department of Health, vendors and others. Longtime vendor Virginia Rhodes, the T-shirt lady who sets up shop on the corner of Junction and Lazelle, said she worries that if Sturgis waits until June 15 to make the decision they will lose lots of vendors who usually come to the Rally. “It’s just not enough time. It takes me about three months to get ready for the Rally. Everything takes time,” she said. If the city determines the 80th Rally will go on as planned, Rhodes said she will try to make it. “Right now I don’t have one T-shirt printed,” she said. “It will be a hard push.” She said other vendors are in the same boat and if the city waits until June 15 to make a decision she believes nearly two-thirds of vendors will choose not to attend. “That’s a lot of tax money as well as rent and income for locals too,” she said. Sturgis Mayor Mark Carstensen said that no matter what the decision on June 15, he believes people will still come for the Rally, scheduled Aug. 7-16. “If the city doesn’t host the Rally, we are still going to have a large influx of tourists coming. Most of them are going to be motorcyclists because during that time of year, that’s what happens,” he said. Carstensen said it is a difficult situation and the council is doing its best to make an informed decision.


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City of Sturgis officials said they would make a decision by June 15 on hosting this year’s Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. Pioneer file photo

riding season




Courtesy photo

Painting better than a photograph Scott Jacobs captures Harley lovers’ hearts with photorealistic paintings By Wendy Pitlick Black Hills Iron

DEADWOOD — Sometimes a little rebelliousness goes a long way, and it has certainly taken Scott Jacobs on a wild ride with Harley Davidson. Jacobs, who is the original licensed Harley Davidson artist, is known worldwide for his photorealistic paintings. His paintings have sold for upwards of $250,000 and he travels the world year-round, making appearances at high-end art auctions. He has built a name for himself as one of the greatest photorealistic artists of his time. But getting that title didn’t come without hard work and even breaking the rules. In 1993, license enforcement agents from Harley Davidson first met Jacobs at the Art Expo in New York City, when he was displaying Harley Davidson paintings in his booth without a license. “They have the power to confiscate or to stop somebody from doing copyright infringement. Technically, because I was doing these paintings of Harleys, I needed their permission. So they told me I couldn’t do it,” he said. Jacobs persisted and found himself in front of the same agents four months later at a different show in California. This time, they had Jeff Bluestein, the president of Harley Davidson with them. Fortunately for Jacobs, Bluestein loved the paintings and offered Jacobs the first Harley Davidson license for fine art. “I got their attention by doing something that they said I shouldn’t have been doing,” he said. Being a lifelong biker, Jacobs draws much of his inspira-

While the bulk of his paintings reflect motorcycles and tion from his own experiences from the road, as well as from biker culture, Jacobs also holds licenses from Chevrolet Harley Davidson archived photographs and pictures that his collectors send in. His preferred media is acrylic and oil on Motor Company, Mattel Toys, the Elvis Presley and Marilyn Belgian linen, but occasionally he breaks out the watercolors Monroe Estates. just to keep his craft interesting. He is well known for his In addition to selling his paintings to Harley Davidson and reflective chrome likenesses, and his knack for making his to collectors, Jacobs also enjoys sharing his talent, and using paintings look even more realistic and better than a photohis following to benefit charity. Every Thursday night, he graph. hosts a virtual sip and paint class called Paint “Normally, the paintings can look better to Donate that is live streamed on Facebook, than a photograph because all of the things where hundreds of people from around the that are undesirable, whether they are reflecworld join him to spend a few hours painting. tions or light that doesn’t work, you can clean During the class, Jacobs said he also auctions that all up in a painting,” he said. “As a photooff the painting he did from the week prior realist, you really study what you’re painting and that money goes to charity. In the first from, whether it is real life or a photograph, four weeks of hosting the Facebook Live and you dissect that and treat it like a puzzle, event, Jacobs said he raised close to $20,000 so you’re just working on one little area at for four small charities. a time. Then you put it together and it is the “We had people last night from South illusion of a photograph.” Africa and Israel. In South Africa it was 2:45 One of Jacobs’ most noteworthy pieces, a.m., and in Israel it was 3:45 a.m. People “100 Great Years”, was commissioned by were waking up to paint with us in the middle Harley Davidson to commemorate the motor of the night, live on Facebook,” Jacobs said. — Scott Jacobs company’s 100th anniversary. The paintThough he is from New Jersey and he ing features a lineup of seven motorcycles; has traveled the world with his artwork, each from an iconic part of Harley’s history. Jacobs said he Jacobs now makes his home on a 70-acre horse ranch near worked on that painting for 10 hours a day, every day, for Spearfish, and he maintains a gallery in Deadwood. The best three months. part about the Hills, he said, is the riding. The Iron Mountain “That’s one of my most detailed paintings I’ve ever done Road, with its hairpin turns, pigtail bridges, and rock tunnels in my career,” he said. “I would put that painting up against is definitely one of his favorite rides. any photorealist in the world that has lived or is currently Jacobs Pg 4 painting. It’s crazy. It’s just over the top, that piece.”

“Just keep putting it out in front of people and if this is truly your dream, I really believe it will happen.”


riding season


Jacobs from Pg 3 When it comes to riding, Jacobs said his favorite ride is the Motorcycle Cannonball Endurance Run, which has antique motorcycle owners gathering to race their vintage motorcycles across the country. Jacobs, who owns 11 bikes, including two 1915s, a 1926, two 1936s, a 1948 and several newer bikes, and he has participated in the Cannonball event three times. On Sept. 11, 2016, the second day of his third Cannonball, Scott had a bad accident on his 1915 Harley F Head, which left him with a shattered right shoulder, torn rotator cuff and bicep. There was a great deal of uncertainty about his future as an artist as he was being driven in an ambulance to the emergency room. “The surgeon and everybody, including myself, didn’t think I’d ever paint again,” Jacobs said. “I have a metal rod above my elbow and a big metal ball in my shoulder. It took me almost a year to get back to the point where I could, without shaking, hold a brush steadily and try to paint again. I actually started painting lefty shortly after the accident because I was so bored, and I didn’t know what I would do with my life because this is all I’d ever done.” With the same grit and determination and just a little rebelliousness, Jacobs was able to push through that experience and continue his art career. While Jacobs is still producing artwork, he is

www.bhpioneer.com also currently involved in a completely different venture — renovating one of Deadwood’s historic buildings to house a high-end brewhouse, restaurant, bakery and gourmet grocery store. Jacobs Brewhouse & Grocer is slated to be open this year. Built in 1895, Jacobs said the 7,000 square foot building is one of the most beautiful in the old west gaming town. “I think it’s going to be one of the featured buildings in downtown Deadwood,” he said. “It’s that beautiful. Just the front of it and the way it has been restored.” Overall, Jacobs said the secret to success is that persistent drive, listening to other artists and incorporating constructive criticism. “You gotta keep at it,” he said. “It’s all about getting the right people to see your work and not being afraid to ask other artists that are more successful than you ‘how did you do it.’ Just be a sponge and listen to everybody, whether you agree with their opinions or not. You really just have to keep doing it. Say you have a show at the park and you sell one piece. You don’t make any money and you think it was a waste of your time. Think of how many eyes saw your work. They say now it’s 16 times you have to see an ad or TV commercial before it really clicks with you. It’s the same with art or an artist, your brand and your name. You gotta get it out there all the time. Just keep putting it out in front of people and if this is truly your dream, I really believe it will happen.”

Courtesy photos


is produced by the Black Hills Pioneer, 315 Seaton Circle, Spearfish, SD, 57783, (800) 676-2761 www.bhpioneer.com • bhiron@bhpioneer.com Letitia Lister, publisher Mark Watson, managing editor Sona O’Connell, advertising manager Melissa Barnett, layout

Cover photo courtesy Motorcycle Cannonball. The publisher will not be responsible or liable for misprints, misinformation or typographic errors herein contained. Publisher also reserves the right to refuse any advertising deemed not to be in the best interest of the publication. © 2020 BLACK HILLS IRON, all rights reserved.



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riding season


Motorcycle Cannonball



a true test of endurance, skill

By Wendy Pitlick Black Hills Iron

A tribute to biker Americana and old-fashioned appreciation for antique motorcycles on two-way highways, the Motorcycle Cannonball Endurance Run has become known for its life-changing experiences and endurance demands as motorcyclists embark on a cross-country ride on some of the oldest bikes around. Originally organized by antique motorcycle enthusiast Lonnie Isam Jr., the first cannonball in 2010 featured 45 motorcyclists traversing the country. The event that is held every two years grew quickly in participation and notoriety, and now the Motorcycle Cannonball is capped at about 100 riders. Though the traditional route has taken bikers from the east coast to the west coast, this year organizer and promoter Jason Sims said he has changed things up a bit, and has drawn a route that goes from north to south. This year, the run will begin on Sept. 10 and finish on Sept. 27. Bikers who participate in the 2020 Motorcycle Cannonball will be riding pre-1929 bikes from Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. down to Myrtle Beach, S.C.,

and over to South Padre Island, Texas. It’s a 4,235 run that tests the bikers’ resolve as they have to figure out how to fix problems on the road, navigate their way without street signs or maps for direction, and appreciate the ride at a slow and steady pace. “Riders don’t know what the route is,” Sims said. “We give them step-by-step instructions, so you have to have an odometer and a speedometer. We don’t give them street signs. It’s 1.1 miles and then take a right, and proceed another 2.5 miles. It’s a challenge of navigation, and they have no clue where they’re going during the day. The only thing the rider knows is ‘I know I’m going to be in Dayton, Ohio tonight. Other than that, they are completely in the dark.” Sims said bikers who participate in the cannonball run can spend up to two years getting their bikes ready for the long cross-country trek. Sometimes that means special ordering special parts, or building parts that are not made anymore. It always means learning how to wrench on the bikes out on the road, to keep the ride going. Participants earn points for every mile that they complete without breaking down. At the end of the route, the biker with the

run. Starting with paper and a map, Sims most points earns a bronze trophy that is only meticulously plans each road that will be second in value to the bragging rights. included in the route. He then rides the entire “Really, it’s a true challenge of man versus machine,” Sims said. “Taking these 100-year- route at least three times to make sure it is free of disasters or road construction, before old motorcycles and putting 4,000 miles on he makes further plans such them, they weren’t intended as hotel reservations. Along to do that. They weren’t inthe way he said cities, dealertended to do highway speeds. ships, or motorcycle groups The parts and stuff are frail sponsor lunch or dinner stops, and fragile. That is the biggest where the public can meet the challenge. Can you keep this riders and the riders can enjoy machine running for a period some down time. The schedof 17 days, with an average uled stops are really the only of 250 to 300 miles per day, opportunity the public has to over the mountains and the interact with these antique heat and everything that the — Jason Sims motorcyclists, since Sims said country throws at you. It’s the route is never published unbelievable, really. There’s for the public. nothing like just you and your machine on “We don’t ever give the route out because some of the best two-lane roads that America we don’t want the traffic out there and we has. When I ride one, I always think back don’t want tag alongs,” he said. about what was the guy thinking back in Overall, Sims said once riders experience 1921, when he was riding on this road? What the cannonball it sticks with them for the rest was he seeing and what was the world going of their life. through? To me, it’s a history lesson. Because “It’s one of the most life-changing expewhen you’re going at those slower speeds riences they’ve ever had,” Sims said. “Once you can actually have time to look around you get in it, and you experience it you just and smell the coundon’t ever want to stop doing it. Everybody tryside, whether it be good or bad and take becomes family afterwards. We’re all the whole thing in.” friends, but then those friendships really Sims explained turn into family. The way everyone steps in that it takes about to help everyone. Really the camaraderie of two years to plan the event makes it priceless.” each cannonball

“It’s one of the most life-changing experiences they’ve ever had.”

Photos courtesy Motorcycle Cannonball


riding season




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riding season



Cramer known for getting bikers back into the wind

By Wendy Pitlick Black Hills Iron

SPEARFISH — Bikers meet him when they need their bikes serviced during the Rally, and then they never take their bikes anywhere else — no matter how far they have to travel. That’s because Randy Cramer, of Dakota V-Twin in Spearfish, has a long-standing reputation as one of the best and most reasonably priced motorcycle mechanics anywhere. No matter what kind of shape their bike is in when they find Cramer, bikers can always rely on him to get them back up on two wheels, confident that they will have a smooth ride home. When

they bring their bike in for custom work, customers rely on Cramer’s keen attention to detail and creativity to ensure the best results. Throughout the year his shop can be filled with bikes from all over the country, whose owners go to great lengths to make sure Cramer is the only mechanic who ever touches their bike. “I do very little advertising,” Cramer said of his shop that he opened in Spearfish in 2006. “Basically I rely on word of mouth. I do the job. I do it right, and I charge a fair price.” Cramer continued, gesturing to two bikes from Texas, one from Oregon and another from Colorado — all bikes that had been brought in for customization, “Most of them have been here when they were at the Rally, and they liked the service they got so they just keep coming back,” he said. “I think they are the best, most honest motorcycle repair place you’ll find,” said one customer on a review. “When my scooter broke down in Sturgis, the man who helped me said, ‘This is my 13th rally. Take it to Dakota V-Twin. They’ll fix it and they won’t cheat you.’ They did exactly that! They saved my Sturgis Rally experience.” Having grown up around motorcycles in the


little eastern South Dakota town of Volga, Cramer has been wrenching on Harleys since he was 13 years old. Then, in 1983 he moved to Spearfish to work at the Honda dealership, where he continued to learn. Today, there really isn’t anything he can’t do on a V-twin engine or Harley-Davidson, and for about five years he passed on the love of his craft to high school students in the Northern Black Hills, with the Buffalo Chip Challenge. The Challenge invited high school students to work with Cramer and Keith Terry of Terry Components, to build a custom motorcycle that would be displayed alongside some of the industry’s top custom creations at the Donnie Smith Bike Show in Minneapolis. “We were just trying to get kids involved,” Cramer said of the experience that billed him among the most knowledgeable and skilled builders to work with. “I know quite a few of them who were in our class that are still in the industry.” Of course, when Cramer is not working on bikes he is out riding them. In the Black Hills, he said, all of the rides are good. Every time he goes out he tries to take a different route on either his 2013 or 2019 Road Glide. “There really isn’t a bad ride,” he said. “You can go on several different roads and several different directions. I try to go in a different direction every time.”

Photo by Wendy Pitlick

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riding season



Pre-owned bike sales spike amidst economic downturn Harley unveils first electric bike By Wendy Pitlick Black Hills Iron

“As things start to open up we will get a clearer picture of when we can start renting,” he said. RAPID CITY — The market for used Even with so many plants shut down, Harleys has been great, as bikers are Rieman said Harley has rolled out its dusting off their rides and getting ready 2020 line, but there haven’t been a lot of to do the best kind of social distancing. changes to the bikes. The one exception That’s what Andrew Rieman, general is the Harley Davidson Live Wire — manager of Black Hills Harley Davidson Harley’s first fully electric motorcycle. said about how the new Harleys are “Performance wise, it outruns every moving this spring. Rieman explained combustion engine out there,” he said. that while Black Hills Harley Davidson “The acceleration is outstanding and it has some new bikes in stock, manufaccan be fully programmed for different turing shut-downs across the country riding styles. You can change regeneracoupled with a downturn in the economy tive braking and build a really customhave shifted customer dynamics. ized riding profile.” “With everything that’s According to specs for been going on we’ve been the LiveWire, the bike selling mainly used bikes,” boasts instant acceleration Rieman said. “We’ve been and a high voltage battery seeing a lot of people getthat runs for 146 miles in ting their bikes out of the city range, and 95 miles in garage that haven’t been combined highway and city used in years. I think a lot riding. The new bike offers of people are getting back seven programmed riding into the sport. This is a modes, including four great season for riding.” pre-programmed and three However, Rieman said customized modes. The this season is not a great — Andrew Rieman settings control power, reone for renting. Though generation, power response riders have always had the and traction control for a riding experioption to rent a motorcycle at various ence that suits bikers’ tastes and style. dealerships, Rieman said he does not Overall, Rieman said whether they’re know when rentals will open up again dusting off their old bikes, buying a preat Black Hills Harley. Eagle Rider, owned machine, or checking out the first the company that handles motorcycle electric Harleys, riding is among the best rentals for Harley Davidson, has not ways to social distance. been fully operating since the advent “Riding motorcycles has always been of COVID-19. Rieman said the Eagle a great social distancing release,” he Rider office in Rapid City is not open said. “It allows you to get out of the right now, and officials are awaiting house, experience the outdoors, and not word from the Eagle Rider main office really be around anybody else.” in California.

“Riding motorcycles has always been a great social distancing release”

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Students plan to complete bike build by Rally By Deb Holland and Mark Watson Black Hills Iron

STURGIS — Participants in the second annual Lonnie’s Heart Youth Motorcycle Build were only about a month into this year’s project when the COVID-19 pandemic halted their progress. But, beginning in early June, team members will pick up where they left off “By the time we parted, they had the bike stripped down and ready for reassembly. So, in the time that the museum was closed and they were out of school, we worked with vendors and got almost all the parts they need for the build,” said Emma Garvin, director of the Sturgis Motorcycle Museum. Six students, all from Sturgis Brown High School, are participating in this year’s build, which is conducted under the auspices of the Sturgis Motorcycle Museum. Students are Race Garvin, Dean Relfs, Wyatt Trohkimoinen, John Fischer, Ben Doten, and Tegun Thomson. They will take a 2015 Harley-Davidson Heritage Softtail, with an estimated retail price of about $10,000, and transform it into a custom bike with the hopes of matching the bike built by students in 2019, which just fetched $35,000 at auction. “This year, we’re going to turn it into a … cholo East LA hot rod style motorcycle,” said Keith Terry, owner of Terry Components and the mastermind behind the concept of the bike. “It’s going to be fun.” Patrick Garvin, content producer at J&P Cycles, will join Terry in leading the students through the bike build. J&P Cycles is this year’s Youth Build sponsor. One of the things organizers determined last year was that it was extremely difficult to do a ground-up build with the time they were allotted. “This year’s we’re starting with an existing bike. The students received a sponsor for 50% of the cost of the motorcycle. Having a donor was really huge and put them off to a great start,” Emma Garvin said. The program was open to all students in the Northern Hills high schools, but only Sturgis students applied again this year. The team will meet from 5-8 p.m. Wednesday evenings and hope to have the bike completed for the reveal at this year’s 80th Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in August. “This is a big deal, to help young guys, or girls, teach them a few skills, welding, or do some wiring,” Terry said. “Not that you are going to go out and open a motorcycle shop, that’s not the idea, but to teach some skills to go out and feed your family.” Terry reached out to friends in the mo-

torcycle industry for certain custom parts, and the donated parts will be ready when the students come together in June. “It takes a lot of effort,” Terry said. “It’s not just one or two people who get together and say, ‘I want to build a motorcycle.’” “We’re going to have an air suspension on the back, a large wheel on the front, it will sit real low. Low and slow,” Garvin said. Garvin said as the average age of motorcycle riders increases, programs like this one are instrumental into getting younger people involved in riding. He said in the 1990s the demographics of riders were split pretty evenly between age groups. “We had an overinflated economy for a while and the motorcycle industry really showed that,” Garvin said. “The crash in ‘08, that really hurt the motorcycle industry.” Prior to the Great Recession, he said it wasn’t unheard of to spend $100,000 on a custom motorcycle. Those days are gone, he said. “These aren’t necessities,” Garvin said. “The focus, quite frankly, has to be back onto riding motorcycles and having fun, and less about all the image. You’ll find your own way, your spot in the world. A fun way to do it is on the back of a motorcycle.” He said teaching the students skills during the program will allow them to purchase a starter bike and customize it. “They could take a $600 (bike) … and turn it into a chopper on their own,” Garvin said. “That’s what I did. That’s what most people do. You go buy a bike and make it your own.”

riding season



Students in the Lonnie’s Heart Youth Motorcycle Build work on their project prior to having to stop because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Courtesy photos


riding season



Spearfish Canyon on Two Wheels

Top rides

in the Black Hills Pioneer Staff Reports

SPEARFISH — With Sturgis situated in the heart of the Black Hills, the annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally is the venue for some of the best riding in the country. From long stretches of highway on the scenic plains to curves and tunnels through the beautiful Black Hills, there is something for every kind of biker here. The following is a list of our favorite rides.

Nemo Road

Off Highway 385, Rapid City to Brownsville A nice, lazy ride through some of the less-populated parts of the Black Hills, Nemo Road offers amazing views, twisty turns, and straight highway stretches that promise bikers

Sundance, Wyo., to Devils Tower Sundance, Wyo., sits astride Interstate 90 approximately 53 miles west of the city of Sturgis. With a population of 1,139 souls, Sundance is visitor friendly, especially during Sturgis Rally days, and hosts a permanent full service Harley-Davidson dealer with everything from T-shirts to leathers and rain gear. I recommend you start this ride during the mid-morning hours and return during the evening. If you do this, you’ll have the sun at your back both directions. Leaving Sundance northwest on Highway 14, it is a continuous uphill climb into heavily timbered wild territory with panoramic views all around. The speed limit is 65 mph unless otherwise posted; you probably won’t get into sixth gear on the way up to Devils Tower. Pay attention while on Highway 14: wild deer abound. If you see one, there are probably several more nearby, their favorite pastime being unexpectedly dashing across the road after hearing the noise from your loud pipes. When you get to the junction of Highway 14 and

entertainment and relaxation. Just one trip down this road and you will understand why Sturgis Rally veterans call this “The best kept secret in the Black Hills.” The Nemo Bar & Grill also offers bikers great food and cold drinks for a scenic break from the road that is filled with first-class hospitality!

Badlands Loop State Scenic Byway S.D. Highway 240, Badlands National Park

An approximate 30-mile ride, this highway cuts through the natural rock formations of Badlands National Park. A favorite of bikers who flock to the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, this route also features natural grasslands that are filled with hundreds of different species Highway 24, you’ll turn northbound to finish the ride to Devils Tower National Monument. At several locations midway from the junction to Devils Tower along Highway 24, spectacular views of small canyon escarpments with rocky overhangs beg for attention from you and your camera. As you continue riding uphill, the top of Devils Tower will begin to be visible as it rises above the horizon. At 5,112 feet above sea level, Devils Tower is the predominant landscape feature of the area. The rocky tower itself is a full 867 feet from its base to the summit. The Belle Fourche River slowly meanders away eastward 1,267 below the tower. When heading back to Sundance, preferably in the mid-evening hours, the long slow descent makes it easy to enjoy the grand views of the terrain and typically white clouded blue skies. So majestic is the roadside scenery here, you may find yourself wanting to make this ride more than once, with the images of the first riding sticking in your subconscious. Total mileage here (round trip) is approximately 56 miles, give or take a burnout. — Buck Lovell

If you’re a regular attendee of the annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, chances are you’ve ridden Spearfish Canyon at least once, and probably more frequently. Spearfish Canyon is older than the Grand Canyon if you can believe that! It’s smooth, well maintained, and its curvaceous pavement is a joy to ride for any bike/motorcyclist. The 35 mph speed limit allows the canyon walls to talk back to you in the form of your motorcycle’s reflected exhaust note. If you’ve never ridden the canyon, it’s about time you did. It’s an unforgettable motoring treat for any rider or driver. Keep your eyes and ears peeled for excessive speed vehicles; some riders can’t resist a little extra speed. Keep your eyes on the road though; you can stop almost anywhere in the canyon to take a longer look at one

of plants and wild animals. Scenic overlooks also offer great photo opportunities.

Custer State Park 13329 U.S. Highway 16A, Custer

Custer State Park isn’t just home to one of the largest free roaming buffalo herds; it’s so beautiful that the State Game Lodge served as the summer White House for President Calvin Coolidge in 1927. This 71,000-acre vacation paradise is home to abundant wildlife and buffalo herds, making it common to encounter a “Buffalo Jam” while driving in the park. Look for elusive elk, deer, big horn sheep, mountain goats, and bands of begging burros. Four distinct lodges offer accommodations to suit every family, from rustic and historic to elegant and upscale. All offer unique on-site activities, including Jeep rides to the buffalo herds, guided fly-fishing, and chuckwagon suppers. There are also endless camping opportunities in the park.

Crazy Horse Memorial

12141 Avenue of the Chiefs, Crazy Horse (near Custer) Crazy Horse Memorial is the world’s largest sculpture-in-progress, and frequent drilling and mountain blasts make each visit unique. When completed, Crazy Horse Memorial will stand 563 feet tall. The project was started in 1948 by sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski and Lakota Chief Henry Standing Bear to honor the heritage, tradition, and culture of North American Indians. Its namesake, Crazy Horse, was a war leader of the Oglala Lakota tribe and a prominent leader in the Sioux resistance to white encroachment in the Black Hills. His bravery and skill are admired, and he is revered by the Sioux as their greatest leader. The complex surrounding the mountain carving includes the Indian Museum of North America, the Native American Cultural Center, the Sculptor’s Studio, and a 40,000-square-foot orientation center and theater. Nightly performances

of the many different spots of interest. Starting at the mouth of the canyon at the extreme east end of Spearfish, the road takes vehicles past the golf course and into the verdant and summer leafy steepwalled canyon. Halfway up the canyon is Spearfish Canyon Lodge, a great place for lunch if you don’t want to wait to arrive at Cheyenne Crossing, world famous for its burgers and hospitality. A quarter-mile hike down the trail-footpath below the lodge will get you to Spearfish Falls; don’t forget your camera. If you skip the lodge stop, and continue almost another 10 miles, you’ll get to the aforementioned Cheyenne Crossing at the junction of Highway 85. Make a left and head for Lead, S.D. It’s an uphill climb away from Cheyenne Crossing, and the speed limit is 55 mph. Throttle up, but stay within the speed limit. Continue through Lead, then Deadwood, and before you know it, you’re in Sturgis. See you on the Road. — Buck Lovell of a multimedia laser-light show spotlight American Indian culture using dramatic animations and a stirring musical score. In June, the Crazy Horse Volksmarch opens to hikers a 10K route that winds around the base of the mountain and up onto Crazy Horse’s outstretched arm. Korczak’s wife and family have continued the project and the Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation. An entrance fee is required to enter the memorial, which is open year-round, and good for one day of admission. Proceeds fund further development of the memorial.

Peter Norbeck National Scenic Byway U.S. Highway 16A/S.D. Highway 87, Custer State Park

This ride is so cool that it deserves mentioning apart from Custer State Park! The 70-mile drive offers amazing views of the best the Black Hills has to offer. This scenic drive incorporates the Needles Highway (S.D. Highway 87) and Iron Mountain Road (U.S. Highway 16A). The Needles Highway features hairpin curves, drive-through tunnels, and massive granite formations that draw climbers from all over the world. Iron Mountain Road features pigtail bridges that were constructed in a corkscrew fashion, as well as drive through tunnels that perfectly frame Mount Rushmore.

Lead-Deadwood Separated by just three miles of highway but forever joined in their rich history of mining and gaming, the Black Hills’ own Twin Cities offer something for everyone! Visit the Black Hills Mining Museum, Homestake Visitor’s Center, or the Adams Museum to see the rich mining and old-west history of this section of the Northern Hills; relax for lunch or dinner at one of the many fine establishments in both towns; browse through the unique selection of gifts and supplies in Lead; or try your luck at a gaming

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www.bhpioneer.com table or slot machine in Deadwood. But most importantly, residents of Lead-Deadwood are ever-cognizant of the Rally and welcome the bikers with open arms. In Lead, bikers can enjoy vendors, entertainment, and bike shows throughout the week, and in Deadwood, bikers enjoy special parking privileges and other perks!

Belle Fourche The name “Belle Fourche” is French for “Beautiful Fork” because of its site on the “Forks” of Hay Creek, Redwater River, and Belle Fourche River. Additionally, the quaint little town is known for its status as the geographical “Center of the Nation.” After the addition of Hawaii and Alaska to the United States in 1959, a point 10 miles north of Belle Fourche was named the official geological center of the United States. The site was originally in Smith Center, Kan., before it was moved to its new home in Butte County. Visitors can have their photo taken at the monument of a 21-by-40 foot compass rose made of South Dakota granite located at the Center of the Nation Visitor Center in Belle Fourche.

Wind Cave National Park

26611 US Highway 385, Hot Springs Caves are one of the Black Hills’ most mysterious and intriguing wonders. To do your exploring underground, visit Wind Cave National Park. Stretching more than 100 miles, Wind Cave is one of the longest caves in the world, and the first cave to be designated a national park. With a maze-like, underground chamber system, Wind Cave features the world’s largest concentration of box work, a rare formation of thin calcite fins that resemble honeycombs. Above ground, Wind Cave National Park includes a wildlife sanctuary of 28,295 acres for antelope, bison, elk, prairie dogs, and other creatures to


Loop Ride: Really Wild If you’re looking for a short ride in between other Rally-related activities, and you’re in the area of Custer State Park, Wildlife Loop Road is perfect. The road itself is very well maintained black top with almost no surprise potholes or other impediments to smooth riding. Don’t even think of going on this little sojourn without some kind of camera, even if it’s just the camera in your cell phone. Wildlife Loop Road has a strictly enforced speed limit of 35 mph, but if you are like most annual visitors here, you will be stopping frequently to either let the buffalo and other wild critters cross the road in front of you, or to just have a good long look. You won’t find many motorcycle rides that will give close-up views of wildlife as seen here. In many cases, these critters will hold up traffic as they stand blocking the pavement and stare in amazement at you and your vehicle. The rolling hills and wide

roam. Here, the ponderosa pine forest meets the rolling prairie, one of the last remaining mixed grassland areas in existence. The cave’s visitor center is open daily except holidays. An admission fee is required to tour the cave. A list of tour options can be viewed at www.nps.gov/wica.

Native American

Scenic Byway

This 305.8-mile route takes bikers through the rich history and wildlife attractions of our American Indian population. It cuts through the heart of South Dakota’s grass prairie through the heart of the great Sioux Nation. The route takes travelers through Yankton, Crow Creek, Lower Brule, Cheyenne River, and Standing Rock Sioux Tribes. Along the way, bikers will have a chance to see some wildlife, including prairie dogs, pronghorn, deer, bison, and elk.

Jewel Cave National Monument

U.S. Highway 16, 13 miles west of Custer Located in the scenic Hell Canyon Ranger District, the ride to Jewel Cave is a gem in itself with scenic overlooks, hairpin turns, and some wildlife sightings. But once bikers get to the cave, they are absolutely encouraged to stop and stay awhile! Jewel Cave National Monument is not only the second-longest cave in the world, at more than 140 miles and counting, it is also one of the most structurally complex. Located a little more than an hour southwest of Rapid City, Jewel Cave is a regional gem tucked in the Black Hills. Exploration is ongoing in this pristine underground labyrinth. Visit chambers decorated with calcite, nailhead, and dogtooth spar crystals and other wonders like draperies, flowstone, and stalactites. The monument’s open grassland scenery is studded with many varieties of pine and other trees of all sizes making for very pleasant riding. Wildlife species to be seen here in Custer State Park include antelope, bighorn sheep, buffalo young and old, white tail deer, elk, coyote, prairie dogs, and all manner of flying fowl including bald eagles and other raptor species. Custer State Park is home to one of the world’s largest buffalo herds. These buffalo live almost as they did before the West was tamed. Every year a roundup is held with buffalo harvested from the ever-growing herd. Wild “begging” burros live and play at the southernmost end of Wildlife Loop. While the ride along Wildlife Loop Road is only 18 seemingly short miles and could take as little a 30 minutes to transit, you may find it taking just a little bit longer due to frequent stops to enjoy both the animals and the almost “as it was in the 1850s” view. I almost always do this ride both directions during the same day. No burnouts on this ride: it would only frighten the critters. — Buck Lovell


Belle Fourche to Sturgis via Bear Butte

Riding from Belle Fourche to Sturgis via Bear Butte can only be described as the open prairie or high plains ride. Imagine yourself back in the 1880s riding a spirited four-legged horse. When departing from Belle Fourche traveling eastbound on S.D. Highway 212, I recommend this route be traveled during the later part of the afternoon. You will then have the sun over your right shoulder. Make sure you have your gas tank filled completely, for you will have no opportunity to gas up between Belle Fourche and Sturgis city limits, unless you divert north to Newell at the junction of Highway 212 and Highway 79. The speed limit on 212 is 65 mph unless otherwise posted. Riding 212 can only be reckoned to riding your horse at full gallop across the plains, but staying at 60-65 mph is the best speed to enjoy this fluffy cloud-studded, blue-sky route. Make a point of checking the weather forecast for prevailing winds. Prevailing winds in August are typically west to east, which will give a very pleasant tailwind from Belle Fourche to Highway surface trails and facilities are open free of charge. A fee is required for cave tours, which are ranger-guided and are moderately strenuous, lasting about 1 hour and 20 minutes. The cave is open daily from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. except on holidays. Cave tours have been known to sell out in advance; therefore, waiting times could be several hours. Visitors are encouraged to call ahead for tour availability and to reserve tickets. Visit www.nps. gov/jeca for more information.

Mammoth Site

1800 U.S. Highway 18 Bypass, Hot Springs More than 26,000 years ago, large Columbian and woolly mammoths were trapped and died in a spring-fed pond near what is now the southwest edge of Hot Springs. Discovered in 1974 while excavating for a housing development, the Mammoth Site is the world’s largest Columbian mammoth exhibit and research center for Pleistocene studies. It is truly a unique and natural location for the state.

Bear Butte

Highway 79, Sturgis It’s simply not possible to come to the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally and not see one of the Black Hills’ natural wonders — Bear Butte. But seeing it and experiencing it are two different things, and all bikers should take in the scenic beauty and spiritual feeling of this site, named “Mato Paha” (Bear Mountain) by the Lakota Sioux for its resemblance to a sleeping bear. This geological formation is one of several intrusions of igneous rock in the Black Hills that formed millions of years ago. The mountain is sacred to many American Indian tribes, who go there to hold religious ceremonies to this day. Also, Bear


79 southbound. When leaving Belle Fourche, the first major landmark will be Belle Fourche Reservoir on the left (north side of the highway). There are several small towns with cafés serving home-cooked style food and cold drinks, which are well worth stopping. The smooth pavement and long radius curves of Highway 212 are punctuated by hills and rises, so for safety’s sake don’t attempt to pass on those blind curves. Take your time and enjoy the view to the south of the Black Hills. They look black from out on the prairie; that’s how the hills got their name. At the junction of 212 and 79, you’ll turn right heading toward Bear Butte. If you’ve had a tail wind, it’s now a crosswind, so stay alert. Also watch for deer on the road. It’s almost a straight shot to the outskirts of the city of Sturgis. You will be able to enjoy an ever changing view of Bear Butte as it grows larger the closer you get. Just before passing Bear Butte, you see the Broken Spoke Campground on the left. Continuing another 5-6 miles, you’ll make a right turn onto Highway 34 (westbound) on the way into downtown Sturgis. Total distance is about 55 miles, give or take a burnout. — Buck Lovell

Butte was once used by multiple tribes as a meeting point to discuss the advancement of the white man onto their lands. Bikers at the Sturgis Rally can take advantage of the hiking trails to the top of the mountain, or just cruise on by the natural wonder located six miles northeast of Sturgis off Highway 79.

Mount Rushmore 13000 SD Highway 244, Keystone

Who can take a trip to Sturgis without stopping to see our nation’s Shrine of Democracy? Every year that visit gets better as there are continual improvements at the famed monument! This internationally recognized “Shrine of Democracy” is located only 17 miles from Rapid City. Surrounded by Black Hills National Forest, the memorial protrudes from the granite with the faces of George Washington, commander of the Revolutionary Army and our nation’s first president; Thomas Jefferson, author of the Declaration of Independence; Abraham Lincoln, who abolished slavery in the U.S.; and Theodore Roosevelt, who reformed corruption and is responsible for our national’s national parks system and for conserving wildlife. The site also features mountain goats, the Avenue of Flags, an interactive museum, and a new visitors’ center. Visitors can also follow the Presidential Trail to the base of the mountain. An evening lighting ceremony is also a sight to see during the summer months, and it begins at 9 p.m. Additionally, if you’ve already traveled the common route to the mountain through Keystone, try entering through the back way on Highway 244, which offers some unique scenic sights and a relaxing ride through the Hills. Read more from Buck at BLABB (Buck Lovell’s American Biker Blog) online at www.sturgis.com.


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