Our Trip to Sturgis on a 1947 Knucklehead
The '47 Knucklehead Packed and Ready
Off to Sturgis on the Knucklehead
It was the year 2000, the year of the 60th annual Motorcycle Rally in Sturgis South Dakota. My husband Bryan and I were riding alone on a 1947 Knucklehead. It was the only time I have made that trip.
When we left home, our only real goal was to be at Buffalo Chip Campground on Thursday night to see Johnny Lang play.
We took kind of a long route through the bottom corner of Idaho, the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone. Once we got to Idaho, there were dark clouds circling overhead. Although it did not rain on us, there were plenty of times we could tell it had just rained, since the road was still wet.
We camped all the way, and though we didn't cook all that much, we made coffee every morning, and had cold iced tea in the small ice chest we carried. That was a pretty nice thing to have going through Nevada when the temperature was in triple digits. Once we got to Buffalo Chip Campground we did do some cooking.
Sturgis Rally in Full Swing
When we arrived at Main Street in Sturgis on Wednesday afternoon, we saw half a dozen people we know from our hometown within 2 hours of being there. It’s funny how that happens.
The street was very crowded, lots of guys hot rodding up and down the street showing off, tattooed women in pasties and leather chaps and not much more, a woman dressed as Lady Godiva in a long blond wig, and plenty of cops keeping an eye on things.
It was a hot day. Bryan had given up drinking a few years before, and I don't drink much anymore. They had stands selling this killer lemonade that they made right in front of you. Cute, young, scantily clad women squeezed fresh lemons, added water, ice and sugar right into the cup, covered it with another cup and gave it a good shake. It was very refreshing.
We stopped at a vendor selling leathers, and ended up both buying new leather jackets. I had never realized how uncomfortable every other leather jacket I had ever worn was until I got my brand new soft as butter leather jacket.
Most of the bikes there were new. As usual, the old Knucklehead got a lot of attention. When we went to leave, Bryan was actually drawing a crowd by kick starting it.
Our friend Red Dog's mom lived right there in Sturgis, so we pitched the tent in her front yard that night, then headed out for Buffalo Chip the next day.
Main Street in Sturgis
Buffalo Chip Campground
When we got to Buffalo Chip, it was already hot, the campground was almost full and the terrain was relatively flat with not very many trees.
My sweetie had camped there the year before, so he headed for his old camp spot under a big tree. Amazingly, it was available with only one other tent in the area.
As soon as we pulled up a guy jumped out of the tent and said "Hey, a Knucklehead, is that the original paint?"
I said "Hell no, it's been painted twice that I know of."
He said his name was Hotdog, and he was from Florida. He was riding an evo, but it turned out he had a Knucklehead at home and was kind of a collector. He considered the Knucklehead an around town show bike. He sheepishly admitted that he'd had his bike shipped and he had flown in for the run. He didn't have enough time off to make the ride, but we said "Whatever, no big deal, at least you made it."
Being another Knucklehead guy, Hotdog and Bryan had plenty to talk about, and we invited him for dinner, cooked up some steak and beans. While we were sitting around getting to know each other, we noticed the wind picked up, and the sky looked ominous. We threw everything we had inside the tent and went inside ourselves.
The storm hit fast with strong winds, rain and hail. It only lasted maybe 30 minutes, but when it was over there were tents and tarps blown down all over the campground. It was only 2 hours before Johnny Lang was to hit the stage, so we had been a little worried about that. We need not have been concerned. The moon came out pretty as can be, the stars twinkling away, and the show went on as planned.
We got a nice spot about 25 feet from the stage. Since I am only 5'2", I usually can't see anything in a crowd like that, but there was a picnic table near us and I was able to stand on the bench so I got a fine view of the stage. There I was, on a beautiful clear evening, almost level with the stage, watching Johnny sing "Wander This World." It was just one of those perfect nights.
The next morning we woke up to a little Japanese guy who came looking for Bryan. He had met him at the same spot the year before. He worked for a Japanese magazine and wanted to take pictures of the bike and us. He actually sent us copies of the issue with our pictures in it a few months later.
We rode out to Deadwood, and went to see Mt. Rushmore (pretty amazing by the way, don't miss it if you're in the area), then back to Main Street one more time. We stopped by Red Dog's mom’s house and guess who was there, Hot Dog. It seems he was renting a room at her house, and she was his contact in Sturgis for shipping his bike. We spent a couple of hours there socializing before we headed out on the trip home.
We had already been on the road for 10 days I wanted to go home, but Bryan wanted to go to the San Juan Islands in Washington, so where do you think we went? That's a whole story in itself, maybe I'll tell you about it sometime.
Photos from our ride to SturgisClick thumbnail to view full-size
Sixty Second Tent - A Lifesaver
I think the best piece of camping gear we brought on this trip was our 60 second tent. It's a dome tent, but instead of threading the poles through sleeves on the tent, they are already in place, with hinges that lock open. It can literally be set up in 60 seconds. When you are riding and breaking camp every day it just makes life so much easier.
You may think I'm joking, but we really did take all these things with us when we rode to Sturgis from our home in Nevada City, California. As you can see from the photo at the beginning of the story, it was quite a load. We actually used most of the things we brought.
- Soap and Toiletries
- 4 Flashlights
- Ice Chest
- Aspirin and Decongestant
- P38 Can Opener
- Camp Stove
- Coffee and Tea Bags
- Salt and Pepper
- Cast Iron Skillet
Last but not least:
- Credit Card
- Canteen with Water
- Bicycle Pump
- Extra Tire Tube
- Spare 3-brush Generator
- Headlight and Taillight Bulb
- Quart of Oil
- Liter of Gasoline
- Clothes for temperatures
ranging from 45° to 110°
- Rain Gear
- 60 Second Tent
- Sleeping Bags
- Camp Mattresses
© 2012 Sherry Hewins