Day 42 -Beat the Heat

Billings MT to Sturgis SD – 27th July 2021

I don’t know how I managed it, but I am up at 4am and by the time everything is ready am back on the road at 5.20am. It’s bloody freezing, but I know it is predicted to be over 104 degrees F later today.

On the way back to Hardin and the bike is running fine… I have no idea what the noise was or whether it will come back or not, but for the moment it’s all systems go, and a beautiful sunrise to boot.

I pass Hardin and on my way to see the Little Bighorn Battleground arriving at 6.40.. it doesn’t open until 7am so I could wait, but then I see the entry fee for a motorcycle is $20… I decide to give it a miss. I do manage to get a few photos though…

The monument Is the actual scene of Custers last stand and there are markers for all the fallen soldiers. There is also a monument to the fallen Indian tribesmen.

I’m passing through reservation after reservation

on the Warrior Trail no less. By 10.30 it is already 35 degrees C (95F) and rises up to 42 (108) by mid afternoon

All around is wide open prairie with very few towns… I do pass through a couple

and the heat is now rising by the minute.

I am soon leaving Montana and entering Wyoming so it’s Missin’ Ya Montana, Well Hi There Wyoming… briefly

just clipping the northeast corner before entering South Dakota…

I am really early so decide to head for Deadwood.. several people have recommended it as a great place to visit and its only 10 miles or so west of Sturgis. I reckon it might make a great place to have lunch and sit out the heatwave before going over to Sturgis as Linda and Adam are both at work.

I arrive just after 1pm and find somewhere to park. All the parking is in official car parks and I find one that is $7 for all day. I park up next to a group of other bikes and am able to get mine in the shade, if on a rather steep slope, but I should be able to just ride straight out as it is already pointing in the right direction towards the exit.

A guy comes over with, what I presume to be a parking ticket, he introduces himself as Rodney and this ticket is actually for a free beer or soda in the Oyster Bar, just beside the car park. He also says it’s $5 for the bike so that’s good. I change out of my riding gear, including my boots.. it is so good to get them off and get a pair of sandals on and get my leather chaps off I can tell you… (I am wearing shorts under the chaps in anticipation of the boiling weather).

I do go in the Oyster Bar and get my free drink and also some lunch, which is very nice, then off for a bit of an explore…

I didn’t know the significance of the pair of 8’s and Aces so had to look it up… this is the legendary ‘deadmans hand’

I have a good wander around then head to Starbucks for an iced Mocha and some blogging. At around 4.30 I head back to the bike and get going to Sturgis.

The heat hasn’t abated and in fact is worse.. thankfully I don’t have far to go, however there are roadworks on the way so am sat at some traffic lights for about 20 minutes in the enervating heat.

Sturgis is a very famous Biker town, this is where the largest motorcycle rally in the world takes place every year in early August, it is especially popular with Harley riders. Fortunately I am going to miss it as it starts on the 6th and runs for 10 days, but I will be gone well before that. If I was around I would probably go to it for a day, but that would be all for me as I’m not a rally person; having said that, it probably would have been great to have at least see it, even for a short time.

I arrive in Sturgis and am having a job trying to find Linda… the gps is routing me up a road that is a dead end. I can see loads of houses across a dry river bed where the road ends, but there is no bridge to go across. Then I see a bridge further down so cross over there… it still takes some time to find the property and it’s not until I am almost at the other side of the missing bridge that I see two people waving at me… aha, this must be Linda and Adam… and indeed it is. I pull the bike up onto the grass as instructed and get off. Well they seem like very lovely people. They tell me they have watched me looking for them and were hoping I would find it ok.. apparently there used to be a bridge, but it got washed out in the heavy rains a couple of years ago, but the local council haven’t bothered replacing it… yet.

They are fully booked for Sturgis week, they let out a couple of RV’s plus the spare room and loads of tent space. Many of the people are returners. Adam has even built a couple of shower cubicles and an outside bar/seating area.

They are actually a little bit Harley obsessed, their whole home is dedicated to Harley Davidson, down to the headboard on my bed for tonight

I think Harley should pay them commission for all the advertising.

They tell me that the estimated number of bikes for the rally this year is 850,000 or maybe even a million.. where the hell are they going to put them all, this is a very small town! Last year, even with Covid, there were over 400,000 bikes here, which is a very much reduced figure on former years… just bonkers. The town must make an absolute mint every year.. maybe they can afford to replace that missing bridge, in pure gold!

I also briefly meet Adam’s daughter who is working at one of the bars during the rally so is staying here. Linda says some of the ‘girls’ can earn enough to put a deposit on a house! (I don’t mean to imply they are prostituting themselves, that wasn’t the impression Linda was giving me).

Anyway, am looking forward to a good nights sleep in this very comfy bed.. it’s going to be another scorcher tomorrow so I want to be up early again, not 4 but certainly want to be on the road by 7 if possible.

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