Rides, Rallies and Events Recap

Road Trippin' to Sturgis - 2015

Written by  August 30, 2015

Many thoughts were running through my mind this year in anticipation of our road trip to the 75th Annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. Part of me was excited as usual, to hit the road again with our Sturgis crew, but another part of me was somewhat apprehensive due to all the hype and anticipated crowds, with it being the 75th anniversary. This would likely mean longer lines at the fuel stops, lots of newbies crashing, burning, and doing stupid things, and bikes overheating while trying to make it through all the traffic in and around Sturgis. As departure day approached, and I started packing the bike, any last bit of apprehension vanished and was replaced by excitement.

On Friday afternoon July 31, Stripe pulled into our driveway, I got on my bike, Nichole and Princess (our Lhasa Apso) got in the Suburban, and we headed north to drop off our gear at Danny and Amanda’s place. We then headed to Wathena, Kansas where we spent the night at my mom’s house.

On Saturday morning, August 1, we had a nice breakfast, and Stripe and I rode up to the Fast Gas convenience store in Wathena to top off our tanks and meet up with my cousin Mark. My sister and mom gave Nichole a ride to Wathena so she could hop in with Amanda, who had volunteered once again to drive our support vehicle. Thank you Amanda! Before long, we saw several motorcycle headlights coming down the highway, and our Sturgis gang pulled into the gas station to remove their helmets. Thank you Kansas!

Lunch at Mankato City ParkAfter saying goodbyes to my mom and sister, our group of 15 bikes headed east on Hwy 36 across Kansas. We fueled up in Seneca and Mankato before pulling into the city park in Mankato where we hooked up with more friends. This added three more bikes to our group bringing it to a total of 18. After a nice lunch put together by Sheila, kickstands were up as we continued on east. We fueled up in Oberlin, Kansas, stuck our helmets on, and headed north on Hwy 83 to McCook, Nebraska. We then weaseled our way through Imperial, Nebraska to the Quality Inn in Ogallala for the night. We gained 8 more bikes in Ogallala including my good friend and riding buddy Stan, which brought our total number of bikes to 25.

OgallalaOn Sunday, August 2, Nichole used our free breakfast tickets, and was nice enough to bring breakfast back to the room for Mark and I. As we finished up breakfast, our group began to assemble in the parking lot for our traditional Bloody Mary bar which Sheila had setup in the trunk of her car. After a drink and a brief prayer honoring Cajun’s brother Tim who we sadly lost this past year, we headed to Boot Hill with Cajun leading the group. Tim rode to Sturgis with us last year and was a really nice guy. He will be greatly missed.

Cajun honoring his brother TimWhen we arrived at Boot Hill, Cajun placed Tim’s boot and a photo of him on a wooden fence post and held a brief ceremony. We also paid our respects to the rest of our fallen brothers and sisters who we’ve lost over the past several years. As you may recall, last year I brought the boot of my dear friend and fellow Cycle Connections team member Bruce Stimpson, and we also placed a boot on a fence post for Carl Brent “Radar” Estep and Jerry Bryant. We then mounted up and headed on to Alliance, Nebraska. While fueling up in Alliance, we ran into David Worth, the owner of Blue Springs, Harley-Davidson, who is one of our long-time advertising partners. David was riding to Sturgis with several friends including Mikki DePauw. What a small world!

Carhenge...and Trailer Pussies!Once everyone was fueled up, we rode to Carhenge for lunch. As you may know, Carhenge is a tourist attraction where several old vehicles are spray painted gray and stuck in the ground to resemble Stonehenge. We always stop there for lunch, and so any newbies can check out this interesting display of artwork. This is also the location where we take a group photo each year of any Sturgis virgins. This year’s Sturgis virgins included Kirby, Bob, Lisa, and another girl whose name slipped my mind (someone please look at the photo below and tell me her name so I can add it here). Since this was Stan’s first time riding to Sturgis with our group (he normally meets us there), he also volunteered to be in this year’s Sturgis virgin photo.

The Rest StopAfter lunch, Mike Ward, Lisa, and Stripe snuck off ahead of everyone on their bikes and raced down the road to the “Rest Stop” which consists of several large bales of hay in a field with an old toilet and chair placed on top of it. It also has a large sign reading “Rest Stop.” Mike climbed up on the toilet and Lisa sat in the chair next to him waiting to surprise the group as we rode by. As always, everyone pulled over to the side of the road next to the Rest Stop to laugh and take photos. Stripe got some great photos of the craziness, which you’ll see below! We headed north to Chadron for our last fuel stop in Nebraska, then into South Dakota and on to Rapid City where we fueled up one more time before heading west into the Black Hills to Nemo Guest Ranch; our annual home away from home.

Me and My Bitch DannyOn Monday morning August 3, Nichole and Amanda got up early to made breakfast. Nichole was in charge of frying eggs on the stove while Amanda was busy grilling bacon on the griddle. We normally ride into Sturgis on Monday morning; however, due to the anticipated large crowds this year, we decided to ride to Deadwood instead. A large group of us took off from Nemo and rode to the parking lot across the street from the Silverado Casino. As we pulled in, we noticed we had somehow lost part our group in the heavy traffic. We found a parking spot, and I noticed JB removing the seat from his bike. Apparently between Nemo and Deadwood, his stator had gone out. He thought his voltage regulator may have shot craps too, so they decided to head to the local Harley dealership, accompanied by Rodney and Lisa, in case they had trouble on the way. While we were still trying to figure out where to park, we noticed the rest of our group walking down the hill from the Holiday Inn Resort Deadwood Mountain Grand’s large parking garage. Since I couldn’t find a very good parking spot, I decided to ride up and park with the others in the parking garage. Before I could put my bike in gear, Danny hopped on the back and asked for a ride up to his bike. Needless to say, all the cameras and phones came out to snap a shot of Danny riding bitch on the back of my bike. Too funny!

Stripe, Stan, Mark, Jerry, and Mike...not sure where Dan was?While some of our group took advantage off the Silverado’s wonderful breakfast buffet, the rest of us walked around Deadwood for a while. We also made a point to track down our artist friend Vickie Vormehr at the Celebrity Hotel, who was in town displaying her great artwork for the Vormehr & Youngquist Gallery which is based out of Lawrence, Kansas. Vickie’s business partner and fellow artist Gail hadn’t made it up yet, so after vising with Vickie for a while and checking out their new artwork, we headed down to Saloon #10 for lunch. While walking back to the bikes, we noticed that several bikes from our earlier group had already left, and after a bit of texting, we found out they had ridden into Sturgis. With nothing else on our agenda, we decided to ride into Sturgis and meet them at One-Eyed Jacks. We were also able to meet up with our new riding buddy Jerry, who put Stan, Blade and I up for the night at his place in Ludlow Falls, Ohio, on our road trip to D.C. back in March. Jerry was there with his riding buddies Dan and Mark, who were also enjoying themselves. This was all three of their first time in Sturgis during the rally…yea…more Sturgis virgins! After buying a couple overpriced drinks from a bartender who appeared to be on crack, we made our way out of Sturgis, and headed south through Vanocker Canyon back to our cabin.

Needles HighwayOn Tuesday morning, August 4, we abandoned our yearly tradition of eating breakfast at the Fort Hays Chuckwagon Supper Club and opted for Nichole and Amanda’s egg and bacon sandwiches which were as scrumptious as usual. Once we’d finished breakfast, a big group of us headed south. We rode through Hill City, and hopped on Needles Highway, which is one of my favorite rides. After making our way through all the twisty roads, tunnels, and penis-shaped rock formations, we rode through Custer State Park and into the city of Custer. We grabbing a bite to eat and then walked through the vendor booths which were located just off the main drag. With my birthday quickly approaching, Nichole bought me a really cool black and chrome bracelet that was made from a motorcycle timing chain. Thanks honey!

Wildlife Loop at Custer State ParkEveryone made their way to the bikes, and we rode back into Custer State Park and took the Wildlife Loop to see the buffalo. Unfortunately, the buffalo were hanging out quite a ways off the road this year; however, the donkeys were standing right in the middle of the road. We also saw a lot of other critters this year we normally don’t see. After gazing at the buffalo for a while, we somehow got lost for a bit before finding Elk Haven Bar, which is always a great place to stop for a drink. We then rode to Keystone and on to the Powder House Restaurant which is just north of Keystone. They have incredible buffalo prime rib; however, Nichole and I were still stuffed from lunch, so we were thinking about splitting a prime rib. That is until we found out we’d have to pay an extra $10 to split the plate. Since our large group was going to be spending several hundred bucks there, this really pissed us off, so instead we split an order of mozzarella sticks. If they’d rather make $12 rather than $40, that’s their decision, plus, we’ll likely never go back. Their loss! After that disappointing meal, we rode back to the cabin to play cards.

Roughlock FallsOn Wednesday morning, August 5, we enjoyed a wonderful breakfast at Nichole and Amanda’s Café (our cabin) and then headed north through Lead and on to Roughlock Falls which is a neat little hidden waterfall area at the south end of Spearfish Canyon. After checking out the falls and taking a bunch of photos, we headed north through Spearfish Canyon. We made our annual stop at Bridal Veil Falls so the Sturgis virgins could check it out, and then rode up to Spearfish, took the outer road east and then headed back south to Deadwood. We ate lunch, did some shopping, and then made our way to Deadwood Jake’s Guns to check it out. We even got to meet Jake who is a friendly black Labrador Retriever; the shop mascot. While drooling over their selection of firearms, we found out that the shooting range we normally go to just outside of Lead had recently been dismantled, and all the target holders, benches, etc. had been removed. The owner told us we could still go there to shoot; however, we’d have to be creative and figure out a way to put up our targets. We pet Jake one more time, and then we made our way back to the bikes. We rode south out of Deadwood to Trevino's Leathers which is always a favorite stop. They have a huge selection of handmade leather goods, handmade knives, and lots of other cool things. From there, we made our way back to the cabin.

The Shooting RangeThursday, August 6 was the day we set aside to ride to the outdoor shooting range located a few miles outside Lead, which is accessible via a long gravel road. This is a fairly new tradition (just a few years old), in which everyone brings their firearms, ammo, and targets, and takes turns shooting each other’s firearms. Last year I brought my Mossberg tactical shotgun, which everyone had the opportunity to shoot, and this year I decided to bring my new AR-15 pistol that I’d finished building just a few months prior, with assistance from Stan via Skype. As always, I also brought along my Glock .40, Ruger .380 and American Arms .22 magnum for everyone to try out. Nichole also brought her new Ruger .380 in Lady Lilac (purple), which I got her for Christmas. Stan also brought his AR-15 pistol, so after everyone had finished shooting their pistols, we provided a grand finale of putting 60 rounds of .223 downrange. Fun, fun, fun! When we finished shooting, Nichole told me she wasn’t feeling well, so we decided to ride back to the cabin. As soon as we got back, Nichole laid down in bed and proclaimed that she must have picked up some kind of flu bug. She was right! She was sicker than a dog for the next day and a half and didn’t even get out of bed except to run to the bathroom. Not fun!

On Friday morning, August 7, as Nichole lay dying in bed (at least she felt like she was), we opted to skip breakfast in the cabin because our short order cook Nichole had called in sick. We walked across the street to the volunteer fire department where a couple from our group had breakfast, and on the way back to the cabin I stopped by one of the food vendor tents setup on our campground and picked up a large breakfast burrito I’d been hearing about from others in our group. It was so large I cut it in half and put half of it in the fridge in case Nichole survived her flu bug and got hungry.

Sylvan LakeSince Nichole was down and out for the day, I agreed to lead a small group back down south through Hill City and on to Sylvan Lake so Amana could take some photos of Danny and his bike with the lake and large boulders in the background. After the photoshoot, we decided to take a hike along the lake and found a very cool area at the far end near the dam. There were several large boulders, a walkthrough that looked like something straight out of Raiders of the Lost Ark, complete with large fallen rocks that had lodged just above our heads. I was just waiting for Kevin to find a golden idol in one of the crevices he was exploring, which would cause the boulders to release and chase us through the tunnel. Lucky for us, he found no idol. We did, however, find some wild raspberries which we had to try. We walked back to the bikes and rode into Keystone for some last minute souvenir shopping.

Doing TimeEveryone went their separate ways, and while Mark, Stan and I were on our way back to the bikes, I noticed out of the corner of my eye, some cowboy-looking character walking across the parking lot toward us carrying a double-barreled shotgun. It did a quick double-take as I was reaching for my Ruger. Thankfully, it was only Danny dressed up in a cowboy outfit complete with leather chaps, a vest, and a big hat. As it turns out, Danny and Amanda were having an old time photo taken at a place next to the parking lot and had convinced the photographer to let him walk through the parking lot to scare us with his shotgun. It worked! Mark, Stan and I were then coerced into stepping behind the bars at the jail with cowboy Danny and saloon girl Amanda standing guard over us. Too funny! Once Danny and Amanda had finished changing from cowboys back into bikers, we mounted our steeds and rode north back to the cabin to start packing.

On Saturday morning, August 8, Nichole jumped out of bed and proclaimed “I’m 100%!” It seemed like a miracle, because just a few hours earlier, she appeared to be on her death bed. Thank God! We loaded all of our excess gear into Danny and Amanda’s SUV, Amanda and Nichole climbed into the vehicle, and followed Danny on his bike. He had decided to once again hard butt it all the way back to Kansas City. The rest of us took our time packing our bikes before riding into Rapid City and heading east on I-90. The decision was made that rather than riding all the way across I-90 to Sioux Falls, we would cut down through Nebraska and spend the night at the Day’s Inn Grand Island.

On Sunday morning, August 9, I woke up sicker than a dog. Ah, crap! Apparently, I’d managed to catch Nichole’s flu bug, and knew I was in trouble. I felt so bad, I seriously considered calling the front desk and reserving our room for a couple more days so I could just lie there and die. Instead, after spending what seemed like an eternity in the bathroom suffering from all the standard flu-like symptoms, I somehow mustered up the energy to drag my stuff down the stairs and load my bike. I then managed to ride to the nearest gas station for fuel. Once everyone in our group had fueled up, we headed south toward the Nebraska/Kansas border.

How I felt Sunday morning...except without the cigarI have never felt so bad in my life, and never while riding a motorcycle. The farther we rode, the worse I felt, and we had to stop a few more times than normal, so I could spend some quality time in the convenience store bathrooms. After popping a few Imodium and drinking a quart of Gatorade to try and get my electrolytes up, we rode on. It’s amazing what crazy things go through your head when you’re riding in the heat while suffering from the flu. As we rode past chemical plants and large livestock farms, I thought I was going to projectile vomit. I remember thinking to myself, “The only thing that could possibly be worse than this, would be getting stuck on a never-ending rollercoaster ride with the flu.”

We somehow made it across the Kansas border and headed east on Hwy 36. By this time, the fever had really taken its toll, and I was seriously considering laying my head down on my gas tank, which I thought would feel better. How crazy is that? By the time we stopped for fuel in Washington, Kansas, I was pretty much done. After visiting the bathroom, I got out my cell phone and called my sister who lives in Wathena, Kansas. I told her there was no way in hell I was going to make it home which was about 3 ½ hours away, and was pretty sure there was no way I could even make it to my mom’s house which was roughly 1 ½ hours away. I told her I was going to try to make it to Marysville, Kansas, where the group was planning to eat lunch. I told her I’d call her from there if I made it.

All day, I’d been telling our fearless leader Bruce to ride on, because I didn’t want to hold up the group. He insisted that no man would be left behind, so I somehow managed to get my bike started and continued on east. I’ve ridden across Hwy 36 many times, and knew it was long, flat, and boring; however, until you make that ride in the heat with the flu, you don’t realize just how far it is between towns. As we crested each hill, I was hoping to see a town with a convenience store and bathroom, but instead, all I saw was mile after mile of endless highway.

Dying at the DinerWe finally reached Marysville, and the group decided to dine at Penny’s Diner which is a cool 50s-style looking dining car. I called my sister and told her I was done and couldn’t ride any farther. I asked her to try and find a motorcycle trailer or someone to ride my bike from there to my mom’s house. She wasn’t able to find a trailer; however, she did get ahold of my longtime friend and riding buddy Gregg Lewis who agreed to ride out with my sister and mom so he could ride my bike back.

The group finished eating, and because I had a plan in place for getting help, we said our goodbyes, and the group took off, leaving me and my cousin Mark behind. Mark lives in St. Joseph which is only about 15-20 minutes from my mom’s house, so he decided to stay with me until they arrived. After everyone left the restaurant I made my way outside and laid down under a tree next to the parking lot. I must have been somewhat delusional at that point, because I told Mark I knew exactly how it feels to be an outlaw who was shot during a botched bank robbery and was doing his best to keep up with the gang on the ride back to the hideout. I also told him if I didn’t make it, to just bury me under this tree, so the group could stop by every year to eat lunch and visit my grave. Yes, I was sick.

Sheri, mom, and Gregg finally showed up, and I dragged myself into the passenger seat of my sister’s Escalade. Gregg and Mark took off, and we drove back to my mom’s house. I thanked Gregg for helping out and went inside to lie on the couch in the air conditioning. I felt like crap the rest of the night, and didn’t get much sleep.

On Monday morning, August 10, mom got up and went to work, and I felt quite a bit better. Not 100%, but good enough to load up the bike and ride home. If felt so good to make it home and put the bike in the garage. I laid down in my own bed and didn’t get up for a day or so. Whew!

Between the great weather this year and not getting rained on even once, which is quite rare, and with the exception of our battle with the flu, it was a wonderful trip! We’re already looking forward to Sturgis 2016!

Also make sure to check out the following articles and photos: Sturgis 2015 - Stripe's Trip, Sturgis 2015 - Racing, Sturgis 2015 - Bikes, Sturgis 2015 - Paint, Sturgis 2015 - Babes, and Sturgis 2015 - Bikers!

Story by Mike Schweder

Photos by Mike and Nichole Schweder, Stripe, Doc Lonnie Blum, Stan Purdy, Kevin Lorensen, Bonnie Beau, Danny and Amanda Webb, Lori Adcock, and anyone else I may have forgot to mention.

Mike Schweder

Editor-in-Chief - Kansas City, MO

Mike is the original founder of Cycle Connections Online Motorcycle Magazine and an avid motorcycle enthusiast. He has been riding for over 40 years, belongs to several local and national motorcycle organizations and travels to numerous rallies and events throughout the US each year. Mike has been a writer and editor for many years and has a passion for sharing his motorcycling experiences and stories with you. Contact Mike at mikes@cycleconnections.com