The gorgeous Black Hills of South Dakota come alive each summer with the thunderous reverberations of close to 200,000 bikers. You're right, they head to the Sturgis Bike Week, an annual biking extravaganza which takes place in Sturgis, South Dakota. Besides the obvious focus on motorbikes and everything to do with it, the event comprises races, bike shows, bikes-only streets, the 12th Annual Mayor's Ride, Michael Lichter's annual exhibit, the Sturgis Motorcycle Museum & Hall of Fame, organized rides, and some very awesome concerts as well.
Quick TipPerform a bike tune-up (or get it checked by a professional) at least a month in advance in order to minimize the number of technical glitches you may face along the road, and during the rally as well.
This much-anticipated event has entered its 74th year, with the fest being conducted from August 4-10, 2014. So without a moment's delay, here's how to plan a trip to Sturgis for the motorcycle rally.
Since you are headed to a bike rally, it does make sense to make a road trip of it. There are several scenic routes that will take you to Sturgis, making the journey as worthwhile as the destination. But if you're not into long-distance biking yourself, you can always get here, by car, train, or by air.
The first step would be to map your route to Sturgis, and depending upon the distance and your comfort level, plan the journey by factoring the number of stops you'll be taking. Next, you will have to book your accommodation at the scheduled stops, wherever you plan to spend the night. Be aware that you may not get a room along the way at the last minute―the event's popularity ensures that a lot of people travel these roads in the days leading up to it. Therefore, check the availability of rooms beforehand on websites like Expedia or Tripadvisor, and seal the deal right away so that you're assured of a place to bunk at.
Also remember that, impromptu bookings may mean that you'd have to shell out a hefty price; you can't blame the local businesses for making some last-minute kills.
Well, true-blue bikers always make reservations for the coming year at the culmination of the current event. But this does not mean that accommodation is out-of-bounds for those who came in late. There are a lot of options when it comes to staying in and around Sturgis, including hotels, motels, campgrounds, bed and breakfasts, etc. Those looking for a bit of peace and quiet after a noisy day may want to rent an apartment on the outskirts. All said and done, there are a lot of options when it comes to accommodation, to suit all tastes and budgets.
What to pack
Though the Bike Week is scheduled at the height of summer, the altitude in the Black Hills may make the area considerable cooler. Also, depending on where you're coming from, you may encounter a few wet spells along the way. Therefore, carry some rain gear if you're anticipating wet weather.
As far as possible, avoid carrying too many clothes, as you can always do your laundry at the destination. Pack light clothes, and throw in a few event-appropriate outfits as well.
If you plan to bunk in the outdoors, carry your camping gear along with some warm clothing, as the night may bring some chills in the mountains.
In case you are opting for a bike journey to Sturgis, here's a reminder to pack the biking trip essentials like a Swiss knife, portable tool kit, batteries, matches or lighter, sunblock, first aid kit, wipes, and a tire repair kit. Ensure that you're carrying a GPS-enabled device as well.
This and that
► The Sturgis Bike Week has a lot of events going on simultaneously, so you need to keep abreast of the itinerary, and head to the event of your choice in time.
► Certain events like concerts and stunt shows may have tickets (which can get sold off in no time), so if you happen to be interested, make sure that you book them beforehand.
► Bike rallies often require prior registration, so you know what to do if you're planning to participate in one.
► Sturgis has a lot of biker-themed watering holes, but be aware that any DUI offenses can attract a strict penalty here. Misbehavior and rioting can lead to serious trouble, as the local police are on the constant lookout for the slightest sign on hooliganism.
Planning tips never really end, do they? But we'll leave you at this―the rest is up to you to simply sit back and enjoy. Have a great time at the Bike Week!