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San Francisco to Sturgis, The Bikers Road Trip

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by Lilian Finch (subscribe)
I live in a beautiful part of the world and love to share parts of it with my readers.
Published June 4th 2013
How to get a nasty suntan making you resemble a badger
This year will see Sturgis host the 73rd bike rally from August 5th to August 11th.The first Sturgis rally was hosted in 1938, that first event weekend celebration had a line up of just nine racers and a small audience watching the race. A far cry from today's rallies, in recent years more than 416,000 bikers have attended this week long meet.

The Jackpine Gypsies Motorcycle Club owns all the 40-acre property on which most activities take place within Sturgis. The Jackpine Gypsies are a non-profit biking organization. The club donates to many local charities, including the local food bank, Sturgis High School, Zonta Club of Sturgis, and Christian Motorcycle Association. Bike owners can apply for membership online.

The week will be full of organised events including Bike shows, Contests, Music Events and Rides with Poker Runs, The Sturgis rally is not a place for the faint hearted. A full schedule of events can be found online.
Sturgis attracts riders world wide, combining a road trip with the Sturgis meet is a holiday of a lifetime providing it's planned well.

Harley, Road Trip, Denver, Sturgis

When flying in for this trip you will need to hire a bike, this should be done as early as possible to ensure your not disappointed and to ensure you get the bike of your choice.

I would recommend a granny glide, something like an ultra classic to get the best mileage and lots of storage.

You WILL need wet weather gear, You will need a helmet with a visor, warm gloves and light ones too, some places are very hot, some quite cold at elevation. Take socks and undies you can dump along the way, which makes room for tee shirts, which you will want to buy as keepsakes.

Road trip, sturgis, rushmore
When you need a break from the bike

Lets get started.

July 25, or even earlier, arrive in San Francisco, which is the leading financial and cultural centre of Northern California and the San Francisco Bay.

San Francisco is ranked 44th of the top tourist destinations in the world so take time to view some of the area tourist attractions including The Golden Gate Bridge. Lunch at Fisherman's Wharf will set you up ready to pick up hired bikes late in the afternoon on the second day. This will require two nights in San Francisco, There are many small hotels in town for around $100 (Aust) a night.

July 27, now were ready to start the road trip, rested and eager. We head East via Highway 580 to 205 through Manteca onto Oakdale on highway 120 though Groveland Big Oak Flat and into Yosemite National Park. Lunch and sight seeing the park which must include the falls.

For a complete guide to Yosemite, see here.

After lunch a slow and steady ride through the park staying on 120 till it joins highway 395, the Three Flags Highway, turn South and head to Mammoth Lakes, 105 miles around 150 minutes riding time.

Mammoth Lakes is a ski resort in winter it has thousands of well priced and high quality rooms. This is a good place to stop overnight.

July 28, Today we tackle Mammoth Lakes to Las Vegas via Death Valley on highway 395 South, turn East onto 190 go through the Valley and staying on 190 through Pahrump and onto highway 160 to Vegas. This is a straight road except for the fun bits in and out of the Valley. We have now reached our second State, Nevada. All up it is 350 miles, slow going through Death Valley, here you will need a visor that is if you want to have any skin left on your face when you get to Vegas. Death Valley is the lowest place in the USA, below sea level, salt plain and gets up to 55c.... Real Wild West stuff. This ride will take 440 minutes (in the saddle).

The evening of July 28th and July 29 will be spent in Vegas. You might want to book a hotel from here. There are hundreds of hotels and motels in Vegas ranging from $100.00 Aust a night, for those not on a budget, the sky's the limit.

If you have $600 you can do a helicopter trip over the edge into the Grand Canyon while getting married by the pilot who is also an Elvis impersonator... Ahhhh Vegas! Walking the strip will consume a chunk of a day, having fun is mandatory.

July 30. Vegas to Flagstaff and we arrive in our third state, Arizona. 265 miles, 300 minutes plus the Grand Canyon.

July 31. Today we ride over to Zion Nat Park.
Heading for Panguitch and the next State, Utah. 330 miles, 430 minutes of John Wayne western country. This park is well known for activities such as hiking, camping, biking, and rock climbing however our objective is to reach Sturgis so we're passing through but hope to see a few California Condors on the way.

August 1st...over to Grand Junction, Moab along the way and Arches Nat Park.

Sandstone arches,
Sandstone Arches

The park lies atop an underground salt bed, which is basically responsible for the arches and spires, balanced rocks, sandstone fins and eroded monoliths. Pinyon and gnarled juniper trees add a splash of green contrast to the red sandstone terrain.

Today we arrive in Colorado. Ending up in Steamboat Springs.
This is a big day, 490 miles and 530 minutes of riding... But, it's worth it as we travel over the Rockies, you will need that visor again, and a jumper or jacket.

The evening of August 2 we will be in Lusk: Wyoming.
The riding this day will be boring in comparison to what you have experienced so far but Lusk has a couple of small friendly cowboy bars and is less than two hours from Sturgis. Lusk Wyoming proudly presents itself as "Where the West Begins".

Mount Rushmore
Mount Rushmore

August 3, We ride into Sturgis, South Dakota, check out the town and do a couple of bars. That afternoon we head to Deadwood in the Black Hills of Dakota. Deadwood is an easy half-hour ride.

Now it's time to have a three-day party... Day riding includes the Needles Highway, Custer State Park, Spearfish Canyon, Crazy Horse, Devils Tower and Mount Rushmore. Make sure you visit the bar where Buffalo Bill was killed in Deadwood, and while in Sturgis check out the sites from the Full Throttle, Broken Spoke and the Easy Rider.

At the end of this road trip you will have a nasty suntan making you resemble a badger and a big smile on your face. You will have a lot less money in the bank; more memories than you can handle and an experience that will have you insisting you go back for more.

Be prepared to eat a lot of fried food and you may have to drink a beer or two and make sure you take a small camera, helmet cam can be fun as long as it does not take up too much space.
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Why? Road Trip, Holiday, Travel, Bike Meet
Cost: Cost depends upon your budget
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