Now, mind you, it isn’t Ole and me that are having troubles and problems. Are you kidding? We’re back in the campground by late afternoon and in bed by 10 o’clock. Believe me, you don’t find trouble like that. We keep our nose clean and stay away from situations that get out of control. Every year there are “issues” that take place and of course, this year has had its share.

First off, I have to tell you that the attendance, according to the news media, is down about 14-20% this year. It’s quite evident by the traffic on the streets, the number of empty vendor spaces and the number of hotels/motels/campgrounds that have had vacancy signs and space available signs hung out. I think this downturn is due to a number of reasons — first the economy, and secondly, Sturgis is choking the goose that laid the golden egg. Greediness. This sums it up in one word. It’s also called price gouging.

Last week Ole and I went into a place called the Night Owl. We ordered one beer and one margarita, which came to $8. The following Tuesday, during the OFFICIAL rally, we went back to the Night Owl and ordered one margarita and one beer. This time it came to $12. You do the math. What percentage of increase is that? Same thing with hotel rooms. A room that normally charges $68/night is now going for anywhere from $130 to $150 a night. Burgers without fries are running $10 to $12. A beer in Sturgis is going for anywhere from $7 to $10 apiece. I don’t have a problem with people making a profit, but I really feel this is price gouging and it’s showing in the attendance. People are getting tired of this and are spreading out into other areas of the Hills and doing business.

As I said before, there are a lot of empty vendor spaces in Sturgis itself, but you’re seeing more and more vendors spreading out through the Hills where the licensing is much cheaper. They’re going to places like Hill City, Custer, Keystone, Aladin and even out into Wyoming. Enough on that – I’m sure you get my point.

And of course there are always the tragedies that take place during every rally. Two days ago there was a terrible situation that took place on Hwy. 79 north of Sturgis. There was a biker driving south on 79 just north of Sturgis when a red Honda pickup came up behind him and hit him 4 times from the back, ran him into the ditch and then left the accident scene. There were multiple witnesses to this accident. The biker was airlifted to Rapid City but died the next day. Today, due to the info from the witnesses, the driver of the pickup was taken into custody and is charged with homicide. Upon interviewing the driver of the pickup, the police determined that it was due to road rage.

Then there has been the gang issues. A couple of nights ago the Mongols and the Hell’s Angels got into it over some issue and the police had to intervene. No one was killed but there were several people that were taken to the ER due to knife slashes. This took place during the wee hours, or course.

Then there was the issue of the Gypsy Jokers, who are apparently a group of bad guys out of Australia. 30 of them decided to raise trouble down at Mount Rushmore. Just what exactly they had in mind I don’t know as it hasn’t been published in the paper yet, but 9 park rangers surrounded them and escorted them off the property, guns drawn.

Now, there are advantages to being old and gray and being in bed by 10 o’clock at night. The advantage is that you miss all of this excitement, but then you don’t have the blood pressure raises that this sort of stress causes either.

So today is the last OFFICIAL day of the motorcycle rally, although I’m sure there will be many folks hanging around for a few days yet. We’re pulling out tomorrow, heading for Red Lodge, Montana and planning on doing the Beartooth Pass. It’s quite a fun trek on a motorcycle – 11,000 feet with lots of “twisties”

So this will be my last official entry under “Heading for Sturgis.”  If you’re interested in following The Adventures of Ole and Lena just click on this link to see what happens next.

Love, Lena


Raindrops can be painful

After our wild night spent on Main Street in downtown Sturgis last night, our first order of the day was to open our eyes and crawl out of bed.  Let me tell you, this wasn’t difficult because it would have been more exciting watching paint dry than what we saw on Main Street last night.  Usually you can’t find a parking spot and last night there were tons of them.  Usually you can be entertained for hours just people watching, and that got boring after about 15 minutes.  Oh, don’t get me wrong – there were a few oddities here and there, but nothing like the norm.  Either it was too cold for all the weirdoes to be out, or they were all showing off at one of the three concerts that was taking place last night.  Or maybe it was too cold as it did cool down pretty substantially last night. 

So we were all bright eyed and bushy tailed this morning and decided because it was Ham and Jam Day/No Panties Wednesday at Hulett, Wyoming, that the traffic wouldn’t be bad in the southern Black Hills and we would go that direction.  So we loaded up the bikes as our plans encompassed an all-day trek.  We hit the trail heading from Sturgis to Keystone where we stopped for lunch.  Once again we found the streets quite empty compared to normal and were even able to find a table on the boardwalk where we had lunch.  By the time lunch was over there was a nasty looking cloud blowing in making us wonder what we were going to have to deal with going down the road.

So several members of the group leathered up in anticipation (they were from the South, snicker).  Us Northerners stayed in just our t-shirts (snicker).  I admit it was a nasty looking cloud, but we managed to skirt it with just a few drops of rain that hit Ole’s Rain Sensor.  Nothing serious.  But even those few drops of rain can be very painful when they fall on bare skin.  At least I have hair to protect my head – – –

So on we went doing the jackets on/jackets off thing depending on if the sun was shining or it was behind a cloud.  And it wasn’t long until we came across this:

One of the members of our party, and I won’t mention names, was wondering where the National Park Service is going to find space to insert Obama’s face???  I won’t even speculate on that – just leave it up to you readers!!

As we circled around enjoying the scenery and skipping past all the storms we turned onto the Wild Life Loop in Custer Park.  Now this is always an adventure as you never know what you’re going to see.  Unfortunately, today, we didn’t see much.  Years past we’ve seen mountain goats, lots of buffalo, tons of prairie dogs and of course the ever-present donkeys begging for food.  A couple of years ago some disease came through and just about wiped out the prairie dog population.  So as a result, this year there was only one small village, and there weren’t many prairie dogs in it.  The area that used to cover many acres was all overgrown with weeds and nary a sign of a prairie dog in the vicinity.  This was disappointing as it was always fun to stop and throw chunks of carrots to them.  They would pop out of their holes, scramble for the treat, chew on it a bit and then haul it downstairs. 

And of course, there was the constantly present donkeys looking for food.  We always bring carrots or apples to feed them.  This guy was standing in the middle of the road stopping traffic and nibbling at your looking for something to eat.

They all looked pretty healthy this year.  In years past some of them have been covered with sores and just kind of bedraggled looking.  This year you actually felt comfortable petting them.  And there were a number of babies in the group, which also indicates their health status.  Just off the road under a tree was a mother with her little one, who was napping in the sunshine.  She obviously wanted him to get up and she kept pawing at him with one of her front feet.  He just kept ignoring her as I suppose he wasn’t done napping yet.  When she finally managed to get him to his feet she led him over to all the “tourists” and their “goodies” so that he could partake in all  the snacks.  I wish that this blog would let me post the video I took of this as it’s so cute. 

But then it was feeding time from Ole’s napsack.

I’m not sure who enjoyed this more – Ole or the donkey.

So down the road we went and in short order it was time for another butt break.  You can’t imagine how it feels to have no sensation whatsoever in your backside from riding 200 miles on a motorcycle.  Here’s a snap of one of our butt breaks.

So then it was on down Iron Mountain Road which is famous for its pigtail bridges.  They’re quite the thing to navigate as they look like a corkscrew and you go round and round in a tight turn.  They were built back in the 30s to negotiate drastic changes in elevation in a small area.  See how they wind back upon themselves?

One of the things I forgot to show you yesterday was this:

And this – the price tag for the above bike:

Kinda’ blows your mind, huh?

Love, Lena

The Adventures of Ole & Lena – If You Don’t Like the Weather Wait 5 Minutes

I awoke this morning to the sound of raindrops on the roof, managed to open my eyes a crack and saw that it was a dark and cloudy day, so I rolled over and went back to sleep.  By the time I raised my consciousness to the surface again, it was all of 9:30.  Can’t remember the last time I’ve slept that late – but then Sturgis, even with the roar of motorcycle engines starting at 6 a.m., is still a pretty relaxing place.  By the time all of us were up and moving the sun was shining and the humidity was rising. 

Dave’s brother, Dan, from Nebraska, arrived with a friend last night.  Today was planned to show them around a bit and put a few miles on, so we headed on down the highway, stopped for lunch in Lead and then headed south.  We had intended to have lunch at the Stamp Mill Cafe in Lead, which has always been one of our favorite places, but upon our arrival we discovered that it was CLOSED!!.  Empty – bare bones – nonfunctional, as were a number of businesses on that street.  It seems as though since the Homestake Gold Mine was closed a couple of years ago the business economy of Lead has really been on a downslide.  Oh, well, we just went across the street to Sparkie’s, which is new in town and had some really good burgers.

Then we proceeded south to make a big circle and end up back in Sturgis.  We got about half way round the circle and had to stop – had to put on long-sleeved t-shirts as it was getting pretty cloudy and chilling down.  A few more miles down the road it was stop again and slink into leather vests as the temps were still falling.  A couple more miles and it was jackets.  Then as we went over a hill and around a corner Ole’s Rain Detector (bald head) detected rain drops and before we could find a place to pull off his Rain Detector was in full alarm.  We all stopped long enough to don rain gear and chaps and take a good look farther down the road, determining that if we kept going forward we just might turn into some real soggy doggies.  So we made the decision to turn around and go back.  In less than a mile we were out of the rain and back into the sunshine so it was shed all these garments, layer by layer until we’re back into t-shirts again.  But that’s the way it is in the Blackhills at this time of year.  If you don’t like the weather, either wait 5 minutes and it may blow over or drive another mile down the road – it might get better and it might get a lot worse.  Doesn’t matter – you’re taking your chances either way.  To my knowledge there’s only been one fatality so far in this year’s rally, and that was a guy that was struck by lightening and killed when he was riding his bike.  The storms down here are nothing to fool around with – they really mean business when they start with their lightening and thunder. 

Here’s a few more treats to tweak your interest.  If you want to view a larger version of the image, just click on the picture.


We’re headed into Sturgis this evening to do more people watching so I’ll have more to report tomorrow. 

Lena, signing off.


The Adventures of Ole & Lena – Sturgis is No Place for Newbies

Every year it seems to get worse – folks who just bought their motorcycle and decide that Sturgis would be a good place to break it in and get some riding experience.  NOT!!  Newbie, this is definitely not the place for you.  Even with Ole’s 30 plus years of riding experience, it still gets scary at times.  There have been situations in years past where if it hadn’t been for Ole’s experience and quick thinking we would have been road kill – a flat spot on the highway.  Not a pleasant thought.  You have to have all your faculties in tip-top shape; no talking on the cell phone when you’re driving your bike, no looking back over your shoulder at the scenery, remember where your turn is at a 4-way stop and definitely no running a red light or a stop sign.  Remember what a yield right of way sign means, and watch out for that loose gravel on the corners and in the driving lanes.  In other words, get your head out of your butt and pay attention.  You can party to your heart’s content when you get back to your campground or your hotel.  Now that I’ve got my rant out of the way, maybe we can go on, okay?

Saturday called for a trip down Spearfish Canyon, one of our favorite rides.  It’s high so it’s cool, it smells wonderful from all the pine trees and the wild flowers were blooming profusely.  With all the rain that has fallen in this area this summer, and the heavy snow melt we thought there would have been more water flowing over the falls.  The creek that it feeds was bone dry by the time that it reached the bottom of the canyon. 

Here’s a shot of what the canyon walls look like.  The rock formations are beautiful, and there’s gorgeous log homes tucked in all along the canyon.  Wouldn’t it be great to live in one that’s perched halfway up the wall and have this beautiful view to look upon every day?


Yesterday was a “shopping day” so we cruised main street and made our purchases before things got picked over.  There are more and more vendors/stores that are putting signs out in front “American owned.”  This is getting to be quite important as it seems that every year there are more and more “raghead” vendors.  Sorry if this offends anyone, but this is my blog and I’ll write what I want.  Call me opinionated if you like, I really don’t care.  After some of the experiences my friend, Karen, and I have had down here dealing with these people we have a right to our opinions.  I won’t go into all the details as it’s a long story, but Ole and I ended up going to the cops because the owners of the shop threatened me physically and verbally.  All I will say is that there was a favorable outcome.  So we make it a practice to shop only in shops that are American owned. 

 Today Ole and I had a nice ride up to Deadwood, down 385 to Nemo Road then back to Sturgis through Vanocker Canyon.  We couldn’t go as far south as we wanted, though, as there were storm clouds threatening, as usual.  Then we decided to park on Main Street and do a bit of people watching.  That’s probably the most interesting part of going to Sturgis.  There’s always something new and different to see.  So here’s a couple to tweak your interest!!


No, that’s NOT Ole riding the buffalo, and no, I didn’t take that last picture!!

Love, Lena

The Harley Gets New Shoes

Yup – just like going Back to School Shopping.  You have to keep your kids in shoes so Ole decided that the Harley needed a new set of tires.  After making several stops at different tire vendors he went back to the first place we stopped and an hour later and $400+ we rode out on new rubber.  You need every advantage that helps to keep the shiny side up, you know. 

We haven’t wandered very far in our travels as of yet because the weather has been kind of unpredictable.  Just like back home they’ve been getting gully washers here in the Black Hills.  We ambled on up to Deadwood yesterday and on our ride back we could see that it was raining heavy ahead of us.

We’ve had some weather experiences in the Black Hills that have left us a bit on the gun shy side.  About 10 years back we were in downtown Sturgis in the evening when a severe storm hit and knocked out the power.  We were staying up in Lead that year so began making our way back in the dark and heavy rain.  There had been a lot of fires in the hills that summer so there wasn’t much vegetation to hold the soil in place and by the time we got to Deadwood they were in the midst of a major mudslide.  The dirt was sliding off the mountains and filling the streets, covering the sidewalks and knocking parked bikes down like dominoes.  We managed to scoot through on a side street, get through Deadwood and on up to Lead where we emptied water out of our boots and shrugged off all our wet leather.  We’ve since invested in some major rain gear, which has come in pretty handy at times. 

The campground we’re staying in is beginning to fill up.  We’ve stayed here for 9 years in the very same spot along with friends that we meet up with every year.  Karen and Dave from Arizona are here, Jeff and Jerry from Huron are here and we’re waiting for Rocky and Billie from Kansas City.  They’re all folks that we’ve met down here and we all park in the same spots every year so it’s like a mini-biker reunion.  Rocky & Billie always bring Norton, a pit-bull-lab cross that is absolutely a social butterfly.  The biggest thing to be concerned about with Norton is being hit by his tail when he’s wagging it.  Daisy, our German Shepherd, thinks he’s a pain because he still acts ike a puppy and she’s way to sophisticated for anything like that.  Speaking of pets, our Senior Citizen Simon (age 20) has found a wonderful place to sleep.  When I close the cabinet doors he’s got a wonderful little hidy hole.  One day I forgot he was in there and he spent the entire day, but was howling to get out when we got home.  He jumped down and raced straight for the litter box. 

You see some interesting things on the streets, and they’ll get more interesting as the week goes on.  Here’s a couple of old duffers looking for some new head gear.

I’m not sure it will do much to protect their head if they go down, and they’ll have to be careful not to poke someone’s eye out walking down the street!

The City of Sturgis blocks off the entire main street to car traffic during bike week.  It used to be that they set up the blockades on Saturday night and they encompassed 4 city blocks.  Each year, as the rally has grown, they enlarge the time frame and the area.  This year the streets were blocked off on Friday morning and now encompass 6 blocks in addition to all the side streets for one block each direction.  Bikes are parked along each curb and two deep in  the center of the street.  I’ll be posting pictures later in the week, but for now, here’s one that was taken on one of the side streets yesterday.

Okay – that’s it for today.  Lena signing off.

Fargo man inducted into Sturgis Hall of Fame

Del Hofer was inducted into the Sturgis hall of fame.

Del Hofer has been a Harley-Davidson dealer for 50 years, first in Huron, S.D., then in Fargo.  His love of motorcycling is obvious through many of his activities.  Del is active in the American Motorcyclists Association and is the longest serving member of the Harley-Davidson Dealer Advisory Board. A long-time AMA amateur racer in all styles of racing, Del also served as an AMA referee and District Congressman for quite some time.  Del’s passion for motorcycling is evident to anyone who meets him.  He encourages men and women alike to take safety courses, get active in riding and enjoy it in a safe and fun way.

To read more on the Sturgis Hall of Fame inductees, click here

To read a Forum article on Hofer, click here

Ole and Lena go to Sturgis

“Ole,” I said last week.  “Do you suppose we should go to Sturgis again this year?”

“Now, Woman,” he responded, “Why would we change our long-time habits at this point in time?  I haven’t missed a year of the rally since 1987, and once I finally talked you into going I can’t keep you out of there.  Of course, we’re going.  Pack up that motorhome and let’s hit the road.”

To read the rest of this blog and see further updates, see Ole and Lena go to Sturgis




The riders

Enjoying the atmosphere

Brad and Mary McIntyre of Casselton, N.D., will be pulling their trailer and their bikes to Sturgis.

Brad is a general partner is a farming operation while Mary is a surgical technologist.

“The opportunity to ride the beautiful Black Hills and the friendships you make with people you meet from all over the world,” writes Mary, is her favorite thing about the rally.

“We enjoy the people, the concerts, the shopping and the atmosphere,” she writes.

Mary and Brad McIntyre on their bikes

Like father, like son

Casey McKenna from Fargo, along with father, Brian McKenna from Nevis, Minn.

Casey is a computer help desk technician his father is an X-ray technician.

“Sturgis is the holy land for bikers, it’s the end all, be all place for bikers to go and just hang out,” writes Casey, who will be attending his first Sturgis rally.

Another first

Jon Zubriski of West Fargo is planning on taking his first Sturgis rally with his girlfriend and some friends that he regularly rides with.

“I’ve never been there during the event itself and want to experience it at least once in my life,” writes Jon, who is a plant supervisor in Fargo.

After riding in a Duluth run last fall, he and a friend began planning for the Sturgis ride.

“Now we’re less than a week away and all of us are getting quite excited! Although, I’m not looking forward to the 530 mile ride just to get there,” he writes.

Jon and his friends

Regular customer

Evelyn Karppinen and her husband were already on their way Wednesday, sporting a 40-foot motorhome with Harley in tow.

Evelyn writes that her husband hasn’t missed Sturgis since 1987 and she hasn’t missed one since 1994.

“We don’t ride to Sturgis anymore,” Evelyn says, “although my husband did that for a number of years.”

Heading for the hills

Julie Brown had quite a surprise for her husband, Eric.

The couple is looking forward to being a part of the thousands of bikers coming together for a good time.

Eric says his wife planned the trip and surprised him two weeks ago that they were going to Sturgis, part of his 40th birthday surprise.

Eric is a veteran sales coordinator for Maintenance Engineering and Julie is a regional manager for Staybridge Suites.

“(This is our) first time going so not sure what we will enjoy the most: the ride there, the site seeing in the Black Hills, the concerts and various bike competitions,” Eric writes.

“Actually having some scenery to enjoy other than the flatness of the Red River Valley… ha-ha.  The numerous mountain highways will be fun to ride.”

“We plan on doing about 3,000 miles on the bike next week by the time we get back. It’s about 1,000 round trip, plus 200 or so miles a day just riding and sight-seeing,” Eric writes.

The Brown's bike

First bike went straight to Sturgis

Scott Althoff of West Fargo bought his first motorcycle late in 2004 and says he has been riding to Sturgis every year since.

Althoff, an operations manager for Maple River Grain and Agronomy in Casselton, N.D., says a friend of his also bought a bike about the same time and is his riding buddy to Sturgis every year.

“It gives us a chance to get away and have some fun in a city that is full of the unexpected as well as some of the most scenic roads to ride on in the U.S.,” Althoff writes.

Alhoff says people watching and visiting with bikers hanging out nearby in Sturgis is one of the best parts of being there.

“It’s fun to see where they are from and how they got to Sturgis as well as what they ride,” he writes. “I also like to walk the streets of Sturgis and see all the motorcycle vendors and their products.”

Scott Althoff

Scott Althoff on a new bike he bought last year.