August 3 – Mt Rushmore (eventually)

The first thing you learn about Sturgis during a Rally is that you’ll go nowhere fast – for a long time. Our campground was on the northeastern corner of Sturgis, but almost everything we wanted to go see, and the roads we wanted to ride, were all to the south of town. And since this is a mostly-rural part of South Dakota, and Sturgis’ population is all of about 6,000 when the biker world doesn’t descend on them en masse, there is only one real road through town. Guess where everybody is?

Instant lessons in slow-speed, long-term, group riding - cheap!

Instant lessons in slow-speed, long-term, group riding – cheap!

And this is about 3 miles OUTSIDE OF TOWN! We had to ride along with everyone else to get *to* town; then to get *through* town there was more! Traffic lights, stop signs (and you better *stop*, too, with both feet on the ground before you proceed) – you name it, it was an obstacle.

Did I mention it was crowded?

Did I mention it was crowded?

The ironic thing about all this traffic is that the police brought in a bunch of the radar trailers – the ones where the posted speed limit is on the pole, and right below it is a display with your speed. The limit was 35; most of the time the display was reading in the single digits. I don’t even know how it could figure out one bike from another, we were packed so closely together. I suppose the crowds thinned out some in the wee hours, but certainly every time *I* was on those roads, they were packed and crawling.

The second thing you learn is that you should probably have brought earplugs. I hate the things, but by the end of my first ride through town I was seriously considering getting some. Most of the bikes are Harleys, of course, and most of *them* have been modified to make more noise, likely on the supposed theory that “loud pipes save lives.” As the article at the other end of the link concludes, there’s nothing to support that contention – but neither is there anything to refute it. My personal opinion is that they don’t, and I hold that view because, while I was at Sturgis, I was passed on the highway by many a loud bike. But the loud bikes weren’t any more noticeable to me as they approached and passed than were the quiet ones. But that’s anecdotal and not scientific. I think bikers just like loud pipes.

Anyway. Sturgis was LOUD. All the time. Everywhere. And even more so in enclosed areas, like the drive-through at the Broken Spoke (see my previous post) and the lower parking deck at Mt. Rushmore where, for some reason, folks with loud pipes just *had* to rev their engines to see how much noise they could make. At times it was physically painful.

The third thing you learn is that, once you’re out of town and on one of those wonderful twisty, turny, curve- and hill-filled dream roads, you’re never alone. You’re part of an endless stream of bikes going in your direction, and you’re constantly watching the oncoming stream of bikes:

The river of bikes flows both ways - all the time.

The river of bikes flows both ways – all the time.

Eventually we reached Mt. Rushmore, paid our fee to park, and walked up to the viewing plaza. We saw the faces (both stone and skin):

Lots of faces at Mt. Rushmore! Four of them are even stone!

Lots of faces at Mt. Rushmore! Four of them are even stone!

We walked through the gallery that explains the carving process and such, but didn’t go to some of the other areas, like the trail to the base of the mountain itself.

After we left, we had dinner in Keystone and then made our way back to camp. It was a full day!

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