My trip to the 75th annual Sturgis motorcycle rally. July 30, 2015 through August 12, 2015

California motorcycle accident attorney Norman Gregory Fernandez at the 2015 Sturgis motorcycle rally
California motorcycle accident attorney Norman Gregory Fernandez at the 2015 Sturgis motorcycle rally

I always look forward to my annual trip to the Sturgis motorcycle rally. For the last 4 years I’ve taken my RV, and trailered my motorcycle. This year was no different.

However, what was different this year, was that because it was the 75th annual Sturgis motorcycle rally, everything was completely sold out months in advance.

I usually stay at the Glencoe campground. However, this year, all they were offering for $1200 was an RV site with electrical hookup, and water, but no sewer. If you wanted to dump your RV, you’d have to notify them and wait for them to come.

I could’ve went to many ordinary RV parks in and around the Sturgis area that provided full hookups, but as in previous years, I wanted to be in the middle of the action, and in an RV park that offered concerts, recreation, and other amenities.

California biker lawyer Norman Gregory Fernandez and friend that the 2015 Sturgis motorcycle rally
California biker lawyer Norman Gregory Fernandez and friend at the 2015 Sturgis motorcycle rally

I found that the Broken Spoke Campground was advertising a full hook up RV site without sewer just like Glencoe was advertising, but their price was only $899. You would also have to purchase a $200 wristband per person if you were to stay at the broken spoke campground, whereas Glencoe was charging $300 for the wristband.

Basically sites like the Glencoe, Broken Spoke, and others, have premium concerts every night, so they charge for wristbands on top of the charge for the actual RV site.

I ended up choosing the Broken Spoke Campground because it was approximately $800 cheaper than Glencoe. It turned out to be a big mistake see below. The total price was approximately $1400 including the wristbands.

This year I purchased a new RV 3 months before Sturgis. The damn thing was constantly in the shop up until a few days before Sturgis. There were still a few bugs with the unit that were not fixed prior to leaving, oh well.

California motorcycle accident lawyer Norman Gregory Fernandez at Mount Rushmore, 2015 Sturgis motorcycle rally
California motorcycle accident lawyer Norman Gregory Fernandez at Mount Rushmore, 2015 Sturgis motorcycle rally

As in previous years it was kind of hectic getting ready for the trip. For the most part I think it’s all a mental thing. I, and I’m sure a lot of other people get so excited before the rally, that just preparing to leave is exhausting.

It is very hard to find people that can take a week to 2 weeks off work to travel with you to the Sturgis motorcycle rally. Many guys plan trips like this years in advance. Last year I went with a friend to Sturgis, she was able to do the entire trip with me. This year my new female friend was unable to do the drive with me due to work, but was able to fly in on Tuesday night, and then fly out on Sunday night, September 9, 2015 the last night of the rally.

Although I like to travel with friends because it’s much better, I’m the kind of guy that is no problem packing up and going across country by myself. Done it many times, no problem.

California motorcycle accident lawyer Norman Gregory Fernandez and friend having fun on the Black Hills scenic by way
California motorcycle accident lawyer Norman Gregory Fernandez and friend having fun on the Black Hills Scenic Byway

I love the drive to the Sturgis motorcycle rally, it’s the excitement that gets you. Many moons ago before I got into the RV scene I would traditionally ride to events like this on my motorcycle. There’s something to be said about doing either. I love riding don’t get me wrong, but 1700 miles each way wears on you a bit. At my age, I prefer taking my RV. At motorcycle rallies the big party happens in the campgrounds anyway.

I have done this drive many years in a row, so all the sites along the way are becoming familiar to me now, almost like old friends and landmarks. This year it took me a bit longer to get to the rally because frankly I was burnt out on the 2nd night of driving and stopped at a rest stop in Wyoming to sleep for a few hours.

Sturgis, South Dakota was about 150 miles from the rest stop. Excitement was in the air in the morning. In years past I went through this area at night, let me tell you the drive from the Wyoming to the South Dakota border was beautiful. Coupled with the fact that there were thousands of bikes on the road made it even better. You could just tell that this year was going to be special.

The view from our table at Mount Rushmore Sturgis 2015
The view from our table at Mount Rushmore Sturgis 2015

Ordinarily every year I get off of the freeway and drive on the main drag through downtown Sturgis to go to the Glencoe campground and set up. This year it kind of sucked because as I pulled off the traffic was much worse than any previous year that I’ve seen. It took me an hour to get from the freeway to near the Glencoe campground. It was bumper to bumper motorcycles the entire way. Being in a big RV above the action was kind of cool because I could see all the action but the traffic was horrible.

This year because I was staying at the Broken Spoke Campground, I passed the Glencoe campground for a couple miles then made the turn off to the Broken Spoke Campground. It was on the way to the Broken Spoke that I became concerned. I was basically in the middle of nowhere and there is barely any motorcycles on the road.

Biker lawyer Norman Gregory Fernandez in Custer national Park, Sturgis 2015
Biker lawyer Norman Gregory Fernandez in Custer National Park, Sturgis 2015

Finally about 15 miles down the road, the Broken Spoke arose out of the country rolling hills. It was exciting, and it was packed.

I was directed into the check-in area and proceeded to go from my RV to the check-in area. This is where my nightmare began.

The girl at the Broken Spoke campground check-in immediately told me that they had no spaces with water, and that if I had a problem with that I could go online and request a refund. I told her “what are you talking about, I paid for a full hook up space, and my RV is almost that of water.” She told me that there is nothing that she could do, and that if I placed a certain flag in front of my RV there would be somebody coming around to pump water. Imagine, all of Sturgis was sold out this year. I was pissed.

I thought to myself this is complete bullshit. I would’ve never stayed at this place had I known there was no water for the RV.

California motorcycle accident attorney Norman Gregory Fernandez Sturgis motorcycle rally, Sturgis 2015
California motorcycle accident attorney Norman Gregory Fernandez Sturgis motorcycle rally, Sturgis 2015

I’m not going to waste a bunch of space in this article to talk about what bullshit the Broken Spoke Campground was and how it almost ruined my trip this year, but I will say that after wasting 2 days of the rally there, I found another RV Park with full hookups in Deadwood, South Dakota, for $600 thank god, and high tailed it out of the Broken Spoke Campground as soon as I could. I felt sorry for the poor shmucks stuck there waiting for water for 4 days. Screw that.

The Broken Spoke Campground was a dustbowl in the middle of nowhere. I am sure if it wasn’t so crowded it might’ve been an okay place to be, but they grossly oversold it knowing full well they didn’t have enough spaces to accommodate what they were selling. I was able to get a refund of a thousand dollars from them via PayPal a week after I got home. I will give them credit for that they did refund me for the campground part of the trip. I never did recover the cost of the wristbands and lost $400 on that deal because I never went back.

Biker lawyer Norman Gregory Fernandez with friend in Sturgis 2015
Biker lawyer Norman Gregory Fernandez with friend at Mt. Rushmore, Sturgis 2015

Suffices to say I will never stay there again, I highly recommend that you find another place to stay if you are ever at the Sturgis rally. Now if they come to me and make me an offer I might give them another chance but right now I am highly pissed off at them still over a month after the fact.

I went and stayed at a place called Whistler’s Gulch in Deadwood, South Dakota which is about 16 miles from the main drag in Sturgis. I love this place, but it is a bit of a drive to and from Sturgis.

As far as the rally this year went, frankly, it sucked compared to previous years. The Broken Spoke Campground nightmare was part of it, but also it was a sausage fest, meaning there was at least 4 to 5 guys for every one gal at the rally and most of the gals of the rally were not hotties like I am so used to seeing at motorcycle rallies. There were only a few hot gals there. Seems like every guy in the country and their friends decided to go to Sturgis this year and left the gals behind. It was a complete sausage fest.

California motorcycle accident attorney Norman Gregory Fernandez with friend 75th annual Sturgis motorcycle rally
California motorcycle accident attorney Norman Gregory Fernandez with friend 75th annual Sturgis motorcycle rally

Further, the traffic was so bad that it was horrendous. I did ride about 3000 miles on my bike during the rally. I’m not the bar going type of guy. I’m a rider. When I get into the Black Hills and start riding, which is my passion. I rode my ass off this year as in previous years.

I rode my old favorites, Mount Rushmore, Custer National Park, all through the Black Hills, the Black Hills Scenic Byway, Crazy Horse, and many places off the beaten track. As usual I found hidden places to ride for many miles on dirt roads with my gal riding shotgun on the back. As usual we found a couple secluded spots to enjoy each other as well, which is kind of tough in the Black Hills because there are really are no places to hide.

Staying in Deadwood this year definitely changed the ambience of the rally for me. It was a lot mellower this year than in previous years, because in previous years I would’ve been at the concerts every night until 2 in the morning. Hell last year after the concerts ended I went to the only gym in town to work out in the middle of the night.

California biker attorney Norman Gregory Fernandez at the Old Faithful geyser in Yellowstone national forest just after Sturgis 2015
California biker attorney Norman Gregory Fernandez at the Old Faithful geyser in Yellowstone national forest just after Sturgis 2015

Now this rally totally sucked compared to all the other rallies I’ve been to in the past at Sturgis. The main culprit this year was just flat-out shitty weather. It was cold and rainy over 50% of the rally this year. Just flat-out shitty weather. The rain caused many people to leave after a couple days, and by the end of the rally the place was pretty much empty. You can’t do anything about Mother Nature. This year the weather really sucked. In previous years there was rain for one or 2 days at Sturgis, but nothing as bad as this year.

I definitely got some good riding in, and had some good times, but this year was definitely not worth the time and effort as in previous years. I’m hoping next year will kind of calm down a little bit. What may sound like a sacrilege is I may not even go to Sturgis next year. It remains to be seen. I’ve always wanted to ride Alaska during the summer, so I may take my rig and do an Alaska trip will see.

My lady friend and I had a good time on this trip. She was the one good thing about the rally other than the great riding. We had some good times between each other as a man and women do, which I’m not going to describe here but I’m sure you can let your imagination run amok.

Motorcycle lawyer Norman Gregory Fernandez of the 75th annual Sturgis motorcycle rally
Motorcycle lawyer Norman Gregory Fernandez 75th annual Sturgis motorcycle rally

Rallies like this are about adult pleasure. If you go by yourself without a woman to a rally like this the chances of actually hooking up with a woman at the rally or are almost impossible, because most of the women are hooked up with men. So all these guys showing up with all their buddies just kind of ruin it.

On the last day of the rally, Sunday, I struck Camp and drove my RV through town to the Rapid City Airport to drop my lady friend off who had to fly back home to be at work the next day. It kind of sucked to watch her go but they get then again I was excited, because I was now headed towards Cody Wyoming and Yellowstone.

I should’ve just parked the RV when it got dark and camped out for the night but I figured if I was able to get to Cody straightaway I could spend 2 days riding Yellowstone instead of just one day. That’s exactly what I did. I rode my 36′ Class A motorhome with 12 foot trailer, total length of about 50 feet through the Greybull National Forest which goes up to about 90,000 feet in pitch darkness.

75th annual Sturgis motorcycle rally
75th annual Sturgis motorcycle rally

I had an accident 4 years ago where I lost the brakes on my motorhome in the same forest and almost got killed, see the article about that experience by clicking here.

I Rode the same exact route, and actually stopped in the middle of the night at the spot where I had the accident 4 years earlier just to contemplate what happened. Let me tell you something, it’s eerie in the Greybull National Forest at night, there was nobody else on the road with me. If anything would’ve happened nobody would’ve discovered me until probably the next morning. The time I got to the Yellowstone highway through Greybull, I was spent and could barely keep my eyes open. I got to the Walmart in Cody, parked the RV and crashed out.

When I woke up the next day and went to the Yellowstone Valley campground set up camp, got my motorcycle out of the trailer, and rode the Yellowstone national forest. I was able to ride Yellowstone for two days before heading home. This article is not about my ride through the Yellowstone national forest, but I will just say that I’ve done it every year after Sturgis and I love it.

I definitely had a good time riding Sturgis this year but it was not as good as previous years. Nothing is perfect, but I had a good time.

By California Personal Injury Attorney and Biker Lawyer Norman Gregory Fernandez, Esq., © 2015

My Sturgis Motorcycle Rally and Yellowstone Picture Movie

On July 31 – August 13th, 2014 I traveled to the 74th Annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally and to Yellowstone for the 3rd consecutive year.

The below movie is a slideshow movie of the pictures I took at the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally and Yellowstone.

This year I took less pictures than last year because I concentrated more on riding, and I was rained in for about a day and a half on this trip.

Enjoy the movie.

By Biker Lawyer and California Motorcycle Accident Attorney Norman Gregory Fernandez, Esq., © August 31, 2014

We almost died in Big Horn National Forest

The scene of my RV accident on US-14 above Greybull, Wyoming in the Big Horn National Forest
The scene of my RV accident on US-14 above Greybull, Wyoming in the Big Horn National Forest. This shows the damage after my RV was pulled off of the embankment.

** This article was written on August 30, 2012, 2012, but it is being published on December 18, 2012. There will be one final article to be published soon about the rest of my epic vacation. There will also be a post of many videos from the vacation. Again, this article was written on August 30, 2012.

First off, before I get started, let me follow-up with my status on August 27, 2012.

Liz and I toured all over the Black Hills of South Dakota. We visited Mount Rushmore, the Crazy Horse Memorial, Sturgis, and Rapid City. We had a good time in South Dakota especially on the motorcycle. The Black Hills offer some great riding in what I consider to be intermediate twisties. I think the twisties we have where I live in the Angeles National Forest or in some places in the Santa Monica Mountains are much more difficult to ride than the Black Hills.

All in All though, the Black Hills are beautiful and I will be back next year.

We left South Dakota on August 29, 2012 for Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming.

When we reached the mountains off of US 14, I knew we were in for some exciting views. These are the steepest mountains I have taken my RV on since getting the RV. We went up to an altitude of 8,900 feet.

The trailer after my RV accident.
The trailer after my RV accident. It jackknifed into the rear bumper causing a crack and a small scratch on my lower, other than that there was no damage to the motorcycle thank god.

On the downside of the mountain, there was a sign showing a truck on a downgrade stating that it was for the next 17 miles. Another sign stated for trucks to switch into lower gears. I shifted into 2nd gear.

The downgrade was extreme. I pumped my brakes rather just holding them down. I cannot describe what it is like to try to slow down a very large 35’ RV with an Electra Glide and trailer in tow, on declines such as the one we were on. It was scary.

On the way down, we both heard a noise that we could not identify. Later on, I felt the brakes get a bit mushy but they still worked. We came to a visitor’s area where there were waterfalls and a viewing area. I told Liz that I was going to stop to check out the brakes.

It was around 6-6:30pm or so and starting to get a bit dark in the mountains. Since the sun was going down Liz did not want to stop or possible or get stuck in this desolate place. I told her we had to stop. I got the rig slowed down and turned right into the area, I downshifted to 1st gear to slow down more without using the brakes, when I pushed down on the brakes to stop, the pedal went to the floor and to my horror were gone. We were not slowing down and we were not stopping.

Where we would have died had I not intentionally crashed into the embankment
Had I kept on going straight in my RV instead of intentionally crashing my RV to the left, this is the cliff we would have went over, at about 300 feet we both would have died. God was with us this day.

In my 49 years heretofore, I have driven or ridden many cars, trucks, motorcycles, you name it, nothing that I have driven or ridden has lost all brake power before, nothing.

Here I was heading for a sheer cliff straight ahead, literally a sheer cliff, and I had no brakes. I yelled to Liz that we had no brakes. I tried shifting the rig into park; it just made a click click sound but did not slow down.

I told Liz that we were going to crash.

I intentionally steered the rig sharply to the left so that we would hit the side of the road which were rocks rather than go off of the cliff. I could not believe that when I made the sharp turn to the left that we did not tip over on our side.

I told Liz to brace herself. Literally from the time I realized I had no brakes until the time we crashed was just a few seconds.

I noticed a white thing where we were headed, I steered to avoid it.

We jumped up onto a curb, crashed through a wood fence, and by the grace of god were finally stopped by two beefy barriers that the National Park Service has planted along the sides of the road.

After the initial impact we kept going until we hit these barriers. We did not stop right away.

After the impact we just sat there. I was freaked out about the damage to the rig, Liz said “Norman don’t worry, we are alive.”

Let me tell you, had I steered wrong or stayed on the road that day, I have no doubt we would no longer be here on this earth. What if I would have lost the brakes on the road? I would have gone 35-40 mph or faster right over the edge. If anyone has ridden the US 14 in Wyoming, you know what I mean.

Two days ago I lost my brakes on a severe downgrade on US 14 in the Big Horn National Forest in Wyoming. I had to intentionally crash my RV in order to get the rig stopped.

The front bumper on my RV after the accident
This is the front bumper on my RV after the accident. It was destroyed. A new bumper has to be fabricated from scratch to fix the damage.

Thanks to the fine people of Greybull, Wyoming, we were towed off of the mountain into a KOA RV Park last night, and the same guy came this morning to pick up the rig to repair the brakes. The parts won’t be in until tomorrow, so the repair guy is allowing us to bunk down in the RV on his property.

I have fallen in love with Greybull, Wyoming and so has Liz. The town has about 1100 people who all seem to know each other. Went to dinner tonight and ended up meeting some of the town folk. I was invited to attend a shooting event on a private ranch. The people here leave their keys in the car, and will bend over backwards to help you.

I rode up to the crash site twice today, from Greybull, Wyoming east on US 14 up into Big Horn Forest, once by myself, once with Liz. This ride is the most beautiful and awe inspiring ride I’ve ever taken in my life. No words can describe the wide vistas, the ancient canyons, the trees, and the waterfalls. It was as if I was in the most beautiful place on earth on my Harley.

Getting back to the accident; had I not turned the way I did Liz and I would not be here. There was a sheer cliff in front of us when I lost the brakes. It was a scary experience. The RV sustained damage to the lower front where it hit, and the back where the trailer fish tailed. We are not injured. I was told that many RV’ers lose their brakes up here every month; live and learn. I lost my lower lights in the front and some fiberglass. It can be repaired.

If the parts come in tomorrow and the RV is otherwise safe to drive we will be heading to Cody, Wyoming, where I will set up camp. Saturday we will ride the Harley through Yellowstone from the east entrance. Until then….

By California Biker Attorney and Motorcycle Accident Attorney Norman Gregory Fernandez

A little raw video taken today on 8-28-12 of my visit to Mount Rushmore.

Today on 8-28-12, Liz and I rode from Deadwood, South Dakota to Mount Rushmore. Both Deadwood and Mount Rushmore are located in the historic Black Hills of South Dakota.

I have ridden many twisties all over the USA and Canada. The Black Hills are not that bad, but the beautiful scenery is distracting.

Nothing can explain how you feel when you ride up and see Mount Rushmore for the first time while riding your motorcycle.

I am posting some raw video I took at Mount Rushmore today. When I return home, I am going to edit the many hours of film I have shot and post it here.

Without further ado, here is a little bit of raw video I took today.

Norman Gregory Fernandez, Esq.

In the Black Hills of South Dakota for a few days

Deadwood, South Dakota
Deadwood, South Dakota

We arrived a few hours ago in our home for the next few days and nights, an excellent RV resort in Deadwood, South Dakota, within the Black Hills. We are about 12 miles from Sturgis, South Dakota and about an hour away from Mount Rushmore.

Deadwood is a happening town when the Sturgis motorcycle rally is not happening. There are many casinos and bars and an actual nightlife. It is a historic place high in the Black Hills, whereas Sturgis is a small town except during the rally.

The Black Hills happen to be the oldest mountains on the North American Continent.

My last update had us staying at an RV park in Illinois. Last night we spent the night in what was basically a muddy mess in Minnesota.

Since my last update we have driven through or stayed in Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, and South Dakota.

All of the States we have driven through have been beautiful.

South Dakota is probably the most desolate state by far with respect to places to stop, traffic, etc. It is truly a plains state. We went through hundreds of miles of corn fields before South Dakota. Once in South Dakota it switched to endless grasslands. To be frank South Dakota reminds me of the drive from Los Angeles to San Francisco in a way, but it is still unique.

The Sturgis motorcycle rally was August 6 – 12, 2012 this year. The rally ended two weeks ago. It is amazing to me that there are still a bunch of die-hard bikers here. I saw many bikers on I-90 as I was driving in.

I guess I will still have much fun riding my Harley Davidson Electra Glide amongst other bikers while I am here.

Tomorrow before I do anything, I will have to wash my motorcycle in place on the trailer before taking her off. She picked up a thick coat of white paste in Iowa, and rinsing it with water, nor rain in Iowa and Minnesota did not wash it off. So I will be delayed for at least an hour washing her. Once she is washed I will be off.

I plan on getting GoPro helmet footage of my ride as well as standard HD footage when stopped. I will post it on the blog when I get home.

That is it for now. Time to relax; it was a long 500 mile plus drive in the RV today.

By California Biker Lawyer Norman Gregory Fernandez, Esq.

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