Each year, a group of motorcycle enthusiasts plan an annual trek out west. The group, sponsored by the Association of Free Community Papers, calls itself the Black Sheep. Based in cities all across America, riders will follow a variety of routes to get to the main meet-up point in Jackson, Wyo. The riders are expected to converge on Jackson on the evening of Friday, Aug. 1. {mosimage}
    On Aug. 2, the main thrust of the group ride will begin as riders take a trek through one of America’s most breathtaking national parks, riding through the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone. The group will stay just outside of Yellowstone National Park. Riders who have participated in the event before say that this part of the ride is easy but puts some of the country’s most beautiful sites in your sight.
    On Aug. 3, the route will take riders over Beartooth Pass, through Red Lodge and Billings to the Little Bighorn National Battlefield near Crow Agency, Mont. Beartooth Pass is reputed to be the prettiest highway in America. Opened in 1936, the Beartooth Highway crosses through the mountains, and in 1989 was designated a National Scenic Byway. Charles Kuralt, who spent much of his life touring the United States, called it “America’s most beautiful road.”
    The Beartooth route originates in Red Lodge. South of Red Lodge, the road quickly begins ascending the Beartooth Plateau. Between 50 and 60 million years ago, a massive uplift created the Beartooths. At roughly 3,000 square miles, the Beartooths are one of North America’s largest land masses, rising above 10,000 feet, reaching its highest point at 12,799-foot Granite Peak. This is a land of glacier-carved cirques, high alpine lakes and fragile tundra.
    On Monday, Aug. 4, the final leg of the ride will see riders crossing Montana and arriving in Sturgis, S.D., about mid-afternoon just in time to kick off the 68th Annual Bike Week. Bike Week at Sturgis has a long and storied history. The event was started by the Jackpine Gypsies Motorcycle Club, which formed in 1936, and started the Sturgis Rally in 1938. That first rally had a lineup of only nine racers and a very small audience. These days, thousands attend the event which has grown from that one small race. The Jackpine Gypsies still organize the event and a majority of events during the week take place on the club’s 40 acres, which includes a race track, permanent seating, a clubhouse, a concession business and a campground. Each year, 12 events are held during the rally, which draws more than 6,000 spectators.
    Black Sheep riders can stay in Sturgis or nearby areas for as many or as few days as they want, returning home at their own schedule. Riders from the Fayetteville area will meet up with other riders in Nashville, Tenn., to start the cross-country trek.
    Contact Bill Bowman at Bill@upandcomingweekly.com for more information.
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