Las Vegas, NV, to Sturgis, SD: Off the Cloud in the Wild West

Text: John M. Flores • Photography: John M. Flores, Joe Gresh

Modern life is grand—always on the go, always connected to 
the “Cloud,” always tweeting, pinning, liking, sharing, and then 
recharging so that we can do it all again. It is, admittedly, 
overwhelming sometimes—even for The Digital Rider.

In the midst of these thoughts, an email arrives. It’s an invitation to ride the great American West. “… epic ride … backroads … Victory touring bikes … riding pleasure.” The attached route wanders like a lazy river from Las Vegas, NV, to Sturgis, SD. With four partners (Cassidy, Monroe, Bogart, and Bacall) to share the experience with, this trip had Steppenwolf’s Born to be Wild written all over it. What could be cooler than Facebooking from wide-open spaces?

Leaving Lost Wages

We’re barely an hour away from The Strip but already in the middle of nowhere, the bleached moonscape with good pavement otherwise known as Lake Mead National Recreation Area. I’m on “Road Corn” (a Gold Digger Pearl Victory Cory Ness Cross Country Tour), and we’re off the “Cloud;” there’s not a gangly cell tower for miles. Forget 4G. This is 0G.

Bacall is on point and Cassidy’s on his six, pushing the pace to 11. We carve the place up pretty well. As Road Corn chases the horizon, the to-do lists, deadlines, and clients are left behind, leaving just me and the bike hurtling through the scenery. It’s Zen, and I feel better than I have all week.

At the first break though, the Smartphones come out faster than you can say, “Can you hear me now?” Gotta check with the home office. Gotta read that email. Gotta post a photo of five guys standing around in a parking lot. The world might end if we don’t.

We cross into Utah just in time for lunch and leave behind the muted colors of Nevada and Arizona. If you’ve never been to Mars, go to southern Utah instead. It’s less expensive, and you’ll have diminished jet lag. Southern Utah also has oxygen, which is good for fuel-injected motorcycles. Zion National Park is a prime example of the red planet’s surface. It’s surreal, ruddy asphalt weaving through fantastical mounds of burnt-orange rock tilting skyward like misshapen wedding cakes. After a brief shower, we arrive at the Shooting Star Drive-In, a collection of vintage Airstream trailers just outside of Escalante. There’s an Airstream for each of us tonight, and dinner’s on the grill. The evening’s entertainment is Brando’s The Wild One viewed on the big screen from mid-century Caddies parked and wired for sound. The whole setup is sweet, the polar opposite of the “posh” and circumstance of Vegas, and I suspect that we’re all happier in this setting (even Bogart, who’s afraid of ghosts, it seems). But before I call it a night, I stand outside my Airstream and hold my phone up to the sky, an offering to the Cloud. “3G, please?” I mutter. It’s no use.

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For the complete touring article, including facts & information, map(s), and GPS files, please purchase the July/August 2013 back issue.