Why Eastern Montana?

We heard it repeatedly when we met motorcyclists in Sidney this month.  “It’s the roads.”  “It’s the views.”  “There’s no traffic.”  “The sky is endless.”  The fact is, Eastern Montana loves motorcyclists.

Eastern Montana loves Motorycles open highways and hills

Road surfaces in good shape, light traffic, and wide open scenery attract motorcycle riders to eastern Montana

We visited the ABATE Scootfest in Sidney early in May and asked, “What makes Eastern Montana a good place to ride?”  We asked young, old, men, women, locals and out-of-staters.  These are people who are serious about safely riding their motorcycles and Eastern Montana gives them what they want.

Eastern Montana motorcycles Sidney Event Center

Two vintage Harley-Davidson’s are parked in front, both “shovelheads” at the Sidney Event Center for the annual Scootfest Bike Show.

Put in geographic context, Sidney is on the Yellowstone River just five miles inside the Montana border. To the east, from anywhere in town you can see the western face of the beautiful Badlands that line the east shore of the Yellowstone River. (It’s as close to being in “The Badlands” as any town except Medora that’s actually on the banks of the Little Missouri River.)

Motorcyclists with soul ride these roads.

“Anyone can love the mountains, but it takes a person with soul to love the prairies.”

To the west, it is a rider’s paradise.  Many motorcyclists will extol the thrills of riding the twisties and the turns, the hills and valleys of mountain riding.  That can be thrilling.  But for sheer “knees in the breeze” experience, the region around Sidney can’t be topped. From Glasgow to the north to Glendive to the south, Circle to the west, riders who love to get into the rhythm of the road accept the invitation of Eastern Montana’s highways.

But wait, that’s not all!  There are incredible roads and features in many regions of eastern Montana.

Eastern Montana motorycycles

Dropped in and among the steep hills and expansive valleys are regions of rugged rangeland for riders to sample.

Riders live here

Most of those we talked to ride many miles to get here. Some from the other side of Williston, or Dickinson. Some from the southern part of Montana, or points west.  We were told that the motorcycle safety organization, ABATE, has more members in Eastern Montana than anywhere else in the state.  

Eastern Montana motorcycles sidney bikeshow

Motorcycles at the Scootfest Bike Show at Sidney.

Eastern Montana Sidney scootfest ABATEOur visit with Eastern Montana motorcyclists (“with soul”) was amazingly warm and gregarious.  This was not some drunkfest that has too often been the atmosphere of ABATE gatherings.  A large representation of the Christian Motorcycle Association and random other clubs such as the Ray Ramblers (from Ray, North Dakota) was peaceable, social and uplifting.  Outside the riders wandered around the parked bikes.  Inside families of all ages wandered and visited among the machines on display.  

We were particularly caught up with a hand-molded motorcycle that fit the definition of “rat bike.”Eastern Montana scootfest rat bike SidneyA  young fellow who in his part-time fabricated pieces and looks of his Honda 750 to be a collection of oddities including foot begs that are pistons,  a lunch box saddle bag that is really an electrical components box, side panels he made by hand, and a steel tractor seat.

Sidney hosts riders

Sidney, Montana is a great town for a base camp for motorcycle riders who want to explore the reasons why Eastern Montana Loves Motorcyclists.  The town has good gas, good food, good sleep and good beers — everything a rider would want to get their motor running, and head out on the highway.  Oh, for those riders who like history, construction, architecture or awesomeness, there’s the Richland County Courthouse.

More photos of the Scootfest at Sidney and images of the exquisite riding are here.

The Lower Yellowstone ABATE chapter has a Facebook page to visit.  While you’re on Facebook, follow Beautiful Badlands ND Facebook page, too!