By Andrew Johnson
During the month of June, Aberdeen Sport Recreation is joining forces with the South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks Department to organize a promotional ride so motorcyclists can rack up miles by visiting and exploring state parks in the northeastern part of the state.
“Earlier this spring we had a customer who came in who happens to work for GFP,” said Jackie Beving, who, along with her husband, Morgan, has owned Aberdeen Sport Recreation since 1995. “We got to talking and said we should do something to promote state parks this summer and get people to ride their motorcycles more.”
A few weeks later, Beving said she met with three regional GFP representatives who quickly came on board with the idea of a “park hopper” ride that would be similar in fashion to a poker run. However, instead of acquiring playing cards or other items, Beving said the ride would piggyback on an existing GFP program called the Fitness Passport Challenge, which uses stamps to record the places people visit.
“The fitness passport program was already in place, so there’s no extra cost on the GFP side of things,” she said. “Riders will still have to buy a state park pass to get into the parks, but they won’t have to pay any additional fees to participate in the challenge.”
Beving said GFP even makes motorcycle-specific bands that wrap around the handlebars of a motorcycle. The cost of an entrance license is $30 for the first vehicle or motorcycle, and $15 for the second.
Park Hopper Challenge Details
The Park Hopper Challenge kicks off June 1 and ends June 30. GFP passport booklets are free, and they can be picked up at any state park, GFP office or at Aberdeen Sport Recreation.
Beving said most promotional rides are constrained to one day, but she hopes the month-long challenge opens the door for more people to participate.
“Everybody is so busy, so instead of making it like a typical poker run, we thought let’s give them a reason to ride, but let’s not make it a one-day event,” Beving said. “We wanted people to get out and see what the parks have to offer, so for the June ride we’re asking them to visit seven state parks.”
Here are the state park and recreation areas included in the June ride:
• Richmond Lake Recreation Area.
• Mina Lake Recreation Area.
• Lake Louise Recreation Area.
• Fisher Grove State Park.
• Roy Lake State Park.
• Fort Sisseton Historic State Park.
• Pickerel Lake Recreation Area.
Each area has a stamp that can be found in a lock box, so riders can stamp their books even when staff is not present. Lock boxes are located near the self-registration stations at state park entrances and on welcome signs at non-fee areas, and the combination for each lock box is listed in the passport book.
Beving said there were some other advantages to stretching the challenge ride out over the course of entire month.
“There were some issues with doing one big ride, as GFP was concerned about managing large groups through their gates, so this format was in their best interest, as well,” she said. “We’ve also tried to do some promotional rides before, and it seems the weather never cooperates. This way, weather doesn’t matter as much, and if someone has a day off they can just go — they don’t have to wait for everybody else.”
Safety is always a concern, so Beving said the laid-back nature of the challenge would be a great way to introduce someone new to motorcycling.
“The whole idea is to increase responsible riding and visits to area state parks,” she said. “This will be great for new riders, because you can take back roads and go at your own pace.”
Once riders have stamps from all seven state park locations, they can take their passport booklet to Aberdeen Sport Recreation for their final stamp. Passports must be turned in by June 30 in order to be entered into a drawing for prizes such as additional state park entrance licenses, gift cards and more. The grand prize is an overnight stay at one of the state parks.
“We want people to remember why they bought their bike in the first place, and to remember why they live in South Dakota,” Beving said. “We all love a place to ride, and having a little incentive to do it is just icing on the cake.”
For more information on the Park Hopper Challenge, call Aberdeen Sport Recreation at 605-229-2258 or visit asrpowersports.com/2018parkhopperchallenge.