Local nurse competes in endurance challenge very few have completed

Terry AndersonSeptember 13, 2022Local
courtesy photoEmily and her traveling companion 'Tator'.

STURGIS, S.D. – The 82nd Sturgis Rally is in the books and hundreds of thousands of bikers have returned home, but just as the Rally ended, a local biker decided to take on an endurance challenge very few have completed.

Rapid City resident Emily Wiegel, a Nurse at Monument Health, has ridden motorcycles for 13 years now, and has seen most of the United States from her two-wheeler.  Just a few years ago, she heard about the “Four Corners” motorcycle tour and she was intrigued…

“It’s always been a dream of mine to actually ride my motorcycle through all 48 states and last year I was on a cross-country trip, riding across the country from Chicago to Los Angeles on Route 66,” Wiegel said.  “I went all the way up the coast and I thought, oh my gosh, I was wondering if I can do it all in one shot.”

The “Four Corners” Motorcycle tour rules are simple – a biker has to ride to four cities around the country…Madawaksa, Maine, Key West, Florida, San Ysidro, CA and Blaine, Washington.  The four corners of the United States.  The biker can start anywhere at any time of year, and take any route they wish.  Emily put in for 26 days of vacation, then started her journey at Indian Bike Week in Wisconsin on August 19th on her Indian Motorcycle with her faithful companion, Tator the dog.

“Tator is my travel companion,” Wiegel said.  “We started practicing, put my tour pack on my bike and put him on the back seat and we started riding around the Hills and he seemed to really like it so I was like, we’re going to do this.  He has now ridden all 44 states so far with me.  That litle guy has ridden more miles and more states than most grown men.”

Emily traveled through 15 states and arrived in Maine on day six to start the Four Corners challenge.  She then rode down the east coast and checked corner #2 off her list five days later: Key West, Florida.

“I left early in the morning.  That was like most of my trip, I was on the road around 5:00am.  I left in the dark and the sun started to rise and there was a storm the night before and the way the clouds were sitting low on the water, and all the colors in the sky, it was like riding in Heaven,” Wiegel said.   “It was truly an experience and I wish I could have captured it on camera, but pictures wouldn’t have done it justice.  That was the moment when I thought, this is why I do this.  To really experience the world and the beauty that our country has to offer.”

Emily ran into extreme heat, rainstorms and an overheated bike on her way to corner #3, San Ysidro, CA, which she completed on day 12 of the challenge.  On the way through Yosemite National Park, she encountered a bus full of Polish tourists.

“And there’s this beautiful mountain range, you’d think they were going to take pictures of that.  No, they wanted to take pics of Tator on the motorcycle,” Wiegel laughed.  “They really got a kick of that, they thought it was great.”

On day 17, Emily achieved her goal of riding to all four corners of the United States.

“I think when I hit that last corner it was kind of bittersweet.  That was up in Blaine, Washington,” she said.  “When I got up there I was like, holy smokes, I just did this.  It was really setting in, I’m actually done, I’ve hit all four corners, I have this many more states to go.  It’s been a journey to say the least”

Emily rode back into Sturgis on Sept. 12, then on Sept. 13 she made one last stop – Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota, her 48th and final state on her journey.  Emily credits her fiancé’, Walter O’Rourke, for his help and support during the last few weeks of her trip.

“Just a huge shout out to Walter for being so supportive,” she said.  “Ultimately, not many men would let their fiancé’ hit the road and ride all over the country, and just him being my biggest fan has been awesome.”

She finished her journey on Sept. 13 around 4pm, when she rode back into Sturgis and made a stop at the Indian Dealership and was welcomed by family and friends.  Wiegel says she’s had second thoughts at times, especially when things got hard out on the road.

“You know, honestly there was a moment where I thought, why am I doing this?  But I think honestly that sunrise that I rode into (in Key West), that’s why I do this.  I can’t think of a better way to tour this beautiful country that we leave in.”

According to the Southern California Motorcycle Association website, only 22 others have finished the four corners ride this year. Emily put more than 13,000 miles on her motorcycle.  What will she do Wednesday, when the bike is back in the garage?

“It’s back to reality,” she laughed.  “Back to being a nurse.”

You can look back at Emily’s journey on Facebook and Instagram.  Just search for “EM Powered” and you can find pictures of her stops and short stories about each location.