Black Hills motorcycle rider returns from trip to all 48 mainland states

Published: Sep. 13, 2022 at 8:46 PM CDT
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STURGIS, S.D. (KOTA) - When Rapid City resident Emily Wiegel isn’t working as a nurse at Monument Health, you can find her on her Indian Motorcycle looking for a new riding challenge.

Emily was welcomed back to the Black Hills by cheering fans in the parking lot of Indian Motorcycles in Sturgis, after traveling to all 48 contiguous U.S. states.

She said that she’s been riding motorcycles for 13 years, and has always pushed herself to accomplish new goals on her bike.

“It was actually my graduation gift to myself to learn how to ride a motorcycle, and from there I just fell in love,” Emily said. “I started off on a 750 Honda Shadow and just worked my way up.”

Emily said that her initial intent was to travel to every state, but had also heard about a challenge to travel to the four corners of the mainland U.S., making stops in California, Florida, Maine, and Washington.

“I wanted to hit all 48 states and I was like, ‘while I’m there I might as well do the four corners too.’ So, I just did it all.”

Emily received a lot of support from her fiancé Walter O’Rourke, who said that he was worried that weather and bike issues would get in the way of accomplishing her goal.

He adds that he’s extremely proud of her, and inspired by her determination.

“She asked me to come as well, but I just couldn’t get the time off, but she’s been saving up for this for a long time, and I’m just happy she’s home,” Walter said.

Aside from her own personal accomplishment, Emily hopes she can also inspire women to spend more time riding motorcycles.

“There was a statistic in 2015 that showed that 15% of rider were women, and in 2022, it was 22%. So, to see more and more women getting into it is just really cool and just so awesome to be able to inspire women.”

Emily thanks her fiancé, her supporters, and also her riding partner, her dog Tator, who she said enjoyed the trip as much as she did.

“The rain was the hardest. We used the carry-on Pet Palace that was on the back of my bike. He was definitely a trooper.”

Walter said that he hopes he’s able to join Emily for a new challenge in the future.