This year’s trip to Sturgis gave us a good taste of almost every type of weather Mother Nature could dish out, including rain, hail, and thankfully, plenty of sunshine. This year was the 71st Anniversary of the Sturgis Rally, and we took our traditional route across Kansas, and then up through Nebraska into the beautiful Black Hills of South Dakota. This route includes stops at some of my favorite places, including Carhenge and to Boot Hill, where we stop to pay our respects to our fallen brothers and sisters; whose boots we had placed on some old wooden fence posts during some of our previous year's trips. We also place any new boots from anyone we may have lost since last year’s trip.
The following day-by-day recap will give you a snapshot of this year's trip.
Saturday, August 6, 2010
As usual, our group met at the rest stop on I-29 between Platte City and St. Joseph, Missouri; however, this year, someone had the bright idea of leaving at 6:30 a.m. rather than our usual 7:30 a.m., in an attempt to beat some of the heat we often encounter in western Kansas. No doubt, this plan was concocted by someone who lived close to our rendezvous point, as opposed to the 45 minute ride from the southeast part of town where several of us live. In retrospect, it didn’t really make any difference, because we’d have run into the heat anyway if it had been hot…oh well. On a brighter note, Danny’s wife Amanda offered to drive their smaller SUV to Sturgis this year as our support vehicle rather than having to drive the Tahoe, a.k.a. the Exxon Valdez. Nichole was more than happy to ride along, help pay for gas, and keep her company. Thanks guys!
Amazingly, we were the first ones at the rest stop Saturday morning, so we hung around until other began showing up. Since we had to drop off our doggie with my mom and sister, we rode on ahead of the group to Wathena, Kansas. We met the family at a convenience store in town so we could also top off our bikes before filing in behind our group as they rode through town. My cousin Mark normally rides over from St. Joseph, Missouri and meets us there; however, he never showed up, and didn’t answer when I tried to call his cell phone. I hated to leave without him, but when our group came through town, I had no choice but to pull in behind them, and off we went.
Just west of Troy, Kansas we hit some heavy fog, and could barely make out the taillight of the bike in front of you. I wonder if we’d have hit this fog if we’d have left the rest stop at our normal time an hour later. OK…I’ll drop it. We continued our journey across the flatlands of Kansas, and while fueling up in Seneca I checked my voicemail, and apparently Mark had overslept and said he would try to catch up with us enroot. Lazy bum! After fueling up, we rode on to Mankato where we fueled up again and stopped for lunch at the Mankato city park, where Bruce and Sheila provided a nice lunch in exchange for a small donation. After everyone had finished eating, Mark finally caught up with us, and got there just in time for a quick sandwich and to pose for the above group shot. It was then time to hit the road again.
After filling our tanks in Oberlin, we put our helmets back on and headed north on Hwy 83 to McCook, Nebraska (f*cking helmet laws). From McCook we headed west on Hwy 34/6 to Imperial where we were supposed to stop for fuel; however, our fearless leaders decided to forego the fuel stop and head on up Hwy 61 north towards our first day's destination to Ogallala, Nebraska where we had reservations at the Platte River Inn. Several of our group decided to unwind at the pool with a few coolers full of adult beverages before turning in for the night.
Sunday, August 7, 2010
Everyone got up early, and some of the crew began making Bloody Mary's in the parking lot, which is a Sunday morning tradition for our group that began years ago. Mike Ward had new Swinging Dick Bike Club (S.D.B.C.) T-shirts printed this year, for those who wished to join our “gang,” and was busy handing them out. As soon as the rest of our group emerged from their rooms, we packed up, climbed on our bikes, and headed north to Boot Hill. For those of you who have followed our yearly Sturgis exploits, you know that Boot Hill is a row of wooden posts just across the highway from Ash Hollow Cemetery, where we place our deceased brothers and sister's boots on a fence post and hold a short ceremony in their memory.
While at Booth Hill this year, we sadly had to place another boot on the hill. Tommy Dale, a good friend of Bruce and several of the others in our group, was killed in a motorcycle accident last year while attending Bike Blues & BBQ in Fayetteville, Arkansas. Tommy’s son Jeff rode along with us this year, and brought along one of his dad’s boots. After a touching ceremony for Tommy, Stripe said a few kind words about another friend of ours Leon Rook, who passed over this year during a H.O.G. motorcycle ride. Although we didn’t have one of Leon’s boots for the ceremony, it was an equally touching memorial. After spending some time at each boot remembering our fallen brothers and sisters whose boots we placed there over the past several years, we climbed back on our bikes and continued on.
After leaving Boot Hill, we headed to Alliance to fuel up before riding on to Carhenge for lunch. Carhenge is an interesting tourist attraction where several old vehicles were spray painted gray and placed in the ground and stacked up; resembling Stonehenge. After lunch and a group shots of the Sturgis virgins, Ricky, Megan, Stripe and I snuck off ahead of everyone on our bikes and raced down the road at the 'Rest Stop,' which consists of several large bales of hay in a field with an old toilet and chair placed on top of it. Ricky climbed up on the hay bales and Megan sat in the chair next to the toilet waiting to surprise the rest of our group as they rode by. As always, everyone pulled over to the side of the road next to the Rest Stop to laugh and take photos.
After stopping for fuel just this side of the South Dakota border, we once again removed our helmets (yes, we rode a few miles in Nebraska without helmets because we’re rebels) and headed north. Just south of Rapid City we stopped for fuel, and our attention turned to the large black clouds that were headed straight toward us. Several bikes had weather band radios on, which warned of an intense storm headed our way containing quarter-sized hail. After hearing that, we had a decision to make. Wait it out under the overhang at the gas station or head west and try to ride around it.
After much debate, Ricky, J.O. and some other poor sap headed west in an attempt to ride around the storm. We found out later that it didn’t work, and they got pelted with large hail just a few miles from our fuel stop. We, on the other hand, decided to put our bikes under the overhangs and wait it out, which turned out to be a smart decision. Before long, the rain hit, followed by dime and quarter-size hail. Some of the unlucky riders who hadn’t made it to the gas station yet started pulling in, and took a major beating. One poor girl we met next to the gas pumps had been hit by a huge piece of hail, which split her lip and was bleeding very heavily. As it turns out, she was with a group from Australia. Welcome to the good old USA!
After the storm had passed, we climbed back onto our bikes and headed on to Rapid City. After making our way through town, we stopped at a convenience store to stock up on beer, top off our bikes, and headed up Nemo Road through the mountains toward our final destination at Nemo Guest Ranch. My facebook buddy Stan from Denver, Colorado and Kevin, who lives somewhere south of Minneapolis, were already there and had their tents setup in the yard. My good friend Gregg Lewis and several of his riding buddies were also camped out in the yard of our cabin. Gregg is from my hometown of Wathena, Kansas and his friends are from St. Joseph, Missouri. Unfortunately, Gregg and his crew had to get up early the next morning and head home, so we didn’t have much of an opportunity to catch up on things. As it started getting dark, we purchased some firewood from the general store and started a fire in the fire pit in front of our cabin. Everyone pulled their folding chairs up close to the fire, which gave us a chance to catch up on everyone’s lives since the last time we saw them one year ago.
Monday, August 8, 2011
On Monday morning, we at breakfast and headed to Sturgis. After finding a place to park, we made our way to the Harley-Davidson Dealer and visited Carp with Hog Trough, which is one of our advertisers in Kansas City. Carp had a nice display booth setup between the dealership and Main Street, and was busy selling his wide selection of motorcycle parts and accessories. On the way to the Broken Spoke, we stopped by the new Easyriders Saloon, which is a huge three-level bar filled with Easyriders and David Mann paraphernalia. A definite must see while in Sturgis! We then headed on down the street to the Broken Spoke for our annual tradition of introducing some of our Sturgis virgins to whip cream body shots, which are provided by attractive an bartender. This year, Jeff was the luck recipient, and you could tell he enjoyed it by the extra whip cream that was left on his face. I think there may have been a bit of belly button lint as well, but who cares! From there, we headed to The Dungeon, which is also on our list of “first day Sturgis traditions.” One of the things everyone enjoys while at the Dungeon is using a magic marker to sign your name on the wall in their courtyard. After a few drinks, we rode out to the new Broken Spoke for a visit. I had a good time playing with my new 300mm zoom lens from the upper deck, and was pleasantly surprised as to how well I could check out the bikini-clad girls at the campground’s swimming pool. By the time we finished at the new Broken Spoke, we’d had a pretty full day, so we headed back through the mountains to our cabin before it got dark.
After getting back to camp, I found out that Stripe and Miles rode out early that morning as well, headed for the Sturgis Expo Center. Lori had surprised Miles on his birthday with a ticket for the Mayor’s Ride, a very special Sturgis benefit event with proceeds going to the Sturgis Volunteer Fire Department. Those who went on the ride enjoyed lunch hosted by Sturgis Mayor Mark Carstensen and received a souvenir pack including a limited edition decanter of Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel wrapped with the Sturgis Mayor’s Ride medallion, a limited edition 2011 Jack Daniel’s Tour Mayor’s Ride t-shirt, a 9th Annual Sturgis Mayor’s Ride pin, a 2011 Jackpine Gypsies commemorative pin, plus other collectibles from each of the 2011 Mayor’s Ride Corporate Sponsors. While Miles was completing his ride registration, Stripe visited the Media Center at the Expo, picked up his media packet, and enjoyed a visit with a photojournalist who had come all the way from Paris, France, to cover the rally. There were several very cool motorcycles in the staging area including one with a colorful tie-dyed paint scheme and another with ghost mermaids hidden in the paint. Miles and Stripe enjoyed a visit with Sioux Falls native Lori Visker, Mrs. South Dakota International, who won her crown in December, 2010. She was making her first visit to Sturgis and would be making the ride on a V-Rod she has been riding since 2008. Another rider making his first Mayor’s Ride was South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard who had earned his motorcycle license only recently.
Stripe shot photos of departing riders as the Mayor’s Ride began and then headed for the art studio of Jody Wyse, a long-time friend of the Cycle Connections staff. Jody reported that again this year there would be no Sturgis Beer. Jody provided the artwork for the Sturgis Beer cans for several years, but the owner of the brand has chosen not to make his product available for the last couple of years. Jody has done some new original art, but as rally time approached he has spent much of his time producing T-shirts for various customers. Jody is also selling life-size, two-dimensional antique gas pumps, a very popular item. He also painted the colorful aluminum cigar store Indian that is on display just inside the main entrance to the new Easyriders Saloon. In the space around his studio, Jody had room for motorcycle and car parking and Robyn’s booth raising funds for Sturgis’ women’s shelter. While Stripe was at Jody’s surprise visitors were the crew from the History Channel’s American Pickers. They were interested in going through some of the old motorcycle parts Jody has accumulated over the years. Danielle Colby Cushman was nice enough to take time to pose for a couple of photos on Stripe’s Wide-Glide.
Monday afternoon Stripe joined the group at the Broken Spoke. Later he got together with his long-time friend Mickee who resides in Spearfish with her husband Jim. She rode to Sturgis on her small but high-powered Ridley Speedster and met Stripe at the Harley-Davidson factory display. They spent some time at the Easyriders Saloon and were impressed with the place. Many David Mann artworks hung on the walls, and there were also reproductions of “Easyriders” magazine covers. Mickee and Stripe made plans to get together on Tuesday to ride in the hills, and she headed back to Spearfish. Outside the Easyriders Saloon, Stripe met Warren who was selling subscriptions to the Paisano magazines. In addition to motorcycles, Stripe and Warren shared a common interest in skydiving.
Tuesday, August 9, 2011
Stripe’s rendezvous with Mickee was delayed by morning rain. They got together in the afternoon and spent some time in Deadwood before taking a ride through Spearfish Canyon.
Wednesday, August 10, 2011
Stripe headed for Sturgis early to have breakfast at Grace Lutheran Church. In addition to enjoying good food, Stripe had the opportunity to visit with Dorothy, his former Sturgis hostess. Stripe pitched his tent in Dorothy’s back yard in the downtown area for several years until she discontinued having tent campers. She is always involved with preparation of the daily breakfast for visiting bikers. Next, Stripe headed for the Sturgis ½-mile dirt track and enjoyed some great racing action presented by the Jackpine Gypsies.
Thursday, August 11, 2011
Through his contact with Warren and some free-lance work he had done for Paisano Publications, Stripe secured an invitation to a special breakfast hosted by Paisano at the Easyriders Saloon to promote their brand new magazine, Road Iron. Stripe enjoyed visiting with “Easyriders” Editor-in-Chief Dave Nichols, “In the Wind” and “Biker” Art Director Beatnik, and photographer Michael Lichter.
Stipe’s next stop was the Sturgis Dragway where the All Harley Drag Racing Association put on the Race at the Rally on the 1/8-mile strip. A.H.D.R.A. races always provide great entertainment for drag racing fans. More information is available on the A.H.D.R.A. website .
Friday, August 12, 2011
Stripe was among several riders who departed for home. On the way back to Kansas City, Stripe spent a day in his Kansas hometown visiting his sister and attending a class reunion.
Saturday, August 13, 2011
More information coming!
Sunday, August 14, 2011
More information coming!
Also make sure to check out this year's collection of Sturgis Babes, Bikers and Bikes!
Story by Mike Schweder and Stripe
Photos by Mike Schweder, Stripe, Nichole, Kevin, Stan, Danny & Amanda