Rides, Rallies and Events Recap

Sturgis 2014 - Stripe's Trip

Written by  August 27, 2014

Having missed the 2013 Sturgis Rally due to circumstances beyond my control, I was very excited to return to the Black Hills for the 74th annual rally. Having enjoyed the journey with friends to our cabin at the Nemo Guest Ranch, I was ready to experience the rally once again. My first stop in Sturgis on Monday was Grace Lutheran Church where breakfast is available daily during the rally. One of the church members who normally volunteers in the kitchen is Dorothy Short in whose back yard I camped during many past rallies. I was disappointed that Dorothy had not yet arrived that morning, but I enjoyed the $7 breakfast anyway.

After breakfast, I headed for the City of Riders Expo to pick up media credentials. While waiting for the Media Center to open, I wandered through the parking lot where bikes were staged for the 12th Annual Sturgis Mayor’s Ride. Mayor Mark Carstensen was joined by other officials, celebrities, and motorcycle enthusiasts for a scenic escorted ride through the Black Hills. As it began, the ride was led not by motorcycles but by a horse-drawn wagon, the Budweiser beer wagon pulled by the famous Clydesdales. The ride raises funds for the local volunteer fire department and police reserves. As the last of the riders exited the parking lot, I made my way to the Expo lobby where representatives of the City of Sturgis Rally Department were set up to welcome visiting journalists. Sturgis is always very accommodating to members of the media who cover the rally.

I planned to attend several of the competitive events held during the rally. My Sturgis racing article elsewhere in this issue provides additional detail concerning those events. First on the schedule was the amateur hill climb sponsored by the Jackpine Gypsies. The event was already underway by the time I arrived at the Gypsies Clubgrounds. I enjoyed watching daring riders of all ages take on the challenge of the very nasty hill.

Following the hill climb, I rode back to downtown Sturgis where I planned to hook up with Editor Mike and the rest of our group. I took advantage of my media parking pass, leaving my bike in the reserved lot next to the tennis courts just west of the Expo. Mike informed me via cellphone that I could find the group at the area east of the Easyriders Saloon formerly occupied by the Broken Spoke and later by Sickie’s. On my way to their location I walked through one of Sturgis’ many bike shows. I also stopped by the area occupied by Polaris Industries where Indian motorcycles, modern and antique, were on display. I also got my first look at the spectacular new Slingshot reverse trike with side-by-side bucket seats and a steering wheel. Indian provided free admission to the Wall of Death motordrome where daredevils defied gravity by riding the circular wall while mounted on various vehicles including a bicycle, a go-cart, and various motorcycles including an antique Indian motorcycle once owned by the legendary Speedy Babbs and a brand new Indian. Victory motorcycles were also part of the Polaris exhibit.

It was taking a while for me to mosey down Lazelle Street, and I got a call from Mike to inform me that the group was migrating to the Dungeon Bar. On the way there, I noticed that the observation tower normally located at the intersection of Junction and Main had been moved west to make room to the high end of a zip-line that ended about a half block to the east. I hung out with my friends at the Dungeon until it was time to head back to the Gypsies Clubgrounds for the short track races.

As I made my way down Main Street, I noticed that there was a commotion at an intersection ahead. Onlookers crowded all four corners, having gathered to watch Tony Lepore the “Providence Dancing CopTM direct traffic. Wearing his Providence Police uniform complete with white gloves, Tony was emphatically blowing his whistle and using all sorts of athletic gyrations to direct motorcycles through the intersection. His moves included some salsa, some disco, and even some calisthenics. Tony has been dancing in the streets since 1984 and has made numerous television appearances as well as entertaining at events ranging from birthday parties to parades. After enjoying a brief visit with the retired Providence, Rhode Island, officer and his lovely wife during one of Tony’s breaks, I rode back to the Jackpine Gypsies grounds and enjoyed an evening of exciting short track motorcycle racing before riding back to Nemo.

Again on Tuesday morning I missed seeing Dorothy at the church but had a good breakfast anyway. After eating I had a short ride to the Meade County Fairgrounds, site of the “Pappy” Hoel Classic dirt track races on the ½-mile oval track. Tuesday’s vintage races were sponsored by the White Plate Flat Trackers Association.

Following the races, it was back to downtown Sturgis. Precipitation had been forecast for the day, and the prediction proved to be accurate. I ducked into the Sidehack Saloon to get out of the rain and had the good fortune to arrive just in time to observe a wet T-shirt contest. When the rain let up a bit, I headed over to the Easyriders Saloon where I hoped to see some of the Paisano Publications staff. There was a bike show in progress in the outdoor activity area east of the building, and I thought that would be a good place to start looking for the guys. As I arrived, I had the opportunity to watch biker photographer extraordinaire Michael Lichter at work. His subject was a rather portly gentlemen wearing boxer shorts and a cape. Michael was standing on the bar, and a lady who was obviously not experienced with body shots was attempting to imbibe from a tall shot glass that had been placed between the guy’s legs near the genital area. The first effort ended in a spill that resulted in a roar of laughter from the spectators and a great photo op for Michael. I was informed that I could find some of the “Easyriders” staff in a v.i.p. tent near the stage and had the pleasure of a visit with “Clean” Dean Shawler and Dave Nichols in the comfort of the tent as light rain resumed.

By this time it was late afternoon, and it appeared that the weather would continue to worsen. I decided that it was time to head back to Nemo. Rain was falling in the Vanocker Canyon, but the real downpour thankfully did not begin until I had reached the Nemo Guest Ranch. My buddies weren’t so lucky and arrived a couple of hours later looking like drowned rats. My early arrival gave me a chance to visit with our friends in the cabin next door, and they were kind enough to share pizza with me.

Wednesday morning’s weather outlook was not promising, and the day began with low, dark clouds filling the sky. However, I had planned to spend the day at Sturgis Dragway watching races put on by the Western Motorcycle Drag Racing Association. Tuesday’s qualifying had been washed out, so W.M.D.R.A. officials and competitors were forced to condense qualifying and eliminations into a single day. Due to the wet weather or possibly a lightning strike, the timing slip printer was inoperable, but that didn’t stop the show. Amazingly, although the sky looked threatening all day, no more rain fell. At the end of the final round of drag racing, I headed for downtown Sturgis for a rendezvous with my friends Jim and Mickee from Spearfish. I had a chance to admire their new Harley trike and had a good visit before once again heading back to home base at Nemo.

Thursday began with our annual ride to Deadwood to have breakfast at the Silverado. It was my day to do some riding with our group, and I enjoyed the ride through Spearfish Canyon. After a gas stop in Spearfish, I once again parted company with my friends and headed for Sturgis. The rest of the day was dedicated to souvenir shopping and miscellaneous events. Every year I buy a T-shirt and a pin, and I got that out of the way first thing. I observed two different stunt shows. One was presented by Harley-Davidson and included a variety of amazing stunts performed by the IllConduct team on Harley-Davidson motorcycles. The Harley exhibit also included the Livewire, a concept bike powered by an electric motor, and all of the new Harleys were on display. The Harley Owners Group offered free food and beer to members each day at the Harley-Davidson Roadhouse, their hospitality tent. Beautiful young ladies served Harley’s own brand of sausages.  

I spent some more time watching Tony direct traffic and photographed a few people sliding down the zip-line. For $20, people could experience the downtown zip-line and get discount tickets for another line at the Buffalo Chip. One of my favorite Sturgis pastimes is simply wandering up and down Main Street and looking for interesting bikes and people to photograph. There are always plenty of both. After a while it was time to bid farewell to Sturgis for this year. Upon returning to our cabin, I packed one bag to take with me and loaded another into Danny and Amanda’s Jeep for transport. Having a support vehicle really makes the long trip easier! I began my trip home early Friday morning and enjoyed good weather all the way. My trek included stops in Kansas at Stockton and Topeka to visit a sister and brother. After having a blast at Sturgis 2014 I’m already looking forward to the next Sturgis trip to the 75th. It’s going to be awesome!



Photojournalist/Account Representative - Kansas City, MO

Dave Baxter, a.k.a. Stripe joined our staff in December, 2003, as a photojournalist. If that road name sounds familiar, you may have seen his photos on the pages of such publications as American Iron, V Twin, VQ, In the Wind, and Easyriders. Stripe attends as many rallies, bike shows, and charity runs as he can and is a major contributor of photos and articles to our magazine. His first assignment was our January, 2004, cover photo, where he snapped the awesome photo of a 1958 Harley-Davidson Duo Glide. A rider since the age of 14, he loves to help and encourage new riders. Stripe enjoys meeting new people and looks forward to catching many of our readers in the viewfinder of his digital camera. Contact Stripe at stripe@cycleconnections.com