I rode like mad from the Colorado Rockies to Sturgis, South Dakota and made it for Thursday night’s show at the Buffalo Chip. I pitched my tent, cracked a beer and began wandering about. That is the cool thing about the Chip. It’s self contained. You can have a great time, have some beers, see class act live music and not have to worry about riding home. It’s all there in one place. I am not even sure who the opening band was. All I knew is I made it there and the weather was perfect. Weather can be a serious issue in the Black Hills of South Dakota.
While taking this shot, I heard the following behind me: “You getting a tattoo?” ” Nah, just a touch up.”
There was lots of performers with fire this year. This chick gave the blow job a whole new meaning.
The schoolgirl look never gets old.
A simple, yet effective use of paint.
Next I came across another new event at the Buffalo Chip. Midget Bowling! They were advertising a lubrication called Biker Lube. They would pour it all over the lane and then someone would toss that midget into the pins. Excellent!
Next up was the headlining band of the evening. Lynyrd Skynyrd. Or at least what’s left of ’em. That amounts to one out of the original seven members. Gary Rossington is all that is left. Ronnie Van Zant’s brother Johnnie has replaced Ronnie. A fine choice, though I always thought he could have taken that role a lot sooner. I remember wanting him to join as soon as heard his first solo album back in 1980. He’s put on some weight and lost some locks making him look more like his departed bro. But if you were to close your eyes and listen, this band rocks out the anthem Skynyrd tunes like they were fresh off the vinyl and the crowd showed their appreciation with the roaring sound of twisted throttles.
After Skynyrd left the stage it was time for the Buffalo Chip girls. That’s my girl on the left making the final three.
And one of the greatest things about concerts at the Chip is the fact that you can bring your bike with you.
There are various other stages with live music around the Buffalo Chip as well. This one had a great bluesy band and more girls playing with fire.
As I was taking these photos I noticed an old friend sitting on the perimeter of the crowd. It was my favorite Sturgis buddy Randy from Wheeler, Texas.
I hung with Randy the rest of the night. I could listen to him talk all day! I wish I had a tape recorder going when he is talking. Besides his awesome Texas accent, he says some amazing things. He a simple man and a great philosopher of life. So many times throughout the night, I would say to myself, “I have to remember that, I have to remember that!” Come the next day…I didn’t remember that. Below is Randy chillin’ with his new bike. When I first met Randy in 2010, I remember him telling me about the birth of his premature little girl. He said they rested her in his hands, and it was just like holding a hot steamy potato. It’s those kind of descriptions that makes Randy remarkable. I don’t think he even realizes how clever and funny he is. He is a humble man who has lived through a lot of hard knocks. But he told me, “Pat, life’s been real good to me this year.” I’m very pleased for him.
In the morning I woke up kind of early. I thought they stopped serving breakfast at 10. Found out, it’s 11. They make a mean breakfast at this one place. A family from North Dakota comes down and has been running it since 2007. I like to go there, get breakfast and ask the cook if I can plug in to recharge all my electronics. He always says yes. This time though, we got to talking. Once he mentioned he was from North Dakota, I told him I was headed that way after Sturgis. So he gave me some good advice about where to go. And where not to go. “Lots of Oil and Fracking going on above Williston. Better stay clear of there!” He also told me if I came back for dinner, he’d pick me out a special prime rib.
Randy and I talked about heading into town. In my 3 visits to Sturgis, I never went to town at night. There were always great concerts going at the Chip and I don’t want to ride if I’m drinking. We decided we’d leave just before sundown, stay a few hours then come back to catch Slash and Skid Row. We headed on out. Just as we were about to hit the highway I noticed little things bouncing of the ground. It was hail. And then, BOOM! Rain like you can’t believe! A white out! We quickly turned around. It was raining so hard, I couldn’t even make it back to my tent. I pulled over at the ticket booth and waited it out. I lost Randy.
The rain slowed down and eventually stopped, but the cool air came flowing in and it stayed. This is bad! One of the great things about this place is the dress code and that involves a lack of dress code. Once it gets cold, that’s it. Changes everything. I’ve seen it before. It sucks. When I was in Colorado I bumped into a guy who told me he was up at Sturgis earlier in the weak and it was 105 degrees. Imagine those outfits!
Well I roamed around a bit then saw the opening band while having that delicious hand picked prime rib dinner. Afterward I went back to my tent with every intention of grabbing a beer and continuing the evening, but I closed my eyes. That was it. I didn’t mean to but I fell asleep hard. Between the rain, the cold, and the prime rib, I was out. I woke up at about one in the morning. I walked around and there were still some things happening, but I was wiped out. As was Santa.
Originally I was going to stay until Sunday, but the weather cleared the place out. I really have to try getting here sooner in the week, but my insane cross country agenda just won’t allow it. So I said goodbye to Randy. Or a see ya next year. He gave me sound advice like, always wear eye protection and (as he held up his holster) that I should really carry a handgun with me when I travel. Thanks Randy. As I was packing up my gear, I bumped into Brian, the guy with all the shade tents from last year. I had also bumped into Jim earlier in the day at the Full Throttle Saloon. Jim was psyched because an oil company was using his land and he doesn’t have to work anymore.
Although this was the least eventful of my three visits to Sturgis it occurred to me that it’s this comradery that really makes this a special place. The more you come back, you meet these people. And you meet them again and it’s like seeing an old long lost friend. I really like Sturgis.
On my way out of the Buffalo Chip I stopped by the Triumph tent. I’d really like something like this. Broken down to it’s most simple form.
While there I met Todd the Regional Manager for New England Triumph stores. He recommended some of the other shops in the tri-state area for me. Might check out the Bridgeport shop when I get back.
I headed north up route 79 toward North Dakota. I made one last stop at the Broken Spoke on my way out of town.
At the Spoke was a map on which people had posted their origins. Pretty neat!
So on down 79 I went. I chose this route because I thought there was a storm to my south. There was. What I didn’t anticipate was it’s distance and trajectory. We were headed right toward each other. Oh boy. A story for the next post.
And on this, the eve of the the 35th anniversary of Elvis’ death, I bid you farewell. Funny, I was in South Dakota when that happened. Baltic not Sturgis.