Sturgis 2016


Sturgis was an easy ride from Valentine. This would be my first time coming to Sturgis before the official rally began. As you see, Main Street is very spacious.


I arrived at the Buffalo Chip, pitched my tent, introduced myself to some of my neighbors, then went for some refreshments and ice.


On my way back to the campsite I stopped to document my arrival with a photo of my bike in front of the big Chip sign. I took a few pictures. But I was looking at the small screen on the camera, not paying attention to details. So imagine my surprise when I see this!

Welcome to Sturgis!


35 years logo FINAL

There were plenty of people who had been camping at the Chip all week! A good thing about arriving early was being able to find a prime location. When at the Chip that means shade! I was fortunate to find a small tree to attach to.



I had never seen the Buffalo Chip like this. This was the Thursday before the rally and it was empty.


The following night Willie Nelson would be playing on the big stage. But on this night it was quiet. Everything was in place. All that was missing was the crowd.


The Living Dead played at Bikini Beach, but the amphitheatre would have a silent night. Actually it was fairly silent around the Living Dead too. But it was a good night hanging out at the campsite and getting to know everybody. Lots of laughs!


Willie was playing Friday night, (still before the official start date). This pissed off a lot of the folks who bought the weekly pass. Willie was not included, and they had to pay extra. Considering it wasn’t a knock out line up this year, Willie should have been included for those who planned before the line up was even announced. But despite that, Willie did not disappoint.


There was new aerial acrobatic entertainment this year between acts.



The next day I went to town with one of my fellow campers. His name is Frank. I have ridden in 48 states. Frank has ridden in 49. If someone were to throw a dart at a map of the US one of us would have a story to tell about where it landed.

We had just been talking about cops using imported Triumphs or bikes built with right side clutches back in the day. And BANG! Here was a prime example promoting Twisted Tea.


We had planned on just making a grocery run. But while taking the shortcut through the alley, we found out David Allen Coe was playing at the Iron Horse. So we stuck around.



Besides being funny as hell, Frank is a mechanic and knows bikes. He shared a tip with me and I will share it here. If you have a chain drive, use a lube that contains molybdenum. Molybdenum is an element on the periodic table. Atomic #42. It is commonly called Moly. I ordered a can today. I’ll let you know how it goes.




Many take pride in promoting the fact that they rode their bike to Sturgis. Some wear patches that say I Rode Mine to promote this feat.


Others wear the evidence on their headlight.


On this night Kid Rock was playing. Though it was a lot less crowded than the previous year, Sturgis was now in full force!


Leon Russell was supposed to open for Kid Rock. Unfortunately Leon had a heart attack a couple weeks before the event. Instead Lita Ford took his place in the line up. I was looking forward to seeing Leon Russell, but Lita rocked it. I don’t know a lot of her solo work but Cherry Bomb has always been a favorite from her Runaways days.


Tonight the place was rockin’. Bikes were packed on the hill outside the venue. There was lightning on the horizon.


I had been keeping an eye on the weather. We were in for some rain. I went back to get my poncho and a couple beverages.


Sure enough, the rain came down. Storms can come quick and powerful in these parts as they build strength over the Black Hills to the West.


No one was leaving. It seemed this storm would pass and Kid Rock would still go on at a later hour.


I was waiting by a smaller stage when a band got up and started jamming out on percussion instruments. Then the lead guy asked if anyone wanted to play cowbell? Need I say more…


Soon thereafter the rain lifted and Kid Rock took the main stage!


Kid Rock is a class act entertainer! Always a good time!




Midnight Mob played on my cowbell stage later in the evening. The Chip had new girls playing with fire this year as well.


Midnight Mob is from the NY area. The singer has a powerful voice and the bassist has all the moves of a young Ramone.



The next day I headed over to Deadwood.



While in Deadwood, I wanted to congratulate Danial James on a big sale. The day before, Kid Rock bought one of his prints. Danial didn’t really want to sell it. He wanted it hanging during the whole rally. Let’s just say Kid Rock was financially persistent. Kid said the woman in the painting looked like his girlfriend and he had to have it.


I met Danial the year before, after he left a T-shirt he made on the seat of my bike. He is a super talented painter/illustrator.




When I returned to the Chip I realized the guy sitting in this shade tent was Bryan who I have met in years past.


Bryan always brings his own shade. This was his second try at providing shade this year. The Tuesday before I arrived, a hail storm knocked out his and the shelters of others around the Chip. While talking to Bryan, he looked at the night’s schedule and told me Mothership was opening on the big stage tonight. Shit! I like Mothership and I was late! I ran over there.


When I got there they were on their second to last song. Grrrrr! But they said they would be playing at Bikini Beach after Cheap Trick on Tuesday. Hmmm. I may be staying an extra day!


Following Mothership was one of the many Miss Buffalo Chip events.


This is Jeff and Sharon from the Seattle area. Jeff had his bike parked up front for numerous nights while I was here. They were also camping by me. He was telling me about trail trees that early native people used to mark their way. He said he has one on his property. Cool! I’d like to see it!



On this night Lynyrd Skynyrd would take the stage.


It seems they have done away with their confederate flag motif.


As usual here, people give thanks by twisting the throttle.



I was walking with Frank when we bumped into Randy. I’ve known Randy since my first time at Sturgis. Together the two of them stand nearly 13 feet tall.


Below is Kyle’s bike with some morning drops. Often times a bunch of us around the campsite would congregate in a circle of lawn chairs and share our experiences. Kyle mentioned a guy from Scotland rolling through here a few years ago. Ha! That was Trevor. I had written about him while he was traversing the States and had plans on meeting him at Sturgis myself in 2013. My plans changed. Kyle ended up meeting him at Sturgis and giving Trevor a place to stay later on his journey.


I went up to see the Seattle Cossacks near the Crossroads stage. This was the area of the Buffalo Chip outside of the paid admission gates.


These guys do crazy stunts on mostly old flatheads and knuckleheads.



Also in the area outside the gates are a number of things to see and do.


A tent with prints by popular motorcycle artists are displayed like this one be David Mann.


This bike won the custom Sportster contest. More on that later.



Here is Frank rolling back into the Chip.


Full Throttle Saloon

The full Throttle Saloon was a fun place. It was just down the road from the Buffalo Chip and becoming more popular each year. Soon after last years rally, it burned to the ground.


It once looked like this.


It looks like this today. That’s the same bus you see with the motel sign in the background above. Toast!


Everything was burned.


So the Full Throttle bought the Broken Spoke. The Broken Spoke was a cool venue and campsite with a huge pool. Fortunately Full Throttle kept the pool, but changed pretty much everything else.


The old drive thru bar….


is now a grocery store.


The giant sculpture that used to tower above the Throttle,


now lays on a flatbed in a swamp.


The Full Throttle built a new bar in a hangar like space on the far side of the pool from the new grocery store. I see they are trying to reinvent themselves. There is still a lot of work to do.


They did have nurses on hand in case of dehydration, or something?


It looks as though there are big plans for making the Throttle a monster venue, but they were not ready for this year. I’ll tell you this. If Woody doesn’t focus on getting more ‘A’ list acts into the venue over at the Buffalo Chip, Full Throttle has an opportunity to create a viable alternative here.


One big problem is that this area so prone to abrupt violent storms and this dirt field could turn into a mud bath in a moments notice.


This guy attached a cot to his bike.


My guess is the fire at the original Throttle has had an effect on the business at the Beaver Bar. This place opened up directly across the highway from the old Full Throttle and charged $2 for beer to get folks over. But now that the Throttle has moved, it’s pretty empty here.


I went down to Main Street and walked around around a bit.






I saw Darren McKeag on a side street. He is a great graphic artist and tattoo artist. I first met him at the Indian Larry Block Party. I’ve written about him before. A One Shot master! I bought a poster and a T-shirt from his website. He had some pieces on display at the Buffalo Chip too. More on that show later.


Tonight was my last night at the Chip. These lights were very popular on the bikes here a few years ago. You don’t see as many this year.


On this night Cheap Trick was playing. Cheap Trick was always a little corny, but admit I owned Cheap Trick at Budokan and I enjoyed the show!


Bun E. Carlos is no longer the drummer, but the rest of the band is intact. Below Robin Zander and Rick Neilsen twang it out.


Tom Petersson did a good cover of the Velvet Underground’s Heroin.



After the show I saw Gary, Sonny and Turtle. I asked if they had gotten any of the guitar picks Rick Neilsen had tossed out. They were a bit delayed in responding. Then a lady to my left handed me one. She said she had five. Nice! Got one!


After Cheap Trick 5 people in a pair of underwear lead the way to Mothership.


Mothership is why I wanted to stay an extra night. This band rocks!



Earlier I mentioned there was more to the story about the bike from the Custom Sportster Contest. They announced the winner on the big stage after Cheap Trick. It was the same bike I showed earlier. Then the builder of the bike rode it over to Bikini Beach and gave it to the guys in Mothership! Gave them the bike!


Well that was a show stopper! After the guys in the band were done taking pictures and revving that baby up, they got back to jamming with the bike on stage.


The band was psyched! Everyone was! It started getting a little rough in the crowd. It seemed there were a number of local rowdy fans from Texas around me. A little shoving began. Then, suddenly some big dude put me in a head lock! Oh shit! Ahhhh! Ha! It was Randy! He was laughing his 6’5″ ass off! Funny! But after this giant let go, I realized I had a little more elbow room around me. Thanks Randy.



The next morning I got up, packed my gear, said goodbye to my new friends and neighbors, Frank, Kyle, Brian, Travis, Jeff, Sharon, Sonny, Gary, Turtle and Bryan (the shade master). Oh and I met Kelley (the guy being raised in the air above) up at the showers. He was still in disbelief about the gifted bike.


Randy described where he was camping, so I stopped by and woke him up on my way out of the Chip. Randy could nap through a carpet bombing. We talked for a while, then I headed out of town for the Black Hills of South Dakota.

One Response to “Sturgis 2016”

  1. Great ride report as always. Be safe and looking forward to more posts.

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