Sturgis 2021

Welcome to the 81st Annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. “What a relaxing and restful week and a half”, said nobody ever! Sturgis is the greatest party on Earth. It’s a fun-filled mix of motorcycles, music, mayhem, and merriment.

I rode the lonely Route 85 north from Cheyenne, WY, and headed for the Black Hills. On the other side of the Black Hill Mountains in South Dakota, would be Sturgis. I was headed straight for the Buffalo Chip, the place where I would be living for the next week and a half.

I set up in an area where I have never pitched my tent before. This is one of the few shady spots at the Buffalo Chip. When I was last here in 2016, I met some great folks over in this area.

Frank (who I visited in California), his friends, and his family were already here when I arrived as were many others! Everyone was commenting on how crowded it was, and the actual rally hadn’t even begun yet!

In my post about California, I referred to this little fella below as ‘Trigger’. Nope. His name is ‘Tripper’! I also mentioned that he now answers to another name. Since Frank has gotten hold of him, he answers to ‘Killer’.

We wasted no time going for a nice ride. The thought was, if it is this crowded now, let’s enjoy the roads before it really gets crowded. So we got up early and hit the Black Hills. In the mirror below is Charlie, (on the chopper), Jeff and Mary, and Rayce and Tanya. Frank is in the lead position with Nancy and Killer. Frank is always in the lead position.

We checked out Mount Rushmore.

Jeff and Mary in the center, live near Frank in California. I met Jeff when I visited last month. Charlie is on the left. He and Jeff have been friends since the 7th grade. He now lives in Tennessee. And that is Rayce front and center. He is Frank’s grandson. And of course, me on the right.

Iron Mountain Road twists around in the mountains overlooking Mount Rushmore. In one of the caves, you can see Mt. Rushmore as you ride through.

These stacked jagged rocks come upon you quickly while riding the Needles Highway. They are beautifully distracting while riding up here with so many bikes.

Like I said, it was crowded and the rally hadn’t officially begun yet.

After a nice ride, we all stopped at the grocery store and headed back to camp at the Buffalo Chip. The Buffalo Chip is where the best concerts are. Every night there will be a headlining band. I have seen amazing concerts here over the years. I’ve seen Ozzy Osbourne, Motley Crue, Bob Dylan, The Guess Who, John Fogerty, Willie Nelson, Lukas Nelson, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Greg Allman, Alice Cooper, Slash, Def Leppard, Stevie Nicks, George Thorogood, Cheap Trick, Kid Rock, and more. This year Kid Rock returns. Stone Temple Pilots and ZZ Top will also be here. Only weeks ago ZZ Top lost their bass player Dusty Hill. I thought ZZ Top may cancel, but Bill Gibbons said the show must go on!

The first night Puddle of Mudd was the headliner. It was fun!

Generally, after a show is the Miss Buffalo Chip contest. These contests go on throughout the week. You can often hear the announcer all the way back at the campground.

Between the outdoor arena and the campsite is Bikini Beach. Bands play Bikini Beach every night after the main concert in the arena. During the day folks party and swim in this pond. It’s kind of nasty, but I have swung on the rope swing in years past.

There was a bike show at the Iron Horse Saloon. Darren McKeag made the poster for it.

I recognized this flathead. It belongs to a guy named Mad Stork who I follow on Instagram. He takes great photos of motorcycle events all over the place. In fact, I would meet him later in the week at Sasha’s Cycles.

There were a number of sweet bikes at the Iron Horse.

Darren McKeag’s bike.

Buckcherry was this night’s entertainment.

Rayce is generally eager to ham it up!

I stopped by Sasha’s Cycles to have a look at some of their vintage machines.

While checking out these antiques, I noticed Darren McKeag riding by. He then pulled up and we talked a bit.

Back at the Chip, some things were different than in years past. There were fewer stages for the smaller bands. And there weren’t as many smaller bands. That’s too bad. I have seen some great original bands on these smaller stages. Now it seems to be a couple rotating cover bands.

There was also a section with a tent city that was set up ahead of time for folks to rent out. Weird.

But the most profound difference since the last time I was here, was the golf carts. Golf carts are everywhere. After the concerts, they line up side by side, awaiting people to entertain them with burnouts. Which they do. My friend Randy, who I visited in Amarillo, Texas said the overwhelming number of golf carts and RVs was the reason he wasn’t coming to Sturgis this year.

Each night the burnouts take place outside the pond area.

It gets hot out here. You must remember to hydrate!

Deadwood, South Dakota is located a little over 20 miles from Sturgis. Deadwood is where Wild Bill Hickok was gunned down at Saloon Number 10 while playing poker. He held the now-famous Aces and Eights hand, AKA: The Dead Mans Hand.

David Uhl, the great motorcycle and Americana artist was in Deadwood. If you follow the blog you may remember that he was also in Lakeland, Florida for the SUN ‘n FUN Aerospace Expo.

This is ‘Six Pack’ in the blue Slingshot below. He switched to this 3 wheeled machine after a bad accident on two wheels. I think I am able to relate to many folks here in the biker world because it turns out that the New York salute and the biker salute are one and the same. Nice to see you too Six Pack.

Kid Rock fired up the Buffalo Chip. It’s the third time I have seen him here and he never disappoints. Unlike other times I have seen him here, this time it was packed. More crowded than I have ever seen it.

At 6’4″, there is not a bad seat in the house for Frank.

The nearby gas station is a hub for all passersby. I generally go here daily for ice and basic needs, like beer.

This is Kyle. He is from Kansas. When I pulled up this year, Kyle called out, “My hero!” A few years ago I returned from a concert to find Kyle standing upright, but still on his bike. His buddy Brian was laughing hysterically and not about to help poor Kyle. They were both plastered after riding their bikes back from the show and now Kyle couldn’t find his kickstand. He just stood there helpless until I came along and dropped his stand for him. He’s forever grateful.

Rayce’s belt seemed to be rubbing the tire a little. Dr. Frankenstein to the rescue.

Motorcycles as Art. Each year the Buffalo Chip has a gallery show of bikes with photographs by Michael Lichter. It’s always a well-thought-out show with a beautiful selection of motorcycles.

This Indian Big Chief with a Vincent Black Shadow engine was a standout for me.

I had seen this beauty below at a motorcycle show in NYC.

I stopped when I saw this big green truck. It belongs to Horny Mike from the TV Show Counting Cars.

Tonight would be the Stone Temple Pilots. I saw them at their peak in the early 90s. It was a bit weird without Scott Weiland. These guys are a great band but they now have a singer who kind of sounds and behaves like Scott Weiland. Like a mimic. It’s strange and a little uncomfortable.

But they blasted through their hits and it rocked! This dude slept through it. Seriously he slept through the whole show.

Main Street is lined with endless bikes parked side by side, block after block during the rally.

A couple of B-1 Bombers did a fly-by over Main Street.

I walked into the Hells Angels store. There were different tables and areas for various chapters throughout the United States. I was looking to see if NY had a section. They didn’t.

I said something to a member behind the Arizona table. Ya see, 81 is a Hells Angels thing. 8=H 1=A. And since it’s the 81st Sturgis, I said. “81. This is your year!” He looked at me coldly and said, “Every year is our year!” I nodded and slowly crept out the door onto Main Street as a dog would do with its tail between its legs after a good scolding.

Rayce, Tanya, and I checked out the Sturgis Motorcycle Museum.

At the museum, I was able to get a copy of last year’s Sturgis Magazine. I am pleased and honored to have one of my photos published in last year’s magazine. The photo is part of a featured article about the great tattoo and motorcycle artist Darren McKeag. I took this photo of Darren and his wife Missy in 2015 at the 75th annual Sturgis Rally.

I really liked this clean, bobbed-out Triumph Bonneville.

There was a time that I once said, “Gee, I didn’t know Sears made motorcycles?”
Now, you might hear someone say, “What is Sears?”

Tonight ZZ Top takes the stage. With the recent passing of their bass player Dusty Hill, there was some uncertainty that they would be performing. Fortunately, ZZ would be there. And they were great!

And like clockwork, the burnouts began at Bikini Beach.

On this night Horny Mike came out to see what all the noise was about at Bikini Beach.

The Full Throttle Saloon and Campground is about 7 miles from the Buffalo Chip. It used to be right across the highway from the local gas station, but it burnt to the ground and relocated.

It is decorated with a steampunk vibe with lots of iron sculptures and vehicles mixed about.

Many people don’t know that the Full Throttle also has a giant pool that is open to the public. I remember the pool from a time before it was the Full Throttle. This was the former location of the Broken Spoke Saloon. This was their pool first.

Riding past Bear Butte.

The memorial flags are always a centerpiece as one enters the Buffalo Chip. In the background behind the flags is a recreation of the Vietnam Memorial from Washington DC.

In the top parking lot of the Buffalo Chip, they had a Wall of Death with the Ives Brothers. These guys ripped around those walls. Below he is grabbing 20s in one pass and then returning with a T-shirt.

This remarkable Shovelhead chopper rolled through the campsite. The entire bike bounced as he rolled along.

My friend Cliff invited me to join him on the Veterans Honor Ride with @redrummc for a good cause. I had never ridden with a police escort before.

Cliff said some words and introduced some people.

The chief blessed riders with some prayers using an eagle feather and burning sage.

There was a ceremonial song before the ride as well.

Cliff goes over some final logistics with the authorities and we were on our way.

We rode through the Badlands with a police escort to Rapid City. It was great to be able to ride without stopping. We were able to run every red light and pass every intersection all the way there.

At the end of the ride, food was served and there was another ceremony.

Jason Mamoa, (one of REDRUMs recent members) donated Mananalu Water for today’s ride. When we took off from the Indian dealer in Sturgis this morning Cliff mentioned that Jason could not be part of this event because he is sponsored by Harley Davidson.

Folks would start to leave Sturgis over the next couple of days. Frank and the California gang split. Frank was going east to visit family in Ohio. Rayce and Tanya were heading back to Cali, as were Jeff and Mary. Charlie went back to Tennessee. On the last night, I sat up and talked with Paul. Paul is from Oregon. He was staying in the cabin you see behind him. Paul had already ridden from Oregon to Key West, Florida before arriving at Sturgis. He was super friendly and left his door open so that folks could charge up electronics inside. Thanks Paul.

Jacob was another new Sturgis buddy who resides in South Dakota. Jacob has business schemes constantly swimming in his head. He is trying to corner the market on some big domain names.

I met a large group of folks from Alaska this year as well. Here are the last three to leave. Actually Cole, in the center, is stationed at a military base in Maryland and lives in Laurel. Bill and Carrie let me have a lumbar pillow which saved my ass…literally. My Airhawk seat cushion had deflated. That pillow helped a lot. Thanks! There was another family from Alaska there as well (Brad, Andrea, Bonnie, and Gary). They showed me photos of some of their moose kills. WIld! When they are ready to fly back to Alaska, they will put their bikes in storage and go. When they return to the lower 48 they just fly back to wherever they left the bikes. How cool is that?

And that was it. I was the last one left. Every time I have been here I am one of the last to leave. It’s tough. I love this place. Each year I meet more great new people. It is always hard to say goodbye. This visit will be different than any previous visits for me in that I will be heading west from here. Normally I would be rushing back east to go to work. Not anymore. I am retired and I am headed for Yellowstone.

2 Responses to “Sturgis 2021”

  1. Awesome post, I almost feel like i was there 😉 🏍

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