On the same day I crossed the Missouri River I would make it to Sturgis.
Welcome to the 75th Anniversary of the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally!
This year at Sturgis would be the most crowded ever as the 75th Anniversary was predicted to draw over a million bikers!
My Bonnie celebrated the 75th in style as the odometer made that turn which represented the 75,000 miles of America’s highways and byways that we have traversed together. Thank you Bonnie and Triumph for making one tough and dependable motorcycle!
The Buffalo Chip
I arrived at the Buffalo Chip before dark, set up camp and immediately met a guy named Moose. Good start. That’s my site on the right beneath the camouflage tarp.
The first big show at the Chip would be the legendary Alice Cooper.
Besides ripping through some of his greatest tunes, Alice rocked some classic covers like Break On Through, Revolution, Foxy Lady and My Generation. I hadn’t seen Alice Cooper in over 20 years. It was an excellent show!
Feed My Frankenstein!
The last time I visited Sturgis I had only one regret.
I didn’t bowl a midget.
On this visit there would be no regrets.
I grabbed Samson by the ankle and whipped him down the aisle! He is funny as hell and tough as nails.
I bowled a strike earning the honor of being raised above the Great Samson’s shoulders!
Motorcycles as Art
Motorcycles as Art was a jaw dropping display of unpainted meticulously machined masterpieces.
The show was curated by Michael Lichter the famous motorcycle photographer and included his photography along the periphery.
The raw mix of vintage parts with modern tweaks and touches complimented each other to create what truly is Motorcycles as Art.
The bikes were beautifully spaced out in this large hangar-like space.
I was also fortunate to be here at a time when there were no other people around. It was great to leisurely check out these fantastic bikes.
The next morning I got up to get a new pass for the day. Instead of going out of the gate and around to the box office, I decided to park the bike within the fence and walk around to the box office. When I returned to the bike there was this awesome triumph T-Shirt on my seat with a note on a business card.
Then a guy called out. It was Danial James. He designed this bad ass Triumph shirt and left it there for me. So cool! Made my day!
We talked a bit. He said I should stop by their shop on Main Street and he wold hook me up with other Triumph stuff! Man, that was real nice.
I understand overpacking and bringing all the cool stuff you like to have with you, but you gotta keep it tight!
This dude’s bike is rad. It’s covered with all kinds of shit and if I’m not mistaken, he said he hadn’t changed the oil in 8 years. He was entering the bike in Thursday’s Rat’s Hole Contest. I don’t know how the bike did, but he won best beard and perhaps the tattoo contest as well.
Besides the big stage with the major acts, there are numerous stages throughout the Buffalo Chip. Bands play and rotate all day and night.
This Japanese band had a slick cool Western vibe.
The Living Deads had a solid, rad, rockabillly twang.
But of all the bands Mothership was off the hook bad ass. I will be keeping an eye on their tour calendar. If you like good solid hard rock n roll, I recommend you check this Texas trio out.
And there’s the dancing girls! Some dance for tips!
And some dance for corporate sponsors. Here’s The Jagermeister Girls.
I knew Fox made motorcycle jeans but I thought they offered more protection. These are The Vape Girls.
The Rat’s Hole sponsored various competitions throughout the week.
This one had no registration fee and various awards for best bike in it’s class.
The tank is the only thing Triumph on this bike below.
I got to talking to these guys Eric, Shawn and Bernie. That’s Bernie’s bike with the skeleton and Eric’s bike is the chopper. I believe Shawn is their machinist. Anyway, the subject of the Grateful Dead came up and I mentioned I had gone to Chicago. Bernie asked if I got into all three shows. As I was telling the story about getting a rear blowout on the way and negotiating a ticket for the first night, Eric interrupted and said “and you got it for face value!” Bernie says,”How the hell would you know that?” Eric says, “I read it on the internet.”
Later in the day I ended up riding right next to this dude on the bobbed out Triumph. We started talking as he rode to my left. I’m slobbering over his bike, but he really digs the new Bonnie’s too. Then he extends his hand. Hmmm, this was my first handshake while riding and I do believe it’s harder from the right. All formalities were taken care of cool and cordially without any signs of me thinking “I hope I don’t fuck this up”!
The first year I came to Sturgis I pitched my tent next to a 6’4″ trucker from Wheeler, Texas. Everytime I have come here since, I make sure to track down Randy. Things are going well for Randy so he’s not driving those big rigs anymore. Randy is a great story teller and good company.
Dee Snider played a great set. Like Alice Cooper, he did his own standards from Twisted Sister and Widowmaker but also some excellent cover tunes like Rocker, Real Wild Child and Rock n Roll.
Dee Snider was opening for Godsmack. Between bands I noticed some lightning on the horizon. Mind you there was nothing in the weather forecast that called for any precipitation on this night…But this is Sturgis. And when it comes to the weather, the only guarantee is that there are no guarantees! As Godsmack began their set I felt one big drop hit me. I wasn’t taking any chances. I headed back to the tent. Just as I got there KABOOM! Heavy rain and hail came pouring down. I had my gear buckled down tight. I wasn’t sure my tarp would hold up under heavy winds but it was doing fine so far and I was enjoying having a dry seat under my vestibule while watching the storm crash down around me. I planned on staying dry under my tarp when I heard a neighbor in crisis. One of my neighbor’s tents was not faring so well in the heavy rain and this dude Richard was out there by himself trying to help out. I went outside to lend a hand. So despite my awesome shelter which kept my stuff dry, I got soaked anyway. No big deal. It was fun.
My inner sanctum.
The bikes were lined up as expected and I was happy to join that line.
Tons of bikes lined the street. This isn’t a show. These are the riders and Main Street is the parking lot.
Indian Larry’s shop had a bike displayed along Main Street.
Even the side streets are lined with motorcycles.
I was doing laundry at the Buffalo Chip when I heard the sonic boom of a B-1 Bomber overhead. Lynn (who I met on the road) sent me this photo of the B-1 Bombers destination. It did a fly by right over Main Street!
Also on Main Street in downtown Sturgis there is a real decent little motorcycle museum.
This museum is packed with vintage goodies.
This Panhead was totally chromed out!
Triumph was well represented.
After seeing a woman in a vending booth eating a salad, I realized I had to do some shopping. One can not live on BBQ alone. I saw this guy with a classic do it yourself style chopper as I went to the grocery store.
Then I stopped by the Uhl Studio shop to see Danial James who had left that T-shirt on my bike. You can click his name to read more about the artist.
Danial was super cool. We talked about everything from motorcycles and riding to painting, Photoshop and technology. And how he partnered up with David Uhl to created Uhl Studios. I had seen David Uhl’s work before a few years ago at the Broken Spoke. Great stuff! True to his word, Daniel hooked me up with some beautiful Triumph shirts for Jillian and another for me with a Brando Wild One theme. I will be doing a separate post on Uhl Studios in the near future. Meanwhile link up with their site HERE. And some of the shirts are sold directly on the Triumph website HERE. Thanks again Danial!
Lukas Nelson was the only early act I really wanted to see from all the days I was at Sturgis. Lukas is Willie Nelson’s kid and he rocks! Jillian and I got to meet Lukas when he played with his dad here in NYC.
During Lukas Nelson’s set the Budweiser Clydesdales made their way across the amphitheatre.
The Clydesdales weren’t the only celebrities to grace the grounds of the Buffalo Chip.
This dude lives for Skynyrd! And tonight he had front row on his decked out bike with portraits of all the original members of Lynyrd Skynyrd beautifully painted on anything that wasn’t chromed.
And Skynyrd did not disappoint, playing a classic set of their unique Southern sound!
Lynyrd Skynyrd was by far the most crowded of all the shows at the Chip this year.
In addition to the Jagermeister girls on the bar, there are the shot girls. You can have a shot of Jager poured into your mouth by this woman on stilts.
Or if you find tall women intimidating, you can have a midget pour you one on the down low.
Mount Rushmore and Deadwood
Riding around during Sturgis can be a little nuts. It is so crowded. Especially this year. But I figured I’d take a ride to Mt. Rushmore then return through Deadwood.
The one stop light in Keystone was enough to back the traffic up for miles. Most of these guys gave up on letting the bike idle and cut the engines allowing the mighty hill do the work for them.
I pulled to the side of the road for a look at Mt. Rushmore but didn’t park and go in.
Bikes were darting around in every direction. Notice George in profile.
In Deadwood a green girl on a green bike promoted this shop.
Saloon 10, where Wild Bill Hickok was killed while playing cards. Deadwood actually burned down a few years after Hickok’s murder. This bar was built as an exact replica of the old Saloon 10.
David Uhl was taking a break from painting when I visited his studio in Deadwood.
Here is a painting David Uhl made of Dale Walksler unveiling his Crocker. Danial at the other studio was telling me a story about Dale. He had an auction going on back in North Carolina at his museum Wheels Through Time. He was auctioning off the Crocker. It turns out however that North Carolina had a law which forbids anything to be auctioned with a value over $250,000. The Crocker is worth three times that much, so the auction had to be cancelled. However those who bought raffle tickets will have their money returned and they get to keep a print of the awesome painting seen below!
I drew that same Crocker engine a while back from a photo I took of Dale’s bike.
Headed back to the Chip!
Fogerty blasted out all the Creedence classics.
And of course he played his solo hit Centerfield with his baseball bat guitar.
The Miss Buffalo Chip contest was down to 3 contestants last I heard. The one in the middle was the crowd favorite.
If you are up for it, you don’t have to miss the show to get a tattoo. There is a parlor right in the concert arena.
This guy was forging interlocking hearts.
Then came the big Rat’s Hole Contest where the big bikes compete!
Evel Knievel’s truck, Big Red.
I spent most of my time at the Buffalo Chip but I did stop by to have a look around at the Full Throttle Saloon.
The owner, Micael Ballard was on hand to do some shots of their Sloonshine!
Earlier in the trip I visited the world’s largest boot, today I would take part in the world’s largest motorcycle sculpture.
They directed us where to park our bikes and then we just waited for a photo op from a helicopter above.
This is John. He and his wife Shannon were camping with a group next to me.
And here is the shot from the air. I am at the crest of the bottom wave just to the left of the mermaid.
Styx opened for The Guess Who. I never really like Styx. Still don’t.
The Guess Who on the other hand put on a great show.
The chick lighting a cigarette punched a dude right in the face for being too close to her bike.
It was time to pack it up and hit the road. Richard (the guy I was helping during the storm) was have some electrical issues with his bike. Good luck with that Richard and hope to see ya at a future rally!
Time to hit the road!