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Article By: Heather Callen Photos By: Melissa Shoemaker & Heather Callen
Originally Published In The November 2018 Issue Of Cycle Source Magazine
Cycle Source Magazine attends the Sturgis rally every year, as a matter of fact, we haven’t missed our annual pilgrimage in more than a decade. For us, it’s more than just another rally, it is more like a homecoming, that one time a year in particular that most of our extended moto family converges on what has become the mecca of motorcycling over the last 78 years. For many of us, it may be the only time we see one another, and it may be another 364 days until we see each other again, it’s a special time, in a special place.
For those of you that have yet to make the trek across these United States to attend the Black Hills Motorcycle Rally and are debating on whether or not you should, well…you should. Quite frankly, and yes, I know this will sound cliché, there is actually something for everyone. Like great bands and good beer? Well, there are dozens of places for that, even those come in every shape and size from the little hole in the wall to the Legendary Buffalo Chip whose amphitheater can hold tens of thousands and everything in between. Yes, we all have our favorites, those that feel like home, for us it’s Broken Spoke Saloon within the Iron Horse Saloon compound. Over the past few years they’ve embraced us, and every crazy idea Chris comes up with. They had faith in us three years ago when we pitched the idea of Grease & Gears Garage and supported us when we showed up with a cell phone on a stick; they’ve nurtured our growing pains, all in the name of paving the way for those who want to learn something new. The Iron Horse plays host to a multitude of events that go far beyond a killer band on a state of the art stage; they remember why 400,000 plus people converge on a town of 6,000…because we all love motorcycles! Every day of the rally they host a different bike show for the different styles and genres of motorbikes including a performance bike show, a day just for the AMCA, the Perewitz Paint Show and even our own Cycle Source Ride In Show.
Now, if beer, bands, and babes aren’t quite your thing, never fear, there’s plenty to do in and around Sturgis. If you’re in to racing, well hell, this is your place too. You want fl at track racing, you got it, and it is even right in the middle of all the action at The Chip! Into hill climbs? Yep, they go that too. Are you an adrenaline junkie and dig drag races? Then just head on over to the drag strip, and I’ll be damned, if you’re there on Tuesday night, you can even run what ya brung, thanks to Baker Drivetrain. Prefer the old stuff? Well dang, there’s two vintage race days thanks to Billy Lane’s Sons of Speed and Brittney Olsen’s Spirit of Sturgis. You can actually catch some sort of racing just about every day during the rally; a race fans dream come true!
So, you say you could less about races, bands, beer, and babes… still nothing to worry about, just go riding! Now we’re talking…some of the best roads, tourist attractions and national monuments in the country are in the Black Hills. One can pick a different direction every day and come back with epic memories. You can cruise through Vanocker or Spearfish Canyons, roll through Custer State Park, be aware… you may hit a traffic jam thanks to wild donkey or a herd of Buffalo. Two not to be missed roads are Needles Highway and Iron Mountain Road, both of which you can hit on the way to and from Mt. Rushmore. I’ve visited Crazy Horse a fewtimes, not a site to be missed. Heck, even the kid in me had to ride out to see Devil’s Tower, you know the mountain of mashed potatoes from Close Encounters Of The Third Kind…that’s there too, just a short 80 miles away. If you are just a true motorcycle junky and want to spend your days ogling every different machine you can imagine, then you’re in luck. There are no shortage of bike shows throughout the week; you can even catch more than one a day if you don’t mind venue hopping. The Buffalo Chip was kind enough to host Big Joe’s FXR Show/Dyna Mixer, the Led Sled Customs Sportster Showdown and the ever popular and legendary Rat’s Hole Custom Bike Show just to name a few.
Ok, that’s enough of the general hoohah about Sturgis. Basically, it’s awesome, and if you can’t find something to do…well, then you just might want to crawl back under your rock! Seriously though, this year was no different than most, we rolled into town like our ass was on fire. As per usual we were late, late for a very important date. Chris and I had to deliver “Something Wicked” and a few of his paintings to the Motorcycles As Art Gallery at the Buffalo Chip so it could be part of the “Passion Built, Garage to Gallery Exhibit” curated by Michael Lichter. We slid in just under deadline, well sort of, we put the clutch cable on in the lobby while Michael shot another bike. And well, the final painting wasn’t quite finished, so we stayed until the wee hours of the morning while the final brush strokes were put on, while it was hanging on the wall. I’m not going to lie, seeing the Shovelhead that we had completed in just under 30 days up on that pedestal, and recalling the sleepless nights and blown budgets, all I could think about was riding that sucker! HaHaHa! As per usual, Michael’s exhibit never disappoints. While Chris was painting I walked through the gallery taking it all in when I came to a wall of works by Ray Drea, his mediums included sharpie on shirts, one shot Pollock inspired pieces, and even a few watercolors but man was I surprised when I came across the one that was a painting of us and our brother rolling down the road on choppers! Hot Damn! Thank you, Ray! The gallery was filled with wonderful works by an array of artists. The motorcycle offerings weren’t too shabby either, just about every style was represented in some way, all built by people that didn’t “do motorcycles” for a living. What an honor it was for Chris to be included in that pool of talent. If you couldn’t make it to the show, we’ll be featuring a few in our pages in the coming months or just cruise on over to lichterphoto.com to check out the full line up.
Saturday began our week of work, play, reunions, and parties. We set the stage at the Iron Horse for a full week of Grease & Gears Garage. We were thrilled to have the stage graced with craftsmen like Aaron Green, Evan Favaro of SpeakEasy Motors, Will Ramsey of Faith Forgotten Choppers, and Joe Mielke of Snap Fab to name a small spattering of experts that stepped up to share their knowledge with the masses. To each of them, we thank you for helping us empower those to do for themselves, or at least give them the insight as to how and what to look for. You can check out the lessons on our Facebook or YouTube pages if you feel like learning something new. Sunday, like so many other days, was jam packed with places to be and things to do, starting with the Flying Pistons Builder Breakfast. A number of the builders from the Motorcycles As Art exhibit gather for a morning of camaraderie, food, and fundraising. This year’s benefactor was Motorcycle Missions; if you don’t know about this fine veterans support organization, I suggest you google it. While Chris was taking care of business there, we were getting our 12th Annual Ride In Custom Bike show rocking over at the Iron Horse while Snap Fab hosted the FXR Show/Dyna Mixer. Man, do I wish I could have cloned myself that day. Neither show disappointed, each having a stellar showing. While the bikes rolled into the show the Grease & Gears Garage stage went on. That afternoon we slid into Lichter’s industry party at The Chip, another of my favorite events of the week. Builders, designers, artists, craftsman, and industry leaders alike come together for an evening of motorcycles, art, and conversation. The only bummer is that there are so many people that you want to talk to but too little time…
Monday rolled around and was no slouch in the cool department. It was the 3rd running of AMCA Vintage Day at the Broken Spoke Saloon. Eighty or so antique and vintage motorcycles pulled into the lot one after the other for a celebration of all things old. There were beautiful specimens on hand for our drooling pleasure. Light hearted awards were handed out,including one for the oldest rider, most dings and dents, and a few others as well. The crew at the Iron Horse treated AMCA members to a pizza/pasta buffet before they rolled out as a group to head to the Spirit of Sturgis Races hosted by Twentieth Century Racing. Monday evening, our home base was alive with the Cycle Source Industry Party…yeah you guessed it…we just needed an excuse to bring our moto family together again. Thank you to our old friends that stopped in to reminisce and to the new that introduced yourselves!
Tuesday was loaded too! The 3rd Annual Aidan’s Ride rolled out of The Buffalo Chip early in the morning for a great ride through Belle Fourche and a stop for brunch. They happily reported raising over $8,000 to #savetheboys. To learn more about this valiant effort, please visit www. aidanjackseegerfoundation.org. Later that afternoon Chris and the guys brought the Tea Chopper and Tea Tracker over to the Sportster Showdown for an afternoon full of shenanigans and hell raising. Once we wrapped up the G&G stage for the evening we knew we had to support our buddy Bert Baker over at the Sturgis Dragway, so off we went. Little did I know that showing support actually meant “let’s see what this War Pony can do!” Go to page 16 to get the down and dirty on the Baker Drags.
Finally, hump day! This day started a little differently than past Wednesdays; we had been invited to be guests of one of the 2018 Sturgis Hall of Fame Inductees, Mondo Porras of Denver’s Choppers. What an honor, the Godfather of Choppers wanted us to be there on his big day. Even though the historic event began at 8 am at the Lodge at Deadwood, we wouldn’t have missed it for the world. We sat in the company of greatness; Sugar Bear sat across from us, Billy Lane and Aaron Green were to my right. In the middle of the room, sat of sea of yellow shirts representing the newly inducted Hamsters, USA for their good work supporting LifeScape Children’s Care along with a multitude of other charitable organizations throughout the Black Hills. The Hall of Fame class of 2018 also included Jeff Decker, sculptor and historian, Jack Hoel, a major infl uence for the development of the rally, Marilyn Stemp, Publisher, and Valerie Thompson, seven-time land speed record holder. I couldn’t have asked for a better way to start the day. Wednesday of the Black Hills Rally is by far my favorite day…ofthe entire year, not just the rally. You see, this is the day that we, along with a few hundred of our friends get on our trusty steads and head to the Spur Creek Saloon out in Newell, SD for lunch and a rodeo. For some cool memories and some dirty details flip to page 34.
Thankfully the rest of the week slowed down a bit for us. Our only commitments were to continue to educate and entertain the masses at the Iron Horse Saloon on the Grease & Gears Garage stage. Oh and reveal the Twisted Tea Tracker, live on stage at the Buffalo Chip, in front of 60,000 plus people, who anxiously awaited Kid Rock. No pressure there. Holy hell, it was awesome! Thank you for the opportunity, Rod! We closed out another great week in Sturgis with our annual family dinner in historic Deadwood and wouldn’t have had it any other way. Sunday came, the tools were loaded, the stage was struck, and just about all of the 400,000 people had left town, well, all of them except for us. Chris and stayed behind at the Steel Pony Campground to put together an issue of this rag, after all, we have to have some reason to play with motorcycles all the time!