Article By: Chris Callen
Photos By:Missi Shoemaker
Article Published In The October-November 2020 Issue Of Cycle Source Magazine
The people of the Sturgis Rally are always the best part. Year after year you start to notice some of the same faces, in the same places and if you’re lucky enough to grow old doing this thing then you might even happen to get to know their story. Now having been coming to Sturgis for some 20 years myself, I have finally entered the old guy circle where sitting around for part of a morning, or evening and having some good talk with folks we see sometimes more than our own families, is more important than raising hell on Main Street. It’s a time honored status and I’ve been so proud to make it to that place.
Of course there are the obvious faces of greatness that you will see so many people interview and get photos of. The Panhead Billies, the Woodies and the Brother Speeds of the rally. But there are so many faces that just make you start to realize, hey there’s that cat again, and ask yourself, what’s his story?
One such individual is Rick Krone. Now, I’ve noticed Rick, we’ve had conversations here and there, hell he’s even been to my wedding, but it was this year, when I saw him pull up on a bike that was part Brother Speed’s and partly made after my own Black Pearl back in the day, that I finally got to spend some time and sit for a good talk with him. What I found was a man who is the very reason I am proud to appreciate the greatness of this place and our culture. Rick is one of those guys that sits back and makes sure that the good work people do is recognized and appreciated. On the other hand, he will silently remind people of the peckerheads in the room too. He’s been around long enough to know the names and stories, probably even knows where a few of the bodies are buried. But for a big man he has a soft and pleasant demeanor. Generally seems to always be in a good mood and proudly displays a big old shit eating grin for the world to see. He has made a 41 year commitment to coming back to the Black Hills each and every August, come hell or high water and his wife of 43 years Pat shares that story with him as well.
Pat shares that story with him as well. Rick started coming to Sturgis back in ‘79 when it was still buckwild and a little dangerous, part of what he liked about it. They were burning shit houses in City Park, automatic weapons were fired off into the night’s sky, alot like the wild west history it was always part of. Rick was just 26 years old back then and had just got out of the Army like so many of the original rally goers, thrill seeking was a way of life. His first year he showed up on a decked out VW Show Trike. You know the kind with the bass boat flake, the whole deal. With all the luggage he had hauled along it was easy for Rick to do a wheelie down the entire length of Main Street, which he did. Can you imagine that today huh? As the years went on and the rally changed, some for the better some for the worse as far as Rick feels, he and his wife got a place up in Central City. No matter what else they did in life from an upholstery business, doing hot rods and bikes to a full scale embroidery business, their downtime in Sturgis was the goal. Now Rick is lucky enough to not have to run in or out of the rally. He remembers at one point the rally had become so large you’d wait out on the highway for 7 miles in stopped traffic just to get in. Made no difference though, this was the place to be and he could wait as long as it took to get to town.
So Rick’s old bike here is a 1997 Roadking. He’s ridden the shit outta it and at one point, like a few of us do, he decided to have his story play out on the body of it. He’s had it for 23 years so that story is a pretty long one and after he got a decoupage base down that consisted of 120 rolls of camo tape, he went to work putting the memories he shared with the old girl on it. A grate from an old wood burner, military flashlight, trinkets from visiting the monuments during the rally, all adding up to a living running memorial to Rick’s time on this bike, and on this planet. Of course, he’s the type of cat that will probably not even want me to write a story like this about him but these are the people that make Sturgis Special. So the next time you see Rick or another cat in Sturgis like him buy him a beer and take the time to find out who he is.