Published In The November 2013 Issue Of Cycle Source
Article By: Penny Osiecki
I’ve spent 15 years working, riding and playing at the Sturgis Rally within the motorcycle industry. Whether I was working for Hot Rod Bikes, Barnett’s Magazine or Cycle Source, I’d never taken the time to actually ride from my homestead to the rally.
This year I approached Chris Callen, editor of this wonderful magazine, and asked him if I could get a hold of a touring bike, ride to Sturgis and write an article on my experience. He encouraged me to write an article from a woman’s perspective on riding a touring bike. I thought that was going to be the direction of this article, but I found it difficult to write from a woman’s perspective because riding is riding to me. Instead, this article is about my journey. I reached out to the Harley-Davidson Motor Company for a media bike for the adventure — something with a windshield, at least. Once all of the insurance and other paperwork was approved , the blessing was given for a 2013 Street Glide. Because of HD’s 110th Anniversary, 2014 models weren’t released until after Sturgis this year.
I picked up the bike at the H-D fleet center in Los Angeles and rode it home to Vegas a week before we left for Sturgis. Riding the FLHX was a little nerve racking at first, but once I got the first 290 miles under my belt, it was just like the old days. I’ll admit that I have a bit of a head-trip doing u-turns on dressers. Don’t know why, but I guess I’ll have to buy one eventually to get over it. Other than that, you can’t beat this ride. Don’t take me wrong, I will never let go of my FXR, but the FLHX will definitely be my second bike one day.
This entire trip was planned due to my two favorite Vegas riding buddies, Mark and Chad. These guys have ridden to Sturgis the past two years and were relentless on teasing me because I’ve never done the trip myself. It’s not like I don’t have more miles under my belt than they do, but their razzing really forced me to take the time and actually make the trip! I am so thankful that they gave me such a hard time; I may not have taken the time off to ride.
Mark and Chad knew exactly what routes to take there and back. Prepping for the ride was easier than I thought. The only thing about the FLHX that I didn’t care for was the way the wind came around the fairing and slapped my head around. It was so bad I couldn’t even keep my sunglasses on. I called my buddy Brian at Klock Werks and he sent me one of his Flare windshields — night and day difference. Now, I could ride without getting beat up. It can get brutally hot in Nevada and Utah this time of year so I put a drink holder on the handlebars to stay hydrated, downloaded a bunch of music on my iPhone and set up my luggage to act as a back rest. Really? How much more comfortable can you get? I’m pretty low maintenance and was able to fit everything I needed on the bike.
The morning we left we stopped to say goodbye to our buddy Evan who works at our favorite watering hole and fueled up with a nice protein breakfast, and to maybe rub it in a bit that he wasn’t making the trip with us. He’s one of our Vegas riding buddies so we had to. It was pretty hot and the scenery out of Nevada and Utah can be a bit boring, so we hammered down and put on 571 miles making it to Green River, WY. To keep ourselves occupied in our own heads while riding, we decided to play a game. We all had to come up with the funniest “The Most Interesting Man In the World Dos Equis” quotes related to motorcycling and tell them at each gas stop. Talk about funny shit!
We decided to take our time the next day and make our way to Cheyenne so we could hang out downtown. About 16 miles out of town, we ran into some rain and were just behind a major hailstorm. We were literally right behind it with fresh hail parting on the road from the vehicles in front of us. Talk about lucky. So, my “Most Interesting Woman in the World” quote was “The hail parts for her as she rides.”
The final day ride into Sturgis was short and sweet and it was good to get to the house. We have an amazing group of friends that stay at this house, some new and some old, changing each year. The Sturgis Rally is one of my favorites for work and play. Cycle Source has a large role in the rally’s excitement, holding bike shows, rides, etc. There’s much more work to be done than play, but I’m blessed to be in this industry.
I made a lot of trips back and forth to the Broken Spoke on the FLHX and thought the bike would run a lot hotter than it did, being a 103. I’m used to jamming around on my ’94 FXR while I’m there and thought the FLHX would be a bit difficult to navigate in heavy traffic. I was wrong; it was not a problem at all.
I think the most anticipated part of the trip was the ride home through Colorado. We decided to ride the entire four-hour route through Estes Park. This is the most beautiful part of the country that I have ever seen in my entire life. At the highest elevation of Estes Park, we saw some amazing elk and dared ourselves to stand about 20 feet away from them for a photo op. Probably not very smart.
We had pretty diverse weather; we rode in light snow and some heavy rain but the majority of the ride through the park was nice. When we got caught in the rain I just turned my tunes up and blasted right through it. No worries here.
Once we hit Vail and Breckenridge, CO, I really got to see how the bike handles on curvy roads. No muscling or fighting was needed, even at 85 or 90 mph. I’ll give you one piece of advice as a woman rider: If you can’t keep up with the guys, then you shouldn’t ride with them on this kind of journey.
It was sad to leave this temporary life where I had absolutely no worries whatsoever. I was out on the road with no time lines at all. Riding through the wild west, standing in high elevations in God’s country and seeing all the wildlife is something that everyone needs to experience at least once. When I’m out riding, I’m not rich or poor, I’m not fat or skinny, I’m not male or female, I have no obligations, I’m just at peace and loving life. One word to describe it is Zen. As defined in the Urban Dictionary: 2. Zen – Complete and absolute Peace.
Thanks to Harley-Davidson corporate for allowing me to be in this state of mind for 3200 miles.