By Tom Christian*
The Fourth Annual Deadwood 3 Wheeler Rally held July 10-15 in South Dakota started with me riding from Gillette, Wyoming to Deadwood after a 1,368.7 mile ride to Gillette. As the Travelodge at First Gold Gaming Resort was in sight, I thought of the person I needed to contact, Teresa Schanzenbach, the coordinator of this rally. It is always fun to meet someone for the first time who you never spoke with, or know what they are like, and this was no exception. After checking in at the front desk they told me she was down below in the casino and I went over to meet her with a happy smile. Teresa gave me a warm hug and I knew this was going to be a fun week. We had a very nice chat. Teresa told me that she had plans for my whole week of photography at this rally, and assured me that it was going to be a great time. We went out to the front of the casino to do a live video for Quick Throttle Magazine Facebook. This is where we talked about the schedule of the rally and the timeline of all the events, which helped me figure out which way to go first. I arrived on Monday so I was a day early to get myself ready to cover this rally. My first assignment was to go to the saloon where Wild Bill Hickok was shot, and do a live video inside. It was exciting to be in this historic spot, and that set the stage for me to get started with this rally.
The opening day of the rally with lots of three-wheelers coming from everywhere. Center Stage was across the street which was set up for lots of other events throughout the year. Center Stage is where everybody meets to register for the rides throughout the rally. While at Center Stage there was an opportunity to meet Teresa’s husband David and her boss Terry Sankey the Director of Sales. Both of them made me at home in Deadwood.
With a little time on my hands, I rode out to Sturgis H-D to take a photo of my new bike at the front of the store while a few other riders waited their turn. Then I was off to see the Full Throttle Saloon, rebuilt since the devastating fire after the Sturgis Rally in 2015, where I was very fortunate to take a few pictures of the inside of it before the fire. While doing my live video, there was a lot to take in doing a tour of the new saloon. It was a very popular video—- there were 26,000 viewers and then another 10,000 were on my page too.
Then off to the Buffalo Chip Saloon to check it out, do a live video and take pictures. It was good to do the video without a lot of people so it could show everybody what it looked like empty and I could hear myself think. Plus it gave me an opportunity to get reacquainted with the area which is very helpful in the days to come.
Time to get back to Center Stage before it started raining, get caught up with the evening activities and make plans for the rides on Wednesday. There are several rides every day that break up all the riders so that everyone’s not going to the same place at the same time. So it’s like going to your favorite buffet, seeing all the great options, and trying to decide which one to pick first.
The Vanderhall Motor Works was setting up near Center Stage for demo rides. I thought it would be a good time to do a demo before everyone else wanted to try them out. Teresa and I were the first people to demo them at this rally. Her husband David rode with the Vanderhall reps following us through the canyon toward Sturgis. It was about a fifteen minute ride and we wanted an hour or longer. I felt like a foreign movie star driving through the canyon in an exotic three-wheeled vehicle with the wind blowing across my face. I had my helmet on with my GoPro camera on top which made it a very fun ride. Time was running out on the daylight and time to get back.
I chose to ride out to Devils Tower in Wyoming because I had never ridden out there to see the tower. The ride everybody else took was through the canyons for a very scenic trip that all the participants said was everything they had been told to expect. I stopped a few times just to shoot a few photos and enjoy the sight of Devils Tower from some vantage points with other riders. I met riders heading to Deadwood for the Rally and it was really enjoyable chatting with them. Devils Tower really was a great sight to see and should be on everyone’s checklist. I will be going back.
Then back in Deadwood at Center Stage for some fun biker games. The funniest contest was the Bolt and Nut game that brought people together whether they liked it or not. The gals picked out a nut from a selection laid out on the table, and guys would pick out a bolt from this selection also on the table. So everyone had to find the match of their bolt or nut.. All of the players in this game made it fun to watch with their sense of humor. There was a ride over to the Knuckle Saloon in Sturgis that I joined in on and enjoyed one of the best hamburgers I’ve had in years. While there doing a live video, that helped me get to know some of the folks that showed up at the Knuckle. This helps break the ice a little; having my camera in hand everyone is a ham and all seem very happy and excited to have their pictures taken.
That morning it rained and that made it a wet start, but the rally goes on rain or shine. Rain gear is a must so it was pulled out and put on from the start before leaving the room. Off to Center Stage to get an update on the day’s events. Then to fuel up Cherry Bomb (my Harley) for a very wet and wild ride. If you never had to deal with rain on your ride make sure you talk with a rain-seasoned rider to give you tips and heads up with a safety point of view.
Off to the Badlands we go in the rain, looking forward to enjoying seeing the sights and who you might meet out there on the road. While pulling over to check out my GPS to see what way it was best to travel with the wet roads, a South Dakota Highway Patrol officer pulled in alongside to check on me. He asked me if everything was alright and if I needed any help, so I explained what I was doing and he gave me some tips. So I want to thank the law enforcement for looking after us while we were out there.
Looking for a place to grab a cup of coffee and fuel, there was a convenience store just in sight with 25 or so three-wheelers doing the same thing. Everyone was in good spirits while enjoying the rainy day. This will make a fun part of their stories back at home. After chatting with eight Harley owners riding together on their trikes there was an opportunity to catch them riding through Hill City together, so we coordinated to shoot a video with my cell and GoPro, and capture some still photos of them. Only got wet a little while doing this shoot; that was fun to do. Trying to stay dry, off to see Crazy Horse Monument where others from the rally were visiting too. Getting some very cool pictures and staying dry was the plan all day. So far so good… well, keeping my cameras dry anyway.
I wished that going through Custer State Park would be a little less wet, but that was not going to happen. Hitting heavy rain made things interesting while being stopped by three small herds of bison for over an hour in the rain. Just think how big and powerful, and unpredictable these animals are, right next to me on my bike. Just waiting to get through the tunnel where you can see Mt. Rushmore as you come out the other side. A few of us stopped at a deli to get out of the rain and enjoy a cup of coffee before the last leg back to Deadwood.
Center Stage was a happy place to ride into with all the new faces arriving and signing up for the next day’s ride with the rain looking like it was slowing down. Everyone is very friendly while visiting with each other and making plans for the next day’s rides.
Waking up after a great night’s sleep, breakfast was waiting downstairs with the other riders in the dining room on the first floor where everyone had a story or two to talk about. After a little bite to eat everyone rode to Center Stage to get up to date on what is happening. There is always something going on at Center Stage with all the vendors that have set up shop. Lights are a big thing on the three-wheelers along with pinstripes, exhaust systems and very cool cell phone brackets. Do not forget about the leather attire– vest, chaps, rain gear. There was a gal that engraved very cool designs on windshields. The three-wheelers were lined up to have their rigs worked on at the various vendors.
One of the popular events of the day was the Trike Show and Shine in old town Deadwood. The judging was “people’s choice” and the event organizers tallied the votes and awarded the trophies. WOW everyone loved that, seeing all the cool three-wheelers shined up and showing off.
The Mayor’s Ride was getting ready to hit the road so off we went to set up a place to shoot the riders and Mayor Chuck Turbiville on his birthday ride through Spearfish Canyon. (Mayor Turbiville is also a state legislator.)
All the fun folks that came out to the Deadwood 3 Wheeler Rally gathered at 5pm for a group picture on the football field. Just watching all of them get it together was fun. Taking a picture of them all was difficult because of the size of the group (in formation, spelling out “D3WR”), while I was high overhead on a man lift working with the angle and the depth of field. But we got it!
The next event was a game of trike skills. Wow this was fun and crazy to watch these riders work together with their partner on their rigs. The driver being blindfolded, the other person is giving instructions on which way to turn with going forward or going backwards, trying to pick a tennis ball off an orange cone without knocking it over or dropping the ball. Then too there were races, pushing a bucket with their rig– without crossing over the finish line with their rig. Another skill game was picking up stuffed animals with a fishing net on a time limit that kept everyone laughing and rooting them on.
The feature for Movie Night was the film “Silverado,” which was shown at Center Stage with popcorn. There was always something happening at Center Stage and never a dull moment.
For me, the weather was everything for this day ride because I wanted to go back and see Needles Highway that I missed previously due to the rain. This particular ride paired first timers on this route with veteran riders of Needles Highway, so they could share their knowledge of the ride. I met Diane at Center Stage and was looking to go out on a ride to the Badlands, so we took off to enjoy the weather. It was a beautiful day of riding.
The tunnel in Needles Highway was on my mind all along just to see it again and remember the scenery around the tunnel. Riding to the tunnel from Highway 385, we encountered classic switchbacks all the way to the top. We spent a little time at the tunnel to take pictures and watch a camper drive through the tunnel with only an inch or two to spare. The road goes through several tunnels, the last one is where you can see Mt. Rushmore through the tunnel. If you’ve never ridden through them and come out looking at Mount Rushmore, it is a must next time you are in the Black Hills of South Dakota.
Then we were off to Sturgis; first we rode to the Full Throttle Saloon and then to the Buffalo Chip so Diane could check them out. Finally we stopped at the Knuckle Saloon to grab a bite to eat before heading back to Center Stage. We rolled in just in time for the raffle of a custom trailer for a three wheel rig. Rick Feiner from Arena, Wisconsin won this beautiful custom made aluminum trailer that’s designed to be pulled behind a three-wheeler. Congratulations Rick! We hope he uses it next year when he comes back to Deadwood for this rally. One of the prior winners was also there with their new trailer showing it off.
Next it was time to get ready for the big parade through Deadwood with about fifty three-wheelers all decked out with lights, and I saw a gal that had her fingernails done with lights in them. This was the big night for this rally and Deadwood loves a parade so let’s give it our best. At the front of the Parade I met the Founders of Deadwood 3 Wheeler Rally who also own the First Gold Gaming Resort and Travelodge, Mike and April Gustafson who led the Parade through Deadwood. I finally got the opportunity to ride a three wheeler for the first time, on the back of Diane’s Spyder, as we rode through old town Deadwood. All the folks came out to support the riders with cheers, waves, whistling and clapping. It was a sight to see.
All fun things come to a end and this was hard to deal with, so off to Center Stage to see everyone and grab a bite to eat. I met the oldest rider who came this year, Floyd Leaver of Sioux City, Iowa. 89 years young, looking great for his age and known as Frogman. I want to thank Teresa and First Gold for their awesome hospitality, putting me up and taking good care of me all week. Doing a goodbye live video with Terry and Teresa with a few others, one could feel the love and not wanting this to end so fast.
Taking the onramp to I-90 heading toward Little Big Horn, I was thinking of all those folks that came from all parts of America including Hawaii and Alaska. I have never felt so happy to be around that many great people that just helped, laughed and told happy stories with love for one another. How could I not want to ride back to be around this kind of rally. THEY HOOKED ME!
Trike Show & Shine Results:
Reversed Trikes: Trophies
1st Place: Mathew Kosma – Can-Am Spyder RT – 2014 – North Charleston, SC
2nd Place: Homer Hill – Can-Am RTS – 2017 – Victoria, TX
3rd Place Mickey Sykes – Can-Am Spyder RT Limited – 2017 – Antioch, CA
Conventional Trike: Trophies
1st Place: Kathryn Henry – Boss Hoss 57 Chevy Trike – 2010 – Dupont, WA
2nd Place: David Ogden – Harley Trike – 2014 – Wichita, KS
3rd Place: Hank K Wuest – Indian Trike 2017 – Luxemburg, WI
Side Cars: Trophies
1st Place: Ed Sauter – Indian Classic – 2014 – Custer, SD
2nd Place Joseph Reinart – Ural – 2018 – Rapid City, SD
3rd Place Ronald Paine – Honda Goldwing – 2000 – Brooklyn Center, MN
Custom Built: Trophies
1st Place: Ernie Buhr – Boss Hoss Trike – 2013 – Gering, NE
2nd Place Don Van Voorst – Wil-Mac Trike – 1972 – Sioux Center, IA
3rd Place: Dewey Schlager – Home built 2013 – Sioux City, IA
1st Place: Bob Harris – Slingshot SL 2015 – Atlantic, IA
2nd Place: Jerry Frisbie – Stallion – 2010 – Kent, WA
3rd Place: Jerry Vroman – Slingshot SLR LE 2018 – Perham, MN
Publishers Note: I spoke with Teresa and Terry during the Three-Dom Three Wheel Bike Show at the Sturgis Buffalo Chip a few weeks after this event. Collectively, we made it our mission to get Tom a 3-Wheeled loaner for 2019.