By Perry & Traci Nelson, Photos by Rusty Childress
How to start writing about the biggest rally in America? What’s the first word?… Fun? Crazy? Awesome? Cops? Crowded? Sexy? Tattoos? Rain? Motorcycles? That’s it! Let’s start with the Motorcycles! Motorcycles galore!
I’m kinda like the AC/DC song “Whole Lotta Rosie”, the way Bon Scott described women I am with motorcycles. I like ‘em big, I like ‘em small, I like ‘em’ all.
Everywhere you look and all you hear for 10 days, is motorcycles. 90% Harley Davidson, but now there is a new motorcycle in town – “The Indian” with a strong presence at this years Rally, a new dealership, Indian Motorcycle Sturgis owned by Bruce Eide, it has a great location and a really nice crew of employees. Not the pushy salesman type employees, employees willing to help folks, employees that really liked their job. They were employees that truly enjoyed talking to folks that were drawn in by the many display bikes out in front of their dealership.
When Traci and I first stopped in this new Indian Motorcycle Sturgis dealership, Traci went inside while I was checking out some old Indians that just pulled up. A tall gentleman walked up next to me and we started talking about how cool these older Indian motorcycles were, pointing to different gadgets that they put on them back in 1942. I told him my name and that I work for a magazine and he told me his name was Bruce and that he owns the place… lol… go figure, talk about a guy who’s easy to talk to. Well, next thing you know Traci and I are on a Chief Vintage doing a little test ride. The Indian Vintage, what a beautiful motorcycle, blue with tan bags, love the look, love the handling, love the cruise control, love the old school “saddleman” type bags. The windshield is a monster, keeps the bugs off, for sure. Other bikers that pulled up next to us while riding through Sturgis just stared, one guy said “Beautiful Bike”. It kind of felt like we were in a Corvette, back in the 80’s…
Indian test rides were available at several other locations, and a few Indian Motorcycle display tents were placed along the main street through the city of Sturgis.
The new bikes Indian has out are the Roadmaster (comparable to the H-D Street Glide) and the smaller water cooled Scout (comparable to the new H-D water cooled 750).
Let’s get back to this Rally; Traci and I drove 1200 miles from Phoenix, Arizona to get to our favorite rally of the year in Sturgis, South Dakota. We brought our Sonya Trike up to enter in a couple contests, our Dyna to tool around town, and our Quick Throttle Media passes to get into the coolest runs and events of the Rally. It would be impossible to go to all the cool events in Sturgis in 10 days, so we had to pick and choose, it was so hard, we wanted to do so many more things but just couldn’t.
Note – If you come up to Sturgis pick the things you want to do most before you get there and give yourselves a few days just to do nothing but bum around… and bring your rain gear!
I would love to say that things were “smooth sailing” for us this year but they were not. We had our Trike in the Easyriders “Rivera Primo” trike show Sunday. Well long story, we probably should have stayed instead of dropping off our Sonya Trike in order to get our Buffalo Chip media passes for the industry party that night because the trophies for the trike show were handed out a little early. We heard that they called out our name… and it was speculated that somebody stole our honorable mention trophy. Oh well, somebody needed it more than us.
The Easyriders Saloon is run by Chad, the General Manager, who had the best venue, vendors and music lineup in Sturgis. After the rally Chad reiterated that Easyriders was honored to have our “Sonya Trike”, a tribute bike to our disabled daughter in their show. To us that was worth more than any trophy. Chad was one of those few people that you could tell within minutes of talking to him, that he really cared about our daughter and “got” why we built the trike.
Right when we thought the sailing was getting smooth… that same day we got pulled over 3 times by the police. Just remember everybody #1 put both feet down and come to a complete stop when leaving an alley, #2 make sure your taillight is very bright, #3 after driving another 2 miles make sure you have the repair ticket to show to the next officer that pulls you over that you now know that your tail light is not very bright.
Unfazed, we went back to our campsite at Lamphere, right across from the Full Throttle Saloon (FTS) and a ½ mile from the famous Buffalo Chip Campground aka “party central”. Showered up we headed over to the Chip Industry Party.
Thank you Nyla, Woody (Chip owner) and Randy (our QT Lifeline) for giving us the opportunity to ‘meet and greet’ with so many of the key players in our diverse motorcycle industry.
Still at the Chip Industry Party, in walked 5 Japanese guys dressed like bikers with a film crew complete with a boom (mic on a stick) the boom had a gray fuzzy thing over it. I walked up to them and they handed me a CD that says “MMS R&R Engineering” so I’m thinking hmm? Ok are these guys builders or manufacturers? So I said, “Hey do you guys know Ken Tabata?” (a Japanese builder friend of mine that won the AMD in Sturgis in 2011). One of the guys shakes my hand and says “Yes” and does a little air guitar thing with his arms and hands. Then I introduce my wife Traci to them and the same guy shakes my hand again and says “Yes” and does a little air guitar thing with his arms and hands. Then I realized, ugh, these guys have no idea what I’m saying. So we eased back to our seats to plan our next move. There are several others at our table that do not know these guys either, so we figured that they may be a rock band. I managed to find a pen and go back and ask them for their autographs. Perfect! They all sign, and yes, they are a band. Funny thing, one of the guys just drew a picture of a bike on the CD…hmm? After the rally we listened to the CD on the way home to Phoenix and it’s like Stray Cats – Rockabilly stuff, really good music…we liked it.
The next day was our favorite event of the rally, “The Legends Ride” benefiting “The Special Olympics”. Because we have a special daughter we know how special these kids really are. It cannot be put into words the gratitude and true peace of mind that enters you when around special kids. Watching the excitement and determination expressed by these kids by just being able to walk one of the donated special needs bikes around a small track filled so many people with joy. You could see and feel emotion in the faces of the crowd as they watched these kids. Truly an uplifting experience for all who attended.
Woody (owner of the Buffalo Chip) burned the loan papers on a special needs bus that was paid for through the donations from this event. A bike built by kids from a local school was auctioned off and John Shope (Dirtybird Concepts) winner of the people’s choice on the hit TV show Biker Battleground Arizona said a few words of praise about the Run and the donated bike. As far as John Shope goes he’s not going to win a “Mr. Congeniality” award but he did have me holding my stomach and about on the ground with his sense of humor… that’s all I’m saying! And off we went to the Buffalo Chip for snacks and the Legends Ride auction.
The highlight of the Legend Run After Party Auction was a painting donated by “Motor Marc” an excellent artist who matches David Manns stuff to a tee with a flare of his own. Brilliant artistry.
Then it was time to call it a night. Ahhhh our first, well deserved full, night’s sleep.