Motorcycle USA made the rounds at the 2012 Sturgis Rally as we camped out at the Legendary Buffalo Chip for eight days, covering everything from Michael Lichter’s Born Free exhibit to the Legends Ride to the annual Baker Burnouts.
Motorcycle USA called the Legendary Buffalo Chip Campground in Sturgis home for eight days as we rode hard and partied hard at the biggest biker blowout around.
We got the week started with a run to Mount Rushmore and the Crazy Horse Memorial riding a 2009 Harley-Davidson Ultra Classic as we tested a new set of Ohlins shocks for cruisers. This was a good precursor to the Legends Ride the following day, a star-studded fundraiser that starts in Deadwood and ends at The Chip. In between, riders got to rub elbows with the likes of daredevil Robbie Knievel, guitarist Neal Schon of Journey and the Ness family. Schon would play to the same crowd he rode out with later that night as Journey was the headlining concert at the Buffalo Chip during the Legends Ride after-party.
And Journey was only the tip of the iceberg of the loaded schedule of musical acts that played at the Buffalo Chip. The week was a blur as the rotation of top acts taking the Wolfman Jack Memorial Stage changed gears constantly, from Boston to Eric Church, Sugarland to Slash. Then the action would move to the smaller stages located around the campground with killer shows like Michael Holt and the Trophy 500s and their performance artist sideshow. Nights always ended with impromptu parties that sprouted up almost everywhere around the campground that raged until dawn.
The week was full of killer custom bike shows, too, highlighted by the 2012 AMD World Championships of Custom Bike Building. There were plenty of quality customs that could have won lesser shows on any given day, but it was the attention to detail by Thunderbike out of Germany on its bike PainTTless that was awarded top honors in the coveted Freestyle Class. Jeremy Cupp of LC Fabrications was the top American finisher in the class, capturing second place for his 1976 Harley 883 XL called ‘Old Black’ which now looks more like a 1932 DAH Hillclimber. We also spent a lot of time hanging out with our friends at The Rat’s Hole who were celebrating 40 years of holding world-class custom bike shows. Their gig at the Buffalo Chip CrossRoads had even more bikes than the AMDs. The ‘Unusual Class’ lived up to its name, as two motorcycles sported the biggest rear tires we’ve ever seen. But it was Larry Moore of Moore Customs who captured top honors and part of the winning package meant being drug out on the Buffalo Chip stage in between the Sugarland and Lynyrd Skynyrd shows to receive the award in front of thousands of engine-revving bikers.
There was also a splendid collection of motorcycles in Michael Lichter’s annual exhibition at The Buffalo Chip. This year’s theme was Come Together, The Spirit of Born Free which celebrates the spirit of the popular Born Free event in SoCal. The show provided an outlet for guys from smaller shops to get some national attention for their work and embraced the current movement that pays tribute to the spirit of bikes and attitudes from motorcycling’s past.
In between attending events, participating in rides and catching shows, we got into a little bit of everything, from firing machine guns at the Guns of Freedom range to riding Victorys with The Gunny to talking motorcycles with Rich Wyatt from American Guns. By Saturday we were fried, so we got outta dodge onboard a 2013 Victory Cross Country Tour. We raced a hailstorm that blocked out the horizon as we headed out to the Badlands to witness Mother Nature’s paintbrush on the South Dakota plains. We’re still recovering from a lack of sleep, but we wouldn’t have it any other way and are already looking forward to the trip out to Sturgis next year.