Arlen Ness is ready to help lead the celebrity Sturgis entourage out of Deadwood during the 2012 Legends Ride.
With motorcycle daredevil Robbie Knievel leading the charge, hundreds of riders thundered down the streets of the Western-themed town of Deadwood, South Dakota in support of the fifth annual Sturgis Buffalo Chip’s Legends Ride.
It was a star-studded event at the Sturgis Rally 2012, with guitarist Neal Schon of Journey riding a brilliant gold-flaked bagger as he pulled out just behind the talented Ness family, Arlen aboard a slick digger motorcycle with monster hoops front and back and diamond-cut trim everywhere. Cory Ness was also there on his signature series 2013 Victory Cross Country Tour with Zach in tow on a 2013 Victory Cross Country he put his custom touch to this year. Actress Kristy Swanson and her husband, former Olympian Lloyd Eisler, were also there to support the cause which benefits the Black Hills Special Olympics and the Sturgis Motorcycle Museum and Hall of Fame. The first four Legends Rides have raised over $240,000 to date for local causes and projections for today’s event should push the total toward $300,000.
The biggest stars of the day though were the kids of the Black Hills Special Olympics. Several of the children in the program were on hand to help celebrate the occasion and were treated to a rousing ovation when they were introduced onstage. Funds generated by last year’s Legends Ride helped buy the children in the program a new bus to transport them to practices and events. Many live in rural areas and wouldn’t be able to participate otherwise, and the president of Black Hills Special Olympics, Jack Linus, believes the new bus will increase participation by a projected 25%. The bus is a real beauty, a Freightliner decked out in what Linus called “Harley Black.”
After getting the party started in Deadwood, the posse rolled out of town for a scenic back country ride to the Sturgis Buffalo Chip. Distinguished photographer Michael Lichter, the man who has logged more miles than anybody else facing backwards on a motorcycle, was busy snapping away as riders passed by. The procession then rolled right through the amphitheater of the Buffalo Chip on their way to a reception afterward, highlighted by cold beer and plates of home-style grub.
Motorcycle daredevil Robbie Knievel (L) was one of the special guests who showed up to support the 2012 Legends Ride. Zach Ness (M) was all smiles as he got ready to ride out with his honey. The true heroes of the 2012 Legends Ride were the athletes of the Black Hills Special Olympics (R) who are standing in front of the bus that was bought with the help of funds raised by the Legends Ride.
As participants shared in friendly banter, a benefit auction took place to further fill the coffers for the designated charities. Among the items up for bid included 2012 Epiphone Sturgis Buffalo Chip guitar signed by “Woody” aka Buffalo Chip owner Rod Woodruff and a host of others, one of artist David Uhl’s latest creations featuring motorcycle industry persona Bean’re as a rough-riding desperado, and the most coveted prize, a custom bagger created by 11 students in Senior Welding at Sturgis Brown High School. Under the guidance of Keith Terry, the high schoolers were able to convert a Road King into a hopped-up Road Glide.
The girls of the International Bikini Team were on hand to add to the festive mood at the Legends Ride.
Bidding started out briskly at $25,000, then crept above the $30,00 mark. Before the auctioneer declared it sold, the winning bid sat at a healthy $37,500, the most money ever generated by the Buffalo Chip Challenge bike.
The winning bidder was Paul Christodoulou from Moscow, Russia, a shipping and logistics magnate who formerly lived in Ft. Lauderdale. A tense moment occurred during the photo shoot when the motorcycle almost took a tumble off the podium it was parked on as the bike’s new owner and his lady friend got off the bike, but quick reactions by those closest to the motorcycle saved the day. The Legends Ride ended with a triple bill of Saving Abel, Loverboy and Journey at the Chip as what is becoming one of the must-do events in Sturgis drew to a close.