We kicked off Sturgis 2012 with a ride over to the Crazy Horse Memorial while testing a set of Ohlins rear shocks on a 2009 Ultra Classic.
Motorcycle USA hit the road throttle wide open for the first couple of days of the 2012 Sturgis Rally and haven’t slowed down since. Our first stop was Black Hills Harley-Davidson where we met our friend Peter Jones who had a 2009 Harley-Davidson Ultra Classic shod in Ohlins HD159 shocks for us to sample. After a quick click on the preload to adjust for our svelte 225-pound rider and a couple of clicks on the rebound we were rolling.
For our first destination we decided to pay tribute to the quartet of founding founders who helped shape this wonderful country we call home. Seeing 60-foot tall granite busts of former presidents Washington, Jefferson, Teddy Roosevelt and Lincoln rising up above the trees of the Black Hills forest rings out a stirring sense of patriotism. If it weren’t for men of conviction and vision like these, we wouldn’t be able to enjoy the liberties we have and the freedom to ride that oft gets taken for granted.
With another outstanding memorial just around the bend, we paid a visit to the impressive Crazy Horse Memorial as well. What an ambitious project. Built to “protect and preserve the culture, tradition, and living heritage of the North American Indians,” the stoic face of Crazy Horse graces the lands he once called home. The displays inside the Indian Museum of North America were informative and insightful. The monument is an inspiring tribute to the indigenous tribes that lived here long before the faces on Mount Rushmore landed in America.
Saving Abel warmed up the crowd Monday night during a triple bill that also included Loverboy and Journey.
After an awesome day of riding through the Black Hills it was time to head back to our base of operations, the Legendary Buffalo Chip Campground. This is the first year that we’ve stayed amongst the craziness of the campground. The Zac Brown Band was the headliner Sunday night and the amphitheater was packed to the gills. It’s easy to see why Zac is such a hot commodity right now after seeing the band live. Energetic sets and talented musicians are a formula for success and the Zac Brown Band delivered. Being able to bypass the unavoidable traffic that surrounds the Chip after a big name show and just walk back to our RV is the way to go. Spontaneous parties broke out everywhere as the festivities moved outside of the amphitheater and into the campground. Side-by-sides loaded with revelers were rippin’ down every side road, many campers have brought some serious sound equipment of their own for outdoor parties in front of their RVs and the spirit of Woodstock lives in the fringes of The Chip.
With little rest for the weary, it felt like the dawn came just as we closed our eyes. Monday meant it was time for the Legends Ride, one of our favorite events of the rally. We shot over to Deadwood and took our place in line in the procession of motorcycles parked out front of the Silverado Casino and the Franklin Hotel in preparation for the annual benefit ride. It was another sold-out event that raised over $46,000 for the Black Hills Special Olympics and the Sturgis Motorcycle Museum and Hall of Fame. Read all about it in our “Stars Come Out For Sturgis Legends Ride 2012” article.
The Legends Ride is also a great place to catch up with popular personalities in the industry and meet friends you haven’t seen in a long time. We asked Zach Ness why he chose the Victory Cross Country as the bike he put his customizing spin on this year and he said he still loves Victory’s cruisers but the Cross Country is a red hot commodity right now and is one of the brand’s most popular bikes. Besides, it’s one bitchin’ ride. We also got to talk with Big Bear
Big Bear Choppers representing’ at the Legends Ride. Kevin and Mona pose for a picture next to the latest 145 cubic-inch powered Big Bear Chopper.
Choppers’ Kevin Alsop and Simon Scott. We recently chronicled the ups and downs of the American-made motorcycle manufacturer in our “Big Bear Choppers Talks – From Boom to Bust” article and got to check out the new fat-backed custom Alsop has created which was attracting quite a bit of attention in front of the Franklin. Kevin gave the bike a shakedown by riding along with Simon and his brother Ian part of the way to Sturgis. Alsop mentioned again his desire to build an FXR or FXD-style motorcycle and we’re anxious to see that project come to fruition.
We also had the pleasure of meeting two of the organizers of the Motor Bike Expo in Verona, Italy, one of the premier custom bike shows in Europe. Administrative Manager Francesco Agnoletto and Foreign Office Administrator Gaia Bozzo were participating in the Legends Ride and taking in the spectacle that is the Sturgis Rally. They shared with us how the Motor Bike Expo attracts around 130,000 enthusiasts over a three-day period and is a great outlet for riders in winter months who need a fix for the motorcycling Jones. Motorcycle USA is putting the Expo on its list of “must do” events for the future because we’d love to check out the European custom bike scene.
Next we ran into the enigmatic Bean’re, who just released a book about his travels as a motorcycling nomad. Bean’re mentioned how honored he is to have been the subject of a David Uhl painting which graces the cover of his book. He talked about how he and Uhl got together to shoot at Maggie Valley during the Big Mountain Run where they took
around 1500 photos which eventually was whittled down to six. Then the two had some back and forth discussions about design and theme before settling on the current Wild West bandit motif. Later we ran into Uhl who says Bean’re is a throwback to different times which made his job easy and helped the direction of the theme. Last of all we were glad to chat with Chris Maida, our friend and editor of American Iron magazine, who was riding a new production bobber from Bling’s Cycles. We liked what we saw, clean, tight, and ready to ride for under $20K.
Today we’re headed downtown to check out the scene on Lazelle before heading to Michael Lichter’s Motorcycles as Art reception. We’ve deliberately avoided the exhibit, saving ourselves for tonight’s show so we can get the low-down from its host himself along with the custom builders featured in this year’s “Born Free” themed display. Plenty more good stuff to come from the 2012 Sturgis Rally, so stay tuned to Motorcycle USA!