Harley's Sturgis Blog Day 3 and 4
Friday, August 7, 2009
Harley’s Sturgis Blog Days 3 and 4
Sturgis is full of lessons. Some of them are learned the hard way.
Aerosmith was rockin' the Buffalo Chip - then the soundboard blew, and Steven Tyler took a painful dive off the stage.
Woke up excited Wednesday morning. The big buzz around Sturgis was the Aerosmith concert that night at the Buffalo Chip Campground. Seems like Steven Tyler and crew were playing Sturgis for the very first time. But I had plenty to do before then.
Caught a little continental breakfast at the hotel then shot back upstairs to post a quick blog. Had to make the ride from Deadwood to Rapid City to return the 2010 Harley-Davidson Softail Convertible
. Felt a little guilty that the beautiful new $28,000 CVO was caked with Buffalo Chip mud from the storm that pummeled us the night before. But I needed to get the bike back to my buddy Kevin Hintz at Harley and make a bee-line back to Sturgis to cover the AMD World Championships so there wasn’t even time for a quick bikini bike wash.
Only got lost once trying to find the Civic Center in Rapid City. Hard to miss the gargantuan display that Harley has set up. But I did. Luckily my Garmin Nuvi got me pointed in the right direction. I should have been using it in the first place, but mistakenly thought that I could find my way back. H-D had a lot of cool stuff going on that I wanted to check out, but the need to get back to the AMD World Championships was more pressing.
By the time we got back to Sturgis, it was almost time for the AMD awards ceremony. Found out parking a car is even more challenging than squeezing a bike in on the congested downtown streets. Made it to the big white tent of Sturgis’ Ace Café just in time for the announcements of the winners. The air trapped beneath the awning coupled with mass of people made for sweltering conditions. It also made it challenging to get clear shots of the bikes without legs, feet, or butts getting in my pictures.
The motorcycles entered in this year’s event were incredible. Judging this event would be a difficult task. There were more international entries than ever before. But when the winner
Dave Cook of Cook Customs celebrates after becoming the first American to win the AMD World Championship.
was announced, it was Dave Cook of Cook Customs who brought home the title, making him the first American to win the World Championships in the freestyle class. I broke the news with a quick tweet.
Followed that up with my first trip down Main St. Sturgis. It was a barrage of the senses. Music of poured out restaurants and bars mixed in with the rev of motorcycle engines. People packed the streets. I wanted to walk up a tower they had set up at the head of the street to get a nice overhead shot but refused to pay the $5 fee they wanted just to walk up and take one picture. I tried to the old media trick, showing them my business card and press pass I had for the Buffalo Chip but they said I didn’t have the proper credentials. I’m thinking “Badges, I don’t need no stinking badges.” But I didn’t get the shot.
Got some grub at the Loud American Roadhouse. I understand how it got its name. The music inside is so loud you have to scream to have a conversation. They also wanted to charge me for a cup of ice water. No water, thank you. Dee Snider, former Twisted Sister frontman, showed up for an autograph signing while we ate. I kept waiting for them to play “We’re not gonna take it” but they never did.
Headed back to Deadwood after that because we had to change hotels. All of our gear was in the rental and we didn’t want to leave it in the car at the Chip. It was only five o’clock but the traffic through town headed to the Chip for the Aerosmith show was already stopped to a crawl. Motorcyclists were pretty much walking their bikes from stop sign to stop sign. Luckily we were headed the other direction, but I was dreading fighting the traffic trying to get to the show.
Checked in to Cadillac Jacks. Walked over to the convenient store to get some a six-pack before the show. Talked to the lady behind the counter who gave me the inside scoop on a back way to the Chip. Wrote down the directions verbatim and went back to the room to crack open a Moose Drool.
Eric and I had a couple of beers, so Rea, Motorcycle USA’s Marketing Director did the driving. When we hit Interstate 90, our directions said to go west. Wrong. It took us about ten miles to realize we were going the wrong way.
Badges, I don't need no stinking badge just to take a picture on a public street. I ain't paying no $5 either.
Got pointed in the right direction and found our exit. The local shortcut led to a dirt ride that spits out about a mile and a half short or the Chip. A kid in a Suburban was pulled over at the entrance, surrounded by about five patrol cars. We rolled past anxious to get to the concert. We’re riding down the dirt road when we see lights behind us. It’s a county mountie. He pulls us over, says we’re doing 36 in a 25. On a freakin’ dirt road. Talk about a speed trap. All in the name of revenue. We become victims of the local money generator. All we want to do is get to the show.
We finally arrive and join the throngs. Our friend at Velocity Inc., Kelly Hudak, has hooked us up with some VIP passes, but we have to track her down to get the wristbands. The security guy to the VIP tower in the middle of the arena at the Buffalo Chip won’t let us in to find her, no matter how hard Eric tries to convince him. Saving Abel is playing on stage.
Kelly comes down after Saving Abel is done and hooks us up with our VIP passes. A storm rolls in, delaying the start of the show. Aerosmith finally takes the stage, much to the delight of the crowd. They run through a list of hits, including a bunch of older songs. All’s going well until about an hour into the show the sound goes down. You see the drummer playing but don’t hear any noises but muffled music. Steven Tyler, being the showman that he is, walks out on the catwalk that leads into the crowd and begins doing some of his signature moves to entertain the crowd. He dances, spins, then loses his balance and takes a dive off the stage. Eric was filming just before that but had turned off his camera right before his spill or it would have been our footage on TMZ. We hang out to see if they’re going to retake the stage, but Joe Perry comes out later and says the gig is up. We get stuck in the crush of traffic trying to flee the Chip. Two hours later, we arrive back in Deadwood at 2 a.m.
Day 4 we’re greeted with gloom. It’s raining lightly and fog hangs on the mountains. I’m supposed to go on a charity ride with Indian Motorcycles but don’t relish the fact that I’ll be getting my first ride on a new Indian in the rain. Going down on a slick road on a spendy bike makes me hesitant to ride.
We head over to the Indian Motorcycles rig to hook up with Marc Pomerantz. He’s got a beautiful new 2010 Indian Chief Roadmaster for me to ride. A local Indian elder, Larry Salway, gives an inspirational speech about the life of Crazy Horse. We mount up and get a police escort through town as we make our way to the Crazy Horse Memorial. Check out my Crazy Horse Ride on an Indian Motorcycle
article to hear all about it.
The group I rode with left early so I hung out at the memorial and shot photos and did video on the bike. The new Indian Chief
The Crazy Horse Memorial is claimed to be the world's largest mountain carving.
Roadmaster attracts a lot of attention. I spend the next few hours testing the motorcycle, taking notes, testing its performance, and putting in highway miles. I head back to Sturgis that evening trailed by thunderstorm clouds that seemed to be following me.
I drop the bike off and thank Marc for the opportunity to ride. Walk down the rows of vendors and check out some of their wares. Eric didn’t go on the ride because he was cutting a video back at the hotel in Deadwood, ten miles away, so I give him a ring to come pick me up. Only thing is, I forgot that he doesn’t get cell service in the room. I text him a couple of times, and try to leave a voice mail, but his inbox is full. I’m stuck in Sturgis and the storm is quickly closing in.
I walk to the edge of town. About an hour has passed and still no word from Eric. I go in to a hotel to see if about getting a cab. All the taxi services are cash only, and all I have is a company credit card. SOL. I call Eric a couple more times, to no avail. I finally say f*&k it and head out to the road to Deadwood and stick out my thumb. The storm finally catches me, lightening fills the sky, and it’s just starting to rain. Finally a young guy in a beater Ford pickup pull over to offer me a lift. He’s headed to Cadillac Jacks where I’m staying for a poker tournament. I offer ten bucks for gas but he turns it down. Maybe his good karma brought him luck in the tournament. Thanks for the ride, Robert.
Get up to the room and add some photos to the gallery. Rea and Eric head over to Sturgis to take in some nightlife but I wanted to stay at the hotel and get some work done. After loading some photos, I take a little break when the fatigue of riding all day and walking a few miles catches up to me. I fall asleep in a chair with my computer in my lap. Wake up a little later and crawl in to bed. Gotta get some rest for Day 5.
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