Rides, Rallies and Events Recap

Sturgis 2017 - Stripe's Trip

Written by  August 29, 2017

For my annual Sturgis trip, as with nearly other trip, there are always last minute preparations, mainly stemming from procrastination.  On the Wednesday afternoon before the trip, I noticed that there the brakes on my Durango appeared to be overheating.  No problem—this could wait until after Sturgis.

On Thursday, the situation changed.  I had been experiencing some short-term problems with blood thinner management.  Thursday was my appointed time to check, and the results were not ideal.  I decided that my level was far enough out of range that it would be prudent to haul the bike to Sturgis rather than riding it (for the second time since 1990).  This meant that the brake problem with the Durango was elevated to an immediate issue, since it would be required to pull the trailer.  Fortunately, the guys at Blue Springs Auto Repair agreed to repair the brakes first thing Friday morning.  This was much appreciated.  To get the trailer ready Thursday evening, it was necessary to dump several weeks’ accumulation of fallen limbs.  My neighbor Eric and I had to mess with the wiring a bit to get the lights working. 

Friday morning, after the brake repairs, Editor Mike stopped by my place to help me load the bike, and later I met him and Nichole to convoy to his mom’s place in Wathena, Kansas.  In the meantime, another glitch had developed.  I noticed that periodically the bike’s security system would flash the lights.  I reasoned that the security system was activated because of the distance between the bike and the key fob combined with the motion of the trailer.  Since I didn’t have a bag on the bike at the time, the solution was to zip-tie the key fob to the handlebars.  For some reason, the lights continued to flash on occasion, but much less frequently.  I enjoyed a nice dinner with Mike’s family before calling it a day on Friday.

Saturday morning’s radar presented a strong probability of encountering precipitation.  My regrets about having to trailer to Sturgis began to subside.  After a rendezvous with our friends at the gas station in Wathena, we headed west and got through the rain during the first leg of the trip.  It wasn’t great, but wasn’t as significant as we had expected based on the radar.  Everyone enjoyed a picnic lunch at the city park in Mankato.

Normally we reach the town of Phillipsburg in time to present a pre-parade viewing of our bikes just prior to the annual rodeo parade.  Somehow this year, our timing was off, because the parade route was already closed.  We were forced to take a detour that included long delays and deep dips that caused the trailer jack to drag.  By the time we viewed Phillipsburg in the rear view mirrors, the Durango was running hot due to the load and the absence of air flow through the radiator.  Fortunately the temperature needle returned to its normal position after a few miles at highway speed.  The remainder of Saturday’s journey to Ogallalah, Nebraska, was uneventful and was cooler than usual, a welcome development.  Several of us ordered pizza that we ate by the motel pool that was actually in service, unlike last year.

Since there were more trailers in our group than usual, Mike made it a point to wear his “Nice trailer, pussy!” T-shirt.  Of course, we began the day with a photo of Mike reproving all of us “Trailer pussies.”  After that light-hearted start, our mood became more solemn as we prepared for our annual time of remembrance.  Starting with a “breakfast” of bloody Marys, we gathered around in the motel parking lot to honor our riding buddies and family whose sojourn on Earth has ended.  We talked of our good fortune not having to bring a boot to place at our memorial this year.  However, through tears, I informed the group of the recent passing of a dear friend of mine in Sturgis.  Dorothy Short’s back yard had been my home away from home at Sturgis during a great many rallies, and she had always been an inspiration to me.  Every morning of every rally, she would walk to the Lutheran Church where she would be involved in the preparation of their biker breakfast.  Even after reaching her early 90’s, she was involved.  I had been informed by a friend that Dorothy had passed quietly without experiencing any prior physical or mental difficulties.  Following my talk about Dorothy, I led the group in a brief prayer after which we set out on our ride to Boot Hill, the place where we hang boots on fence posts to honor our departed brothers and sisters.  This is always a very emotional time for all of us.

The next stop was Carhenge near Alliance, Nebraska, where we always picnic and get a group photo of any “Sturgis virgins” who are with us.  Sunday’s destination was the Nemo Guest Ranch, our residence for the week.  After unloading my bags, and the bike I decided to make a brief Sunday evening visit to Sturgis to look around and make a few phone calls (since Verizon has no service in Nemo).   

My first Monday morning stop in Sturgis was the Lutheran Church, a difficult visit under the circumstances.  I had the opportunity to visit with a few of Dorothy’s friends at the church, and we shared some tears.

Next, I dropped in at the Sturgis Media Center to pick up my press credentials.  Joyce and Sarah were very helpful and nice.  Sarah mentioned that her sister would be competing that day in the Jackpine Gypsies’ events.  The Gypsies are always very cooperative in facilitating media coverage of their events.  It was a full day of racing viewing for me starting with the hill climb, then the ½-mile flat track at the historic fairgounds track (an event called the Spirit of Sturgis and featuring vintage and antique racing bikes), and finishing at the Jackpine Gypsies short track in the evening.  On October 1, my article about racing at Sturgis will be published in Cycle Connections.  I got back to Nemo in time to enjoy fish and frog legs provided by our friend Cajun.

On Tuesday, it was back to Sturgis where I needed to do some business at a pharmacy after which I backtracked to the Harley-Davidson area.  I watched the demonstration of the Harley police bike and instructions on how to safely pick up a fallen motorcycle.  Then I observed the stunt shows at Yamaha and Indian.  Both shows were impressive.  The Yamaha guy did wheelies, stoppies, burnouts, etc. on several motorcycles and had a special bike with a hoop attachment that allowed him to tumble it end-over-end and back to its wheels.  Two riders of Indian Scouts also put on a fine show ending with a jump through a burning wooden wall.  After a day hanging around town and a few hours visiting in the home of friends Jim and Mickee in Spearfish, I returned to Nemo where I enjoyed a Baja burger at the food wagon across the road. 

Wednesday was another day in town.  I started out watching the Ives Brothers Wall of Death show courtesy of Harley-Davidson.  Harley Owners Group also offered members free boot shines, shave and haircut, and back massage.  I also enjoyed an unescorted 10-mile demo ride on a Harley-Davidson Ultra.  I walked down the street and stopped off to admire some of Eddie Trotta’s creations after listening to some music at the Sidehack Saloon.  Next was a visit to the Iron Horse Saloon where the Hamsters had a bike show going.  Along the way, I noticed that Verizon had a booth promoting their service.  I gave the three ladies there a good-natured hard time about the lack of coverage at Nemo.  They were apologetic and gave me a cell phone cleanup kit as consolation.  Nice kit, but I would prefer Nemo cell service.  I ambled over to One Eyed Jack’s for a bit and then rode out to the Full Throttle to see if anything was going on.  Then back to Nemo for another Baja burger and some socializing with the bunch.

Thursday, my final day at the rally, began with a ride to Deadwood along with the gang to have breakfast at the Deadwood Mountain Grand after which several of us rode out to a rural shooting range for some target practice.  We got back together to ride Spearfish Canyon, head back through Sturgis on I-90, and down Vanocker Canyon to Nemo.  As we headed south through the canyon we met a group of at least 40 Slingshots by my estimation.  That was quite a sight.  I got packed and loaded before enjoying my last Baja burger for this year.

Friday through Sunday included family visits in Stockton and Topeka, Kansas concluding another very fine Sturgis vacation.  Many thanks to my buddy B.C. for catsitting  Billy and Wyatt during my absence.  I’m already looking forward to Sturgis 2018.


Photojournalist/Account Representative - Kansas City, MO

Dave Baxter, a.k.a. Stripe joined our staff in December, 2003, as a photojournalist. If that road name sounds familiar, you may have seen his photos on the pages of such publications as American Iron, V Twin, VQ, In the Wind, and Easyriders. Stripe attends as many rallies, bike shows, and charity runs as he can and is a major contributor of photos and articles to our magazine. His first assignment was our January, 2004, cover photo, where he snapped the awesome photo of a 1958 Harley-Davidson Duo Glide. A rider since the age of 14, he loves to help and encourage new riders. Stripe enjoys meeting new people and looks forward to catching many of our readers in the viewfinder of his digital camera. Contact Stripe at stripe@cycleconnections.com