Sturgis Stories

Some of the MMM folks were swapping Sturgis stories today. So, I plugged in a couple of my own.

I don’t have much for Sturgis stories. Back in the mid-70’s, before the gangbangers took over (one year before, in fact), I rode in a two-man team cross-country race at Sturgis. There were flat track, motocross, scrambles, and, probably, road racing events. The following year, I was out due to broken ribs and missed the cross-country. My teammate found another guy and went. They barely escaped with their bodies unbroken and bikes unstolen when the Texas and Oklahoma Harley gangbangers showed up and trashed the races and racers. Before that, I competed in quite a few South Dakota cross country races, including some 24 hour events, but that was my last year for all of that. By the time the ribs healed, I was on my way to my first engineering job and racing turned to a couple years of riding Midwest trials around the Omaha area and a lot of non-competitive off-road stuff along the Elkhorn River valley.

My last year in Denver, one of the sleazier pacemaker salescritters and two of the absolute worst cardiologists I ever watched botch surgeries decided to play “motorcyclists.” Being rich assholes and more into pretending than doing, they bought new Harleys and had the dealer deliver the bikes to a custom shop for repainting, loud pipes, and a few thousand bucks worth of other stupid shit. Then, the bikes were shipped to Rapid City where another shop “prepped the bikes for the Black Hills.” The pack of make-believe bandits bought fake pony tails and beards and hired a makeup artist in Rapid City to make them look “real.” I have no idea how that all played out, since I went to the Steamboat Vintage Bike Week and moved to another department (managing massive product recalls) when I came back.

When I first moved here in ’97 I still had the habit of riding to Denver to hang out with friends at the Steamboat Springs Vintage Motorcycle Week. Steamboat ended about the time the Sturgis thing began, so for a couple of years I had the pleasure of riding back home through clouds of the dredges of society on Harleys or, more likely, pulling Harleys on trailers. The last year of the Steamboat event, I got caught up in the cloud of dumbasses between Rabbit Ears Pass and Laramie and by the time I stopped for lunch in Laramie I’d decided to dirt road the rest of the way through Wyoming. At the time, pretty much all of the roads between Laramie and Chugwater were gravel or farm-to-market roads and that put me out of the path of the pirate parade for about 80 miles. I stuck with the county roads all the way to Edgemont, SD, which was pretty cool except for the fact that the chain on my Suzuki SV was pretty much wreaked from 300 miles of gravel.

The chain wasn’t in great shape when I’d left home 3,000 miles earlier, but now it was running hot and making clunking noises unless I stopped and dumped oil on it every hundred miles or so. Just past the SD border, I was pouring cheap oil on the chain when I noticed a small puddle of oil forming at the front of the engine. It took a bit to find the source, since the whole bike was coated in a coarse layer of dust, dried clay, and chunks from occasional strips of freshly oiled or tarred gravel. I found the leak, which was pretty disappointing. The SV’s front tire had been tossing bits of rock at the oil filter for 300 miles and had drilled a hole right into the top of the filter. I had a spare filter with me, but not nearly enough oil for a change. I wrapped the filter in duct tape and limped into Edgemont. A few quarts of automotive oil and a really messy spot on the side of the road a few miles out of town and I was back on the road. For the rest of the ride, I stuck with pavement and kept up the 100 mile chain lube interval all the way home. You might not think a centerstand on a 1999 Suzuki SV 650 would be a hit accessory, but I was pretty happy having one on that trip.

The pirate crowd was still heading in the opposite direction all the way through Sioux Falls and the weather behind me was dark, windy, and hot. Good thing they all had air conditioned follow trucks to hide in, because it was a nasty day to be crossing SD.

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