Rides, Rallies and Events Recap

Road Trippin' to Sturgis - 2017

Written by  August 30, 2017

Since we were unable to ride up with the group last year, I was really looking forward to this year’s road trip to the 77th Annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. Oil change…check, everything packed…check (at least I think so), house sitter arranged…check, OK…time to get the hell out of Dodge…or rather Blue Springs!

On Friday afternoon August 4, Due to some last minute issues with his blood thinner, Stripe made a wise decision to trailer his bike to Sturgis this year rather than ride it and take the risk of having issues while on his bike. Therefore, I made my way over to Stripe’s place to help him load his Wide Glide onto his trailer. When I got there he already had the trailer backed up to a low part in his front yard, which made it a very easy process.

Even though Stripe had every good reason to trailer this year, I had to bite my tongue several times while helping him load his bike to not “jokingly” call him a “Trailer Pussy.” As many of you know from some of my previous road trippin’ articles, “Trailer Pussy” is a term of endearment I use for those who trailer their bikes to a rally rather than riding them. Now hold on there, and before you trailer pussies take this personally, please allow me to explain. I certainly understand there are legitimate reasons one would trailer their bike to an event rather than ride it. For example, due to things such as the aforementioned medical issues, or taking a custom chopper to enter in a bike show; however, when I ride past people on the highway that are trailering their baggers to the rally, in my book, they are most certainly trailer pussies. In all reality, Stripe has logged more miles in the saddle than most people ever will in their lifetime, but it’s still fun to kid him. OK, now that I got that off my chest, let’s proceed.

Later that afternoon, I slung my leg over the Fat Boy, Nichole and Princess (our Lhasa Apso) climbed into the Suburban, and we headed to a QuikTrip down the street to meet up with Stripe. From there, we headed north to spend the night at my mom’s place in my hometown of Wathena, Kansas, population 1,313 (as of a 2016 census). SALUTE! After transferring our gear from the Suburban into Stripe’s Durango, we went to dinner at a new restaurant in Wathena and then settled in for the night.   

On Saturday morning, August 5, after eating a nice breakfast mom had lovingly prepared, I was busy securing everything on the bike. It was then that I saw something I thought I would never see. My cousin Mark Brown, who has been my best friend and riding buddy since the tender age of 7 years old, pulled into mom’s driveway in his truck while pulling his Street Glide on…you guessed it…a friggin’ trailer! As soon as he got out of the truck he immediately committed Hara Kiri by claiming himself to be an official trailer pussy! As it turns out, he’d been dealing with a bad case of Plantar Fasciitis, which is an inflammation of a thick band of tissue that connects the heel bone to the toes. Alright…I guess we’ll give him a medical pass this year too! I mean holy crap…I felt like I was surrounded by the Geritol Gang! I realize everyone is getting older, but damn! LOL

Anyway, once I had everything packed on my bike, it was time to lead the convoy of trailer pussies to the Fast Gas convenience store in Wathena to wait for the rest of our posse to ride into town so we could travel on. At this point I was starting to wonder if I was going to be the only one not trailering my bike to Sturgis this year, but before long, we saw several motorcycle headlights coming down the highway. Our Sturgis gang pulled into the parking lot, followed by…guess what…yep…more trailer pussies! As it turns out, Cajun, Neil, and Cajun’s daughter Stephanie, and her boyfriend Rob had their three bikes on this huge flatbed trailer, along with grills, numerous coolers, and everything but the kitchen sink…hold on…I think I see it!

After checking the weather map, it was quite obvious we were going to run into some rain just up the highway, so everyone put on their rain gear, and I also donned this stupid Darth Vader-looking full-face helmet I’d borrowed from my nephew earlier that morning; which is retrospect turned out to be a great idea! Nichole got in Amanda’s vehicle and we headed west on Highway 36. Just west of Wathena we hit the rain, which drenched us all the way to our first gas stop in Seneca, Kansas. Several people went inside to grab a quick breakfast, and by the time we pulled out the rain had stopped.

Group shot in Mankato City ParkFrom Seneca, we continued east to Mankato, Kansas where we stopped to refuel and eat lunch at the city park. More of our riding buddies showed up, along with one more trailer pussy who we shall refer to as Rodney. Rodney and his girlfriend had their bike in the bed of his truck, and although he technically wasn’t pulling a trailer, I made sure he knew that he was still considered a trailer pussy. After lunch we took our annul group photo and headed on east. After a detour around a parade in Phillipsburg, rode on to Oberlin, Kansas for fuel before donning our helmets and heading north to our stop for the night at the Quality Inn in Ogallala, Nebraska, where we were joined by even more of our riding buddies.

On Sunday morning, August 6, Nichole used our free breakfast tickets to bring breakfast back to the room for her, Mark and I. As we finished up breakfast, our group began to assemble in the parking lot for our traditional Bloody Mary bar which Sheila had setup. Since there were more trailers in our group than usual, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to put together a group shot of all the trailer pussies with me standing with my back to the camera to display my “Nice Trailer, Pussy!” T-Shirt.

That was good for a laugh, and then Bruce gathered everyone together and talked about how this year we wouldn’t be adding a boot to our memorial at Boot Hill this year, which Trailer Pussies!was followed by applause. Sheila read a very touching letter in memory of our fallen comrades, and in a touching tribute, Stripe informed the group of the recent passing of a dear friend of his named Dorothy Short. Stripe had spent several years camping in Dorothy’s backyard just off the main drag during past Sturgis Rallies, and I even had the pleasure meeting her one year while I was staying there as well. It was very touching, and I’m sure Dorothy would be proud of all the great things Stripe said about her. After talking about Dorothy, Stripe led the group in a brief prayer after which we headed to Boot Hill. 

When we arrived at Boot Hill, everyone dismounted several member of our group took some time to clear the weeds from around the fence posts holding our falling rider’s boots. This year, Amanda and Danny held a private ceremony across the highway for her dad who had recently passed. She sprinkled some of his ashes near Ash Hollow Cemetery, which is a beautiful and quite tranquil place. Amanda also placed some of her dad’s ashes in the Black Hills which was a wonderful tribute her father. We spent time remembering each of our fallen riders before mounting up again and heading on our way. This part of our trip is always very touching, and there’s rarely a dry eye in the group.

From there we rode to Carhenge for lunch, which is just outside Alliance, Nebraska. As many of you know, Carhenge is a tourist attraction where several old vehicles are spray painted grey and stuck in the ground to resemble Stonehenge. We always stop there for lunch, and so any newbies can check out this interesting display of artwork. This is also the location where we take a group photo each year of any Sturgis virgins. As it turns out, the only Sturgis virgins this year were Cajun’s daughter Stephanie and her boyfriend Rob.

The Rest AreaAfter lunch, Miles, Lori, and I snuck off ahead of everyone on their bikes and raced down the road to the “Rest Stop” which consists of several large bales of hay in a field with an old toilet and chair placed on top of it. It also has a large sign reading “Rest Area.” Miles climbed up on the toilet and Lori sat next to him waiting to surprise the group as they rode by. As always, everyone pulled over to the side of the road next to the Rest Area to laugh and take photos. I was able to snap some good photos of the craziness, which you’ll see below! From there, we headed north to Chadron for our last fuel stop in Nebraska, then into South Dakota and on to Rapid City where we fuelled up one more time before heading west into the Black Hills to Nemo Guest Ranch; our annual home away from home.

On Monday morning August 7, several of us rode into Sturgis and ended up at One-Eyed Jacks, which is a popular watering hole. I was also on the hunt for a chrome axel nut to replace the one that had fallen off my bike a while back, but unfortunately I didn’t have any luck. From there, we made our way out I-90 to the Harley-Davidson dealership in Rapid City. While there, briefly visited with our buddy Jerry Baker and a friend of his, and also ran into a friend of Steve’s named Keith, who had recently moved back to the area. After drooling over several items in the vendor tents we talked Keith into leading our group to a Mexican restaurant in Rapid City called La Costa, which was to be the rendezvous spot where several members of our group planned to hook up for dinner and drinks. Another good friend of Steve’s named Tony also showed up. As it turns out, Tony had ridden all the way in from Seattle, Washington. After a nice meal and a few very large margaritas, we headed back up the mountain to Nemo, our home away from home. After a very “late” and apparently “loud” card game of 31, we turned in for some much needed rest.

On Tuesday morning, August 8, we rode into Keystone had a couple Bloody Marys at Ruby House before heading up Iron Mountain Road, which is a beautiful and scenic ride Elk Haven Lodgethat takes you into Custer State Park. After our annual stop at Elk Haven for a couple $2 beers, we made our way to Sylvan Lake where Stan and Steve decided to go for a swim. We hung out across the lake from the beach, and although the people next to us were pulling trout out of the water, the guys swear the water in the lake wasn’t that cold. Yeah right! I’m not sure if alcohol had anything to do with their insulating factor, but it looked like they had a lot of fun. After the “kids” dried off and got dressed, we headed up Needles Highway, which is one of our favorite rides. After making our way through all the twisty roads, tunnels, and penis-shaped rock formations, Mark, Nichole and I separated from the group and rode to Hill City where we stopped at Bumpin’ Buffalo for some awesome buffalo ribs. The rest of the group rode to the Powder House Restaurant just north of Keystone, but that place is really expensive, and pissed Nichole and I off the last time we were there. We swore we’d never go back, and likely never will. After dinner we headed back toward Nemo, but unfortunately we got a little wet along the way. Oh well…after all, this is Sturgis, and you have to expect to get a little wet from time to time!

Steve & Tony...oops!On Wednesday morning, August 9, we decided to do something a little different and rented a few Polaris off-road ATVs. Our plans were to take the trails across the road from Nemo, and up the mountain to a scenic overlook on the bluffs were you can see an American flag from our campground. Mark, Nichole and I rented a three seat model, Cajun, Neil, Stephanie, and Rob had a four seat model, and Stan and Dane, Danny and Amanda, and Steve and Tony rented two seat ATVs. It wasn’t long after taking off up the gravel road that Steve went completely ape shit and started driving like a maniac. It was at that point that everyone knew “he’s gonna roll it,” and guess what. We were right! It was a beautiful view from the bluffs, and after taking a few photos, everyone got back in their ATVs and took off back down the trail and into the woods. I was still putting my camera away as we could hear the last ATV fading off into the distance. While driving back down the trail we had absolutely no idea where these crazy people went, so we ventured off on our own to discover new trails. We each took turns driving and had a blast! When we got back to camp, everyone else was already there, and was wondering what the hell happened to us. That’s when we found out that Steve and poor Tony had actually tipped their ATV over. Luckily nobody was hurt, and I heard that between laughs, all Tony could say was “Take a picture!” We then rode in to Deadwood and had lunch at Saloon #10 before returning to Nemo for another evening of 31.

On Thursday morning, August 10, we rode back into Deadwood for breakfast at the Deadwood Mountain Grand. After breakfast, Nichole, Amanda, and Danny decided to walk The 2017 Nemo Shooting Clubaround Deadwood for a while, while Stan, Dane, Stripe, Mark, and I rode out to the little outdoor shooting range we visit each year, located a few miles outside Lead, accessible via this long gravel road. This is a tradition we started a few years ago, and is a lot of fun! You never know what firepower and toys everyone is going to bring each year, but let’s just say, this year there was no disappointment!  After putting some lead downrange, we headed back to Deadwood to do some sightseeing and shopping. While passing through the Silverado Casino, we lucked into a very interesting bikini contest. I managed to make my way up front from some great shots of the girls, and learned they were the finalists in the Miss Buffalo Chip Bikini Contest that would be taking place at the Chip later that week.

After the bikini contest we mounted our bikes and headed up Spearfish Canyon,  which is our favorite scenic route. We stopped at Bridal Veil Falls so the newbies could walk across the creek to the bottom of the falls. Due to a lack of rain this year, the falls were really nothing more than a fast trickle, which was somewhat disappointing from the beautiful falls we normally see. From there we rode on up to Spearfish, got gas, and then made our way back to Nemo for more 31!

Tony and his girls at the Full ThrottleOn Friday morning, August 11, we rode back into Sturgis for some last minute shopping and had lunch at One-Eyed Jacks. We then made our way out to the new Full Throttle (as you may recall, the original Full Throttle burned down last a couple years ago), which took over the Broken Spoke bar outside of town. While we were there, it started raining like crazy, so we settled in for some overpriced drinks waiting for the rain to stop. Tony got a body shot from a gang of shot girls were where making their way through the bar, and we also met up with fellow Cycle Connections photojournalist Doc Lonnie Blum and his girlfriend Melissa. We had fun catching up on things, and it’s a rarity that we even hook up with Lonnie and Melissa because they camp out at the Glencoe Campground every year. Although the new Full Throttle is still under construction, I was very disappointed, because to me, it lacked the character and nostalgia the old Full Throttle possessed. Once the rain stopped, we rode back to Nemo to start packing and to play even more 31!

On Saturday morning, August 12, we packed up our things to head home. Because Mark offered to give Nichole a ride to my mom’s place to get our dog, we put our gear in Mark’s truck. The decision was made to cut down through Nebraska and spend the night at the Day’s Inn Grand Island. After more than 12 hours of riding and trying to avoid rain and a tornado, we finally arrived. Whew!

On Sunday morning, August 13, we packed back up, and since we were ready to get home, Mark, Nichole and I said goodbye to everyone and headed home on our own. We made our way south through south central Nebraska, across the Kansas border, and then east on Hwy 36 all the way back to Wathena, Kansas. After picking up Princess and saying hi to mom, we hit the highway back home to Blue Springs.

The temperature and the weather were great this year, attendance seemed to be way down, and so there was very little traffic and no waiting in line. We had a great trip with great friends, and look forward to our next Sturgis trip!

Also make sure to check out the following articles and photos: Sturgis 2017 - Stripe's Trip, Sturgis 2017 – Bikes, Sturgis 2017 - Babes, Sturgis 2017 – Bikers, and Paint & Ink – The Body Art of Sturgis!

Story by Mike Schweder

Photos by Mike and Nichole Schweder, Stripe, Doc Lonnie Blum, Danny and Amanda Webb, and anyone else I may have forgot to mention.

Mike Schweder

Editor-in-Chief - Kansas City, MO

Mike is the original founder of Cycle Connections Online Motorcycle Magazine and an avid motorcycle enthusiast. He has been riding for over 40 years, belongs to several local and national motorcycle organizations and travels to numerous rallies and events throughout the US each year. Mike has been a writer and editor for many years and has a passion for sharing his motorcycling experiences and stories with you. Contact Mike at mikes@cycleconnections.com