We met a plethora of new friends from all over the world while cruising the hills and dales of the Black Hills of South Dakota. Here are just a few of the fun folks we got to hang out with during our two-week adventure.
Kevin from San Diego
Working at the Indian dealership downtown, we found Kevin shuttling bikes around the lot with a big smile on his face. The San Diego resident was having the time of his life while working during the rally, cheerfully chatting up Indian riders during demo rides. The 31-year-old shared that he loves all the bikes, but is disappointed with himself for taking so long to get familiar with the Slingshots. For three years he’s been avoiding the machines but took one for a spin with fellow employees after work in Sturgis and had a total blast. “Go take one for a ride; I’m telling ya, you’re gonna love it,” he told us. “It’s so cool… like nothing you’ve ever done!”
A photographer from Iceland, this guy was busily posing bikers in the streets while making new friends everywhere he went. He’s been working on a film, Horse with No Name, for several years and was making new contacts with interesting bikers to include in his documentary while riding a loaner bike from friends in Kansas. Find Spessi on social media and check out his photos.
This German national belongs to a “drinking club with a motorcycle problem” and flies in from his homeland to attend the Sturgis rally, often with a Jägermeister dispenser in tow. The liqueur, according to the brand, is made from a secret recipe of 56 herbs, blooms, roots and fruits and is produced in Gerd’s home turf of Lower Saxony. According to Jägermeister’s website, more Americans buy the brew than Germans do. We’re pretty sure they have Gerd to thank for that.
As a member of a 1% motorcycle club, Hellbent MC from California’s capital city of Sacramento, Robby was walking on air as we found him taking in the electric energy at the Buffalo Chip, Deadwood, and the Sturgis Motorcycle Hall of Fame induction ceremony as Willie G. received his Lifetime Achievement Award. We’re pretty sure Robby’s first trip to Sturgis was a memory that will last him a lifetime.
Kathy comes from a long line of motorcycle royalty. Her family-owned dealership has been in business since 1915, her grandmother is the famous 92-year-old Gloria Tramontin Struck who has been riding for 75 years and these days, Kathy is astride a Sportster herself. For this rally, however, she spent a day in the sun as she took up the flags and officiated the unofficial drag races during the Spirit of Sturgis Vintage Festival.
Back a few years ago the city of Sturgis started parking a temporary traffic light and a controller with a lawn chair and umbrella on the corner of Nellie and Lazelle. This guy hung out and got to know the folks that occupy the house with the American flag painted on its side. Eventually the crazy crowd with the trampoline, Mardi Gras beads and inflatable hot tub corrupted the guy, made him an honorary member of their zaniness and even started including him in their annual family photo. This year the DOT guy was found parked on the front porch with beer in hand, a clear indication that “rally state of mind” is contagious.
Joyce and Shadow
NorCal rider Shadow Jones was checking in at the visitors’ center and met Joyce, an 80-year-old who was telling about how much she loved meeting riders from other states. As a local gal, Joyce married at 14 years old, had a son born in 1956 and has enjoyed watching the rally change over the 77 years of operation. By the light in her eyes and the smile on her beautiful face we’d have guessed her age to be at least 20 years younger.
This vagabond biker manages to get around. Last time we saw him was in Las Vegas when he’d been living off the grid in the Arizona desert. Since then he’d made his first trip to Sturgis, been across the country a couple of times between Florida, Indiana and California while taking pictures and living a life less common. Check out his photos at www.vagabondbiker.org.
Famous and fabulous chopper builder Sugar Bear took a minute to smile while visiting Michael Lichter’s art show. The always-gracious builder is planning on opening the “Sugar Bear Chopper Museum,” to be located outside Sturgis on Highway 79, about four miles north of the new Full Throttle Saloon, during the 2018 Sturgis Rally. Its mission statement declares that, “The Sugar Bear Chopper Museum was founded in order to preserve the legacy of the custom chopper motorcycle. Our goal is to gather, educate, and celebrate those machines and those who have dedicated their lives to creating them.” Be sure to add a visit to your 2018 rally itinerary.
Just as founder Reg Kittrelle was building the framework for THUNDER PRESS magazine back in 1992, li’l Hannah was taking her first breath. Ironically, the 25-year-old made her Sturgis rally debut as a THUNDER PRESS staffer while helping organize the 25th anniversary’s rocking shindig down at the packed-to-the-rafters Sturgis Museum. When asked about her first impressions of the motorcycle mecca this photo was her response.
Keith and Frank
Keith Ball received an award from the Buffalo Chip for his 20 years of producing the online publication bikernet.com as his grandson Frank Jr. watched from the audience.
Dale and Kat
These local residents are easily Sturgis’s most effective welcoming committee. The NorCal transplants that now live fulltime in the city spend their time during the year making rally plans and hosting out-of-town guests while soaking up the party vibe during the month of August. As a postal employee, Kat spreads the word about the newest stamps and where the best places to ship stuff are during rally while Dale mans the grill to feed their many friends who come to visit.
Taylor and Mark
Hailing from Cave Creek, Arizona, the Bradshaw father-and-son duo took time away from their world-famous Hideaway Grill to visit the THUNDER PRESS crew and help us all celebrate our 25th anniversary of publishing. They extended an invitation to swing by and visit them for their Biketoberfest party in October, too. Pour us a beer, guys; we’re on our way!