One of the few planned events I attended was the Hot Bike Charity Ride that benefited the Kids & Chrome charity. About 50 riders lined up at the Legend Top 50 Rally Park to embark on a 180-mile journey through the Black Hills. Lunch and drink stops were planned throughout the day, culminating with a party back at the Top 50. All had a great and safe time.
Bike shows dominated the daylight hours each day, with the AMD World Championship of Custom Bike Building as a major highlight. Customs from all over the globe were in attendance. At a pre-public showing all of the builders proudly showed and discussed their newest rides. High-tech engineering dominated the styles along with the use of vintage H-D motors. I'm hoping that in years to come the organizers mandate that the bikes must be running and ridden into the show. It's harder for the non-North Americans to have running bikes as they have to be drained of fluids before shipping, but it was clear that many of the bikes will never be or can't be ridden. Although motorcycles can be as much about art as machinery, I know many builders went to great lengths to make sure they had a running bike, although it counted for nothing other than pride.
Jay Allen of Broken Spoke fame hosted our annual Hot Bike party at his Sturgis County Line venue. Located on the outskirts of Sturgis past Bear Butte, this Spoke was simply awesome. Before allowing people to park their scoots, riders were made to ride right through the bar. Burnouts were almost mandatory and the air was filled with thick smoke. Motorcycle industry movers and shakers were in attendance for an all out party that included the blistering hot Miss HOT BIKE contest. The crowd was going crazy as crowd applause crowned the newest member of the HOT BIKE family. Although contestants were supposed to keep their clothes on, the eventual winner bent the rules a bit as her ripped t-shirt disappeared, revealing her assets during her dance routine.
Other highlights were Michael Lichter's art show at Thunder Road, the Rat's Hole bike show, the Hard Rock tour, Top 50 bike show, and the Hamsters. Hundreds of the yellow-shirted guys showed up at the Spearfish Holiday Inn as they do every year. Behind the Holiday Inn was the new Hamster compound where they purchased an entire block of condos. I had the unique opportunity to try a 1956 KH rigid that Mark Shadley was gracious enough to let me ride. For the full experience he made me kick the predecessor to the Sportster to life. I haven't kick-started a bike in years, but it was surely worth it.
On the tourist side of things, I made the trek to Mt. Rushmore and to Devils Tower in WY. Strangely, the Devils Tower experience may have been the greatest sight I've ever seen. I had been tipped off by some friends about a dirt road that went around the back side of the monument. Even though the "regular" view in the parking area with the rest of the bikes was amazing the solitude of the backside was spiritual. I spent over an hour with the views and my thoughts without ever seeing or hearing anyone else
After scurrying around the Sturgis area for a week it was time to ride home. I didn't want to leave the beauty and the great riding the area afforded. After barely any sleep for 10 days I decided I wanted to make the trip back to LA alone, not wanting to be on anyone else's schedule and having a chance to really digest what I'd just seen and done. I was never really alone, though, as I exchanged war stories with dozens of riders along the way at gas stops and restaurants. Although I wanted to make the ride in two days, the heat and exhaustion turned it into a three day ride.