Sturgis Motorcycle Rally- Heck bent for leather.
"STURGIS IS FOR FOR SAGGY CHESTS, TOO MUCH LEATHER AND DUSTY OLD FARTS."
This is the feedback we were given last year when we announced that we'd be hosting a party at the Legendary Buffalo Chip called "Camp Zero" during the 78th Annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. As a brand who’s customer and audience demographic is disproportionately weighted in the 25-34 year old crowd, this is a common opinion of Sturgis Rally and other “old school” rally’s like it. So after hearing said feedback and heading to the rally to confirm or deny… did we go back? Were the rumors true? Read on, we’ll tell you truth.
For those of you who don’t have time to invest in written content (we know you’re busy to get back to scrolling the gram), we’ll spare you the suspense; yes we went back, yes the rumors were true;
There were some saggy chests exercising their rights to flaunt paint jobs and pasties. It wasn’t always pretty, but it was always a great reminder to appreciate and honor what youth we have left. God bless America.
How much is too much leather? Well, on 90 degree days (for our Canadian audience, that’s American standard for “hot”, eh?) we’d argue that any leather is too much and yes, the leather was present and the swass* was in great abundance.
*Swass in a common term amongst Moto-hipsters for swamp bottom, a condition where the booty sweat caused by excessive butt heat and leather seats makes for a terribly moist, and exceptionally icky type of discomfort.)
As for Dusty old farts- we’re not sure the median age of rally-goers, but this was the first motorcycle event we saw a full fledged AARP activation downtown- and it was hoppin’.
With that said- we went back this year for more, and the truth is- the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally was home to some of the best times we’ve had in 2019. You see, when you look beyond the stereotypes of Sturgis and you’re desire to write it off as an “old fogies event”, there is no match for the money, energy and work that goes into making Sturgis Motorycle Rally a Moto-mecca. Now, for those of you who just spit up your cold brew or white claw at us calling this event a moto-mecca, hear us out…
This brand has, since day one, been about escaping the status quo and investing your time in experiences that, while they may end up shaving years from your life, they disproportionately add life to your years. When reconciled with that intention, Sturgis was a 10/10, would recommend- if you do it right. You see, when you go into anything with the attitude that it will be a disappointment as many in our age demo tend to in this case- you’re likely to find just what you’re looking for, regardless of the event in question. However, when you approach an event like Sturgis Rally with an open mind and a genuine desire for life-giving experience and makin’ memories… well you might find just that. You’ll realize that there are friends of like minds, there are bikes of all kinds, events to suit any and every sub culture of Moto, and the AARP booth- well they’ve got free coffee and ice cream… we’re not complaining about that life. Here’s how we spent our time in the land of leather and hog heaven- you decide if it sounds like a good time, and if it does- we’ll see you next year for the 80th Anniversary party.
Once we checked the proverbial box of hitting downtown Sturgis and getting our photo taken with the iconic top hatted freedom walkers, we ran out of town to check in to our spot at the new and fast growing Camp Zero at the Legendary Sturgis Buffalo Chip.
Located on Chip property across Alkali road, theres an old red barn that’s now a bar, tipi’s, wall tents and lots of space to wreak havoc on everything with a motor. The tipi’s and wall tents were complete with 3 queen sized air mattresses, a shelf to make yourself at home and a camp lantern-full fledged biker glamping by our standards. Within a few hours of arrival, we found ourselves barrel racing on mini bikes with Buffalo Chip staff. Rather than getting kicked out of a camp for our antics or holding them back to keep the peace- they were accepted and encouraged. We felt right at home.
Day one was a peanut butter and Jelly ride hosted by Patrick Garvin of J&P Cycles. A simple, fast ride through the Black Hills that made Sturgis such a prime spot for motorcycle enthusiasts in the first place. It wasn’t about celebrities or over an over-publicized red carpet rollout for some overbuilt motorcycle… it was a ride through the hills with friends. Not a bad start.
The gambler 500 crew joined the festivities at Camp Zero for year two, and everyday was a new journey to whatever trouble we could think up. It doesn’t have to be complicated- we’re all just kids on an adult playground looking for life. We found some.
Hooligan Hillclimbs- taking 650+ Lb. Harley Davidson motorcycles side by side up a hill they were never intended to climb. These are the roots of our culture and the rally- having fun and challenging each other in the name of motorcycles, good times on them and with people who share the same strange vision of what fun on two wheels looks like. If you weren’t in it to participate, it’s no snooze fest watching these bikes charge up a dirt hill as fast as they can next to another ambitious hooligan. Yup- this is in Sturgis.
Whether you’re into red solo cups or gin and juice- we listened to artists ranging from Toby Keith to Snoop D-O- double G from the comfort of the campground. At $20/ night- you don’t get into the Chip for the concerts, but being just a few hundred yards in front of the stage, we didn’t miss a single beat. What was even sweeter- when we raced in the chip amphitheater for mini bike flat track, super 73 TT’s or Roland Sand’s Superhooligan flat track races- they were pretty cool about letting us stick around to watch the rest of the entertainment. Flat track racing and Snoop Dogg. Yup- this is Sturgis.
After riding her 150’ish miles riding on the road through the black hills, we ended up entering our thrasher sporty into the J&P Cycles Superhooligan Amateur class…and by whatever magic was in the Buffalo Chip dirt that day- we took first place. By the end of the race the ’94 Harley Sportster was pouring oil and the starter button somehow stuck midway, but we didn’t care. It was an all-time highlight for the crew, the brand and the growing tribe of individuals who risk happy, risk fun and throw hesitation to the wayside where the possibility of these kinds of memories exist. We stripped a headlight, threw a number plate on, took a risk and won a Superhooligan main, our first ever. Yup- this is Sturgis.
Brady even won a car after winning the Gambler 500’s 100 Mile Mini-Bike enduro race, for the second year in a row. Flames and all. (See video)
The Bell Brawl in Sturgis is arguably the most entertaining Harley stunt show, period. All the best kids from all the best playgrounds are invited to throw down a 2 minute, timed session with whatever creativity and thrash they can put together. If you think a wheelie on a 700 lb harley is rad- you need to see this show. We see stunting as an extension of the rush we all feel when we lift the front tire up or chirp the rear around a corner, and this show is the ultimate expression of that feeling with the top guys and gals in the game. Whether you 12 o’clock your dyna or just enjoy the thrill of a fast take off from a stop light- you’ll feel the energy and recognize the skill at the brawl. Good times, good friends, best stunt show we’ve ever had the pleasure of attending, supporting and shooting. Once again, yes, this is Sturgis. ;)
The ladies of the Wild Gypsy Tour frequent our camp to throw down some Moto-nonsense of their own. This year-they brought an insane amount of water balloons, and a free-for-all water ballon fight sure to become an annual “thing” was born. These ladies take a chance on a good time, they represent the growing community of female riders well and they approach the rally with the aforementioned open mind and genuine desire we suggest is used for any adventure anywhere. Women supporting women and growing the culture in depth- not just numbers. Yup, Sturgis.
The rad dudes of Led Sled Cycles hosted their annual “Sportster Showdown” at Camp Zero this year, and if you’re into checking out the versatility of the sportster platform while being entertained by the wise words and iconic voice of the one and only Dumptruck, this is the show for you. Trackers, bobbers, choppers, scramblers and every style in between that can be made from a sporty. We entered our thrasher hog, and while we didn’t win anything- the event itself is a guaranteed win. 10/10 would recommend.
-If you don’t know our friend @Dumptruck - look him up. You’re welcome.
Our friends at The Wall of Death, Kyle and Cody Ives brought our crew inside to watch the show from the belly of the beast, a close quarters circle board track they ride horizontally in circles on vintage bikes, all the while taking tips from the crowd, sitting side saddle and even passing out a few GFDD tee’s. The Wall of Death and the show this family operation puts on is a highlight of any event they attend and was a definite one-of-a-kind experience for us bring a part of it. Vintage bikes, risky riding in the name of fun, family and entertainment. Again, in the land of “dusty old farts”… Sturgis.
Did we mention our friends at Bonafide Food Truck bring an entire gypsy village down and making fresh food and drinks all day long at the Buffalo Chip? Because that’s worth mentioning. That happens. Bomb ass burritos and whole food recipes that are some of the best we’ve had ANYWHERE. Yup, this is Sturgis.
"STURGIS IS FOR FOR SAGGY CHESTS, TOO MUCH LEATHER AND DUSTY OLD FARTS."
Here’s the truth- Sturgis, like any other event, is whatever you choose to make it. Don’t let cynicism and pessimistic broad stroked judgement paint your world for you. There is more than enough fun to be had for the old farts, the young guns and every gypsy soul in the between. Share this article, stick to fun, stick to optimism, positivity, inclusiveness and everything else our culture and community needs more of-wherever you go, whatever you do.
Guys- there are at least 10 “events” we haven’t mentioned in the article, but we’re gonna leave ‘em off for two reasons. One, because you if this hasn’t been enough to convince to to give it a shot with us, we’re certain nothing will and we’ll just catch you elsewhere, no judgment, this thing just probably isn’t your bag. Two, because typing this up has only added fuel to the tank to go raise more heck, and with every word typed after the first “hooligan”, the tank has been overflowing. We’re headed to go ride, explore, have fun and make memories with our friends, our tribe, our growing culture and community of people like YOU.
See you all next year at the 80th Anniversary, if not before. We’re planning for another best ever year in 2020, but first we’ve got 2019 to finish up, and so do you. So share this, tag us, message us and hop off the world wide web and go live your life. #TheTribeGrows