Monday, August 07, 2006
Riding to Sturgis
Riding to Sturgis
by TJ Routh
Undergarments placed on top of my two shirts and two-pair of jeans; then rolled up ever so carefully, and then stuffed into my right-hand black leather saddlebag. If I run out of clothes, I'll mail the dirty ones home and buy more! In the left black saddlebag I place oil, transmission fluid, spare parts, and my greasy tools wrapped in an old shop towel, then placed into an old bank bag. Strapped on top is my tent, sleeping bag and mattress pad. I am ready to go to Sturgis Bike Week in the South Dakota Black Hills!
Wiping the spider webs off of the pipes, I turn on the gas; squirt once, and then turn on the key. With my left knee on the seat, I depress the kicker with my right foot until I get high stroke. I pull up the silver choke a quarter of the way on my S & S carburetor. I press the black start button and "Ralph" fires up.
Dressed in black leather pants and jacket I jump on. The adrenaline rushes through my body as I anticipate the ride. I tie on my blue paisley print bandana which keeps my prescription sunglasses in place when I turn my head in the wind.
Puttin' along I smell pine trees and the fresh cut grass along the highway. The wind tickles my face. A splat, then slime across my face, as a grasshopper goes to heaven. I wipe away the bug guts, and then pull the black leather handkerchief tied around my neck, up, to cover my nose and mouth. A group of motorcycle riders headlights appear down the blacktop highway. They give me the number one sign as they pass by; I return the gesture.
"Ralph" looks good today. His chrome spoke wheels sparkle in the sunlight. His wild berry pearl-coat paint catches all the suns rays. He vibrates along, purring like a kitten with his two inch drag pipes.
Arriving in Sturgis, South Dakota, I ride to Main Street. (It is tradition to profile down Main Street fully packed down prior to settling in at a campground). I profile along the oil-filled street, while looking at the brightly colored motorcycles which are lining both sides of the road. One motorcycle looks like a tiger, another like the Starship Enterprise whos owner is a deaf mute. After hooking a u-turn, I ride down the other side of Main Street watching the goofy characters, naked women, and tourists watching us. I pull up at the Broken Spoke Saloon because I see my friend's bike outside.
Inside the Broken Spoke Saloon I hear a laugh, not just any laugh, but the distinct laugh of my friend Paul. Looking over I see the entire bunch I rode 1500 miles to see. Their hair is all wind blown, and the sun has tanned their left arms. I had a tanned right arm, since I came from the opposite direction. Because we wear sunglasses for eye protection, we all look like raccoons from our sun burnt faces. The party begins now!
TJ Routh, author of Riding to Sturgis is owner of Harley Links.
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