Saturday, August 18, 2012

Howdy, Madtown Mob! Here's the first of several stories on our Sturgis trip!

As most of ya know, after being invited for several years, Reggie and I headed for Sturgis with Arlen Ness and the West Coast Hamsters. Every year the route is different, and this year the ride took us through Yosemite to Mammoth Mountain for our first night on the road. Keith "Bandit" Ball, of Easyriders and Bikernet fame met us there, but had to leave in the morning to meet his deadlines at his infamous and the other magazines he writes for. I haven't seen him in several years, but keep in contact almost daily through e-mail. We had a great visit, a few drinks, and caught up on chit-chat about the industry, our projects, and good whisky. He's looking for records at Bonneville this year, and time is tight for getting the effort together.

From Mammoth, we headed into Sun Valley, Idaho for a two day stop. There was a party at the home of a local Hamster, and a 100 mile lunch ride to a beautiful lake in the Sawtooth Mountains. I noticed an interesting bike called The Stewart Special, and after talking to Paul, the owner, I found out that it was painted to match his father's race car. His father is F-1 and Indy legend Jackie Stewart. Due to other obligations, he left the ride not long after, but it was a pleasure to meet him.

Some of you may wonder what the icons of the industry are like away from the "Biker Build-off" cameras and the autograph table. Like everyone else, I had some preconceived notions, but none were accurate, and I was very pleasantly surprised. I'd seen Jesse James talk trash and act like a thug, and though I've never met him, I don't believe he would be someone I could hang out with, or voluntarily be around for any length of time. Not knocking Jesse, just stating a fact. If I don't like someone's company, I won't be around them no matter who they are. Over the nearly three weeks we rode with, hung out with, and talked to Arlen, Donnie Smith, Dave Perewitz, Rick Fairless, Paul Yaffe, and other legendary builders, we were treated like part of the Hamster family, and felt right at home on their company. Not many organizations can claim to be an extended family, but that's what the Hamsters are, and every ride is a family reunion.

The fourth day found us on the road to Missoula, Montana, traveling through some of the most beautiful country anywhere. At every stop, the bikes were cleaned, and then it was time for drinks, dinner, and comradery. We ran into some rain, but not enough to cause a problem. We discovered a problem with the valve train in Reggie's engine, and for a while it looked like she wouldn't get to ride into Sturgis, but again, friends came to the rescue, and that's a story for another day.

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