Six Days in Sturgis

August 8-13, 2007 – My six days at the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally

in Sturgis, South Dakota along with the Black Hills and famous Badlands and surrounding areas were filled with fun and adventure – to say the least. This post – our first of many – will offer an overview of this great event, the people I met, and highlight a few places visited. While some may think that the rally is all about bikers, beer, and babes, it’s really much more. Obviously, I saw bikes… choppers, pro street, baggers and rats bikes – American iron and metric alike. As expected, cool motorcycles were everywhere! Some of the coolest bikes featuring custom paint jobs we’ve seen anywhere were at Sturgis. Impressive custom paint (or ‘kustom’ depending on your locale) along with quality airbrush art was abundant and it seems that the airbrush community is alive and well. Tattoos and tattoo shops prevailed as well, along with airbrushed body art. Beautiful ladies too were everywhere! And bands – live music is the rule. So given that, here’s a quick rundown of what we saw…

DAY 1 – Wednesday, August 8th… First off, I was excited to see what my team was up to in the days prior to my arrival, so my first stop when I arrived in Sturgis was to swing by the A.D. COOK Fine Art display at Custom Corners on Lasalle Street. The aisles were busy with event visitors so it was great to hang out there for a while and meet and great art fans. After a while, I took some time to wander the rows of vendors and catch up with some old and new friends alike. I stopped in on the Arlen Ness display and checked out their new bikes and made a pass-through and a hello to our friends at American Motorcycle Company. Other bike vendors in Custom Corners included Swift Motorcycle Company, Big Bear Choppers, Precision Cycle Works, along with a few others. Of course, there were babes – this is a motorcycle rally after all. The Purrfect Angels roamed the aisles of Custom Corners for a plethora of eye candy, complimenting the bikes with their beauty. At the end of the day’s business, it was time to roam the streets and do a little tourist sightseeing. After a hearty dinner on Main Street, followed by some live music and a couple of beers, the day was over and we drove to Spearfish, our final destination for the evening. With as much as we could fit into my first evening there, I had to remind myself that it was just day one!

DAY 2 – Thursday, August 9th… On day two my buddy and pinstripe extraordinaire Bob Spina stopped by the booth. A long-time visitor to Sturgis, Bob was instrumental in sharing Sturgis with me from a different perspective. We strolled the streets and Bob introduced me to some of the rally’s more colorful attendees. Turns out that Bob has attended Sturgis more-often-than-not since the ’70s, so he knows people – lots of people. We walked the streets of Sturgis as I shot tons of pics of cool bikes and interesting individuals from all over the world. One of our first stops was to Buddha’s Body Art on Main Street where tattoos and airbrush bodies were abundant. The chairs were full of new tattoo owners with works in process, and there were lines of willing people waiting to be adorned with their special flavor of body art. After a while of people watching, it was time to head back to my display and hang for a while. On the way back, we stopped in on Corbin, manufacturer of great motorcycle seats and accessories, to check out their impressive display of custom show bikes and visit with Mike Corbin, Inventor, and CEO, and Erik Solorio, Corbin’s painter out of Southern California.

Bob Spina and Erik Solorio Later that evening Bob and I joined a couple of hundred guests for a celebratory dinner and presentation at the Sturgis Press Party hosted by Corbin, Barnett, and Performance Machine. The parking lot was full of trick motorcycles as many of the Hamsters, an exclusive club of motorcycle enthusiasts was also there. I finally got a chance to meet world-renown custom motorcycle builder Dave Perewitz in person. I’ve been a fan of his bikes for years and it was a pleasure to finally meet him in person. Learn more about Mr. Perewitz and other famous builders at the International Master Bike Builders Association web site.

Harry Fryed with Charlie Brechtel

A.D. Cook with Randy Simpson.

With dinner over, Bob and I said our goodnights and headed different ways – he headed to the world-famous Buffalo Chip and I went back into town to meet up with some friends. This was my chance to meet an old friend face to face. Charlie Brechtel of The Charlie Brechtel Band was in town performing a few songs with The Fryed Brothers Band. Regular visitors to AirbrushTour may remember Charlie from our posts last year when I helped him with his album cover design. Charlie is also the man behind Big 7 Productions. Anyway, it was a great evening of hanging with creative musicians. Charlie also had his buddy Randy Simpson, Founder and President of Milwaukee Iron out of Lynchburg, VA. Anyone who’s seen his Discovery show ‘Southern Steel’ knows Randy and his crew to be great bike builders.

DAY 3 – Friday, August 10th… Friday was a big day at the A.D. Cook Fine Art booth but I took a few opportunities to stroll the streets and shoot more pics. Hey, I love this stuff! I saw custom bikes with V-twins and V-eights, bikes and trikes, and saw a trick trailer painted by airbrush artist Jason Doll. I met up with airbrush artist Ken of Old School Art who has been working the same spot on downtown Sturgis for the last 17 years. I checked out the bikes by Roland Sands Designs, along with an amazing work of ridable art soon to be featured as the Easyriders bike of the year, and the impressive airbrush skills of Monte M. Moore (patience – we’ll bring those to you soon).

Arlen Ness 2 Bad 2 – the $500,000 bike DAY 4 – Saturday, August 11th… While most of my day was spent in the booth, I finally got a chance to check out the Arlen Ness $500,000 motorcycle featuring two engines and trick paint – wow. A visit to Tough Customs left me wanting more. They build some highly-detailed works of art that look like they belong in art galleries and yet somehow scream to be ridden. The engraving on their custom copper bike is amazing. We’ll bring you more on these bikes soon.

DAY 5 – Sunday, August 12th… A little sightseeing in the Black Hills and Badlands lead us to Deadwood, SD, home of the infamous demise of Wild Bill Hickok. A visit to the Adams Museum & House, Deadwood’s coolest museum, where legends live, was fascinating, and a stop in at the No.10 Old Style Saloon made for an interesting time. There was a feeling of connectedness sitting at a legendary bar where untold many had sat before. They host a show there several times daily detailing Wild Bill’s last card game where he was shot while playing poker. He had aces and eights – also known as the dead man’s hand.

Later that day, we made way to Mt. Rushmore. What an experience to see it up close. After some quality time there we headed back into Keystone, which is just a couple miles from Rushmore, had a quick dinner, and then back to Mt. Rushmore for the evening light ceremony. This is a ‘must-see’ for anyone living in our great country. The presentation, which includes a film and showcases the president’s faces against the night sky is impressive. DAY 6 – Monday, August 13th… A touristy day before we head home… we stopped in on the Cosmos Mystery Area just outside of Rapid City, SD, then off to the Sitting Bull Crystal Caverns where we saw the world’s largest dog-tooth spar crystal ceilings, billed as the only cave on the road to Mount Rushmore. If you visit, be prepared to climb. These caves are a full ten stories below ground. With the rally wrapped up, and plane departure times approaching, it was time to head home to Las Vegas. Alas, who’d have thought anyone would head to Vegas to relax?

A.D. with the “Dirty Girls”.

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