This… is… STURGIS!

The first reaction a guy might have to Sturgis is that no rules apply. Like most first reactions, this is bullshit.

sturgis_bikiniThe rules are just different: specific, unspoken, and not applicable elsewhere. Like the rule asserting that bare torsos are acceptable on Main, with or without body paint. Also its unspoken corollary that states, “Large, hairy breasts are not reliable indicators of gender.”

Our documentarian, Bob, describes the parking lot at the Sturgis Buffalo Chip as “one long, weird dream.” We hope he got footage. Our dark, strange trip began with 20 or more window-down interviews with yellow-shirted security children who were trying to tell us where to park and walk, with Indian Dave explaining that we were headed for Indian VIP parking, security telling us to turn around, and Gunny Glen gently describing, in idiomatic Marine Corps descriptions, exactly what he would do to anyone who made him walk across five acres of parking.

All the while, our van drifted across the gravel through a dark miasma of hooting, boozing and revving. Like the submarine ride at Disneyland, cartoonish mechanized life forms irregularly materialized out of the murk to the accompaniment of unexpected noises: bottle-slingin’ Jack Daniel’s girls in camel shorts, motorized bar stools with Super Glide mills, a white horned god, and the six-foot phallus used to direct traffic from waist level. It was well into the dark hours, still over 90 degrees, and the crowd was hot, sticky, boisterous, and carefully polite.

Suburban good manners were a match to the music, consisting of .38 Special literally singing their throats out, followed by country star Bradley Gilbert. In between the acts, customizer extraordinaire Roland Sands showed off his Chieftain-based tracker and some guys took the stage for a  moment.

That moment consisted of Indian external relations guru Robert Pandya introducing our little group and describing what he called an “epic ride” from Burbank to the Black Hills of South Dakota, as a quickly composited video of our traveling adventure played on two giant screens. We had a quick reminder of who the real One Percenters are as Pandya first asked who supported the troops and received an enormous roar of approval from the maybe 30,000 assembled revelers. Then he asked who in the crowd had served, and received some scattered applause. Hey, we’re modest, but not that modest.

Veterans Charity Ride to Sturgis logoAnd that’s the whole point of this exercise. America believes in her veterans – here, perhaps more than anywhere north of Texas – but doesn’t know us. Finding ways to cross that barrier, that gulf of unshared knowledge, is critical to the ongoing health of the veterans community and to the integrity of the nation for which we fought.

If you’re in Sturgis this week, in between flashing yours or inspecting others’, keep an eye out for the guys in the Veterans Charity Ride t-shirts. You’ll see us on the streets, around the bikes, and in the bars. Maybe stick out your hand and introduce yourself. Learn and teach.

Extend your community, nationwide.

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  1. Great stuff Jack! I always wanted to go to Sturgis one of these days in my life. I’m happy to hear the Vets are honored, and having a good time! I look forward to the next story!!

  2. Jack, I haven’t ridden up to Sturgis for a few years. Been seeing other parts of the country during my limited vacation time. But I sure enjoy reading about your exploits in the Black Hills. Thanks for sharing your writing with us.

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