Broken Bows and Valentines: 6 Days in Nebraska’s Sand Hills on the Indian Roadmaster

The 2017 Indian Roadmaster has its own 111 locomotive.

The 2017 Indian Roadmaster has its own 111 locomotive.

Throw a dart at the heart of a map of the USA and there’s a good chance you’ll hit Nebraska. But much like my home state of Oregon where everybody thinks it rains all the time, Nebraska is also subject to misconceptions. I’m guilty of it myself. When picturing the state, long stretches of flat grassland broken by green patches of cornfields comes to mind. After six days exploring Nebraska’s Sand Hills region on a 2017 Indian Roadmaster, I learned though much of what I thought was wrong.

Seeing how I’d be living out of saddlebags for the next six days I was grateful to see a Roadmaster waiting for me upon arrival in Denver. With a dinosaur of a laptop and its 17-inch screen, camera equipment, rain gear, and clothes for a week I used just about every inch of storage. As a 270-mile ride to a city I’d never been to lie ahead of me, I punched the address into the fuss-free Ride Command System and got ready to hit the road. But not before one slight detour. I’d picked up the Roadmaster a few blocks from Sports Authority Field at Mile High and couldn’t resist a spin by the stadium for a quick photo op. Luckily I was able to get a few guerilla-style snaps of the bike in front of the stadium entrance before a security guard rolled up and asked me to kindly move my motorcycle off the Mile High sidewalk.

Union Pacific's Bailey Yard below Golden Spike Tower is the largest "Classification Yard" in the world.

Union Pacific’s Bailey Yard below Golden Spike Tower is the largest “Classification Yard” in the world.

On the road to North Platte I quickly became a fan of 75 mph speed limits and cheap gas. I like that eastern Colorado encourages drivers to keep an eye out for bikers thanks to “Check Twice for Motorcycles” signs on top of gas pumps. The stretch is long and straight and the absence of curves reminds me of the run on I-5 through California’s Central Valley. The Roadmaster thunders along at 80 mph with relative ease, the needle on the tach tickling the 3000 rpm mark.

Finally found another biker in Valentine's Sand Hills!

Finally ran into another biker in Valentine’s Sand Hills!

My first day riding through the Sand Hills teaches me some quick lessons. Tractors have the right of way ‘round here. Don’t think I’ve ever seen more tractors on the roads than in Nebraska. We are in an agricultural epicenter after all. Tilling the soil and reaping the harvest is a long-standing tradition in this part of the country. As is ranching, the fields filled with calves chasing mothers and barrel-chested bulls. Railroads are the lifeblood of the region as they connect the East to the West. From our view 100 feet in the air at Golden Spoke Tower, Union Pacific’s Bailey Yard teams with life, an intricate network of rails and hubs, engines and rail cars mixed and matched with NASCAR-like precision. Bailey Yard seemingly stretches as far as the eye can see, the “World’s Largest Classification Yard” processing an average of 139 trains and 14,000 cars through its system every day. Every day. Union Pacific’s history runs deep in these parts. As does Buffalo Bill, the supreme showman who called North Platte home a larger than life figure in this neck of the woods. From the plight of settlers in sod houses captured through the lens of Solomon Butcher to yarns about the daring riders of the Pony Express, veins of the Wild West indeed run deep in these parts.

The legend of Buffalo Bill is strong in these parts.

The legend of Buffalo Bill is strong in these parts.

And while this area of Nebraska is rich in history and rooted in agriculture and ranching, scratch the surface and you’ll find fresh new nuggets of treasure. The micro and craft scene is gaining steam, from Pals Brewing Company in North Platte to Kinkaiders in Broken Bow to Bolo Beer in Valentine. The foodie scene is growing too, from artisan vinegars in Cody to whipped honey butters in Anselmo. Pals brought a taste of their former home state of Wisconsin to its menu in the form of a pizza with kraut, brats, and cheese a half-inch thick while the chef at Kinkaiders transported a bit what she learned in the Portland, Oregon scene to the Sand Hills by pairing her food to beers and creating beer-infused recipes. We discovered a mountain biker’s paradise at Potters Pasture, trails upon trails spidering up and down ridges and through trees in a place whose popularity is growing by word of mouth. We’ve seen a world class golf course carved out of the Sand Hills, the lodge of the Prairie Club rising like a beacon above the rolling mounds. Yes, there’s definitely more going on in these thar hills than first meets the eye.

There’s plenty more to this tale, but we’re saving that for another day. Keep an eye out for a full feature about our adventures in Nebraska’s Sand Hills in a future spread of American Iron Magazine.

Glen Abbott’s American Iron Article “Ghosts of the Open Road” Travel Journalism Award Finalist

"We're on a road to nowhere" - Talking Heads

“We’re on a road to nowhere
Come on inside
Taking that ride to nowhere
We’ll take that ride” – Talking Heads

American Iron Magazine is super excited to announce a story we ran in Issue #334, “Ghosts of the Open Road: Riding the Lonely Highways of Nevada and Death Valley” was a finalist in the North American Travel Journalists Association 2016 Travel Journalism Awards. A big round of applause for the person who penned the wonderful article, motojournalist Glen Abbott. Congratulations Glen, whose story was a finalist in the Destination Travel, Domestic Magazine category. The video he shot to accompany the story was a winner too, taking 3rd place in the Travel Video section (Check out Glen Abbott’s Ghosts of the Open Road video at www.vimeo.com/TravelinGringo).

Read the introduction to Abbott’s “Ghosts of the Open Road: Riding the Lonely Highways of Nevada and Death Valley” below and enjoy some of his fine photos. For the complete article, grab you a copy of American Iron Magazine Issue #334 and check out other great back issues at Greaserag.com.

Ghosts of the Open Road: Riding the Lonely Highways of Nevada and Death Valley by Glen Abbott

Be sure to check out “Ghosts of the Open Road: Riding the Lonely Highways of Nevada and Death Valley” in Issue #334 of American Iron Magazine.

Ghosts of the Open Road (excerpt)

Riding the lonely highways of Nevada and Death Valley by Glen Abbott

Riding down, down, down into the Valley of Death, the temperature climbed as the elevation dropped. Snow-white borax flats shimmered like a mirage in the distant valley below. The roar of the Harley’s engine and the rush of the wind filled my sun-baked senses as I slipped into the Zen-like state of tranquility that long riders live for. Floating in that sea of tranquility, I sped deep into the belly of one of the most beautiful, yet God-forsaken, places on earth.

Fittingly, the adventure began in Sin City, better known as Las Vegas, Nevada. It’s a city that even legendary gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson found unnerving. “No, this is not a good town for psychedelic drugs,” he wrote in his 1972 masterpiece, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. “Reality itself is too twisted.”

Ghosts of the Open Road: Rusting away in Death Valley

The rusting hulks of ancient cars, trucks, and mining equipment litter the windswept canyons of Death Valley.

In Vegas today, things are the same, only different. Newer casinos sprout like money-hungry monsters from the imploded remains of old ones, and LEDs have replaced neon as the illumination source on many of the garish marquees. But bits and pieces of the old Vegas remain, if you know where to look. Places like the Mob Museum, which fully embraces the city’s sordid criminal past; the Neon Museum, whose boneyard is haunted by the ghosts of vintage casino signs; or the Atomic Testing Museum, which attempts to explain why the federal government thought it might be a good idea to detonate nuclear weapons in the remote Nevada desert, are certainly worth the time to visit.

Ghosts of the Open Road: Pioche Fire House Established 1864

The author and his buddy Elliot Gillies explored the sleepy towns of Death Valley on 2016 Harley-Davidson Ultra Limited tourers.

Even after countless nuclear blasts — both in the atmosphere and underground — apparitions still lurk among the sagebrush and yucca of that remote desert. Indeed, traveling the state’s lonely highways you may sense the spirits of the long-dead prospectors, dreamers, and con men who lived and died in pursuit of the gold and silver riches that the land had to offer. Or maybe you’ll find space aliens and their crashed flying saucers. You just have to believe. -AIM

Ghosts of the Open Road: Badwater Basin

Badwater Basin is the lowest point below sea level in North America.

Remembering Pearl Harbor and All That Followed

openingspread

With today marking the 75th anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor, we would be remiss not to acknowledge the catalyst for America’s entry into World War II and to not remember both the loss of life on December 7, 1941 and the following sacrifices over the subsequent four years. Many of us have a close familial tie to WWII, and we receive photos and stories every week involving grandparents and motorcycles and the war effort.

America’s immediate response to the bombing of the Hawaiian naval base is not beyond reproach, as detailed in Dain Gingerelli’s upcoming tour story when he rode to Manzanar, California, the site of one of the internment camps for Japanese and Japanese Americans living in the States in the aftermath of the attack.

Here is brief excerpt from Dain’s piece: “Perhaps the most touching place is the cemetery at the west end of the camp. A tall stone obelisk, erected in August 1943, marks the location where about 150 souls are entombed. The obelisk’s inscription in Japanese Kanji script reads: Soul Consoling Tower.”

As we put the finishing touches on issue #346, we found the coincidence of Dain’s tour and the anniversary too much to overlook. #346 will be on newsstands in January, and Dain’s reflections at Manzanar are well-worth the read.

2016 American Iron River Run along the Mighty Mississippi

Riverside Park Eagle La Crosse WI 2016 American Iron River Run

What better place for American Iron to meet for a beautiful ride up the Mississippi River than a park with a stainless steel eagle soaring 35-feet overhead?

It seemed only fitting the steel eagle of La Crosse’s Riverside Park soared 35 feet above the gathering point of American Iron’s River Run 2016. American is in our name, something we take pride in. We were on the banks of the Mighty Mississippi, the most fabled river in American lore. Indian Motorcycles, a company whose name is inscribed in American motorcycle culture, was hangin’ out with us and hooked us up with a couple of sweet rides for the event, Buzz snagging the keys to the Chieftain with the performance cams and kit while I got the keys to a Roadmaster splashed in the sharp Springfield Blue and Ivory Cream paint.

Thought it was cool the first two American Iron fans I met rolled up on a 1936 Sport Scout and 1947 Harley Model ‘U.’ Will Lusignan, President of the Driftless Antique Club of America, brought out his old tank shifter to share while Duane Olsen of Black River Falls had his Flathead sitting curbside.

2016 Indian Sport Scout American Iron River Run

Will Lusignan rolled into the 2016 American Iron River Run on his clean 1936 Indian Sport Scout.

The diversity of bikes that showed up were as unique as the people themselves. White Bear Lake’s Rick Mereness gets a vote for “Coolest Grandpa” for bringing his grandson Easton along for the ride, Easton taking in the sights from his perch atop the pillion of a 2012 Electra Glide. There was “Charlie Romeo Alpha India Gulf” Cooper, aka Craig, who did the 750-mile ride to La Crosse from Tulsa, Oklahoma the day before and hooked up with us for the adventure up the river and Minnesota’s Patriot Ride, too (Be sure to check out our 2016 Patriot Ride Report & Photos). Craig’s trusted mount was a 2009 FLHTP, a former Tulsa police bike now doing duty as a civilian vehicle.

Leah Misch’s Scout has seen over 17,000 miles in less than a year, Misch knocking out 10,000 in the first two months of owning her new bike during a soul-searching trip of our country. The La Crosse native would lead our group on a scenic tour to Indian Motorcycle of Twin Cities, fittingly on a motorcycle called Scout. There was “Bandanas by Michelle’s” gloss black Roadmaster all dressed up with 15,000 Swarovski crystals, including the script on the tank and the special 75th Sturgis air cleaner. Her license plate says a lot about Michelle, who is “LVNLYF” on her Indian. Her license plate holder, stamped “You’ve Just Been Passed by a Girl,” is another clue to her personality. There were bikes with plenty of personality joining us for the River Run, from a slammed and stretched big-wheeled bagger with blazing orange paint to an Ultra Classic Electra Glide complete with sidecar.

Bandanas by Michelle You've Just Been Passed by a Girl

“You’ve Just Been Passed by a Girl” on a black Roadmaster blinged-out with 15,000 Swarovski crystals.

Tour guide Misch got our ride off on the right foot as she led us over some backwood sweepers you’d probably never find if you weren’t a La Crosse local. Before long we’re running parallel to the river, green canopies broken by rocky buttes. The wind is whipping leaves in the trees and stirring up whitecaps on the water. Riding along the Mississippi, the landscape sings the songs of Faulkner and Twain, tugs doing the delicate dance of steering barges 10 times their length down the turbulent waters. You sense the river’s ancientness where it’s wide as a lake, the waters witnessing the evolution of North American cultures who have lined her shore firsthand. The further north we get the more the river seeps into the surrounding countryside creating carpets of moss and marshes, the area feeling more like Louisiana than Wisconsin. Nobody complained when the group made a pit stop at the Nelson Creamery to get a big scoop.

2016 American Iron River Run Rick Mereness and Easton

Props to White Bear Lake’s Rick Mereness for bringing his grandson Easton along for the ride.

Pulling into Indian Motorcycles of Twin Cities, the dynamic duo from Acapulco Restaurante Mexicano had tasty tacos, burritos and cold drinks waiting for our group. Local musician Lyzander provided the party’s background tracks as he laid down some mean Zeppelin on his acoustic guitar. Tasty grub, a cold one, and live music – Twin Cities Indian owner Art Welch knows how to treat a hungry group after a good road trip.

We thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to share the open road with readers, to talk shop and swap stories, then sit down and share a meal. We appreciate your support and can’t wait to ride with many of you again. The Kickstart Classic is right around the corner, the vintage motorcycle event taking place July 28-30 at Wheels Through Time in Maggie Valley. Hope to see you there.

 

American Iron Magazine River Run by Indian Motorcycles & Patriot Ride

Join the staff of American Iron Magazine for a free and fun run up the Mississippi River in July.
Indian sponsored, but all makes and models and years of motorcycles are welcome

Indian sponsored, but all makes and models and years of motorcycles are welcome

American Iron Magazine River Run sponsored by Indian Motorcycles. 
Friday, July 8, 2016
* Free event open to riders of all makes, years and models of motorcycles.
* We gather at Riverside Park in La Crosse, WI the morning of Friday, July 8.
* Gas tanks full and bladders empty, sidestands up at 12 noon. Ride with the editors of American Iron Magazine along the banks of the Mississippi River to the Twin Cities Indian dealer in St Paul, MN for a free reception and party that afternoon and evening.
Join us at The Patriot Ride

Join us at The Patriot Ride

Ride to the Patriot Ride with American Iron Magazine and Indian Motorcycles. 
Saturday, July 9, 2016
* Free all brands motorcycle meet-up at Twin Cities Indian in St Paul, MN.
* Gas tanks full and bladders empty, sidestands up at 9 am. Ride with the editors of American Iron Magazine to the Patriot Ride at the airport in Blaine, MN. Our group will have VIP reserved parking and a special place on the Patriot Ride. All riders must be registered for the Patriot Ride.
* Custom and classic motorcycle show supported and judged by Donnie Smith and American Iron Magazine. At least one of the bikes in the show will be photographed and featured in the pages of American Iron Magazine and/or American Iron Garage.

July American Iron Magazine Motorcycle Rides In WI and MN

American Iron Magazine has two free rides planned for the greater Minneapolis area in July and we invite you and your friends to meet and ride with Editor-in-Chief Buzz Kanter and our team from the magazine.

On Friday, July 8th, we will meet in La Crosse, WI, and leave at noon to ride up the banks of the Mississippi River to St. Paul, MN on the American Iron Magazine Mississippi River Run sponsored by Indian Motorcycles.

This event is free (thanks to Indian Motorcycle sponsorship)  and open to all riders of all makes, models and years.  We meet at Riverside Park in La Crosse and ride to Indian Motorcycle of Twin Cities in St Paul, MN for a reception and free party.

On Saturday morning, July 9th, we will meet at Indian Motorcycles of Twin Cities in St. Paul. At 9 a.m. we will ride to nearby Blaine, MN for the start of the Patriot Ride activities.

You are welcome to join us for one or both rides. They are free (there is a charitable donation for the Patriot Ride) and they are all open to all riders of all makes and models.  Participants in our Saturday morning ride will get special VIP parking at the Patriot Ride.

Nominate a Hero for a Veterans “Ride of a Lifetime” to Sturgis with Indian

Full Vision Productions announced that the second annual Veterans Charity Ride to Sturgis (VCR) will be hosted in summer 2016 and a new nomination program, “Hero’s Ride of a Lifetime,” has been added. Starting in Los Angeles, California on July 30, the nine-day ride to Sturgis, SD will provide twenty veterans a chance to use motorcycle therapy as a way to decompress from the challenges of post-war life.

Founded in 2015 by veteran Army Paratrooper Dave Frey and Emmy-award winning director Robert Manciero, VCR uses motorcycle therapy to provide a healing and fun experience for a select group of veterans who need support.

“Giving veterans an outlet for their stress, and creating a way for them to find emotional balance, is critical,” said ride founder Dave Frey. “As a veteran myself, I’ve used long motorcycle rides for years as a mechanism to decompress. It occurred to me that others would benefit from the power of motorcycle therapy. VCR provides a group of veterans with the benefits of riding, plus a camaraderie and brotherhood that veterans often have difficulty finding on their own.”

Veterans Charity Ride 2015

Veterans rumble into downtown Sturgis during the first Veterans Charity Ride to Sturgis with Indian Motorcycles.

The challenges for veterans are well documented. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and difficulties with re-assimilation to civilian life are common. Iraq and Afghanistan veterans – many who are still young individuals – are facing a major crisis, with an estimated 20% of those veterans having PTSD and/or depression according to a 2014 survey*. Motorcycle therapy is one of several effective therapies for veterans seeking relaxation, peace of mind and enjoyment.

VCR 2016 will give 15 ambulatory and five amputee/disabled veterans of various military branches – the majority of whom are post-9/11 vets – the opportunity to work toward overcoming their post-war challenges on the open road. Riding from Los Angeles to Sturgis, the veterans travel through the most scenic back roads of the western United States on the latest Indian Motorcycle models, some with Champion sidecars and custom trikes. They experience the great outdoors and the beauty this country has to offer, using motorcycles as a mechanism for healing. Along the ride route, the group will stop in small towns to meet with other veterans, supporters and riders, and participate in various adventures, including off-road excursions, and street rallies. Upon arrival in Sturgis, the group is treated to a special “Hero’s Welcome” and have a week-long “ultimate rider” experience, taking part in the world-famous Sturgis Motorcycle Rally and further solidifying a brother/sisterhood that was formed on the open roads of the Wild West.

In addition to the veterans chosen by the sponsoring team from various organization, the new program “Hero’s Ride of a Lifetime”, enables the public to nominate two deserving veterans to join the ride. People are asked to visit VeteransCharityRide.org/heros-ride to nominate their favorite post-9/11 veteran and describe why he or she is deserving of this amazing experience. Two heroes will be chosen to join the group – one rider (motorcycle license and experience required) and one amputee/disabled veteran (motorcycle license not necessary), who will ride in a donated Champion Sidecar. The online nomination program will run from March 4 through April 15. The two chosen heroes will be announced on Memorial Day, May 30th, on VeteransCharityRide.org. More details and nomination forms are available at VeteransCharityRide.org/heros-ride/.

“Champion Sidecars & Trikes is thrilled to participate in this program for a second year. This year, we are providing more vehicles, so more veterans can reap the benefits of motorcycle therapy and everything this great program has to offer. We believe in the power of motorcycle therapy, and are proud to partner with VCR to change and save lives,” said Craig Arrojo, President of Champion Sidecars & Trikes. Visit http://www.championsidecars.com/ for more information.

Back for a second year as primary sponsor is Indian Motorcycle, with additional sponsorship and support provided by Liberty Sport (official eyewear sponsor of VCR), Red Cliffs Lodge (Moab, UT), Russ Brown Motorcycle Attorney, and The Legendary Buffalo Chip in Sturgis, SD.

Indian's Hero's Ride of a Lifetime Motorcycle Therapy

Know a veteran hero who would love a nine-day journey to Sturgis on an Indian Motorcycle? Then get your nomination in!

2016 Motorcycle Kickstart Classic Dates Announced

The much awaited Motorcycle Kickstart Classic event is often sold out long before it is held each year. This time the crew at American Iron Magazine and Motorcycle Rides & Culture are announcing it early for everyone interested in it to have time to lock in the date.

Based from the world-class Wheels Through Time museum, in Maggie Valley, NC, the 2016 Motorcycle Kickstart Classic will be held July 29 and 30.

The all-make motorcycle event is open to all two and three wheelers – old or new. We prefer older motorcycles with kickstarters, but more modern ones are also welcome. The new ones just have to ride behind the old ones to pick up any parts that fall off.

The two-day event will include a welcome dinner July 28, and free admission to the museum as well as organized rides on some of the best motorcycle roads in the country. Registration has been held at $100 per person (rider and/or passanger) again this year.

Registration forms will be available in February.

Harley-Davidson Brick Ride (Full Story)

Harley Davidson Brick Ride Milwaukee-Sturgis March 25th 2015

The legendary ride marking the H-D/Sturgis 75-year deal

Text By Tyler Greenblatt
Photos by Josh Kurpius

IMG_0409On January 15, 2015, Harley-Davidson announced that it had signed an unprecedented 75-year deal with the town of Sturgis, South Dakota, to be the Official Motorcycle of the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. As part of the announcement on that frigid, gray morning in Milwaukee, a H-D employee, mounted on a new Street 750, began yanking bricks from the wall of the famous Motorcycle Only parking area outside the Juneau Avenue headquarters. The high-revving, liquid-cooled twin did burnout after burnout, until 73 bricks were free. He repeated the semidemolition process once more at the historic entrance to the original factory location a couple hundred feet away, and again at the H-D Museum.

Harley Davidson Brick RideThese 75 bricks, honoring 75 years of the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally and representing The Motor Company’s past, present, and future, were destined for use in constructing The Harley-Davidson Rally Point, a new year-round, open-air plaza in downtown Sturgis. The plaza sits on the corner of Main St. and what is now officially called Harley-Davidson Way (formerly Second Street). And for the occasion Harley also announced that on March 23, the bricks would be packed onto motorcycles and ridden the 900-plus miles to Sturgis, making Harley Owners Group (HOG) and dealership appearances along the way.

A couple weeks later, I received a phone call from The Motor Company asking me to join the ride. As a Wisconsin resident, I know that icy conditions, below-freezing temperatures, and probable snow storms are still very much a factor that time of year. As if anticipating that very notion, the next sentence of my invitation stated that I would also be provided full heated gear and a 2015 CVO Street Glide for the ride. I couldn’t say “yes” fast enough.

Harley Davidson Brick Ride Milwaukee-Sturgis March 23rd 2015Harley Davidson Brick Ride Milwaukee-Sturgis March 24th 2015A few weeks later I awoke bright and early in Milwaukee’s Iron Horse Hotel for the ride. It was Monday, March 23rd. Bursting with enthusiasm, I flung the curtains open to enjoy the view of the H-D Museum and the sun rising over Milwaukee’s distinct skyline. What I got instead was a snow shower that had already begun to show its white aftereffects on the museum and downtown Milwaukee.

But to my pleasant surprise, we got the green light to fire up the bikes  and hit the highway for our westward adventure. Our first stop would be Wisconsin H-D in Oconomowoc about 30 minutes outside Milwaukee. We brushed off our snow-covered steeds, cranked up the heated gear, and to perplexed onlookers and motorists exited away from the brick entrance to H-D’s headquarters on Juneau Avenue for the first leg of our journey. I couldn’t help but notice that the entry had one brick missing as I motored past.

Harley Davidson Brick Ride Milwaukee-Sturgis March 23rd 2015The ride to Oconomowoc took nearly an hour as our caravan clawed our way out of town, carefully staying within the clean tire tracks laid out by the cars ahead of us. The CVO Street Glide felt surprisingly stable in such conditions, thanks in large part to the bike’s low center of gravity. The Dunlop tires never lost grip, and the 110″ engine’s power let me comfortably select a higher gear to minimize, or even eliminate, wheel spin. We’ll have a full report of this bike in a future issue.

Enthusiastic employees, offering hot cups of coffee, greeted us when we arrived at Wisconsin H-D, which was supposed be closed on a Monday. Eventually word got out that conditions were considerably worse inland. That didn’t deter us, though — we were having way too much fun to call it quits just yet! So, we saddled up and headed to Madison to visit Badger H-D, which happens to be the dealership that I frequent.

Harley Davidson Brick RideFrom Madison we set our GPS for Sauk City, home of Sauk Prairie H-D. My heated riding gear made the cold, one-hour ride almost uneventful. Our route sheet pointed us to scenic Highway 60 along the Wisconsin River, but the snow plow crews had yet to venture that far, so we waited at Sauk for awhile longer than anticipated. A fresh snowfall in rural Wisconsin is as beautiful and serene as one could ever come across, and I was thankful to be experiencing it on a motor­cycle where all the senses come into play. We eventually got back on the road, stopping for lunch about halfway to Waukon H-D in Waukon, Iowa. As each of us emerged from our riding gear at the diner, our waitress politely asked how our snow­mobile trip was going. She nearly freaked out when we told her that we were on Harleys. Maybe we were the crazy ones?

Crossing the mighty Mississippi River from Wisconsin into Iowa offered a great deal of pride and reprieve as the most challenging part of the day was behind us and we had ridden every single mile of it. With darkness approaching and black ice a major concern, we loaded the grungy, road-weary machines into the support trailer at Cedar River H-D and did the final stretch to the hotel in Mason City in the truck. Foremost, though, we had accomplished our goal of stopping at every planned dealership along the way. And we did so on two wheels, not four.

Harley Davidson Brick Ride Milwaukee-Sturgis March 25th 2015Harley Davidson Brick RideThe following morning there was no snow to contend with, but the temperature was lower, the humidity was higher, and I put my heated equipment to the test. We kicked off the day at H-D of Mason City, where, incredibly, local HOG members had also braved the cold to greet us and wish us well on our trip. Four of them, including one lady on her brand-new Softail Deluxe, even took up extra bricks and joined us for a stretch! We stopped at Okoboji H-D in Okoboji, Iowa, before hitting the road for J&L H-D in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, our final stop for the day. As if cold and heavy winds weren’t enough for us to contend with, it started to rain. No, make that a downpour. Again, due to the inclement weather, we were way behind schedule, forcing us to load the bikes for the final leg, and five hours to Rapid City, South Dakota.

Harley Davidson Brick RideIt was a short, sunny hop from Rapid City to Black Hills H-D, our final dealer destination. After enjoying an in-depth tour of the state-of-the-art dealership, we headed to downtown Sturgis to deliver all 75 bricks for the official groundbreaking of the Harley-Davidson Rally Point.

A sizable crowd had gathered for the groundbreaking ceremony, enthusiastically cheering us — and the bricks — as we pulled up and parked in the cordoned-off section out front. Bill Davidson and Sturgis Mayor Mark Carstensen started things off with speeches in front of the dirt construction zone. Overlooking us from the hillside was the famous Sturgis sign, and you couldn’t help but feel proud to be a part of the occasion. So where were the shovels for the ground-breaking ceremony? There wasn’t a shovel to be seen (unless you count the Shovelhead chopper that was present). Instead, motocross star Carey Hart, riding a Project LiveWire, and H-D factory flat track racer Brad Baker aboard a Street 750, appeared and, on command, proceeded to do dirt and pavement burnouts, respectively, shrouding attendees in a swirling storm of sand and tire smoke. It was only fitting that the ride of a lifetime that began in Milwaukee with a Harley-Davidson burnout end in Sturgis with a double Harley-Davidson burnout.

Harley Davidson Brick RideWily readers might be questioning how we fit 75 bricks onto only seven motorcycles. The truth is, we didn’t, although we probably could’ve used the added weight for traction. Before leaving Juneau Avenue, we were each given one brick to steward from the site of the original factory in Milwaukee to the Rally Point in Sturgis, the rest were in the truck, and handed out to the brave few riders who joined us. Ceremoniously, the riders and support truck drivers gathered in a circle and dropped our bricks into the dirt that would soon be their final place of honor.

It was truly an epic ride, one that, in certain ways, took 75 years to accomplish. And we seven riders helped lay the foundation, one brick at a time. AIM

This article originally appeared in American Iron Magazine issue # 325, published June 2015. To order a back issue of this or any other issue of American Iron Magazine, visit Greaserag.com.
 
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Küryakyn #THEXKURSION Sturgis Social Media Contest

THEXKURSIONtoSturgisSOMERSET, WIS, JULY 1—Are you riding to Sturgis? Küryakyn™ is recruiting five road-trippin’, social-media junkies to join our crew that will be documenting their adventures on “#THEXKURSION to Sturgis”—and they want YOU to be part of the ride!

Küryakyn has a team of riders from across the States and beyond making the trek to the Black Hills showcasing the new XKürsion™ luggage line. Sturgis-bound bikers who plan on making their journey to the 75th a road trip to remember can enter for a chance to receive an all-new XKürsion gear bag and share their adventure throughout the rally via Küryakyn’s Facebook and Instagram pages. Winners will also receive a VIP package and special product discounts when they visit the Küryakyn trucks during the Rally at Black Hills Harley-Davidson in Rapid City.

To enter for one of five free XKürsion bags, a VIP swag package and the chance to share your Sturgis expedition with the world, visit the Küryakyn Facebook Page and comment on “#THEXKURSION to Sturgis” post by answering the four required questions:

  • Why do you love to ride?
  • What do you ride?
  • What’s your starting location?
  • Do you have mobile access to Social Media?

The five winners of #THEXKURSION contest are expected to post at least one photo per day to the Küryakyn social media pages throughout their 75th annual Sturgis Rally Experience. Each comment entry will be judged by Küryakyn, so don’t hold back. Prove you’re passionate about riding and score some new gear for your XKürsion to Sturgis!

Deadline for entries is Monday, July 6 at 11:59pm CST. Winners will be announced on 7/7/15.