Day 32: Sunday 3rd August 2013 – Sturgis, SD
My days proper seem to be starting later and later. By proper, I mean by the time I am ready to ride. Uploading photos is taking an age. I guess the network traffic is getting heavier as more and more people arrive here. The other thing causing my day to start later is that when I am sitting charging my kit, uploading photos and trying to knock out a post, other folk have come to just charge their phone’s and have nothing better to do then, than to chew the fat. I’m not really complaining about this because meeting people is one of the best bits of travelling.
I hadn’t really decided what I was going to do today, but the riding possibilities were somewhat curtailed by the late start. Heading out on some of the further afield rides, like Wounded Knee or Rushmore or Custer State Park, were now pretty much out of the question.
I decided to take a ride up to Spearfish and then through Spearfish Canyon and on to Deadwood. I done this ride in 2011 with Doreen and the canyon has a nice bendy road through a very picturesque canyon; while Deadwood is a cross between historic Wild West and modern day gambling. I still haven’t got my head around America’s fascination with casinos and slot machines.
After braving the melee of bikes, cars, RVs and more and more bikes, through Sturgis, I realised that I had left my tank-bag, containing my camera and phone, back in the tent. Without any camera, it means I have no photos of my ride. This best I can do is leave a link to 2011’s Deadwood album.
When I got back to the Buffalo Chip, it was very apparent that the camp had filled up to nearly bursting point over the last couple of days. A new tent had appeared within inches of my tent, to the point that part of it is covering one of my guy ropes. I just hope they can cope with my snoring so close to them. It’s always worse after a few beers.
Actually there are a few real downsides to the influx of people that are becoming increasingly evident. One being the porta-potties, most of which now appear to be broken or full to overflowing. The Americans don’t seem to be able to manage these problems any better than the festivals at home. The “joys” of these kind of mass camping events seem universal. However there are some staffed and fully-serviced toilets here, but these have attendants that expect a tip, and I really don’t want to pay a buck every time I need to take a pee.
Another problem is the limited number of showers. These now have huge queues in the morning, and in the late afternoon and early evening as people return from their day’s ride. But my neighbour Alan gave me a tip about a shower block a little out of the way that doesn’t seem to get so much custom. I got a shower this evening with no waiting at all.
One of the things that makes concerts in the Buffalo Chip unique in my experience of big music events is that lots and lots of bikes are parked up in front of the stage. When I came here two years ago, the golf carts that people can rent to get around camp also parked in front of the stage. This year the golf carts are blocked out by concrete blocks, but bikes are still very much allowed.
At last night’s The Cult show, I stood for a time with my camp neighbour, Kyle, who seemed to have brought himself a very comfortable recliner to the show.
This evening, I decided I’d take the Trooper in to see the show as well. And I managed to find a spot right near Kyle, and another of my camp neighbours, Jackyl.
Bikes take up a lot of space in front of the stage and I can imagine some people getting quite pissed off about not being able to get far forward because of the bikes, but it is a tradition here – rather than applauding the bands, the bikers rev their engines to show appreciation. I wonder how long that tradition can continue if the Buffalo Chip’s events keep growing.
If you are one of the lucky ones that gets your bike into the amphitheatre then it gives you multiple benefits. It guarantees your spot in front of the stage and it gives you a seat. It’s not so different from getting up early to put a towel on a pool-side sun lounger. And it’s not all Harleys or American V-twins.
As I’m writing this the morning after, I can see the bikes already beginning to park up in front of the stage, from 8.30am when I arrived here, for tonight’s Kid Rock show. I was surprised when I’ve been talking to people about the music here, because it seems that Kid Rock is the headliner among headliners. He is the one everyone wants to see. Kid Rock seems to get a much bigger and better reception here than he does in the UK, where many see him as a bit of a joke and not a serious rocker. I’m curious to see his show, and I’ll report back tomorrow.
The downside of parking your bike up front during the day is that you can’t ride it. And it seems that some people come along to the Buffalo Chip during rally week and then just spend nearly all their time here partying. I’m thinking that I might get the Trooper a front row spot for Rob Zombie on Wednesday, and make that my laundry day.
For tonight’s show, I put the kilt on again. It’s a bit of fun, and serves as a great ice-breaker. Lots of people, both male and female, ask about it, and I’ll say again, the best bit about travelling is meeting people, so it’s all good. When I first up the kilt on, Six Pack quipped “He’s got legs.”
Quite a few people ask if they can take a photo either of me or with me. Most times, I’ll just let them, but sometimes, I’ll say only if they take a photo with my camera as well. The young lady below asked for the photo with me, not the other way around, and then had her boyfriend take the shot.
Jackyl thinks I have an unfair advantage.
He has to try to drum up trade another way.
I spotted someone else in a ulitikilt, I wonder if he gets the same attention. I’d spoken to him the previous evening. He was American.
One of the questions that everyone, male or female, seems most interested in is what I’m wearing under the kilt. I even caught one girl this evening pointing her iphone camera under my kilt and taking a covert snap. Well I guess she’ll get an eyeful of what was under my kilt. I hope she isn’t disappointed. But seriously American ladies, do you think this is acceptable? Would it be OK for me to point my camera up your skirts?
But then again I’m guessing some girls would appreciate the attention, such as Jackyl’s only taker of the evening. At 41, with 2 kids, she was proud of her assets.
The bikes had parked up early, and Jackyl only just made it in before they closed the inner area to any more bikes. The crowd, however, trickled in slowly.
The reception for the first band of the evening, 4 On The Floor, was luke warm. But by the time Halestorm came on, the crowd had swelled and was easily won over by Halestorm’s rocking opening numbers, and Lzzy Hale’s patter tailored perfectly for this biker crowd. One of her remarks was American Boy being inspired by this crowd of bikers. Halestorm stormed Sturgis. I think they’ll be asked to came back.
By the time the night’s main event, ZZ Top, came on, the place was packed. The standing concert-goers were squeezing in amongst the bikes. I must admit I was very glad I’d brought the Trooper along to the show, because it gave me a fixed and guarenteed spot to get back to whenever I needed to visit the foul porta-potty, or the bar for another cold beer.
ZZ Top have been frequent visitors to Sturgis over their 40 year career, and it’s still the same 3 guys from Texas. The Chip crowd loved them. The roar of noisy V-twins deafeningly showing the crowds appreciation after every song, especially the big hits like Legs, Gimme All Your Loving and Sharp Dressed Man. And the Trooper was there revving with the rest. The encore of La Grange and Tush would have got a standing ovation in an opera house. Here it got a cacophony of several hundred bikes competing to rev the loudest and longest.
Camping on site allows the concert-goers to drink (and smoke – there was a definite whiff in the air last night), and still ride their bikes and golf carts back to their tents. But it’s so busy here after the concert, that it is all 1st gear, feet down, stop-start stuff, so not too much chance of serious accidents. Nevertheless I checked my beer intake a bit because I was riding the Trooper the less than half mile back to my tent.
Once back at my tent the band at a nearby bar kicked off, and without immediate chance of sleep, I sat in my tent doorway to watch the lightning storms in the distance. When the band stopped after about an hour, I retired, but discovered that a drunken arse-hole is a drunken ass-hole the world over, only the spelling changes. The shouting and screaming continued for hours, but the worse bit was the couple of dudes at different places on the camp competing with who could rev their engines loudest and longest. It was like coyotes answering each other. It went on past 4am. I’m surprised someone didn’t get a slap. But that’s the Buffalo Chip, party central of the Sturgis rally, and to be honest, I’d much rather be here than anywhere else.