It was my trip to Sturgis in August of 2016 when DJ, Gary and myself stopped for gas in Beloit Kansas when we crossed paths with Staci Wilt. Of course we had no idea at the time what kind of Motorcycle Industry insider she was, or was about to become. But this riding motorcycles has a way making paths cross, building friendships and expanding horizons. And it seems no matter which way I turn on the virtual highway of social media, I see Staci doing her thing. Hey, I know her!
I have a confession. When I first walked over to her at the gas pump to see if she needed anything on her solo trip to the rally, (because Gary, DJ and myself had enough packed between the three of us to supply shelter for a small city) I wasn’t expecting her response. With the small black bag on the back of her Dyna, she had everything she needed. As I walked back to my RV of a Harley, I realized the insanity of my packing skills. 30 miles down the road at the Largest Ball of Twine, we bumped into Staci again – only this time I dazzled her with my familiarity of the area when she asked me directions. And just like that, she was gone.
As I’ve mentioned, she has been building her profiles and making those important appearances at rallies and events, all the while her Dyna was in the shop for a major engine rebuild. But that’s what you have to do. Be seen, be present and be creative. She has all those bases covered. And she knows her stuff.
Her latest endeavor is called Ride to Food. We as bikers like to go places and if you’ve seen my profile, (and not my social media profile) you would see I like to eat along the way. But let’s stay away from those common food chains and strip mall eateries. Lets get together for a beer and a taste of local flavor that requires some searching and exploring. She does some of the legwork for us, and that saves time and broadens our experiences on the road. And she’s also a straight shooter telling it like it is.
Although our paths crossed just that one day, I consider Staci a friend. She gets it. She knows the why’s and where’s of the motorcycling communities and lives the lifestyle. Follow her on social media and her blogs and buy a t-shirt from her. Her blog is worth a read. Until we meet again Staci!
Sometimes you just need to get away and I think that time is coming for me. Lately, I’ve been trying to figure out if a short ride to wherever could possibly put a damper on this feeling but one thing is for sure, that well worn path from home to work just isn’t cutting it. I’m known for saying that we need to travel outside the familiar landscape that surrounds us to truly feel like we’ve gone someplace, and this time of year gets me looking off into the horizon. State lines, mountains and oceans for a Kansas boy would be a good start.
But the usual routes I’ve taken are getting to look a lot like the familiar roads I travel around home. I can always appreciate the feeling of chatting it up with someone I don’t know at a gas station in a town with no name.
With Sturgis less than sixty days a way, I know the probability is high that I will return to the Black Hills. But the usual routes I’ve taken are getting to look a lot like the familiar roads I travel around home. I can always appreciate the feeling of chatting it up with someone I don’t know at a gas station in a town with no name.
I’m not sure if it’s intentionally that I ride to sort my thoughts and to feel the wind as it blows through my thinning hair, or if all of this happens naturally because I ride. I do know that as I get a few hundred miles from home I feel the gentle release of my home town as it eases its steady hold on me and the overwhelming desire to go even further take its place. I’ve always wanted to travel this great country without an agenda and with the freedom to follow whatever whim comes my way, but the reality of work and responsibilities can make one feel guilty for even trying to.
So back to this year’s Sturgis Rally; I know this year it will be different because of my current frame of mind. By carefully planning to not make any plans, I’m hoping to change it up enough to convince myself that this trip won’t be like any before. Sure, there will be some sort of general plan but for the most part I just want to point and shoot without feeling like I need to be somewhere at a specific time. It should be easier for me to fly by the seat of my pants, and I do a pretty good job of making as few plans as possible, but there’s always that voice in my head secretly planning and weighing my options.
So as I go about my daily routine for the next few weeks, I’ll be planning on what to pack for the trip to South Dakota. Secretly I’ll be making a few decisions on which way to go, but the weather will also have a hand in this. You have to be flexible enough to go around the bad stuff if need be. But other than that, I’m winging it. We’ll see how long that lasts.
But one truth that is hard to stretch, let alone find the words for – is the natural beauty as the day begins and ends.
A small break in the winter weather found me riding my bike the last couple of days. Yeah, it’s cold in the mornings but the ride home was generally a nice one and it also helps not only physically, but mentally that the sun is hanging around a little longer to see me home. But the mornings have always been one of my favorite times to ride, and even though the temperatures keep you honest this time of year, it is when the road is mostly mine.
The last couple of days have had me thinking about the serious side of life. There are a certain amount of expectations required by any responsible adult and I would consider myself somewhat responsible. The fact that some people may think by me riding a motorcycle I smell like exhaust and alcohol, I’m wearing the same clothes since the last beer-drinking-bonfire-slash-rally and I’m itching to pick a fight if you look at me sideways. Well I do smell like exhaust a good portion of the time but aside from that I’m just a normal guy. And I have a clean shirt on.
If there is one thing about a motorcycle blog, it gives you plenty of time to write about the sunrise and sunsets on a regular basis. Since most days start and end in this manner it almost seems redundant to mention, but I do anyway. Mostly because they are just that beautiful. Throw in a couple of local landmarks into the shot and anyone who grew up here and around White City can take it in as well. Although we all share the same sunrise and sunsets, we don’t always have the time to take it all in.
It’s hard to think about those long hot summer days when a morning ride might start out in the 30’s here in February, but they’re coming. Soon, these cold morning rides will be another memory and when they get shared to a fellow rider, I might even embellish how cold it really was. But one truth that is hard to stretch, let alone find the words for – is the natural beauty as the day begins and ends.
Well, it’s getting closer to the Sturgis Rally and plans are being made. There is always the buzz of first-timers and regulars who are planning to go, as well as talk of not making it this year. What to take, what not to take and what will be forgotten is always a subject of conversation but the reality is half of what you take you probably don’t need. Who’s to say that once you get there you’ll wish you had a particular item, but who cares, right? I forget something when walking from the living room to the kitchen and I do it quite frequently, so cut me a little slack when it’s a trip you make once a year. In the end, it is just a minor inconvenience, unless it’s the tent in which you are sleeping in.
I don’t know about you, but even as plans are made and the trip is shaping up, there is always the “CANCEL WITHOUT WARNING CLAUSE” written into the Sturgis trip. It can be for even the smallest reason, but it is there right at the bottom of the list of things to pack. I’ve seen bikers call it at the eleventh hour and that’s okay – it happens. There will always be next year, and the same plans will be made, the same stuff will be left on the garage bench and the option to pull the plug will be there. Let’s just hope we don’t have to pull the plug.
This year I plan on taking a couple of detours, maybe through Colorado for a change of scenery making the long way home a little longer. Again, plans change, but for the most part that is motorcycling. Who knows, maybe the trip to Sturgis will end up being a trip to Colorado and the Rally will have to wait until next year (not quite pulling the plug). The number one rule for riding your bike is there are no rules. Well, there are rules – just ask the State Police when they pull you over, but I think you know what I mean. Point the motorcycle in the general direction you want to go, and see what happens. The trip will make itself happen and you can sit back and enjoy the ride. We tend to complicate things more than they need to be and it’s those hard plans that make the trip, uh, harder. Nobody likes harder.
So when you find yourself packing and making plans on where you need to be by a certain time, or telling yourself “I better not forget that” and “we should have been there by now,” you are forgetting what it’s all about. Go where you want, change your mind if you want to and let the ride happen. Sturgis? Sure. But I’ve always said Sturgis is where I turn around, it’s the ride that’s the best part. And what about the forgotten stuff on the work bench at home? It didn’t affect the trip one bit. There should be a Cabela’s down the road, shouldn’t we be there by now?
A couple of years ago I rode to Anamosa Iowa for J&P Cycles open house. The end of June was perfect and the weather was good with a slight chance of showers for part of the trip. But no worries, with warm weather a little shower wouldn’t matter. I left after work on my Heritage and planned on making Des Moines Iowa to spend the night. I don’t normally take the interstate but I needed to make a little time so look out big trucks and speeding cars!
A nice night in Des Moines and back on the road to Anamosa. You know at the time I had not ridden through Iowa on a motorcycle, so I was looking forward to it. It was also going to be my first trip to J&P’s and I couldn’t wait. The National Motorcycle Museum was also on my list, so quite frankly I couldn’t get there fast enough.
Now let’s be serious. We’ve all been to things like this, but as I pulled into the parking lot of motorcycles, I was amazed at the turn-out. The people working the event were directing people and it seemed like a well organized group. Very impressed! But wait this was just the beginning. In a box not far from me was a four inch square piece of plywood to put under my kickstand. what a great touch. That says to me that these people understand me and what is important to bikers in general. It’s weird to talk about a piece of wood like this but in that four inch square it might have well said “welcome my friend, we don’t want your bike to fall over”. Nice touch and I haven’t even walked through the split-rail gate to get to the open house.
The day was spent walking and talking to a lot of vendors and folks milling around. It was a beautiful day for watching a stunt show and some synchronized riding. All in all a great time. Fun and professional at the same time. Afterwords, a trip to the National Motorcycle Museum was just amazing. The history within those walls is a lifetime of labor and love for all that maintain it and enjoy it.
The trip was great. The food was good and the host John and Jill Parham, their son Zach and crew were awesome. Thanks for all you guys do and the passion you have for our sport, it’s history and future. You are good people.
If you ever get a chance, go. I mean it. GO! And tell the folks at J&P Cycle’s thanks. See you again this summer!