As a lot of you who’ve followed my misadventures over the years know, every trip Reggie an’ I take is an adventure. An’ the longer the trip, the more the adventure seems to plague us. Maybe it’s good karma, but someone always steps up to help us an’ we not only get back on the road, we make new friends in the bargain. That’s how we met “Nevada Paul” Finch, who’s become one of our best friends. Our trip to Sturgis this year was no exception, an’ we had a great time with great people in spite of a setback or two. Due to truck trouble we had to leave our big trailer an’ tools with Paul an’ take his 14-foot trailer. (Yeah… I know. But we took three bikes, an’ you can only ride one at a time, ya know?)
We joined Arlen Ness an’ the West Coast Hamster caravan in Mammoth Mountain on Saturday, an’ I got to visit a while with my amigo Keith “Bandit” Ball, of Easyriders and Bikernet.com fame, who I don’t get to see often enough. We had time for a coupla drinks an’ a bull session before duty called him back to the Bikernet digs.
Sunday morning we headed for Ketchum in Sun Valley, Idaho, for two days where a party an’ lunch ride were planned.
Sun Valley is nestled in the beautiful Sawtooth Mountains, an’ lunch was set up at Redfish Lake. It was about a 100-mile round trip an’ the scenery was spectacular! We ate burgers at Redfish Lake Lodge an’ then headed back to the hotel in Ketchum.
On the lunch ride in Sun Valley, Reggie’s trike developed a really bad noise in the valve train that I would’ve bet my last nickel was a disintegrated roller bearing on one of the lifters. It was a really bad rattle, accompanied by a loss of power. With no tools on hand, I put it back in the trailer, and we continued on to Missoula, Montana, an’ then down into Billings before headin’ for our home base at the Holiday Inn in Spearfish.
On the way to Spearfish, we stopped at a Harley dealer in Wyoming, an’ they pulled the lifters, cams, timing gears an’ oil pump out. They found some wear, but couldn’t find anythin’ bad enough to cause the noise it’d developed. They were very courteous, accommodatin’ an’ fair in the labor cost to tear it down, but were pretty steep in what they wanted to put it back together so she could at least ride it till it exploded. After discussin’ the cost, an’ no guarantees that the noise would be fixed, we boxed up the parts, an’ back in the trailer it went. I was at my wit’s end, because I knew how much this trip meant to Reggie an’ how badly she wanted to ride.
We arrived in Spearfish on the Saturday before the official start of Rally Week, an’ Reggie was as bummed as anyone on earth has been since the dawn of time. To go all the way to Sturgis an’ not get to ride? That’s just unthinkable! I even considered pullin’ the engine out of my Softail, but again, no tools an’ the hotel frowns on that kind of repair in the parkin’ lot.
Many thanks to my friend Harlan Schillinger for pointin’ us in the right direction; we owe you one, amigo! He told us to take it to Dakota V-Twin, two exits down I-90 from us. We got there Saturday afternoon an’ talked to Nick Cramer, who, along with his father Randal, owns Dakota V-Twin. He told us that he couldn’t get to it that afternoon, but he would have it done for her the next day an’ quoted us one-third of the dealer’s re-assembly estimate. Their tech, John Hudson, stayed until 9:30 on Sunday night to finish up her trike so she could ride the Black Hills, an’ they didn’t charge us a nickel extra. When we picked it up Monday mornin’, the noise was gone, the power was back an’ she ran the livin’ hell out of it all week!
I just can’t let that kind of dedication an’ honesty go without a big “thank you,” an’ if you ever need service or repairs in the Black Hills, just call Dakota V-Twin at 605.717.0009. Whether you’re a local or from clear across the country, you’ll be treated right; I guarantee it.
Lookin’ back on the trip, we got to hang out with a lot of great people like Arlen an’ Bev Ness, Dave Perewitz, Donnie Smith, Paul an’ Susie Yaffe, Rick Fairless, the Shadley Brothers, an’ all our other Hamster friends. We attended a block party an’ barbecue on the infamous “Hamster Hill.” We rode in the annual Hamster Parade from Spearfish to Sturgis with over 300 bikes. We cruised Main Street in Sturgis, rode into Deadwood like Wild Bill an’ even visited Mount Rushmore. We hung out at the Buffalo Chip with Kevin Bean’re, had a couple of brews at the Full Throttle Saloon, an’ brought back enough T-shirts to last 10 years, a bunch of signed posters for our friends, an’ enough memories to last a lifetime! Yeah, I know… I sound like a newbie. But I’ve gone places I never thought I’d go, done things I never thought I’d do an’ made a lot of great friends along the way. That’s what ridin’ is all about!