It's been a good ride so far!

Since I was just a kid all I have ever wanted to do was to make people laugh or just smile. As a child, an educator sent a note home to my parents. It read; If your son thinks he is going to get through life making people laugh he is in for a RUDE AWAKENING! He is not living up to his potential. WELL, I'M STILL NOT! But at this site you will at least see me try. From the heart, thank you for even being interested, it means the world to me. I always say, I have not a single fan but many a friend!

Monday, October 31, 2011

My Untold Sturgis Tale!

As I get my body and my mind ready for Daytona Beach Biketoberfest at the Broken Spoke, I couldn't help but think about this past Sturgis Rally at the Spoke.  Originally, I was going to write a small piece about it for Cycle Source Mag but Chris Callen gave me the opportunity to write about GTP's art show there and I chose that instead.  So here you go, Jack Shit's lost and untold Sturgis!  I hope you enjoy the ride.
I had gotten the go ahead email along with a signed contract, I was not going to be a spectator at the 71st annual Sturgis Rally but I was coming back to work once again for the Broken Spoke family and I was pumped.   The plan was to mix it up this year, the one and only Jay Allen would be hosting downtown at the Original Broken Spoke and I would be hosting up at the County Line Spoke!  With the exception of checking in with Jay and going on the Cycle Source Ride last year, I had never even stepped foot in the bar.  I did however ride my knucklehead right through it! How could I not?  You can't come to the Broken Spoke and not ride through the bar!

Before the gig was set in stone, the plan was to ride up in a pack with friends and pick up stragglers along the way and roll on in to Sturgis big!  Plans are meant to be broken!  Although there is nothing like runnin in a pack with your peeps, it is also a recipe for disaster when you have to be somewhere at a specific time.  I had to be at the Spoke and didn't want to leave anyone broken down on the side of the road, or God forbid in an accident.  The plan changed, I would ride up with just one guy.  I would ride up with one BIG, FUCKING HEAVILY ARMED GUY!  That should be the answer to any trouble along the way!  We decided the leave late in the afternoon, a day early for the "what if" factor and thank God we did! 

All the hours of work that went in to turning the PICKLE SICKLE  nearly in to a full on FXRT was worth it.  I say nearly because the last of the parts that I needed to do it were being delivered to me in Sturgis.  As you can see, I had everything on that bike wrapped in heavy duty contractor bags just in case we caught some rain on the way.  JUST IN CASE, what an understatement.  I took no shakedown ride on the bike after finishing the work, the shakedown ride to see if we had put everything together correctly would be 1400 miles for the PICKLE SICKLE!
Now here is something to make note of, a little Jack Shitlosophy if you will!  When you are someone who can't carry a weapon, a bullet or so much as a big stick, your next best bet is to travel with your very own Grizzly Bear, a very angry Grizzly Bear!  As far as I'm concerned, the only thing that we could have crossed paths with that may have been trouble for us was a MAMA GRIZZLY!  We shot some pics for posterity and we were about to pull out for Sturgis when a bit of common sense hit me.  HEY ASSHOLE, YOU DIDN'T EVEN BRING A JACKET!  You see, I was in a Phoenix frame of mind.  I hadn't needed a jacket since March and hell it was summer in Sturgis too right?   What's funny is, nearly every time I do any type of hard freeway running, I wear a leather "just in case".  The last thing you want to do is go down in Az. on a road filled with gravel everywhere and if you are lucky enough to make it off the road to the "soft" dirt, you are damn near guaranteed to smash your ass full on in to a cactus!  Come to think of it, I guess there is a chance we could hit some sprinkles on the way up as well and I do own a rain suit, I'll bring that too.  Now, one other problem, WHERE THE FUCK IS MY RAIN SUIT?  I live in AZ, we have 350 days of sunshine per year.  I have not seen my rain suit in 6 years!  After a short delay from running around like a penis without a head in the blistering August heat, I found all that I needed.  They say the trick to rain gear is to have it with you, this way you will never need it.  It is only when you don't have it that the universe will piss down on you.  For the record, WHOEVER SAYS THAT IS GOD DAMNED WRONG! 

We made it 42 miles from the house, up up up the mountain heading towards Payson, AZ and the Mogollon Rim and we already hit rain!  45 minutes ago, I was standing on my driveway in blazing sunshine without a care in the world or a cloud in the sky.  By the time we were 2 hours in to the ride, I had on my shirt, my hoodie, my leather and my rain gear.  I had to put the bubble shield on my helmet, put on a second pair of gloves and dump water out of my boots, WTF?  I figured we would cross the mountain in the cool night time temps, I sure was right about that, it was REALLY cool.  We didn't even make it 100 miles in to New Mexico and we had to call it quits for the night.  I was half crippled, exhausted, cold and had a knot in my low back that was feeling like I was being fisted by a T Rex and to top it off, my left side gas cap that really isn't a gas cap was leaking when the tank was full.  Day one came to a close with us grabbing a hotel with the plan of getting up super early the next day and blasting straight on through to Sturgis!  From the next morning on and having ridden through some of the most beautiful country on God's green earth, this is the last and only photo that I took the entire trip to Sturgis while standing on two feet!
My evil genius had paid off!  I decided to leave early for the what if and just in case factors and  experienced them both.  As you can see in the pic above, it was a spectacular day for riding!  Now we are going to make up some miles, burn up some freeway and be in Sturgis a few days early!  We rode a few hundred miles and were making great time.  We stopped about 150 miles outside of Albuquerque for lunch, hell, we were kicking ass and taking names, what could go wrong?  STUPID QUESTION!  I snapped this shot of the Grizzly Bear on the road after lunch and even managed to capture a few of me and my bubble. 

Those clouds, all puffy and nice turned jet black within the hour!  The temps dropped again and the sky just vomited on us!  Non stop, blinding sheets of rain and virtually one long hydroplane all the way to Colorado City!  So here I am, jammin as fast as the FXR will carry me and making my peace with God for all the wrong that I've ever done and asking him to just ride with me for a while!  It rained so hard that it was coming down between the front of the helmet and the bubble at 80 mph, how is that possible?  As we approached the bottom of a grade and the base of a bridge I couldn't even see the lane lines any longer and I was just thinking to myself, you should have taken the truck you stupid fuck!  With that, I hit what I can only describe as a small lake at the foot of that bridge!  The bike stayed on top of the water for a bit but the second I came off the throttle, the bike went full on sideways to the right and my balls instantly retreated right up in to my abdomen and I knew right then and there, I WAS DONE!  I guess either the old rule of "objects in motion tend to stay in motion" or God was still chilling out on the back seat for the ride, but somehow, the wave of water straightened the bike right back out!  I rode on for a few minutes and I could feel the pins and needles that had instantly arrived mid forehead begin to ease up.  We were only 67 miles from our last fuel stop and I didn't care, I hit the first exit that I could see.  Not the first exit that I passed, because the weather was so bad that I actually rode right past a massive neon green sign that read EXIT!  As I pulled in, I thought for sure that I was going to have to eat shit about stopping!  You know how it goes right?  What's the matter pussy, afraid of a little rain or something?  As I pulled off the helmet and turned around, my buddy Mike was white as a ghost!  He looked horrified and he said and I quote, "hey man, can we just call it quits"?  "Well sure I guess, if you want to be a big pussy"!  Meantime, I'm thinking inside, THANK GOD!!!  Second day, second hotel!  This shit was unheard of!  In the hotel by 9pm, a great night sleep and up at 6 am and back on the road.  I laid in bed, eating the most God awful gas station pizza with one hand and blow drying my gloves and two pair of boots with the other!  It rained until around 10am the next morning!  This was madness!  I would call this once again, DELAY OF GAME!

We made up some serious mileage that day!  The entire time the only bikes we saw on the road were going in the other direction.  Packs of bikes heading the other way.  Every single time I saw a pack all I could think of was that somewhere, somehow, I got off course and was going the wrong damn direction!  We made it all the way through Colorado and we were not far in to Wyoming when it was time for a fuel stop.  The sky ahead of us looked truly deadly!  As we pulled in, each and every single pump had at least one or more bikes parked at it and everyone was putting on every bit of gear they had to face this battle ahead.  I was not going to re-live the events of the last two days again.  I went in to the truck stop and bought some duct tape and asked the guy behind the counter for as many plastic shopping bags that he could spare.  I went back to the pump and installed my new rain boots.  I looked at the big Grizzly with me and he just shook his head and asked, "ya ready for this"?  We pulled on to the freeway and by the time we hit the bottom of the ramp, with all the gear I had on, it was feeling like I was being shot with rock salt from a shotgun!  Within 2 miles of entering the freeway, it crawled to a dead stop.  In the few minutes that it had rained, it had already caused a massive accident it was so bad.  As we passed on by, there were two pick up trucks upside down and a semi jack knifed between them.  What the hell was I doing?  We knuckled up, face the demon and rode on and what do you know, we rode right at of it.  The storm was massive but it was moving on an angle and we cut the first corner right off of it and got past it!  All of a sudden, it went from 51 degrees to 94!  Off to the side of the road to take off all the damn gear!

Somewhere around 90 miles or so from Dead Wood, South Dakota I stopped to gas up, piss and check my phone.  As I listened to my messages, I come upon one from GTP! " Dude"!  "Where the fuck are you"?  I sure hope you are okay, it is horrible here in Sturgis!  A massive storm just came through and CRUSHED US!  Tents are down, tarps are gone and all the porta johns are laying on their sides!  We were so close that I could taste it.  There was no way, come hell or high water that we were not making it to the  Broken Spoke Campground this night, no way, no God damned way!  All we had to do was cross up and over one big ass mountain, in the dark.  We just had to watch out for deer every 1/2 mile.  I'm from Jersey, I know how to watch for deer, let's go!  What I hadn't figured on was the temps.  I thought I was just tired and cold and being a big ass Pansy!  We stopped just prior to Deadwood and I said to my Grizzly Bear, "holy shit I'm cold" and he responded with "you should be, my temp reading was 47"!  WTF?  Is this not summer?  As we rolled on in to the COUNTY LINE SPOKE, it looked like a war zone!  All I could think about was getting in to my cabin, pulling off my frozen clothes and crawling in to my sleeping bag!  As I rolled on up to the country store the one and only, greatest night security guard in the history of bikerdom was sitting on a rocking chair, the legendary Brother Speed and by his side, Mikey from the WALL OF DEATH!  Who do I see about getting my cabin Brother Speed?  "Hell if I know man" was the answer!

So here we stand, wet, frozen, exhausted from a 700+ mile ride that day and the thought of even getting back on to the bike was inconceivable!  Brother Speed being the class act that he is offered me his cabin to crash in for the night but I wouldn't have it.  We hung on that porch for a few, I ate a gas station cookie and it was incredible!  I chugged down some water and then I swore I saw a skinny gray ghost approach and hell if I wasn't right!  Coming out of the fog was GEORGE THE PAINTER!  I got ya all hooked up brother, I've got a soaking wet picnic table for you to sleep on, let's go up the hill!  Okay, I'll ride up the hill, how do I know where to go?  "You will see a motor home that says FUCK YOUR HOA on it", that's us!  Here I thought he was screwing with me, but sure as shit as I pulled up the hill, sliding in every damn direction in the mud, thinking to myself, I stayed up on two wheels the entire way and I am going to crash right here at the Spoke!  Chris and GTP hooked a brother up.  They set up a tent for me to crash in until I could get situated with my cabin in the morning!  It looks like the decision to leave early was the right one to make!

As you can see here in the very first photo taken the next morning, I was beat down, broke and used up and I only had two weeks left till I got home!  The one and only PICKLE SICKLE kicked ass!  A bit of gas in the water but no worse for the wear!  For the record, even with all that biblical rain, everything stayed totally dry!  I've got to admit, the THE SPOKE hooked me up man!  I think I got the very best cabin on the property!  Check this shit out!
Each day I awoke to Bear Butte, it was inspiring!  The forecast for the Sturgis rally was rain, all day, every day!  If it was anything like the ride up, it was going to be one hell of a bad week and an even worse ride home!  I took that first day on property to get accustomed to the lay of the land so to speak, take my trip down town to say hello to everyone at the down town Original Spoke.  I have to admit that seeing the main lot of the Spoke empty without Cycle Source and  the Limp Nickie Lot there poked a hole in my heart!  I was so excited and pumped up to finally be hosting the Broken Spoke County Line and all the people that I cared about were going to be all off at other places, doing their own thing this year.  The "Lot" was down at the Buffalo Chip and everyone else was scattered about Sturgis.  The only thing that I could hope for was that at one time or another, they would find some free time and make their way over to the The Spoke

Even empty, the Broken Spoke County Lineis a magical and mystical place.  There is just something about the property, Bear Butte standing guard and watching down on us all, the rolling hills, hot rod lake and so much more that  it just grabs you and takes hold.  Don't even get me started on the pool!  For the record, as of this day, I've never even so much as had my toe in the damn thing!  There is just something so amazing about being at this place and watching it go from near empty to jam packed full!  Many of you don't ever get to see the property "at rest" so to speak, most of us arrive well in to the rally!  Take a look at how gorgeous this place truly is.

Whenever I work a rally or an event, my "what if" strikes me to the core again!  What if the crowds suck, what if the weather is bad, what if I SUCK, etc, etc, etc?  With the weather forecast looming, all I could think of was a massive storm coming all week and having the entire campground in the bar non stop.  What the hell would I do to entertain all of these people whose trips were ruined by bad weather?  Perhaps it was Bear Butte but in the entire week, we got a total of 25-35 minutes of rain, spread over two days!  Each day I would watch the massive storms forming all around us.  I would get calls from people all over Sturgis telling me how hard they got hit.  The hail damage done to bikes and how tents were just blown away and yet each day, it passed right by the Spoke!  The rally Gods were shining on the Spoke this year!  All I kept hearing from all over town was that the numbers were down, it was going to be a "soft year" and people were bumming out.  I was getting traffic reports that there was not even traffic downtown.  NO TRAFFIC IN STURGIS?  How is that even possible?  I could only respond with "well, it's jammin out here at the Spoke"! 
By the first full night of business my worries had ceased!  This was going to be a great rally one way or another!  I had yet to ever work with the folks from Target Logistics and I have to admit that I was a bit apprehensive but that was short lived!  I have to say that they treated me well and like I have been part of the Spoke family for years. 

All the pieces of the Broken Spoke puzzle for the 2011 rally were coming together and fitting in to place perfectly.  Things were looking great.  I have to give up some mad props though, right now, before I forget to the entire American Wall of Death family!  For the very first time ever, I got the chance to spend time with this incredible group of people who travel the country keeping America's first extreme sport alive and honest to its tradition!  I must say this and it is really important.  One night early in to the rally at around 4 am, I rode the PICKLE SICKLE over to the wall to see everyone hanging out.  We began chatting and they had asked if I had seen the condition of the flat track?  NOPE!  Well the grass and the weeds are chest high.  Well that sucks!  If we can get some golf carts and stuff, we could probably flatten it down, tomorrow we'll take a look.  Forever, I will remember as the words came out of my mouth, "let's ride there now"!  Oh my!  So let me just say this to you, NEVER, EVER, GO FLAT TRACK RACING AT 4AM IN THE MORNING WITH ANYONE WHO USES "DEATH" IN THEIR DAMN NAME!!!!  Please, don't ever forget that!  Let me just say that the PICKLE SICKLE had to spend some time being repaired after this night's events!  All day, I did whatever it was that I could to support the Wall and each night, these maniacs came in to the bar to do whatever they could to support me!

  This entire family and that is just what they are, are some of the finest people I've gotten to know and I am so proud to call them my friends now!

We rocked on all day, partied our asses off, then broke in to a big concert every night until midnight and then the mayhem began!  Each night just before the headline band went on we would finish the party up in the main bar, announce that we were moving down the hill and then rock the better part of the night away.  For the first few nights we hosted a miss "this or that" contest and the crowds loved it, both the men and the ladies.  Each day got better, each night got insane and each night I got less and less rest.  There are very few things left that surprise me anymore but I had one major one in store for me at the end of the first night!  I had two porn stars living in the cabin next to me!  The kicker was, they only worked as a team!  OH GREAT!  They in fact turned out to be really nice and the guys with them, just as nice.  It was always easy, no matter how buzzed I was upon my return to my cabin at night to know just which one was mine.  Mine was the one next to the cabin that had the line of band members, roadies and guests lined up trying to peak through the window!

The girls were known as the Evil Pin Ups, you can check them out online.  Although a great many of my friends as I wrote earlier, had been staying at other places for the rally, I was fortunate enough to have one of my dearest friends not only staying there, but having his incredible art work on display in the Legends Gallery!  The one and only George The Painter was right there for support every time I thought I wasn't living up to my potential or stressing about some stupid shit!  His show in the Gallery was amazing and we had a private, invite only party to kick off his show!  It truly was nice having him there!

With each day that passed by, more and more dear friends stopped in to support me.  With each knowing smile that I received, the pressure lifted more and more off of my shoulders and I was able to loosen up, be myself and kick fuckin ass!

Each and every single day, I was rewarded with the gift of friendship.  The gift of seeing old ones and making new ones.  Sturgis is an amazing place where relationships are formed and bonds either sealed or broken!  It is a place where there is no supervision and you are left to your own devices.  In Sturgis, the truth comes to the surface.  For some, their truth was giving up on their plans to help out a stranger with a broken bike.  For others, their truth was showing the world what they were really made of.  Proving that they were not there for the bikes, the brotherhood or even the party, they were just there to profit and move their shitty little lives forward and benefit from the hard work of their alleged friends.  The scum floats to the top in Sturgis, thank God for it!  It is a make you or break you kind of place.  For the ones who it made, God bless you, you deserve only the good.  For the ones that it broke, FUCK YOU, you never deserved to be there anyway!  There is an old saying and it holds so true, SOME FOLKS JUST CAN'T HANDLE THE FREEDOM!  

Each day at the rally just got better and better.  Everyone worked their asses off.  That is the thing most people don't realize.  The work that goes in to the rally before us retards even get there to start fucking it all up is incredible and after the rally is done, the work continues to clean up after us.  Don't get me wrong, I'm in no way complaining!  I would not trade the job that I do for anything on earth!  I get paid to bring smiles to people's faces, what could be better than that?  The one and only Jay Allen says, WE ARE MAKING MEMORIES FOR OUR GUESTS and it is absolutely true.  It is our job to make good ones for you, not cause bad ones.  These are wise words!

I could go on and on and lay out the rally day by day but who the fuck needs a blog that takes two hours to read?  What I can say is that each time I get the great honor of hosting the Broken Spoke and being invited in to the family, I myself am left with amazing memories!  The rally came to an end and I awoke in my cabin in a panic because I had over slept!  No wait, it's over!  I opened the door of my cabin, turned left, lit up a smoke and took in one long last good look at Bear Butte.  This place truly is magical!  I grabbed up my dirty laundry and separated it from what was left that was clean.  I began packing but had to stop each time someone poked their heads in the door to say goodbye!  We made it through damn near the entire rally without hardly even a drop of rain compared to the rest of Sturgis and its surrounding areas!  Literally thousands of people placed their hands in mine or high fived or fist bumped me saying thank you and see you next year, THIS PLACE IS AMAZING and I agree!  I loaded up my shit in the RV that GTP had come up in.  Souvenirs, laundry, bike parts etc., all packed in to the truck ready to go.  I called my girl and said, "baby, I'm coming home"!  As I fired up the bike, I took one long, last good look around and soaked it in!  It was time to head home and I was desperate to see my girl, but honestly, it's really hard to leave.  It truly is hard to shake of "RALLY FEVER"!    I guess another reason that I really didn't want to leave was;
Can you take a guess which direction I was heading?  Yeah, you guessed right!  Straight back in to belly of the beast!  I made it from my cabin back on down to the general store, said good bye and then headed up to the main bar.  Walking in I could not help but to feel a combination sadness and joy.  It was like looking over a battlefield that you were victorious on!  You have the joy from the victory but the sadness of the men you lost while trying to attain said victory!  I put on my rain jacket and said to the lone guy standing there when he asked, "what no pants", hell no, I'm still trying out that whole if you got rain gear you won't need it theory.  I rolled up to where the driveway meets 79, turn the front wheel left and cracked the throttle.  I made it no more than 200 feet and the sky began to piss on me!  The universe sure has some sense of humor!  I didn't stop until I got in to town to put the rain pants on.  By the time I had hit downtown and was at the stop sign in front of the Original Broken Spoke it had stopped raining!  Son of a Bitch!  Three hard, long days of riding and I rolled on back in to Payson, AZ.  I had to stop and see Long Jon and Pinky at Sacred Skin to make sure they too made it home, thank them for hangin out with me and take a piss!  It was like a mini Sturgis reunion because before I could even fire the bike back up, GTP was once again standing in front of me!  We hugged and off I went, I was a man on a mission to make it home!

Sturgis 2011, the 71st annual rally was 99% incredible and 1% suck ass!  I'm sure you guys have read that story!  L,L,H&R my friends..... 

Until we see each other on the road,

Keep the wind in your face,
Tits in your back
and The Man off your ass!

Your friend,
Jack Shit

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