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Badlands Run 2007

DownUnder Bikernet Reporters Ride To Sturgis

By Doc with photos by Doc and Chris Callen
6/11/2010 2:27:41 AM

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Shot of Val first meeting the Assalt Weapan for the first time in Idaho.


With the Assault Weapon project in full swing following on last year’s world land speed record setting success with Salt Shaker, there was no way Bandit would be riding up to Sturgis this year. Instead, two experienced Bikernet operatives from down under, Glenn Priddle and Doc Robinson were selected to carry out the mission.


After flying in to LA they were briefed on the mission details, equipped with the appropriate Bikernet equipment – most of which is in the prototype stage – as well as being top secret on a strictly ‘need to know’ basis.

The first operational hiccup came when it was discovered that the two scoots that Harley-Davidson were to supply were not available. They had been booked from the LA Press Fleet but somewhere between Melbourne Australia, Milwaukee Wisconsin and Los Angeles California, the message had been distorted. A genuine mistake or sabotage from dark forces? Investigations continue . . . Doc is the Associate and Technical editor of Heavy Duty magazine, Australia’s top biker rag ( and through the rag had brought over a bunch of hard ridin’ and hard partying Aussies, all too ready to wreak their down under brand of havoc on the US biker scene. Bikes had been shipped over and the group was going to be led by Big Tony, a veteran of these trips.


So as not to hold the group up, Bandit kindly let Glenn and Doc borrow two scoots from the Bikernet stable and along with the dozen or so guys and the one babe who made up the tour group, they rolled out of LA on a fine Saturday morning heading up to Big Bear Lake to visit Big Bear Choppers. Deep inside his mountain lair, surrounded by beautiful scenery, expatriate Aussie Kevin Alsop is kicking ass, producing a highly desirable and ultra-cool range of customs.


Kevin – a big bear of a bloke himself – was kind enough to give the group a tour of his facility, a facility crammed with state-of-the-art machinery including a slew of CNC machines and enough other hi tech gear that it looked as much like NASAs’ control room as a bike factory.

Now quality control is a big part of the Big Bear procedures – a critical necessity in the days when these bikes were sold in kit form – and it is carried on in the process of building complete bikes. Kevin’s demonstration and the explanation of how this is carried out is very interesting, even to the non- technically minded guys.



Following the BBC tour the group rode out toward Vegas with Big Tony leading while Glenn and Doc took off to ride back to the Bikernet Cantina. But unfortunately, a little matter of some extensive road works saw the boys take a wrong turn, a fact which they only realised when they saw signs confirming that they were well on the way to San Diego! Long story short: a two hour ride became a six hour ride at an average speed for the distance coming in at 12.5mph – at this rate they’d reach Sturgis sometime in late 2008.


There are worse places to hang around for a day or so than at the Cantina and between the resident eye candy, the Coronas and the Tequila slammers, time went quickly and Monday morning found the boys picking up a couple of 2007 Harley- Davidsons courtesy of the Motor Company. Glenn was astride a blue Road Glide and Doc an Ultra, two comfortable bikes eminently suited for cruising long distances. When heading from LA to Sturgis, Las Vegas is too close not to be visited by the boys from down under. Someone once described Vegas as ‘Disneyland for adults’ and they weren’t far wrong. Having endured the desert heat for some hours the cold beer at the Harley-Davidson went down particularly well as did a giant burger and fries. As for the rest of the evening, well, as they say – ‘what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas’.



After heading North from Vegas and crossing into Utah, the boys took the sensational road from Cedar City through the Cedar Breaks National Monument and then through Escalante and up to Torrey – what a road! What a ride!


It was on this ride that Glenn’s sharp eyes and his superb deer spotting abilities earned him the nickname of Chief Spotted Deer from a grateful Doc. At Torrey they caught up with the miscreants from Heavy Duty tour group where – thanks to ol’ Joe Smith’s boys – only low alcohol beers were available, which makes for lots of trips to the bathroom and very little mellowing effect. (Note to bikers: buy real beer in an adjoining state before crossing into Utah).

broken spoke logo

Builder Breakfast 071



From Torrey, the Bikernet duo split from the main group and headed up to Logan where a night from hell began at a very unhelpful and unfriendly expensive motel. Between a WIFI system that was not operational – despite the motel staff’s assurance that it was – and hence a back track of some thirty miles to book in there, the sour-faced staff were a portent of things to come. Firstly, Doc was booked into a room already occupied by someone else, which the staff first denied and then stuck him with a more expensive room rate and secondly, just as the boys were sitting down to a low-alcohol Corona (again thanks to ol’Joe Smith) a fire up the canyon caused a power failure. No problem, the boys thought, we’ll just sit here over a salad and down a few more beers. Wrong!

After getting a salad of sorts – which Glenn reckons gave him food poisoning – and caused him to spend the night crossing from his bed to the barf room in pitch darkness – the staff huffily announced that the, “Chef had locked up the limes and gone home” and there were no more limes (or lemons) to be had.

“No problem folks, we’ll just switch to Bud or MGD” Glenn said, only to be informed somewhat gleefully that the boys couldn’t get any more beer of any kind. So there they were, up a canyon with; no television, no air-conditioning, no food, no drink and no light to read by – a long dark night lay ahead – followed by a morning drawing out grudging apologies from the motel staff and a dispute over the bill.


The ride up through Logan Canyon is superb, as is the view over Bear Lake and the ride down the mountain into Idaho.

Bear lake

Though a bit of a dampener hit the ride when the boys hit heavy rain. Soaking rain. Incessant rain. And on top of the rain was the fact that giant-brained Doc – despite being on his ninth ride up to Sturgis – had not brought any substantial rain gear. (Will he ever learn?) With Doc soaked to the bone, the boys rolled into Jackson Hole where Doc guaranteed no further rain on the entire trip by purchasing a $146 Harley-Davidson rain suit. Want a recipe for a good night’s fun? Set sixteen or so Aussies up in Jackson’s World Famous Million Dollar Cowboy bar, mix in a handful of Hamsters and let the beer and food flow until the early hours.


Ah yes, imagine how sex starved those early French explorers must have been to imagine those spectacular mountains as ‘big tits’, the literal translation of Grand Tetons. The boys were a bit that way themselves but nevertheless, the Grand Tetons just looked like mountains to them – when the clouds were not obscuring them at least.


Yellowstone is – well Yellowstone; packed with Winnebagos, gawking cage drivers, families producing their own version of American Vacation (and looking freakishly like the Griswalds) and a zillion tourists from all over.


The ride down the hill from the Eastern entrance is always superb despite being always interrupted by road works where Doc incurred the wrath of a road worker by riding up to the front of the long queue of vehicles and attempting to convince her that, “Back home that’s how we do it” – but with no luck at all.


Nevertheless, the boys got a quick start and that long downhill section into Cody was all theirs. Sensational sweepers to be enjoyed at 80-90 mph, a superb road surface, fine weather – what a buzz!



The atmosphere in Cody just before the Sturgis Rally is one of high spirits, anticipation, and the sound of American V-Twins from all over the US, Canada and countries beyond. What Buffalo Bill Cody would have made of this invasion of iron horses is anyone’s guess but he probably would’ve approved. Our intrepid Bikernet pair not only caught up with the Heavy Duty tour folk, but with other Aussies such as the blokes and blokesses from Dandenong HOG and other chapters. Like Jackson, the beer flowed, the music played and a good time was had by all including those who attended a ‘real rodeo’ right here in the heart of cowboy country.


Cody to Sturgis is always a hoot, with thousands of bikes on the road, all heading to the same place for the same reasons, bikes, babes, bands and beer. With the world-wide connections and powerful influence of Bikernet our team was soon ensconced in a comfortable room with the Heavy Duty tour group setting up camp out front at this secret location down a dead-end road under the watchful eye of Glenn as he reported to Bikernet HQ on his cell phone.


With oak trees for shade, a nice lawn to pitch a tent upon and a view of the escarpment from where deer wander down each evening, this place is hard to beat.


Add in a short walk down to Main Street and you have biker heaven. We’ll stop right here as spilling any more details of this secret location is punishable by being forced to ride a 50cc Honda across Death Valley at noon in mid-summer, naked apart from a pair of old flip flops. After setting up camp the group began hitting the bars and the week long party began in earnest!




The evil one, in front of a Bikernet Banner at the Top 50 Rally Park.


There’s not much that can be said about Sturgis that hasn’t been said already and if you have never been, go there next year! Words can never convey the fantastic atmosphere of this Black Hills town during the Rally.


With having a strong presence via banners in many prominent locations as well as the two beautiful Bikernet ladies whose friendly smiles gladdened many a heart and whose bodies . . . well, if you’re a guy you’ll get the point. The vivacious and talented interim Rally Director Pepper Massey informed our operatives that the numbers were down somewhat this year, but through the Bikernet team eyes this made it eminently more enjoyable as for those who did attend, getting around was not the usual grid lock traffic nightmare.


Vendors seemed happy for the most part, reporting high interest along with strong sales, facts which were attributed to the idea that those who did make the effort were serious bikers with fewer dilettantes and wannabees among the masses. Any way you look at it, Sturgis is always a helluva good event and this year was no exception.




The Big One has to be the AMD World Championship of Custom Bike Building held at Champions Park on Lazelle and taken out this year by Sweden’s Stellan Egeland, last year’s third place winner.


The variety is amazing with a whole host of bikes competing from quite a few countries around the world including Japan and much of Europe. The ingenuity and creativity displayed is awesome and even stirs the blood of jaded old bikers like our Bikernet pair, Doc and Glen. This year The HORSE Backstreet Sturgis Invasion Chopper Show was held for the first time and, not unexpectedly, featured for the most part, hard core choppers and bobbers.


The 5th Annual Metzeler Sturgis V-Twin Custom Bike Contest was also held at the Thunderdome and here wide tires held sway on a whole array of brilliant customs. Sculptures in Steel Bike Show was Wednesday’s big attraction at the Thunderdome while down at the Top 50 Rally Park the Legend Top 50 Custom Bike Show boasted some stunningly innovative scoots.


The Harley-Davidson Ride-In Show at Rapid City drew many entries including a fully chromed V-Rod (why?) and a chromed- out Sporty (why again?) among a slew of neat customised street bikes. Of course our old friend the Rat’s Hole Custom Bike Show was held on the Friday and as usual the red carpet was laid out for Bikernet operatives and a warm welcome experienced.


Although some of the bikes had entered in other shows, many were on display for the first time with trophies for a wide range of classes from wonderful to well – downright weird.

As the television pitchman says, “there’s more, much more” that could be said about bike shows including the role that sexy females play at the Rally but that will do us for now.



This is another area where a lot of ground could be covered, and certainly getting to all of them would require an entire battalion of Bikernet operatives, a fact recognized by command centre which recognises and commends the outstanding efforts put in by Glenn and Doc during their visit where they put in long, hard hours in the Bikernet cause. Among the events or special happenings the boys got to was Michael Lichter’s Motorcycle-As-Art Exhibit, “One World Choppers” featured a host of choppers from around the world, outstanding customs each and every one and was a display not to be missed.


The Sturgis Motorcycle Museum put on a special display of the history of patch clubs in America ably demonstrating to those new to the motorcycle scene that there are many clubs who are best described as being riding groups rather than the outlaw kind. Kids & Chrome is a charity event dinner well worthy of support and which has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars toward the Children’s Home Society and to support the Sturgis Motorcycle Hall of Fame. The Hamster’s Ride-In show, held this year at Champions Park is always a Sturgis not-to-be- missed happening and the sight of hundreds of yellow t-shirt clad guys riding in on hordes of outstanding customs is a memorable event.



No where else could you meet such a collection of world famous bike builders as at the Sturgis Rally & Races. Previous World Champions such as Roger Goldammer and Chicara Nagata were readily available at the AMD facility, while most of the famous faces from the Biker Build Off series were manning displays at their various stands in and around Sturgis. At the Billy Lane Biker’s Breakfast (a charity event) you could meet nearly all of them in one place and have posters signed and pictures autographed. And ya know, almost without exception, they are a nice bunch of blokes and a credit to the motorcycle industry.



Being located in the middle of the beautiful Black Hills a huge plus and a big drawcard for the Sturgis Rally, with winding roads in all directions. Many publications available in Sturgis during the Rally list these and contain maps so the choices are many. Must sees include Mt Rushmore and Crazy Horse monuments and the moonscape geography of the famous Badlands.

Bikernet operative Glenn took off on the Thursday to re-acquaint himself with the area, taking a loop from Sturgis to the famous Wall, through the Badlands and on to Scenic. From there he swung back via the absolutely spectacular Iron Mountain Rd, then through Custer State Park with roadside hordes of buffalo adding to the scenery, then via the Needles Highway to Hill City, finally heading North to Deadwood and then back to Sturgis, a round trip of some 320 miles. There are also quite a number of organized rides held during the Rally including the well attended Mayor’s Ride, this year’s inaugural Sturgis Women’s Ride, the Kids & Chrome Charity ride – the list is long and the choices manifold.



Held at the Rushmore Plaza Civic Centre in Rapid City this popular event showcases the new products and the new model year bikes. Attention this year focussed around the new Softail models, the Rocker and the Rocker Custom. While the specs on these new models, in particular the fat back rubber are impressive, it would not be unfair to say that the onlookers comments for the majority of the time that our Bikernet operatives listened in were uncomplimentary, what with those weird- looking seats on both the Rocker and the Rocker C.


However, time will tell and if the Motor Company doesn’t come up with some fixes, the aftermarket surely will. The new Fat Bob is a cool-to-die-for model, arguably the coolest stock bike to ever emerge from the Milwaukee stable. Our Bikernet operatives got hold of one of these for a day and their report on this new model suggests a sales success in the making. Creating a lot of interest at the New Product show were the demonstrations of the new ABS braking systems available on some Harley-Davidson models. Long time Harley aficionados may scoff, but this technology can mean the difference between staying rubber side up or no in many riding situations.



The list of bands playing at Sturgis reads like a who’s who of the rock and roll and blues world with such names as ZZ Top, Poison, The Fryed Bros, John Kay and Steppenwolf, the Marshall Tucker band, ex Motley Crue singer Vince Neil – the list goes on. The Boneyard Saloon alone boasted some 43 bands playing on 3 stages during the Rally. If you didn’t get your musical jollies at Sturgis, well you couldn’t have been trying very hard.

Bikernet girls
Brass Balls hosted the Girls of Bikernet.


As usual all the big names were represented at either Sturgis or the surrounding areas and bikers can get advice from the horse’s mouth, so to speak, regarding product selection and fitment whatever the product, from cam shafts to exhausts, suspension to wheels, brakes to tyres or virtually any other area the rider wishes to upgrade. Black Hills Harley-Davidson had a huge vendor area as usual, as did Thunder Road and the Full Throttle Saloon, along with the Sturgis County Line.



Bikernet operatives Glenn and Doc were offered the opportunity to ride down the Sturgis drag strip on a bike equipped with the new S&S X-Wedge (pronounce it as cross- wedge, or x-wedge – either is okay) but as Doc had ridden them in Daytona earlier in the year he deferred to Glenn who had a ball doing so, as well as riding a hot S&S 124 cube machine. “Smooth, powerful and a whole lot of fun” were his comments upon dismounting, but it took a team of plastic surgeons three whole days to get the grin off his face.


sturgis motorcycle museum 
new logo




All good things come to an end, but with good planning one end becomes another beginning. These were the thoughts our dedicated operatives held as they somewhat reluctantly rode out of Sturgis. However, with a visit to Jesse Jurren’s Independent Cycle, Inc next on the agenda the future looked promising. Upon arrival at Independent’s Rapid City headquarters, our operatives received a red carpet welcome and a comprehensive tour of the impressive facility by Independent’s Jeff Ulvestead.



The “middle of nowhere” isn’t an unfair description of Mitchell, South Dakota, home of the famous Corn Palace and the infamous Brian Klock whose World’s Fastest Bagger set a land speed record last year with his (now) wife Laura riding it. Brian mounted another attempt this year with a newly designed fairing which has undergone extensive wind-tunnel testing. Brian and his lovely wife Laura make a great couple and have a successful working relationship in that hive of activity known as Klock Werks.

Your trusty operatives spent two full days there, photographing and riding hot customized baggers bearing the Klock Werks styling stamp. Brian is a hugely enthusiastic and exceedingly knowledgeable guy and has forgotten more about bagger setting up and handling than most people inside or outside the industry will ever know. Both Doc and Glenn greatly enjoyed spending time with him, coming away much wiser in the art of baggerology. (??)



What is it with these South Dakota guys? What causes world famous products to emerge from the rich soil of this corn growing region? We’re speaking here of the state-of-the-art range of Dakota Digital gauges, market leaders world wide with an array of digital gauges for both cars and bikes that blows the mind. Mike Merritt, Dakota Digital's Motorcycle Products sales executive kindly gave Doc and Glenn a tour of their impressive Sioux Falls facility.



Once again our intrepid operatives hit the road astride their 2007 Harleys, the big bikes performing flawlessly as big miles tick over. The weather is still mighty hot but by taking time to re-hydrate ever hour or two they manage to reach Waterloo, Iowa, a mere hop, skip and jump from their planned destination of Anamosa. Refreshed from a night’s sleep they hit the road and are soon in Anamosa but get the wrong directions from a local and ride out of town the wrong way. With another local’s help they manage to roll up at the home of J&P Cycles where J&P’s Nicole Ridge made the boys very welcome and introduced them to Shannon Applebee who gave them an extensive tour of this mind-blowing facility.



The museum which is situated in the main street of Anamosa contains an extensive collection of motorcycles from all eras of the sport and much motorcycle memorabilia from the fascinating to the gross. Well, gross by today’s aesthetic certainly but maybe considered cool in its day. Just about every make and model bike is represented here and hours could be spent enjoying the variety and innovation represented.


But with nearly four weeks away from home racked up already, the boys are feeling mighty starved for female company to the point where even the museum models looked very attractive. The boys must have looked good to them too as they didn’t even move a muscle to rebuff any advances the boys made.




Well, okay, Iowa can’t boast any real mountains in the region but heading out from Oskaloosa where they’d spent the night, the Bikernet pair encountered dense fog as they traversed the back roads, which made for interesting riding to say the least. At least they didn’t have to worry about seeing deer by the roadside as much of the time they couldn’t see the roadside at all! As the day grew hotter the fog finally lifted and a better pace could be made which saw the boys hitting Kansas City around lunch time.

After gassing up, getting lost but then regaining their way our stalwart bikers located their destination, the Procharger factory at Lenexa Kansas. Procharger manufactures superchargers for performance cars and more recently Harley- Davidson motorcycles, which make huge performance gains using this technology. The boys were given a comprehensive tour of the facility by Chief Executive Officer Ken Jones and came away impressed.



The boys now pointed their scoots west to begin the long ride back toward California. Doc had driven this route on the way back from the V-Twin Expo in Cincinnati the previous year so he knew what they were in for, whereas Glenn was blissfully ignorant of the long, straight and hugely boring stretches of oftentimes poorly surfaced roads that they faced. Ride. Eat. Sleep. Repeat.


Sometimes on a trip like this you can begin to feel as if you have no other life but this; that you’ve always been riding and always will be. Family, friends, home, pets all seem to fade into a mist of another time and another place. Here and now is the only reality. This place. This road. And during those times when it feels like one is riding through a pizza oven, skin cracked and dry despite sun block regularly applied, tired, thirsty and with a bad case of monkey-butt it helps to remind oneself of the old saying that, “even the worst day on the road, still beats the best day at work”. Sustained by a mix of road philosophy, music from their CD players and the thought of that first long cold beer, the boys hit Wichita just on dusk, bought that longed-for cold beer and booked into the nearest motel.


It was time for the boys to put down some serious miles so they rose early and checked out just before the dawn. Leading the way, Glenn missed the lead onto the freeway due (he says) to poor signage and the boys found themselves wandering around downtown Wichita looking for someone who could give them directions and before too long a kindly guy put them back on track. It is 600 long and boring miles from Wichita to Albuquerque, made longer and more boring by the flat countryside and lack of curves.

Grimly determined to make a mile that day, the boys rode on with pursed lips and furrowed brows, crossing out of Kansas (Hooray!) into Oklahoma and then Texas where a steak at Dalhart provided nourishment to continue. Rolling into New Mexico it was time to join the I40 and its endless convoys of trucks and as the heat built up, a strong wind added to the boys’ discomfort until they were within striking distance of Albuquerque when they ran into a thunderstorm.

Initially welcoming the cooling effect of the rain, riding soon became difficult as visibility dropped and the boys were forced to slow down somewhat, which allowed truck after truck to speed past, each one throwing up blinding clouds of spray across the entire road. A quick stop to change from glasses to goggles and they were rolling again. As often happens, the storm cleared as quickly as it came in and the slight dampness they sustained dried out by the time they reached the outskirts of Albuquerque.



Glenn had visited Sedona, Arizona a couple of times previously and his enthusiasm for the roads and the scenery in the area quickly convinced Doc. So our operatives left I40 at Leupp Corner just past Winslow to take a winding back road, which took them through some awesome country, before meeting up with the sensational road through to Sedona from Flagstaff. Sedona nestles in a spectacularly beautiful valley surrounded by mountains and impressive rock formations, but like many great areas has become something of a tourist trap with prices to match. As in $180 for a share room. But the ambience, the views and the roads both in and out make it worthwhile to put up with being ripped off for accommodation. A night in a great bar with top food helps also.

Into Sedona


Riding out of Sedona the boys took the path up the mountain to Jerome, a funky little town perched precariously on the mountain top with a vertigo-inducing steep drop in all directions. Then it was on down the other side of the mountain and on toward Palm Springs. Between a temperature of 111 degrees, a strong side wind and a zillion trucks all doing 90mph, even iron men like our two stalwart Bikernet operatives find the going unpleasant. So while getting fuel at Desert Centre they decided to get off the I10 and head north a bit before once again swinging west. This route took them through the scenic Joshua Tree National Park and down into Twentynine Palms where they camped for the night.


Next morning, given hat he lives close by a visit to Bob T. was in order. Bob is a live wire member of the Chop and Grind Racing crew whose antics at Bonneville are somewhat legendary and Bob is also a walking biker historian with a collection of Harley-Davidson memorabilia that would make most motorcycle museum custodians green with jealousy. After a pleasant couple of hours with Bob and his lovely wife Lee it was time to hit the road and make tracks back to LA.

The Bikernet Reporters quizzed Bob T., of Chop N Grind Racing, for Bonneville secrets. That's why he looks so nervous.


No matter how long or how gruelling the journey, it is always a blessed relief to arrive back at the Bikernet Cantina, to be greeted by a host of lovely ladies in brief outfits proffering icy cold beers and offering to rub the kinks from sore neck muscles. Yep, Heff can keep his Playboy Mansion; any road weary rider worth his salt would prefer the Cantina any day, an oasis where a biker’s soul can be refreshed in minutes. And after some five thousand miles of hard riding, one’s soul does need some refreshing.



Kiwi Indian have been kicking ass in the retro market for some time now so before the Aussies were allowed to jump on a plane to fly back home they were sent on one last mission. The assignment was to head out to Riverside to interview Kiwi’s Mike Tomas and take a tour of his factory. Mike, as the Kiwi Indian name suggests, is originally from New Zealand and like that other bloke from NZ, Bert Munro, Mike brims with creativity and a can-do attitude. And there is no doubt that both these attributes have played a role in his continuing success.

Next is the Smoke Out West, according to the boss.


A Bikernet debrief is carried out with military-like precision (well almost) and Bandit neither minces words nor suffers long winded reporting. Pushing himself back from his desk, and drawing himself up to his full height (which is an impressive 6’5”), he thundered to the boys that he’d read the written report, that all was well and they could be happy with a job well done – which is high praise indeed coming from the great man himself.


Tired and happy, Glenn and Doc packed for the fifteen hour plane trip back home and then returned the two bikes to the Harley-Davidson press fleet centre, once again grateful to the motor factory for supporting them. Another road trip completed. Another adventure survived. Another five thousand miles of great memories generated by riding across this great land.


big bear poster

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