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THE WILD, WILD WEST- Betsy Reports Back From The Sturgis Rally

Calamity Betsy Spends Five Days In Sturgis During Rally Week

Words and Photos by Calamity Betsy
9/6/2013


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Rainbow over the Butte tells me that there is indeed a treasure at the end of the rainbow.
Rainbow over the Butte tells me that there is indeed a treasure at the end of the rainbow.

 
 
There is no place on earth that captures the feeling of the outlaw like the Wild, Wild West. Throughout the history of America, outlaws of one type or another have been drawn to the Black Hills of South Dakota. There is an energy in those dusty hills and plains that permeates all outer layers and seeps into the heart and soul of those who are drawn there. It would seem once you’ve experienced the magic of the hills, they call you back time and time again. Every year I go back, and I always have the overwhelming sensation of coming HOME.
 
 
Modern Day Calamities, Masyn Moyer, me & Jessie Combs
Modern Day Calamities, Masyn Moyer, me & Jessie Combs

 
A desert ram welcomes me home.
A desert ram welcomes me home.

 
I often hear the phrase, “What happens in Sturgis, stays in Sturgis." But it has been my experience that what happens in Sturgis opens my heart and soul to new possibilities. I fell in love on Bear Butte Mountain many years ago. He was the love of my life, although sadly he is no longer with us. But it wasn’t just him I fell in love with. I fell into a love of life, and learned to truly love myself in the purity and simplicity of the Black Hills.
 
We used to stay for the days after everyone else had left for home, and marveled at the quiet. I fondly remember rolling down the side of a hilltop that was covered with flowers and laughing like children. I remember picking those flowers and buying every candle left in town and decorating a little log cabin and lying awake all night in the glow of those candles, talking about our innermost dreams, ideas, and desires. My heart is forever connected to that place where inhibitions are dropped and souls are bared.
 
What happens in Sturgis does not stay in Sturgis. It burns brightly inside of you for the rest of your days. The priceless friendships I have made and continue to make there every year are with men and women from all over the world who share a most fundamental love of all that is wild and free. 
 
Me & Brother Speed. Is there an age limit on enjoying Sturgis?
Me & Brother Speed. Is there an age limit on enjoying Sturgis?

 
Each year I question what it continues to hold for me, and I contemplate not going, or heading out in new and different directions. My old bike is in need of some tender loving care, as are some other aspects of my life. Staying put and attending to details would be the more practical choice to make. But that would require choosing to be practical, which CLEARLY, Calamity cannot! I don’t even aspire to BE practical. Imagine a tombstone on Boot Hill saying, “Here lies Calamity Jane, she was a practical woman." She is buried next to Wild Bill, who she managed to tame with her practical ways. Tame, Tame Bill & Practical Jane………would anyone remember them centuries later?
 
Riding the wild ponies out at the Spur Creek Ranch!
Riding the wild ponies out at the Spur Creek Ranch!

 
Two of my favorite outlaws, Pinky Pancake & Long John.
Two of my favorite outlaws, Pinky Pancake & Long John.

 
It’s been years since I have even found my way into town to see Main Street, or the vendors on Lazelle.  I go to the Black Hills to stay connected to that little girl inside of me, who might otherwise lose her way in a complicated world built around money and success. I go to stay connected to old friends of like mind, and in that process, many new ones find their way into my life and heart. I always return home with a renewed sense of who I want to be, and what I hope to tackle in the year to come.
 
 
Hanging with friends Diane Schit, Chopper Doll & Masyn Moyer at the Broken Spoke.
Hanging with friends Diane Schit, Chopper Doll & Masyn Moyer at the Broken Spoke.

 
Two of my favorite pals Jack Schit of the Broken Spoke and Chris Callen of Cycle Source Magazine.
Two of my favorite pals Jack Schit of the Broken Spoke and Chris Callen of Cycle Source Magazine.

 
Old friends & new! Left to right are Debi Holmes, Masyn Moyer, me, Jessie Combs and Diva Amy at Michael Lichters popular exhibit of art & motorcycles.
Old friends & new! Left to right are Debi Holmes, Masyn Moyer, me, Jessie Combs and Diva Amy at Michael Lichters popular exhibit of art & motorcycles.

 
With only five days to be in Sturgis, I joined in on a ride event every day, and somehow stayed out until the wee hours of every night. Never a dull moment in Sturgis, unless you want it that way, and you have to plan ahead if you want to find a quiet corner! From the moment I arrived, I was off and running, making use of every moment I had. Sunday was Michael Lichters ride and art exhibit. The ride was led as always by my pals Jay Allen and the one and only Sugar Bear, who is known for his amazingly long front ends on the choppers he builds.
 
Sugar Bear on his wildly raked chop.
Sugar Bear on his wildly raked chop.

 
Jay Allen & his beautiful woman Kristi Verhoff.
Jay Allen & his beautiful woman Kristi Verhoff.

 
Michael Lichter getting set to be hiked backwards by my friend Allen Dewey, who was our camera man on the Discovery Channels “Motorcycle Women”.
Michael Lichter getting set to be hiked backwards by my friend Allen Dewey, who was our camera man on the Discovery Channels “Motorcycle Women”.

 
The Legends Ride always gets the historical streets of Deadwood hopping and this was the first year they achieved maximum capacity for the amount of riders they could accommodate on the ride. Organized by Woody (Bob Woodruff) of the Buffalo Chip, it raises generous funds for local charities like the South Dakota Special Olympics. Some of the kids from the Special Olympics came out to join in the fun, and meet the colorful motorcycle legends that turned out to show their support and lead the ride.
 
Weeeeeee, its Rock Star Dee Snider with me & Masyn.
Weeeeeee, its Rock Star Dee Snider with me & Masyn.

 
Man do I miss seeing my Bean’re! Greeting the arrival of my old pal, the “Mayor of Fun” in Deadwood!
Man do I miss seeing my Bean’re! Greeting the arrival of my old pal, the “Mayor of Fun” in Deadwood!

 
 
One of my favorite events is joining in on the Biker Belle festivities, although this year we missed the fine organization skills of its founder Meg McDonough. None the less, I cherish seeing the strong woman who I look up to in the motorcycle world and hearing the panel of the women selected to speak. It’s also a chance to meet the newest and youngest women joining in on the sport. The ride has been picking up momentum, and I hope it continues to grow and bring this group of unique women together for a special day of bonding and some serious girl power!
 
The ride raises money for “Helping With Horsepower” and “The Sturgis Motorcycle Museum”, and this year auctioned off many items including a new Harley Davidson customized by the bad ass builder Jessie Combs. The proud new owner of the classy white bike is none other than Chris Sommer-Simons, whose husband Pat Simmons of the Doobie Brothers outbid everyone, and said, “Happy Anniversary Honey”! We girls just LOVE that kinda stuff!
 
Cris & Pat Simmons
Cris & Pat Simmons

 
Me with the cutest women rider out there, Gloria Struck……..being photo bombed by Pat Simmons.
Me with the cutest women rider out there, Gloria Struck……..being photo bombed by Pat Simmons.

 
And with the youngest new rider on the scene, a local girl from South Dakota who is still in high school and already riding her own motorcycle.
And with the youngest new rider on the scene, a local girl from South Dakota who is still in high school and already riding her own motorcycle.

 
I watched this sweet and innocent looking beauty kick start her old Harley.
I watched this sweet and innocent looking beauty kick start her old Harley.

 
This is probably one of my most memorable stories. This is my new friend Marcia Kingsley Elvin, who has kept a picture of me & Genevieve Schmitt from 15 years ago on her refrigerator. We had signs on our bikes that read, “Sturgis or Bust”! She kept it on her fridge as an incentive to get her own bike and one day ride it to Sturgis. I loved hearing that story and meeting her there and riding with her!
This is probably one of my most memorable stories. This is my new friend Marcia Kingsley Elvin, who has kept a picture of me & Genevieve Schmitt from 15 years ago on her refrigerator. We had signs on our bikes that read, “Sturgis or Bust”! She kept it on her fridge as an incentive to get her own bike and one day ride it to Sturgis. I loved hearing that story and meeting her there and riding with her!

 
Group Hug!
Group Hug!

 
I managed to finagle my way backstage to get a few shots of Toby Keith at his concert at the Buffalo Chip. The man has fans.
I managed to finagle my way backstage to get a few shots of Toby Keith at his concert at the Buffalo Chip. The man has fans.

 
And last but not least, because you gotta save the best for last, right? All of the people involved in the Cycle Source ride are simply down to earth, real deal good peeps. And who doesn’t enjoy a motorcycle rodeo where you can ride wild horses, barrel race on a real horse or your iron horse, and watch all of your friends literally eat dirt? Come on, that’s the funny stuff dreams are made of!
 
 
Horses barrel racing against motorcycles, and the horses usually win!
Horses barrel racing against motorcycles, and the horses usually win!

 
Friends dragging each other on shovels behind motorcycles!
Friends dragging each other on shovels behind motorcycles!

 
Chris Callen of Cycle Source at his ride and event with Heather Duggan.
Chris Callen of Cycle Source at his ride and event with Heather Duggan.

 
Amid the noise and distractions, I always manage to have a few conversations where I walk away knowing that those words were meant to be exchanged. I talked with my buddy Chris Callen about how we have already lost so many people in our lives, and how important it is to tell the ones you love, just how much they mean to you, every chance you get. You never know when it might be the last time that you see someone, especially when we all ride motorcycles like, well…………outlaws!
 
Even though I only see or get to talk to some of these friends once a year, knowing them has left it’s print on my soul. Watching my friends ride the Wall of Death is always a highlight and the show is never the same twice. I like to show up and support the talent of guys who ride like crazy outlaws because they truly are living the life of the modern day outlaw. Each of them wounded warriors, and yet the show always goes on. I love all of these guys like twin brothers of other mothers. I really do. We are all kindred spirits.
 
Jay Lightning meets Chopper Doll.
Jay Lightning meets Chopper Doll.

 
My old friend Jerry Long, aka Charlie Ransom riding the wall, look Mom………..no hands.
My old friend Jerry Long, aka Charlie Ransom riding the wall, look Mom………..no hands.

 
The newest wall rider & James Dean look alike, Sparky.
The newest wall rider & James Dean look alike, Sparky.

 
Look who else I found set up out at the Broken Spoke! It was SO good to see my long time good friend Michelle Dell of “Motorcycle Women”! She is the owner of Hogs and Heiffers in New York and Las Vegas, and had her wicked dancers with her up on the bar!
Look who else I found set up out at the Broken Spoke! It was SO good to see my long time good friend Michelle Dell of “Motorcycle Women”! She is the owner of Hogs and Heiffers in New York and Las Vegas, and had her wicked dancers with her up on the bar!

 
I never miss stopping in at Trevino’s leathers to visit my pals who have outfitted me over the years. One of the most frequent questions I am asked is where I get my fringed buckskin clothes, so here it is! My secret is shared! Both Trevino’s on 385 just outside of Deadwood, and Walter Leathers on Main Street are where many of my favorite old pieces have come from. 
 
Trevino’s leathers.
Trevino’s leathers.

 
My talented new friends Rachel Romanek Clarke & Uli Stich who are the resident photographers out at the Broken Spoke county line.
My talented new friends Rachel Romanek Clarke & Uli Stich who are the resident photographers out at the Broken Spoke county line.

 
Bear Butte Mountain is the spiritual place where all nations of our native people come for prayer. It is a place that deserves the respect of all Americans and people who come from all over the globe to visit. It is a place where you can ask the Great Spirit to watch over everyone that you love, and the mountain holds those prayers sacred. I always leave a bit of time to spend alone there, and visit the part of my heart that remains there even when all of the motorcycles ride away.
 
Riding away from the Butte, always knowing that I will return again one day.
Riding away from the Butte, always knowing that I will return again one day.

 
 
 

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Reader Comments


Fun article. She always gives a good perspective. Queen of the schmoozers!

ed hardison
Corolla, NC
Monday, September 9, 2013
MUSH SAAY IT WAS A VERY INTERESTING PIECE-- WISH I WAS THERE

tina krantz
windsor, Ontario
Saturday, September 7, 2013
Editor Response Someday I would love to Ride to Sturgis with Betsy, and beyond...
--Bandit
Great article and photos! Always enjoy Betsey's stuff!!!

Gary D Hayes
Jacksonville, IL
Saturday, September 7, 2013
Editor Response But let's see if she can make tacos at our Love Ride Party.
--Bandit

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