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RoosterBoots 03-05-2010 03:51 PM

The Pilgrimage - All the rest
(From "The Incredibly Normal Adventures of RoosterBoots")

Part 4 – The Vendors

Most of the vendors at Sturgis South were interchangeable. T-shirts, leather chaps, handlebar bags. T-shirts, lingerie, leather chaps. Leather chaps, get-back whips, nazi memorabilia. Patches, T-shirts, nazi stuff, helmets in the shape of a large breast, switchblades.

You know, gifts for the kids.

One vendor installed high-end audio systems while you wait.

One vendor sold high-end bikes.

One place offered the “Bikini Bike Wash,” but the staff consisted of two guys who’d polish your forks with a grinding wheel. I wasn’t sure I wanted to see them in a bikini.

There was the sightseeing helicopter, a sleek black Robinson. For $30 you got a five minute ride around the town of Sturgis. I passed two old ladies who had just deplaned. “Oh, my!” said one, “That was the most excitement I’ve ever had! Beatrice dropped her glasses…I just DON’T KNOW how she managed to catch ‘em!”

Miz Roo followed the pair, seething with curiosity. Turns out Beatrice caught the glasses with her teeth. Film at eleven.

There was the combination bungie jump/trampoline, which let kids feel weightless for a second or so.

There was the bull ride, surrounded by a huge inflatable trampoline (so’s only your reproductive organs get hurt).

Finally, there was the Roadhog Motorcycles Traveling Dyno Tuning Center. I told Miz Roo, “If it’s less than $80, I’ll do it!” I knew better.

Mark ran up to announce that he’d found the Perfect Leather Saddle Bag, for less than $140.00!

Hot, tired, and with my hip on fire despite the cane, we walked back to the bikes to decide what to do next.

Mark wanted to cruise the campground and get some bags installed and then ride in the “Big Bike Ride”, a multi-hundred bike parade from Sturgis to Starkville to Louisville and back. Then we’d all three ride back together!

I had other plans. I wanted to see how much a Dyno tuning would cost, and then I was going home. Mark agreed to skip the Big Ride if we wanted to just go home. I felt pretty bad about being the King Fudd.

We separated and agreed to meet at the gas station where we came in. Mark drove off to get saddlebags. Miz Roo followed me and Stray Dog down to the Dyno center. We parked and mosied over to the main window, where the prices were listed.

“OMIGOD!” I said. “One hundred and sixty-five dollars for a CARB TUNE?”

“Is that a lot of money?” Miz Roo asked.

“It’s about $165 more than I have on me,” I told her. We left the bikes parked there and wandered through one of the “Leather T-Shirt Nazi Lingerie” vendors operating nearby.

Miz Roo was pensive. “So,” she said, pointing at Stray Dog. “How’s she runnin’?”

“Stray Dog” is the 2002 Heritage Classic I found in a widow’s garage this year. I always felt that it was too mild-mannered. Unable to stop tinkering, I added a K&N air cleaner, a set of 1999-vintage Screaming Eagle pipes, and a carb jetting kit from CV Performance. All I had to show for it was 30 miles per gallon.

I the mechanics in the Traveling Dyno Tuning Center dial in the carburetor of an old Sportster. My face must have reminded them of a kid at the window of a Good Humor truck.

Well, I thought to myself, there are a lot of people here today…they couldn’t get around to me anyway. The blond assistant leaned out to ask me if there was anything I needed.

“How long is the waiting line?” I asked.

“Including you?” she asked. I nodded. “One.”

I was out of excuses. I handed them the keys to Stray Dog and listened as they made it howl. I did some howling myself as they wrestled my credit card from between my pincer-like fingers.

In the end, for $165 plus tax, I found out that Stray Dog is NOT a dog. Money well spent.

Miz Roo was busy talking to an extremely skinny, agitated dude who kept looking over in my direction. Finally, she came over and said “This guy in the cammy shorts gave me a card…sez he can do dyno tuning cheaper.”

“And that helps me exactly how?” I asked, signing the credit card statement.

Part 5 – Leaving Sturgis

I was just re-packing Stray Dog’s saddle bags when Mark pulled up. His Honda Shadow was festooned with leather bags of every height, circumference, and design. He was truly happy.

“They’re forming up for the Big Ride,” he announced. I had forgotten my promise to ride with him on the Big Ride.

“Mark, my hip is killing me,” I sniveled. “There’s no way I’m gonna survive that ride.”

He hid his disappointment. Cuz’n Mark lives for group riding. “Well, maybe there’ll be another ride tomorrow,” he said hopefully. He offered to ride home with us and return in the morning with his son.

“Mark,” I said. “That’s mighty kind of you.”

I waved my hand over his head ceremoniously. “I hereby relieve you of your promise to ride with us back to Philadelphia. You social obligations are null and void, and you would be doing me a serious favor to get your ass back in line and do the Big Ride tonight.”

His face lit up. “You really mean that?” he asked. I didn’t have to repeat myself. Mark took off with new luggage bags strapped onto every vertical and horizontal surface, happy as a tick on a dog.

Miz Roo gave me a look. Not exactly “come hither,” but not “go away” either.

We took the same route back, passing at least fifty bikes heading toward Sturgis. Everybody waved.

The trip back was uneventful. We stopped twice for sodas and aspirin. The bikes were running on fumes as we pulled into the farm. Shutting down together, we both sat on our bikes for a minute, listening to the music of hot pipes ticking and clicking in the cool garage air.

pushrod 03-05-2010 07:00 PM

Good stuff, "Roo".


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