Time to swap motorcycles again, a process with a bit of an Abbott and Costello “Who’s On First” vibe. The problem with this Victory-shuffling business is that the damn things have so much luggage capacity that it’s like moving your stuff across town from one apartment to another. Man, I got socks drying on the line, those little green-foil hotel mints melting into the top box, stolen Road Runner wear, two stray cats have taken up residence in the left saddle bag, and it depresses me no end to see what a pig-pen I’ve made of the CCT’s storage in just a few days. You really should hire a maid if you own one of these bikes.
The Black Hills south of Sturgis give us one more taste of freedom, twisting and turning in canyons and buffalo meadows. Long conga lines of slow-moving motorcycles start appearing, requiring not only downshifting to pass but proper lane etiquette to avoid “dissing” the Congolians.
Sturgis is everything you’ve heard. There’s a guy with a dog cage on his bike, another on a custom Victory chopper. Lots of tiny femmes on too-big motorcycles appear ready to topple over at the slightest breeze. The Sturgis rally is Harley-Davidson’s house to be certain but Victory has its engineer boot firmly jammed into the front door.
The closer we get to Sturgis the slower we go. We come to a standstill on Lazelle, smack in the belly of the beast. Creeping along in 100-degree heat, wanting an oil change badly, my Victory has acquired a few extra neutrals in its gearbox. Still, the engine is running fine on both cylinders, which is more than I can say for some of the bikes around me. Or maybe they only sound that way.
We park the bikes at the Victory-Indian tent compound across the street from H-D’s setup. Coincidence, I’m sure. Flores and I walk Main Street. Even the Hell’s Angels have a storefront here, not something you run across every day.
Thumping V-twins of all shapes and sizes shudder and weave on parade. All around is the smell of gasoline, greasy food, humans and heat. The sulfur-eating tubeworms found in the ocean’s deepest abyss would feel right at home feeding on Sturgis’ Technicolor combustion. We’re here sucking it in, man, sailing on an ocean of petroleum haze. One sniff, one glance, and you know you’re the kind of person who has been to Sturgis.