Hundreds of bikes thundered through the Black Hills toward Sturgis on Monday afternoon, creating a cacophony not heard in these parts since, well, last year. The sixth annual Legends Ride draws thousands of riders, spectators and celebrities to the historic city of Deadwood, South Dakota each year on a charitable pilgrimage to the Buffalo Chip Campground, and organizers said Monday’s edition was likely the largest ever.
“It gets bigger and better every year,” said Rod Woodruff, president of the Buffalo Chip.
The caravan of cycles, estimated at 400, fired up at about 3 p.m. local time, but not until a raucous auction brought $55,000 for a 2012 Harley-Davidson Road King customized by students at Sturgis Brown High School. An autographed Epiphone electric guitar also delivered $1700; the proceeds went to two local charities.
Leading the caravan from the Silverado Franklin Hotel was the Ness family, including father Arlen, son Cory, and grandson Zach, who was trailed by a reality tv camera crew all afternoon. Arlen Ness was besieged by admirers and autograph-seekers as he mounted his custom Victory at the start of the ride. “This is my 42nd rally in a row,” the elder Ness stated, “and this ride is a classic.”
Paul Teutel Sr., of Orange County Choppers followed, as did Dee Snider of Twisted Sister, Jessi Combs of “All Girls Garage,” actress Kristy (“Buffy the Vampire Slayer”) Swanson and Patron Tequila and Paul Mitchell Hair Products patriarch John Paul DeJoria, who in a poignant if rambling introduction speech compared bikers to eagles in referring to their freedom and spirit of adventure.
The bikes rumbled through the streets of Deadwood and Motorcycle.com somehow got right up front with the luminaries, enjoying one of the few traffic-free rides of the rally thus far, thanks to the police escort. After leaving town, the parade wound through Vanocker Canyon about 25 miles to the legendary Chip for a concert by the Doobie Brothers and Kid Rock. About 400 participants paid for the privilege of joining the ride, and were treated with food and drinks at a Buffalo Chip VIP tent. They were entertained by the rockabilly band the Living Dead and onlookers ogled as a local model was given the full-body paint treatment.
Final numbers for this year’s Legends Ride aren’t yet available, but the Buffalo Chip’s Rea McLean estimated the final tally will be a record-breaker. See our full gallery of photos below.