There are few better ways we can think of to kick-off a new partnership than by riding motorcycles together. The open road beckons to bring those that ride together closer together through ritualistic moments of shared experience on the journey along the way. Emails are ignored, phones muted, camaraderie ensues, and the mind begins to relax as one starts to live in the moment.
After recently putting together a partnership with META to support some of their future projects, the idea came to us: meet at the META headquarters in downtown Denver’s trendy RiNo neighborhood, spend a day gathering content, put together a route plan, and then hit the road to Sturgis for a few days of riding and living the biker life. In addition to a leading motorcycle lifestyle publication and website, we admire META’s inclusive approach to motorcycling. Their motto, “A life well ridden,” celebrates riding and racing no matter what type of rider you happen to be, or what type of motorcycle you happen to ride. So, to kick off our new partnership, we went on a motorcycle adventure together.
Tucker Creative Director Jacob Vaughan, Videographer Carter York, and Content Manager Dale Spangler each made their way to Denver to meet up with META Founding Partner and Publisher Andrew Campo. The crew arrived in Denver on Thursday, August 1st and headed straight to the META headquarters. After a brief meet-and-greet, we organized an apparel photo and video shoot in the neighborhood surrounding META that featured some of the new 2020 apparel from Roland Sands Design, FirstGear, and Speed and Strength. With such a diverse group of bikes (2019 Harley Street Bob, 2004 Triumph T100, 2019 KTM 790 Adventure R, and a 2016 Triumph T120 Black) we had apparel to match each of the bike’s target audiences. Andrew was even kind enough to lend us a Husqvarna Vitpilen 701 that matched the 2020 Speed and Strength gear so well it looked as if it was meant for the bike.
After a successful photo and video content mission (while dodging a few rain showers along the way), we headed back to META headquarters to organize our gear and make final plans for the next day’s departure. The big question for each of us was how much gear to bring, and how to strap it to our bikes, which we accomplished with help from Tucker brands Giant Loop, FirstGear, Burly Brand, and Zulz Bag Co. After a little experimentation, and some trial and error, each of us settled on what we thought was the appropriate setup to carry everything we needed for four days of life on the road.
Friday we awoke to clear skies and a sense of excitement for the adventure that lay ahead. Our first section consisted of a short stint north from Denver to Boulder for a lunch meet-up at Sidney’s Moto Club. Sidney’s is a haven for motorcyclists, with riders stopping in to hang out at the clubhouse. Members of the club can also take advantage of the onsite community repair shop to wrench on their bike, order parts, or hang out and bench race with fellow riders. Sidney’s is on to something with its community-building club atmosphere and refreshing spin on what a modern motorcycle shop experience should be. The crew couldn’t have been more kind, and they provided us with some tasty empanadas for lunch and a sweet t-shirt as a parting gift. A big thanks to Sidney’s Moto Club owner Elton Randall for the hospitality.
After Sidney’s, we pinned it north toward Cheyenne and made a pit stop at The Historic Plains Hotel downtown. The western-style hotel located near the Wyoming State Capitol building was the spot for bikers headed north to Sturgis. The streets were packed with bikes parked around The Plains, including a group of twenty or so Australians on their way to Sturgis. After topping off with fuel, we were back on the road towards our next stop in Torrington, Wyoming, some 84 miles north. From Torrington, we continued north towards the day’s final destination Lusk, with a brief stop in Jay Em to explore the town’s old wooden structures. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Jay Em was eerily clean and quiet, as if a ghost town with a year-round population of 14 residents. With the sun about to set, we pinned it the last 22 miles from Jay Em to Lusk and the Covered Wagon Motel.
The next day, as we prepared to hit the road for Sturgis, Andrew noticed he had a flat rear tire on his T100. As much as we thought we’d prepared for life on the road, we hadn’t prepared enough, and after a trip to the local auto parts store for a can of fix-a-flat, we were on our way. A few hours and 125 miles up the road, we arrived at our rental property near Lead, dropped our excess gear, and headed for Deadwood and Sturgis to explore and take in the sights. After a quick visit to Mount Moriah Cemetery in Deadwood to see the burial sites of Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane, we made our way to Rally Point in downtown Sturgis between Lazelle and Main Streets. Despite it being only the third day of the Rally, the streets were packed with bikers from across the globe. Harleys were everywhere, and those of us riding anything other than a Harley stood out like a waffle on a plate full of pancakes. However, the people-watching was off the charts, and we had a good time taking it all in.
Sunday we chose to explore the surrounding Black Hills National Forest and left the house around 9:00 am and headed south toward Mount Rushmore and the Iron Mountain Road. A sign we saw described the Iron Mountain Road as 17 miles long with 314 curves, 14 switchbacks, three pigtails, three tunnels, two splits, and four Presidents. The scenery was stunning and the road spectacular; and despite having to navigate 10 miles of thunderstorm-soaked pavement (without our rain gear), we enjoyed the beauty of this national treasure. Mount Rushmore, the CC Gideon Tunnel, and the Norbeck Overlook to name only a few stops along the route were all remarkable.
If there’s one lesson a rider quickly learns about life on the road, it’s that it takes much longer than it would seem to get somewhere, and the day goes by faster than one would imagine. Despite the Iron Mountain Road loop only being 135 miles total, the low speeds, large crowds, frequent stops, and unanticipated weather made for a six-hour plus day in the saddle. As we wound our way through the last few miles toward Custer, the rain disappeared, and the sun returned to make our trip back north the perfect end to our ride.
After a brief stop at the house, Jacob and Carter made their way back to Sturgis to meet up with the crew from Cardo Systems for a quick video interview and content capture. It was already Sunday night, and the next day, we were scheduled to make our way back to Denver and the META headquarters. Did we mention that time flies when you’re on the road?
Our Sturgis experience was coming to close, and though we only spent a few days in the area, Sturgis was our excuse for a road trip. It wasn’t so much about the destination. It was about the journey, getting to know one another through shared experience, meals together and engaging conversation, and riding long stretches of desolate highway with one another. A motorcycle road trip was indeed the perfect way to kick-off our new partnership with META.
On Monday, as we retraced our route south to Denver, we found ourselves stopping often. None of us wanted the journey to end, and if we could delay the inevitable, we could keep riding and not have to return to reality. Riding a motorcycle allows one to escape reality, even if only for a few days—or a few hours. As we raced our way south from Cheyenne on the last leg to Denver, under threatening skies, luck would be on our side. Instead of a violent thunderstorm, we experienced a serene sunset with the Rocky Mountains as its backdrop. We rolled into Denver in the dark, tired yet happy, proud of our achievement, and with a new level of appreciation for riding motorcycles.
We want to thank Cardo Systems for supplying our team with communication systems for our trip. The Cardo communication systems made life on the road that much more comfortable by eliminating miscommunication and keeping our group together and on the same page while riding. A big thanks also goes out to Roland Sands Design, FirstGear, and Speed and Strength for their support with apparel. We also want to thank Andrew Campo from META for his hospitality and for being the inspiration behind this road trip. (Editor’s Note: Andrew made the entire trip with the fix-a-flat in his tire, and it never went flat again!) And an extra special thanks to Jimbo Darville for loaning us his Triumph 2016 T120. Check out his music, Jimbo Darville & the Truckadours, on iTunes and Spotify.