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A diary entry from Ben Sturgis

Thursday, March 2, 2006

The first thing you should know about the Wyoming Harley ride stories is that we shot the whole thing out of sequence. By that I mean that even though the Sturgis bike rally is the last story to go to air in actual fact it was the first thing we shot. We began shooting the Sturgis story in a bit of a panic, half the crew were stranded in Salt Lake City and when I arrived in Rapid City South Dakota we had no Harley to ride. And to top it all off I had only 4 days off after 3 weeks shooting in Russia before beginning this 3 week shoot of America.

But them’s the breaks, because no matter how rested I was, nothing was going to prepare me for just how many people were at the Sturgis rally. Over 500,000 people, all on Harleys and all trying as hard as they could to out dress each other. It was more like a costume party than a bike rally.

Now in Australia when you think of bikies you think of pretty tough sorts of blokes – good hearted but not the sort of fella’s you would want to cross once they’d had a few rums. But the first thing I noticed about the yanks was how fake they were. Really, I expected the world biggest bike rally to be something akin to a bloodbath. But the whole thing was like some sort of Harley theme park. That is a good thing in some ways, because it made shooting the story really easy. But I suppose I’d built myself up for a bit more danger.

But if you’re thinking of getting along, I still highly recommend it, because it’s a huge party. There heaps of entertainment, grog is easy to come by, and if you walk down the main street of Sturgis there is no end to the fast food they’ve got, particularly the giant turkey legs. Only in America could you buy a turkey leg the size of a man’s arm.

Your best bet for some fun though is to head out to the Buffalo Chip camp ground. Now in the story we featured some of the more nocturnal activities – but it really was not the half of it. As the night wore on the crew and I had been up and shooting for something like 30 hours - so we had to leave. But from all reports the whole camp ground turned into one big rock and roll free for all – complete with nude mechanical bull riding and shall we say rather public displays of affection. But on a serious note as the crew and I drove the 40 miles back to our hotel in Rapid City – we did see a fatal bike accident. You see there’s no law saying that you have to wear a helmet in South Dakota so every year there are quite a few deaths on the road. So get along to Sturgis if you want to hang out with half a million rednecks all trying to out pose each other and if your riding - wear a bloody helmet , because Sturgis is not something that’s worth dying for.

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