Chasing the Chill: The frozen thunder ride from Boulder Canyon to Spearfish, South Dakota on a Harley-Davidson amidst a snowy spectacle.
The Buck Lovell “Snow Rider” photo has been broadcast on Facebook so many times I have lost count. After numerous requests, I am providing the story about how, when and why this photograph came into existence for all you soon to be famous photographers! – Bandit
By Buck Lovell with photos by Buck Lovell
The date was January 22, 2009. I was on my way to work from Boulder Canyon to Spearfish, South Dakota. The route I usually took was east towards Sturgis then West on I-90 to Spearfish where I was employed as the Editor of the world’s first and still the best Bagger motorcycle magazine, American Bagger.
I usually stopped at the Burger King at exit 30 in Sturgis to grab a coffee. As I approached the Burger King location, I saw this motorcycle with owner/rider Pat Luisi of Blackhawk South Dakota, headed up Boulder Canyon towards Deadwood. This was the second or third time I had seen Pat on his way to work in Deadwood riding the recently introduced Crossbones model Harley-Davidson motorcycle.
I thought to myself, “I’ll never be able to catch up to him and get pictures.” Then it occurred to me that I was driving a 4-wheel drive pickup truck and should be able catch him. After all, Pat was riding a motorcycle on a very icy road in very cold conditions. That motorcycle by the way is endowed with the most stable and easy to ride low speed handling characteristics in the H-D model lineup.
I quickly grabbed my habitual morning coffee at Burger King and hauled ass up into the canyon towards Deadwood. Sure enough, Pat was riding slowly but determinedly up the road into Boulder Canyon at about 35-40 MPH. Occasionally he would put his feet down to steady the bike.
Almost lugging the motor, Pat kept the RPM low on purpose, so as not to spin his rear tire on the icy pavement. He was also wearing a knitted ski mask under a hockey goalie facemask to try and keep his face from freezing. Pat wore several layers of warm clothing in addition to the requisite leather motorcycle jacket. After all, the air temperature lingered at about 18 degrees, dropped in the shade and with the wind chill factor reached close to zero. Plus, for a rider, the below freezing wind blew against his face at 35 miles per hour!
When I caught up to Pat, I passed him as quickly as I could, and rolled far enough ahead to stop and set up for a photo. I actually passed him and photographed him three or four different times before we reached Deadwood, South Dakota. He thought I was nuts. I am…
The ambient air temperature was by then was down to around thirteen degrees. Deadwood is usually colder than the low-lying area towards Sturgis. Pat rumbled into Deadwood to his place of employment. I followed him a short distance past the intersection of 14A and Highway 18 to get the last photo of the series. I then flipped a U-turn and made a left onto Westbound Highway 18A heading towards Spearfish. I was late for work, but this was work, huh?
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