Front wheel drive, rear wheel steering motorcycle?

Why?  Because it could be done!  Click the image for the full story.

photo from Motorcycle USA courtesy of AMD

BEST WESTERN INTERNATIONAL OFFERS MOTORCYCLE TRAVELERS MORE THAN 1,200 RIDER-FRIENDLY® HOTEL OPTIONS WITHIN THE U.S AND CANADA

The Best Western and Harley-Davidson exclusive rewards program – Best Western Ride Rewards® –

Gives Harley-Davidson® Enthusiasts Savings and Benefits at all of the Chain’s “Rider-Friendly®” Hotels

PHOENIX (November 30, 2010) – Best Western International today announced its collection of rider-friendly properties has grown to more than 1,200 hotel locations throughout North America as part of the hotel chain’s multi-year agreement with Harley-Davidson.

These rider friendly hotels, searchable on www.bwrider.com and www.harley-davidson.com, offer motorcycle travelers and enthusiasts a host of amenities important to them including complimentary wipe-down towels, access to a cleaning station at the property and often times extra benefits such as reserved parking spaces, bottled water and lip balm.

“Best Western offers a hotel stay for every type of traveler and we’re proud to serve as the largest family of hotels to welcome those traveling on two wheels and ensure their unique needs are met consistently,” said Dorothy Dowling, senior vice president of marketing and sales for Best Western International.

Best Western also offers the industry’s only free loyalty program geared towards Harley-Davidson® enthusiasts, with registered members of Best Western Ride Rewards earning 10 points for every U.S. dollar spent on qualified room rates or 250 airline miles per qualified stay at more than 4,000 Best Western hotels worldwide.  Motorcycle travelers can register for Best Western Ride Rewards by visiting www.bwrider.com or calling 1-888-BW2BIKE.

Upon registering for Ride Rewards online, riders automatically receive Gold Elite status, which includes 10 percent bonus points on every stay. H.O.G. ® Members receive even greater benefits as they are automatically upgraded to platinum elite status, giving them 15 percent bonus points on every stay, complimentary room upgrades when available, plus early check-in and late check-out if available.

As a complement to Ride Rewards, enthusiasts can also use Harley-Davidson’s Ride Planner to help map and plan rides, available at www.harley-davidson.com/Experience. The tool also makes it easy to book a stay at a Best Western hotel by indicating where each is located in correlation to the trip being planned. Each hotel listing includes hotel descriptions along with a directory of services and amenities.

For more information on Ride Rewards and other features of the Best Western/Harley-Davidson partnership, visit www.bwrider.com or www.harley-davidson.com/Experience.

ABOUT BEST WESTERN INTERNATIONAL, INC.

BEST WESTERN INTERNATIONAL, Inc. is THE WORLD’S LARGEST HOTEL CHAIN®, providing marketing, reservations and operational support to over 4,000* independently owned and operated BEST WESTERN, BEST WESTERN PLUS® and BEST WESTERN PREMIER® hotels in 80* countries and territories worldwide. An industry pioneer since 1946, BEST WESTERN has grown into an iconic brand that hosts 400,000* worldwide guests each night. Equally committed to the business and leisure traveler, BEST WESTERN recently embarked on a mission to lead the hotel industry in customer care. World Vision is the charity of choice for BEST WESTERN in building the world’s largest family, with our hotels and staff sponsoring children in need around the globe. Our partnerships with AAA/CAA, Michael Waltrip RacingTM and Harley-Davidson help guests make the most of every trip. For the fastest way to a free night globally, join Best Western Rewards®. For more information or to make a reservation, please visit www.bestwestern.com.

Woogie: A Sturgis Rally Miracle

FROM BIRTH THE ODDS WERE STACKED AGAINST ELIJAH. Being born in the sparsely populated Black Hills to native American parents living below the poverty line is hard enough, but Elijah was diagnosed with renal disease, and his prognosis was not good.

Elijah’s biological parents were unable give him the care he needed, so he was placed with the Oglala Sioux – Standing Rock Tribe and the search began for someone to keep him comfortable until he passed away. No one believed Elijah would live long enough to see his first birthday.

But Lady Luck took a shine to Woogie and in February, 2006 he found his way into the home of Matt and Becky Bruer of Sturgis South Dakota.

Matt and Becky run Sturgis Web.  If you’ve surfed the  websites of Black Hills Harley-Davidson, The Knuckle, Sturgis Harley-Davidson, Buffalo Chip Campground, Full Throttle Saloon or scores of others, you’ve seen Matt’s work.  He’s a web programmer and site designer.

In addition, Matt owns the No Name Campground.  Located 3 miles from Sturgis, No Name is one of the few “quiet” campgrounds that cater to the Sturgis tourists who actually enjoy getting a good night’s sleep.  “We’ve been dubbed the geriatric campground” says Matt “because we have a curfew to keep the noise down so everyone can rest.”

For anyone who wants to party, Matt provides buses to town that run continuously every hour all the way up to 3 am.  Matt says his cabins and RV sites are booked 2 years in advance.

Matt and Becky are also parents to 14 children, 9 of them foster children.  They were the first family designated as a therapeutic foster home with the Black Hills Children’s Society, which means they are given children with special physical and physiological needs.

When Woogie came to the Bruer’s home he was given three months to live. The couple was told to try and keep him comfortable during his last few months of life.  But as she held the tiny dark haired boy something stirred inside Becky Bruer’s soul and she refused to accept his death warrant.  She was determined to fight for him.

The first step was to get him on peritoneal dialysis.  It wasn’t a long term solution because everyone knew Woogie would need a kidney to survive.  Statistics show that 50% of dialysis patients die within 3 months and 90% in a year. But it was a start.

The closest specialty hospital in the nation for infants with this disorder was the University of Minnesota Children’s Hospital over 600 miles away. Her initial 5 week trip to Minneapolis with Elijah gave her the proper training required to perform the daily peritoneal dialysis he needed to survive. Once a month Becky and Woogie made the long 18 hour round trip for his check-up.

The daily dialysis treatment helped stabilize Woogie but without a kidney the Bruers knew all too well what the eventual outcome would be.

To be considered a candidate for transplant, an infant has to reach 18 lbs.  Kidneys are scarce and until Woogie gained weight, he would not be considered, so Matt rigged a tiny nutrition supply backpack with a feeding tube that ran through Woogie’s nose into his stomach.  Matt says “We literally fed him 24 hours a day.”

Gradually as his general health improved he began to add weight. Then on August 1st, 2006, right before the Sturgis rally started, having reached that magic weight of 18 pounds the Bruer’s got the letter saying Woogie had been added to the transplant waiting list.

Another hurdle had been cleared, but  Woogie wasn’t home free.  “The letter said not to get our hopes up because the wait (for a kidney) can be upwards of two years” said Matt.

Transplants are given first to those who are the most critical and have been on the list the longest.  The Bruers settled in for a long wait, hopeful that a kidney would be found.

Three days later with the rally set to kick off and half the campground full and the other half expected in the next couple of days, the Bruers get the call that a kidney was available.

They were ecstatic!

Then reality set in.  They’re told its 12 hours away in Minnesota and because it’s a harvested kidney (from an adult donor) they have 8 hours to get Woogie to the operating table.    “It’s 7pm and the last commercial flight out of the small regional airport at Rapid City has already left.” Says Matt, “And there’s no way we can drive there in time.”

Matt, Becky and the family are devastated.   With his family in tears, Matt knew, even though it might be the only chance for Woogie, he was going to have to call the hospital and give up the kidney,

Tom and Deb Collins, campers at the "No Name Campground"

Tom and Deb Collins were campers at the No Name campground and had overheard what was going on with Woogie.  The couple knew they had to find a way to help.

Tom approached Matt and said,  “hold on a minute…do you have an American Express Card?”  When Matt said he did, Tom said, “Let me hold it for a second.”  He takes the card and Matt’s phone and disappears for 20 minutes. When he returns he tells Matt, “I just rented an airplane for you and it’s sitting on the tarmac in Rapid City!”

Matt asked, “How did you pay for it?”

Tom replied, “I put it on your American Express Card!”

Matt stood staring at the biker.  All he could think to say was, “I gotta pay for that in 30 days!”

Tom and Deb told him not to worry about that, but to take care of Woogie.

While Deb Collins helped get the family ready to make the trip, Tom Collins approached the bikers in the campground and passed around his hat.  When it got back around to him, the cash was literally overflowing.  Those tough as nail bikers with hearts of gold had raised $5,000, more than enough to pay for the plane charter.

On September 5th 2010, Woogie celebrated his 5th birthday, and besides the medicines he’ll have to take for the rest of his life, the little Sturgis miracle baby has grown into a normal rambunctious five year old.

Over the past four years The Bruers have made a monthly trip with Woogie to Minnesota  and he’s been in the hospital 13 times with 2 additional surgeries.  Doctors have made numerous adjustments in his medications.  He takes 13 different pills twice a day.

To help pay for the surgery and ongoing medical bills and medicine, the Bruers set up an organization called Elijah’s Allies and the website elijahsallies.com tells his story.  Matt says the biker community has been so good to his family and now Woogie has 500 surrogate parents, all past campers or people who have helped in some way over the years.

Matt says he still gets an occasional phone call asking him “how’s my boy?”

“The bottom line” says Matt, “bikers get a lot of bad publicity for  their partying and wild behavior sometimes, but the truth is these guys dug deep into their hearts and wallets that day and helped save a little boy’s life.  No other reason than to help a child, and to me that says it all.”

If you want to help,  financial contributions are tax deductible and will go directly into a fund account and will only be used for his healthcare expenses the fund is handled by Elijah’s B.H.C.H. Social Worker Dusty Petz and Matt & Becky Bruer, the account is at: Wells Fargo Bank  1040 Main Street, Sturgis, SD, 57785 Account Name: Elijah’s Allies.

Have you heard the one about the Jackass that walks into this bar…

Only it’s not a joke, the jackass is real (his name is Emmett) and the bar is the Full Throttle Saloon in Sturgis South Dakota.

If you’re waiting for a punch line, there isn’t one unless you count the patrons & employees who are the real stars on the hit reality show Full Throttle Saloon.

If the world is laughing at them, instead of with them,  no one seems to mind.  And in the home where the buffalo roam and the deer and the antelope play, no one is uttering a discouraging word.

In fact they’re lining up to get into the bar during the rally and viewers are tuning into the show in spades.

Conceived and built  by Tennessee native Michael Ballard, the Full Throttle Saloon was nothing more than empty grazing space for bison when construction started less than a decade ago.

Today the entertainment complex can take it’s rightful place among the top venues in Sturgis, right up there with long established Buffalo Chip Campground and One-Eyed Jacks saloon as must see destinations during the annual August motorcycle rally.

Coming from a background of construction, Ballard cashed out a successful business in Tennessee and went northwest, with the idea that if you build it, they will come.

And build it he has.  Going so far to rescue  the Bismark Bridge, a historic steel structure built in 1912 that spanned the Belle Fouche river on the old trail from Deadwood SD to Bismark SD.  Ballard  and his crew worked 36 hour days and waded through reams of governmental red tape  and took insane risks to move it to the site.

Not to mention bringing in three semi-tractors and installing them as DJ booth (inside) and sound board (outside).

That dream and vision attracted Jesse James Dupree, front man for the rock group Jackyl.

Ballard says Dupree, who is a big supporter of the Full Throttle is also the executive producer of the television show and a partner in the franchise end of the business.

Together the pair are expanding the brand by opening up themed saloons in Cincinnati Ohio and Madison Wisconsin in 2011.

Attached to his hip (although not by marriage) is Angie Carlson.  The lovely and talented Sturgis native was nicknamed “Mouth of the South” by her father but is called  the“Worlds Most Perfect Ass” by the bikers who frequent her bar (Angieland) inside the Throttle.

The second season of Full Throttle Saloon premiered Wednesday November 17th on TruTV and we called the two to get an inside look at their life in the fishbowl of reality television and how a rock star turns to dentistry during the largest motorcycle rally in the world.  (listen to the unedited version here)

Michael Ballard heads up the demented circus at The Full Throttle Saloon

USRN:  What makes the Throttle so special?

Michael:  The Full Throttle is just built around blue collar America. I mean we got 18 wheeler in the air, we got an 18 wheeler inside that’s a DJ booth, we’ve got old school buses with tops cut out that are bars…

Angie: (Interrupting) “We got chicks!”

Michael: (laughs)  lots of women, lot of hot bartenders ..the Flaunt girls out there, we got Angie with Angieland… through the years of adding all kinds of crazy shit all the way down to the midget wrestling, and this year we had our freak show out there..and we had acrobatic pole dancers …you’ll see a lot of that in the new season coming up..

USRN:  Sounds like PT Barnum thrown in here..

Angie:  It’s a demented circus for sure..

Michael:  I like to call it spring break for adults..laughs

USRN:  In the season premier, seeing Jackly’s lead man out there pulling a tooth, I mean what’s all that about?

Angie:  It’s insane!   (laughs)

Michael  (laughing) That’s just that good ole southern way you know..we try to save money every way we can…we’re just helping a brother out..

USRN: do you wake up each day wondering what’s coming in the bar during that month of rally week?

Michael:  You never know what going to walk through the front doors of that bar at that rally…it’s from one extreme to another for sure.

USRN:  I’ve got  to ask about the donkey…is he getting his own show?

Michael:  I don’t know… he’s working on it!  (laughs) he might wind up being the star ass in this one…Angie’s got a little competition running around..(laughs) but no, he’s cool man…I bought him for Angie and everybody fell in love with him at the bar…and his name is Emmett.

USRN:  Emmett the donkey…

Angie:  The jackass!  (laughs)

Brett Michaels performs at the Full Throttle Saloon

USRN: Speaking of that, Angie, tell me how you came up with Angie Land and do you get offended when someone comes out there and says “show me that perfect ass?”

Angie:  uh..no I get offended if I don’t get asked!  (laughs)   Angieland just kinda happened upon me. ..you know there always getting the boob shots all over Sturgis and a gentlemen was kinda sick of getting the same pictures so he asked me to do something different so I turned around, I had a little thong bikini on and I sat on his shoulder and they took the picture and thought it was great but his buddy thought he had to do one up on his friend so he asked me if I’d sit on his head…and (after that) I had a line for a mile.

USRN:  You guys are not married, but you work together, have a personal and professional relationship and then you throw in the television element, there’s gotta be some behind the scenes going on..so tell me a little about that..

Mike:  Man we fight like cats and dogs, but the make-up sex is great!  (laughs)  You know it’s tough, especially during the week before rally and the week of rally when…you’re trying to control chaos already, you know and you kinda lose patience with each other and it seems that you always take it out on the closest people to you…you kinda put a smile on to everybody else and behind the scene you take it out on the people that’s closer to you so, we have our ups and downs for sure.Those two weeks are really a tough time for us, but we’ve been doing it together for so long now that we know we’re going to have those ups and downs, and we’re just gonna work our way through it and fight through it, and roll on after the event’s over.

Angie: Go home and practice making babies!

USRN:  If there is wedding bells in the future is it going to be a big event for television or will you keep it quiet and just do something at the justice of the peace?

Angie: Well, you know I have to run everything through Jesse (Dupree)  so I guess I’ll have to ask for his permission to keep it quiet, but you know how he is, the showman that he is, he’s not gonna want to keep it quiet.

USRN: I can see Jesse with his chainsaw running the show, taking the preacher out..

Angie;  He’s actually an ordained priest so he’ll actually probably will be the one that marries us.

USRN:  Is that ok with you Michael?

Mike   I don’t know about all that…he always teases Angie all the time about she’s gotta go before the committee before she can get married..and he’s the head of the committee.

USRN:  Tell me what it means to have a tv crew in the middle of trying to run a business?

Mike:  You know, I think what makes our show so great is that we just ignore the cameras.  I’m not an actor..(laughs) so we just ignore the cameras and do our normal thing that we normally go through…I mean when something happens we don’t know that it’s going to happen. …it’s not a staged show… we have no idea what’s taking place, and the cameras are just there capturing everything.

Angie:  And we warned them beforehand, we told them how busy we are and how fast paced we have to go to make everything happen…we told them…whatever you capture is what you’re going to get..so be where you need to be..

USRN:  How many cameras do they have on site typically?

Angie Carlson, “the worlds most perfect ass”

Mike: They had a 50 person production crew there this year.  Between the sound guys, camera crew, producers and writers 24/7 …there was camera’s running all the time.

USRN:  One thing we’re hearing is that viewers want an uncensored DVD version?

Angie:  They just gotta come to the Throttle!