Sturgis, S.D. (October 27, 2021): A charity breakfast held at the epicenter of the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally is benefitting two L.A. County elementary schools this month through the cooperation of Strider Bikes, Petersen Automotive Museum, Russ Brown Motorcycle Attorneys, the Sturgis Buffalo Chip and droves of do-gooders. What began as a short story, is growing into a longer one.
In 2014, looking to drive new motorcycle ridership, Jeff Najar and Marilyn Stemp held the first Flying Piston Builders Breakfast during the annual Sturgis, SD, motorcycle rally. Why not, they thought, invite custom motorcycle builders from the Buffalo Chip’s prestigious Motorcycles As Art Exhibition for breakfast, then sell tickets for a celebrity meet & greet and benefit art auction? When the Chip’s owner, Rod Woodruff, offered to host the Breakfast at the Buffalo Chip, it was on. Funds raised the first several years supported technical education and Motorcycle Missions, foreshadowing an expansion of the event.
In 2018, Strider, maker of balance bikes that teach kids to ride, offered six of their bikes for the Flying Piston Breakfast. Recalls Stemp, “Instead of simply adding them to the auction roster, I thought, let’s make this fun and send them to custom motorcycle builders.” Rick Fairless, Paul Yaffe and Jody Perewitz agreed to help immediately, soon followed by many more.
That was also the year a new program of the Strider Education Foundation became a beneficiary of the breakfast. All Kids Bike makes bicycle training part of kindergarten P.E. class in elementary schools nationwide, encouraging healthy activity, confidence and mobility. “For our part,” said Stemp, “it also spoke to increasing motorcycle ridership. Bicycle riders are far more likely than non-riders to get on motorcycles.”
The tiny customs that resulted that first year – unquestionably eye-catching due to diminutive size and canny craftsmanship – were so well received that more builders asked to participate. When Mecum Auctions agreed to highlight the bikes at their Las Vegas event, it raised the potential for greater visibility and higher earnings for the charities.
The alliance with Mecum Auctions every year since 2018 has been a stellar platform for the program. Builder and fabricator Jessi Combs became a tiny custom builder in 2019, and it was that year at Mecum Las Vegas that her bike crossed the auction block, less than five months after her shocking and untimely passing. At the end of fierce bidding, Patrick Simmons of the Doobie Brothers had won the little bike, honoring both his wife, Cris Sommer Simmons, and Jessi; the two had been close friends.
A tiny two-wheeler built by the late Jessi Combs and unveiled at the Sturgis Buffalo Chip will bring the joy of riding a bike to kindergarten classes in Los Angeles on Oct. 29.
Jessi’s Strider custom traveled to the Petersen Museum for the memorial held there in her honor, and it’s currently on display at the National Motorcycle Museum in Anamosa, Iowa.
It’s due to the sale of Jessi’s bike that the first two LA-area schools are receiving the All Kids Bike rider-education program. On Friday, Oct. 29, notables from motorcycling and automotive worlds will gather to assemble 50 Strider bikes at the Petersen Museum then deliver them to the first schools. Video, photography and follow-up details to follow.
Information on the Flying Piston Breakfast and all of the tiny custom bikes can be seen at flyingpistonbenefit.com.
The Flying Piston Builders Breakfast takes place the first Sunday of the Sturgis Rally at the Big Engine Bar at the Sturgis Buffalo Chip’s free-access CrossRoads. Material support comes from presenting sponsor Russ Brown Motorcycle Attorneys, along with Strider Sports Int’l, Steve’s Garage and Kirsh Helmets. Through the generosity of Dana Mecum and Ron Christenson, the little customs remain on each year’s auction roster at Mecum Las Vegas.
About The Flying Piston
The Flying Piston Charity Breakfasts are produced by Marilyn Stemp of Iron Trader News and Jeff Najar of Biker Pros to assist in raising awareness and funds for non-profits and individuals in the biker community. Proceeds benefit All Kids Bike and Motorcycle Missions. For sponsor and media information or to donate, contact: Marilyn Stemp, 828-205-8482, firstname.lastname@example.org, https://flyingpistonbenefit.com/ or www.Facebook.com/The-Flying-Piston.
About the Sturgis Buffalo Chip
The Sturgis Buffalo Chip is the award-winning leader in music and motorcycle lifestyle experiences. Hailed as The Largest Music Festival in Motorcycling and The Best Party Anywhere, it has been the epicenter of the annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally since its establishment in 1981. Every August, the Buffalo Chip brings together the world’s largest gathering of music and motorcycle fans, with visitors from all 50 states and over 20 countries. It remains one of the world’s most televised and longest-running independent music festivals. The Chip advances the Sturgis Rally by being home to the Sturgis Rally Information Center and the official sponsor of the Sturgis.com Official Sturgis Rally Registration Program. More details are available at BuffaloChip.com.
About All Kids Bike
All Kids Bike, a program of the Strider Education Foundation, is a registered 501 (c) 3 organization that’s on a mission to teach every child in America to ride a bike as part of kindergarten P.E. Class. So far, the program is active in 386 schools in 45 states, impacting over 315,000 students over 5 years.