The battered monarch had seen much better days.
Large chunks were missing from the edge of its wings and most of the velvet had long since worn off.
If held up to the light, you could see right through them. It had been laying, limp along the pathway, I imagined the victim of a passing vehicle.
There didn’t seem to be much life left in its withered and experienced body.
The life-flight helicopter hovered overhead, bringing in another accident victim in the onslaught brought on by crowded roads and aging riders.
On a busy street in the distance, an ambulance was stopped with its flashing lights loading another visitor who had succumb to the heat or traffic.
I had just climbed to the top of the bend when I saw a Harley on its side and a wizen rider vainly attempting to right it for one more adventure.
I imagined that many older bikers saw themselves one day leaving this world in a blaze of glory, bodies twisted beneath their rides, but I doubt many imagined themselves staring down at their trusty steads, examined by passing traffic in the Dairy Queen parking lot.
Modern bikers have much in common with the majestic Monarch. Flashes of color distinguish each from the other in their predominant black trim.
Each is carried along by a set of the most majestic set of wheels or wings in their kingdoms and few can help but stare as they pass by.
There are several generations of monarchs born each summer.
They normally only live for a few weeks or months, passing soon after they have depleted the eggs that they carry or run out of seminal fluids that bring on the next generation.
They travel from watering hole to flower patch gathering as much nectar as they can carry.
I live in the country near the Stone House Saloon on the Wyoming border and many of the visiting cyclists seem to also be wandering from watering holes, gathering nectar, and looking for flowers.
This rally week has seen goodly numbers of both butterflies and bikers, but there is concern that the populations might be shrinking.
Monarchs have even been placed on the endangered species list and if demographics hold true, the aging corps of bikers might diminish also.
As a son of Sturgis, graduating class of 81, I have seen the rally grow to immense proportions compared to the small festival that was once held entirely within the confines of the City Park.
During that era, the average biker was not much older than I, most were in their mid-thirties and much more concerned with the riders in the second seats than the bikes themselves.
We would occasionally have visitors at the ranch in Pleasant Valley looking for a quiet place to hold hands and I might have accidentally disturbed a young couple or two while checking the cows or moving hay.
The rally has aged along with me and recent reports show the crowd is often in their fifties with some more experienced than others.
A local eatery has upped its game by lining the sidewalks with rocking chairs.
Many more bikes are being trailered in as the distance of the migration becomes too great, but the love of the ride too hard to give up.
The last generation of butterflies does not breed, rather it stores fat and migrates thousands of miles to a genetically imprinted destination it has never seen. Are these riders with bellies like my own, the last generation?
I marveled at the aged butterfly at the top of the story as it clung to my hand. I could not help but admire its determination and stamina.
While most are only destined to live a short time, this one had been gifted with mileage and endurance.
Every scar told a story and it had no need for my pity.
In the end, it launched itself skyward with a sudden burst of power and caught a gust that sailed it west towards Sturgis.
Who knew there were biker butterfly?
The Speirs family has owned and operated Crow Creek Wildlife Management Service since 1996.
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