Motorcycle: Live Ride - Rallies: Sturgis
Date: Sunday, October 31 @ 14:35:20 UTC
Topic: Motorcycle, Motorcycles, Motor Cycle
Sturgis is an unremarkable little farming community in South Dakota. For most of the year very little happens until, in mid-August, this sleepy little hamlet goes motorcycle crazy as the famous Sturgis Rally lets rip.
The monster that Sturgis has become was born way back in 1938 when the Jackpine Gypsies Motorcycle Club organized the first Black Hills Rally and Races, with a $300 purse to the winner. Almost every year since, bikers by the thousand have cruised in along Interstates 85 and 90 to renew old friendships or make new ones. Being conveniently located in middle America - if 900 miles (1,450 km) from Chicago and 1,500 miles (2,410 km) from San Francisco can be considered convenient — attendance tends to be huge. Any old Sturgis Rally attracts 50,000 of the faithful. For the 50th anniversary in 1990, somewhere between 250,000 and 300,000 turned up. Sturgis is not specifically a Harley rally — not that you'd notice if you were there for all the Harley bikes on site. It lasts for a week — a week of swap meets, hog roasts (pigs, not bikes), drag-bike racing at the Sturgis Dragway, tours, gawking at fancy Harley hardware and generally having a good time. Bikers hang out at joints like the Bear Butte Cafe. Main Street is air-cleaner to wheel-spindle full of Hogs. If you need a break, there are tours to the nearby Dakota Badlands, Devil's Tower (featured in the movie Close Encounters of the Third Kind) or Mount Rushmore.
There's strangeness, as well. One year, a guy rode a buffalo into town, moseyed down Main Street and hung a left on to Junction Avenue. Another year, the nearby US Air Force base reputedly laid on a rather special kind of fire-works display when a couple of their jets dipped low over town, hit their afterburners and drowned out even the noise of a thousand V-twins.
The whole town joins in (Sturgis is usually quite lucrative, although the town is so outnumbered by bikers it has little choice) from the women of the United Presbyterian to the Grace Lutherans. There have been occasional troubles with biker gangs, notably in 1982, but on the whole Sturgis is comparatively peaceful (if far from tranquil). These gangs are actively encouraged by the Sturgis city fathers, who clearly know a good deal when they see one.
According to Jackpine founder, former Indian dealer J.C. "Pappy" Hoel, there's never been a serious problem with outlaw biker groups: "We have their co-operation as long as we don't hassle them."
Mainly, it's a week-long party. Behaviour has been known to be on the excessive side, but it's usually harmless and only takes place once a year. Besides, it's legendary.
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