Before I moved to South Dakota, I actually thought Sturgis was just the name of the week long motorcycle “rally”. No, Sturgis is an actual town, population 6,656 (as of July 2011), that is basically overrun with motorcycle enthusiasts every year during the first week of August. Every year anywhere from 300,000 to 500,000 people invade the Black Hills, and just so you can get an idea of what this does to our tourism and traffic, the population of South Dakota is normally only about 825,000. Sadly, with so many people it is guaranteed that there will be a couple fatalities every year from traffic accidents, driving under the influence, or the occasional gang fight.
The Sturgis bike rally started as a dirt bike race, organized by the Jackpine Gypsies motorcycle club (they still own and operate the race events today) in 1938. The major event that has evolved over the years is the Hillclimb where motorists literally try to ride up a ridiculously steep hill. While that still happens, the main attraction to Sturgis seems to be just riding around the hills in large groups or attending the many concerts held. Also drinking, revving engines, and scantily clad women.
Personally I don’t really get it, maybe that’s just cause I have no desire to own a motorcycle, the music usually isn’t my taste, and it’s always super hot outside. I’ve gone to Sturgis during the rally about 3 times in the last 6 years, and I am definitely not the target audience. To me, rally time just means tons of motorcycles taking up the parking spaces and driving erratically (because most of these people don’t ride their bikes that much and they haul them to SD on trailers). And the digital billboard in town rented by the police department showing the total number of DUI arrests sky rockets this time of year.
Have you ever been to a bike rally or own a motorcycle? Ever been to the Black Hills? If you come, let me know!