The Sturgis Motorcycle Rally is held during the first three weeks of August every year.
Tons of bikers and gawkers alike descend on this small town, which is just west of Rapid City, South Dakota, so that they can spend some time
- showing off their bikes,
- buying, selling and trading cycle related items and
- simply enjoying themselves with others who share they enthusiasm for motorcycles.
Let me take you on a short tour.
There is nothing remarkable about the small town of Sturgis, South Dakota t, except for the fact that for three weeks every year it turns into a madhouse.
When you go, parking, driving and even dining will be difficult because of the huge numbers of people who will be there.
However, you won't care because the things you will see will be outrageous, interesting and fun to watch.
There Are More Motorcycles Than You Have Ever Seen
So many people show up for this event that the streets are covered with motorcycles of every size, type, color and description. The same can be said of the people who drive them.
They are there to compete, party, enjoy the Black Hills and generally have a screaming good time.
While they may look a little scary (and some actually are!), you will find all sorts of people there, including grandmothers, movie stars, artists, gang members and people who just love to ride those big old hogs of theirs!
Better prepare yourself for unusual sites if you decide to make a visit.
The last time my husband and I were there, a very attractive young woman, who was dressed in black leather strolled by. From the front, she looked fine. From behind, her rear end was sticking out of the holes that had been cut in the seat of her pants!
The Sturgis Bike Rally was originally dubbed "The Black Hills Classic" by the Jackpine Gypsies, the biker club that started the event in 1938.
At that time there was only one competition with 9 participants and only a smattering of watchers.
As time went on, the games expanded to include racing and stunts, and in 1961, many other events were included, not the least of which were intentional crashes of various sorts.
Those participating, both then and today, are definitely not timid types, but every person among them loves the rally.
However the events are not their only reasons for being there.
A Three Week Party
The actual rally lasts only one week, but the partying continues for three.
I have been to four of these events, and can tell you that going there is like visiting a modern day version of the wild west.
There is so much alcohol consumption that one man who owns a small campground store outside of Custer State Park told me that during the previous year's rally, customers purchased 10,000 cases (not bottles) of beer from his establishment. Those selling drugs undoubtedly do equally as well.
It is pretty obvious from the way many of the people there dress and act that they are there to party wildly.
They wear crazy outfits that display normally unseen body parts, dance, drive outrageous cycles and generally let it all hang out!
When you go, you never know who or what you will see, and that is part of the fun!
Jay Leno, Sam Elliot and Mary Hart are just of the few celebrities that I have seen there, but many doctors, lawyers, teachers and every day folk also attend.
So while you may think you are looking at a gang member, you might actually be seeing the mayor of some town or even your next door neighbor!
Hundreds Of Thousands Of People Attend This Event Every Year
How many people come to this rally? Well, at last count, which was a few years ago, there were 850,000 visitors, most of whom were driving motorcycles!
Considering that Rapid City only has a population of 75,000 and the surrounding small towns only have about 5000 residents each, one soon realizes the impact that such an influx of visitors has on the area.
There isn't anywhere in the immediate area where you won't see hundreds of motorcycles,
Townspeople love it when the cyclists come to town, because it means they will make money.
To make certain that they do, the price of everything rises.
Vendors set up tents wherever they can to sell everything from clothing, food and crafts to Black Hills Gold jewelry and motorcycle accessories.
What is interesting that following the rally, you can find some of the items online, so you don't really have to be there to own a piece of memorabilia from the event.
The Rally Is Not For Families
The Sturgis Motorcycle Rally has a little something for everyone, although it is hardly a family oriented event.
There is nudity, dancing, heavy drinking, loud music and general rowdiness all through the day and night. Sometimes there is also violence.
Every year there are accidents and even some deaths.
Nonetheless, people come from all over the world to take part in it or just look at each other's outfits and rides.
Plan Far In Advance If You Wish To Attend
If you want to visit the Black Hills during the first three weeks of August, you had better plan far in advance and also keep your wallet handy, because prices go sky high when the boys and girls roll into town on their hogs.
People often reserve campsites and hotel rooms a year in advance to make sure they will have a place to stay, and they are smart to do so.
If you want to enjoy something the likes of which you have never seen before, the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally is for you.. Whether you plan to camp or stay in a hotel, your visit will be a once in a lifetime experience!
The video I show here is the milder side of Sturgis. You can find the more graphic stuff on YouTube
After all, Sturgis is the largest motorcycle rally in the US, and is definitely a site everybody should see at least once!
Have a good time!