You have heard that Sturgis is a huge mob of Harley riders meeting
to roar around in circles, drink a lot of beer and look cool. Well you
are right. Jan and I just got back from a trip to Sturgis. They say that
500,000 bikes come. If anything it is a low estimate. There are presently
many buffalo in South Dakota. The early explorers were awestruck with
the quantity of buffalo in the early 1800s. Francisco Coronado said that
it was "impossible to number them" and Reverend Robert Rundle
said "in numbers - numberless." This describes the number of
motorcycles. I estimated that 95% are Harleys.
The rally isn't just about Sturgis. It is about the Black Hills and an
area about 80 miles long and 50 miles wide stretching into Wyoming. We
stayed in Custer. It is 60 miles south of Sturgis and is crammed with
bikes. All the small towns in the area, Hot Springs, Deadwood, Spearfish,
Rapid City, are swarming with Harleys. They fill the middle of the streets
with them. Everywhere you go you are following them or being followed
by them. Most have no mufflers so all the time there is a roar. We would
lie in bed at night and hear them go up and down the road. Never ending.
The town of Sturgis is so crammed with motorcycles that you cannot drive
anywhere. It is hard to find a place to park a motorcycle. However for
people watching and for seeing motorcycles there is no place like it.
It is the ultimate costume party. There are people in all styles of leather
dress and undress. We spent only 2 hours right in town. We had had enough.
It was worth the trip but we have seen it.
We got to know both of our neighbors in the motel. On one side were four
guys from Pennsylvania who trailered two of their bikes while following
the other two. They had a lot of stories. One guy got lost on the way
and they found him in Custer 2 days later. Can you go to the cops and
ask them to find a bearded guy on a Harley?
The guys on our other side were from Jersey. I told one of them that it
was too bad he didn't have time to ride home rather that trailer their
bikes. He said he wouldn't dream of driving that far. It was if he came
to hike and I had suggested he walk home. I estimated that overall 1 of
every 3 bikes are trailered. There were several trailers and pickups at
So why would anyone want to go? The riding is great. It is beautiful country.
We did all the small back roads, mostly at 30 miles an hour behind Harleys,
but still fun. Every rest area, gas station, restaurant and bar is filled
with bikes. If you love motorcycles it is a spectacle to behold. These
guys love their bikes as much as we love ours. They are just different
and like a different kind of motorcycle.
Jan and I both had a blast. Being on a BMW in some ways made us special.
We talked to a lot of Harley riders. Most of them had never heard of BMWs
and had a lot of questions. We did not meet a single person who was not
friendly. I don't know if we will ever go again but I am glad we did it
once. With the Harleys, the people and the noise, this is nothing like
a BMW rally. Check out some of my photos on my website at