So You Never Want To Go To Sturgis!
By Craig Littlefield

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 our motel.

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

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