To most motorcycle riders in the world, Sturgis is a name that is known to all. Even in the most remote places around the globe, bikers will have heard of Sturgis.
Normally throughout the year, Sturgis is a small city located in South Dakota with a population of some 6,600 souls. But once a year the city swells to 400,000 to 750,000 people; all bikers or biker wannabees.
Officially called the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, the first rally was held way back in 1938, and consisted of a race with 9 participants and a very small audience.
Over the years it has become world’s largest motorcycle rally and gathering. Not only do bikers from all over the USA visit the hills of South Dakota, but bikers from almost every country in the world attend this pilgrimage.
What To Do And Where To Go During The Rally
There’s always a lot of things happening in and around Sturgis. Once you’re there, your priority will be to find a place to stay (which is something you should have done well in advance). The prime and most “in” place is at the Buffalo Chip camping grounds. It’s pretty close to Sturgis, and not only is it a full service camping ground (meaning showers, toilets), but it also has its own entertainment. Big concerts are given there, and it’s a 24 hour party field. Think of Buffalo Chip as the Woodstock of the 2000′s.
But there are obviously many other places to stay, ranging from hotels to private homes. If you’re planing to attend the event with a RV, there’s plenty of places for those as well. Best is to access the official Sturgis Motorcycle Rally site for a list of places. http://www.sturgismotorcyclerally.com/
As for entertainment in Sturgis, it’s centered around 3 areas. The main gathering point is Main Street. That’s where you’ll find a lot of the bars, saloons and eating places, and where you’ll find thousands of motorcycles parked.
Walk around the streets, gawking at other bikers, and visit the many vendors installed alongside streets and alleys. Or take part in the Beer Belly Contest. At least all the beer drinking is going to pay off.
You’ll find plenty of stuff to buy, from serious motorcycle gear, to souvenirs and if you’re in the market for a tattoo, now’s the time to do it.
Concerts and live music can be found anywhere. The major camping grounds all have big concerts as do several of the big bars.
One of the main motorcycle parades is the Mayor’s Ride, with many thousands attending. The ride is a charity ride, so you’ll need to cough up some money, but the proceeds go to the Fire Department. But if you don’t want to go anywhere but still enjoy the throb of your engine, go to one of the tire burnouts. The better the burnout, the higher the applause, the bigger the chance you get to win the prize.
Another thing you can do, is get married. Of course you can get married almost anywhere, but doing it in presence of 1000′s of like minded bikers can be fun. So what better than two unforgettable events for the price of one.
If you want to try out a new bike, there’s plenty of manufacturers there offering you demo rides. You’ll also find other bikers who have the motorcycle you lust for, so strike up a conversation and find out of the bike is really hot.
Whenever there are crowds, you’ll find problems; it’s a given. Sturgis is no exception, except that the security is provided by police officers from far away (Sturgis’s police force is not big) and almost all of the cops are bikers themselves. So they know what it’s all about. Unless you plan to ride through a busy street at 100 miles per hour, they’re not going to bother you. In fact, they’ll be looking at your bike, comparing it to theirs.
For the rest, remember what you do when you are in a big crowded city. Keep you belongings and valuables close to you. Lock your motorcycle, and don’t leave your helmet and other belongings on the bike. Just because you’re with other bikers doesn’t mean that someone is not honest. You’ll also find many pickpockets working the area.
One item you may not want to forget when attending Sturgis: earplugs! Noise levels can attain very high levels, almost day & night. If there’s something you’ll remember Sturgis by, it’s the constant rumble of motorcycle engines, and the smell of burning rubber. But it’s a well worth visit.
Like most popular events, things have become commercial. Although the main events are free, you will be asked to dish out money almost everywhere. But if you go to Disney, it’s the same. Remember, you’re visiting the Mecca of the motorcycle world. It’s a pilgrimage you need to do at least once in your life.
If you want to attend this mythical and magical event, the next date is August 6th to 12th 2012.
Since Sturgis 2011 is on at this moment, you can catch a glimpse using one of the several webcams installed. This will give you a great idea what to expect.