Ride like the wind (real or pretend) in Sturgis, SD!

We’ve never been motorcyclists. Bert says he rode once, but I’m at dead zero on motorcycle rides or even sitting on a Hog, an Indian, or a Yamaha.

So, when we left Deadwood, South Dakota, I wanted to at least pass through Sturgis, home of the now-famous rally that began in 1938 and, in 2019, attracted over 500,000 riders to this town of about 6,900 residents.

After all, I can appreciate something I’ve never done, right?

Rally time in Sturgis! (Photo from Pinterest)

We rode through town, looking at venues and places that might hold that many people. And to this day, we can’t figure out how. Videos on YouTube show the main drag lined with cycles, bunched tightly together, waiting for action. And since then, we’ve heard about campgrounds that fill up fast like Buffalo Chip and Pappy Hoel Campground reminding us another big gathering in Tennessee: Bonnaroo.

Empty in May, but probably filled to overflowing during the Sturgis Rally.

But on this day, we saw little action. After all, we were there in May, and the rally happens the first week of August . . . if there’s not a coronavirus or something that might put a crimp in this gotta-be-there event.

Statue honoring Joe Petrali, a “do it all” racer, in downtown Sturgis, SD

What we did see was something we’d only heard about in the movies: legendary Indian Motorcycles (The World’s Fastest Indian)!

That’s right — the headquarters, no less, of Indian Motorcycles came to Sturgis in 1936 courtesy of C.F. “Pappy” Hoel, a founder of the Jackpine Gypsies motor club and founder of the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally.

And so it was, that with an unplanned, spur-of-the-moment decision to go see this place (that’s the best way, sometimes), we marched into what we thought would be an ordinary showroom only to find that this one was first class, all the way. From helmets, to leather jackets, shot glasses, tote bags, and yes, motorcycles, this showroom would be a showstopper even on New York City’s Fifth Avenue. It was somethin’ else.

Now you might be thinking that salespeople wouldn’t give us, the non-riders of the world, the time of day. But we were treated like royalty. And we got the full treatment: information about the quality of the cycles, what happens at the Sturgis Rally, and what merchandise sells best.

Courteous salesman — even to those who don’t ride — at Indian Motorcycles, Sturgis SD

To top it all off, I asked if I could just sit on one, expecting to hear that sitting wasn’t allowed on these finest of fine Indian specimens. But, lo and behold, the salesman helped me up on one of the most deluxe models (sticker shock: well over $97,000) in the showroom. And that’s how I became an Indian fan, as I imagined myself driving through Spearfish Canyon with the wind in my face!

Never thought I’d see this!

Truth is, it was the people of Sturgis that made the best impressions during our half day in town. From the riders we met standing in the check-out line at the grocery store to the girl serving coffee, we found people who talked to Southerners just like we’d be welcome any time in Sturgis — rally or not.

You never know who you’ll meet in the grocery store line, but what a treat! A warm welcome to SD from two bikers who have logged over 10 trips to the Sturgis Rally!
Willing to show off her t-shirt from Sturgis Coffee Company

Since then, we’ve looked up information on this year’s 80th Anniversary Sturgis Rally. The verdict from the June 16, 2020, meeting of the Sturgis City Council reveals that there will be a rally, but a modified one — as safe as they can make it — from Friday, August 7 through Sunday, August 16. For more discussions and information on what you can and cannot do, here are some sources you may want to check out.

Welcoming you to Sturgis, the Iron Horse Saloon

So, if you’re road tripping through the Black Hills of South Dakota, Sturgis is worth a pass through, at the very least. Or stay a while and dine, check out the goods at Indian Motorcycles, and cruise the streets imagining the vroom, vroom you’d hear during rally week.

It’s good times . . . rally or not.

Wishing you safe travels,

The temporarily cool duo of Rusha & Bert

18 thoughts on “Ride like the wind (real or pretend) in Sturgis, SD!

  1. Curt Mekemson

    You go girl! ๐Ÿ™‚ I can see you all decked out in your leathers and revving your engines. Fun story, Rusha. It would be something to see. I’ve been in Reno when the Harley crowd does its thing, but it is nothing like Sturgis. And I doubt you would find me near the place during Covid-19! It’s worrisome enough even being in a KOA Campground. โ€“Curt

    1. Oh, the Places We See

      I agree. It must be quite a ride. And even when we were there and nothing much was going on in Sturgis, we watched a great number of motorcyclists enjoying the curves of the highways and byways of the Black Hills. It really did make me — well, at least a little bit — wish I could ride an Indian or a Harley or anything with two wheels in South Dakota! It just seems like the natural thing to do there!

  2. JohnRH

    Excellent series. Well done. We drove through Sturgis a long time ago, far distant from rally time. Seemed kind of drab to me! You were much more informative.

  3. Sue Slaght

    sometimes the best experiences are those that aren’t planned. What a warm welcome you received. I had a small dirt bike as a teenager but never got into the larger motorcycles. Should we ever find our way to South Dakota we will add this stop!

    1. Oh, the Places We See

      It was a warm welcome, and I’m pretty sure they could tell we weren’t going to be motorcycle buyers. Nice people are everywhere, I guess. But these nice people made me respect Indian Motorcycles (the company) even more.

  4. Anonymous

    You looked great Motorcycle Mama!!! ๐Ÿ˜„
    Of course you had to try one out! I would have too!

  5. Stine Writing

    I have always loved riding, something I did when I was younger. Once when my kids were little my late husband and I had hopped on his bike, since my dad was babysitting. We cruised around, stopped for a drink and a bite…I will never forget us looking at each other and saying, if we get in an accident the kids will have no parents. Jump ahead about 18 years…My husband passed away almost two years ago to this day. After his death my son saved his money to buy a bike. He paid cash, got his license and got insurance. Last July I lost him in an accident. I would never preach about motorcycles because there are plenty of people who ride their entire lives. It is just a topic that is hard to deal with right now.

    1. Oh, the Places We See

      I doubt I could hold up the motorcycle for even five minutes! These machines are way out of my league! Not only that, I would forget all the instructions. Not a good thing when youโ€™re on something that costs more than both our cars together!!

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