Rev Up for the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally
Situated along the serene slopes of the Black Hills in South Dakota, Sturgis is a great place to kick back and enjoy the sights and sounds of nature.
In the winter, the snow-peaked cliffs jutting from the pines offer a tranquil backdrop to a crisp day. Spring is a time of rebirth as the birds return and the hills come alive once again. The summer months creep along to create a quiet paradise.
But in the distance comes the noise and energy of over 100,000 visitors making their way along the winding highways of SD.
They’re out to see America and experience the glory of the open road, and it won’t be long until they converge at one of the largest motorcycle rallies in the country. It’s August in Sturgis, which can mean only one thing: bikers’ bliss.
The Sturgis Motorcycle Rally takes place every year during the first week of August. Motorcycle enthusiasts travel from afar to partake in the week-long event. You, too, can feel the nit and grit of the all-American highway life. Come out to Sturgis this August to see what the rally has to offer.
History of the Rally
Motorcycle rallies found their beginning in North America around 1916, when cycle enthusiasts took to the road to experience the great wide open. They typically camped under the night sky and gathered in cities and small towns for motorcycle camaraderie. The excursions were called “gypsy tours” because of the nomadic and rustic nature of the motorists.
In an effort to escape a predestined future in the ice business, J.C. “Pappy” Hoel followed his dream and purchased an Indian dealership in 1936. He was a dealer, a racer, and a promoter of motorcycle events, and he founded the Jackpine Gypsies Motorcycle Club in 1937. The first Sturgis Motorcycle Rally took place in 1938 and was held by Pappy Hoel and the Jackpine Gypsies.
The initial Sturgis expedition was meant to be a scenic ride through the Black Hills with camping and food provided by Pappy and his wife. They called it the “Black Hills Motor Classic”. Originally, the tour was designed around certain competitive events, like racing and stunt driving. A dirt-track race was made and Johnny Spiegelhoff, an Indian Motorcycle racer from Milwaukee, was the star of the event. The Black Hills Motor Classic drew a little over 200 participants.
The next year the Motor Classic attracted over 800 riders. Today, the rally includes far more activities (including poker games, concerts, and bike shows) and it draws a crowd of over 100,000 people. The only time the Sturgis rally wasn’t held was for two years during World War II, when gasoline had to be rationed.
The Sturgis Motorcycle Rally has always been an all-inclusive, come-one-come-all event. No one who wishes to have a good time without harming others is turned away. This indeed has built a lasting bond between the riders, the staff, and the landscape, and the rally has created thousands of memorable moments in travelers’ lives.
The riders don’t just take their memories and run, however. Many of them give back to the community of South Dakota. It all started with the Jackpine Gypsies, led by Pappy Hoel, who thought civic responsibilities and donations to the community a part of their duty. They have donated manpower and money to construction projects, and they held membership in the Sturgis Chamber of Commerce for over twenty years. The Sturgis Motorcycle Rally also gives a needed boost to the economy every year; it’s projected to bring in over 800 million annually.
Things to Do at the Rally
Get Married: If you’re the type that finds romance in the rugged and love in leather jackets, then the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally may be the best time to get hitched. That’s right, you can tie the knot right at the rally. You must obtain a marriage license at the Register of Deeds office located in the Erskine building, and you’re all set.
See a Live Concert: On the road, the sounds of the engine running and the wind in your hair are all you need to enjoy the American scenery. At the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, however, you can rev your engines to the sounds of live music. Many locations in and around Sturgis offer some great live events, including concerts by popular bands such as Lynyrd Skynyrd and Motley Crue.
Visit the Museum: This isn’t your typical museum. Visitors come from all over to see what’s on exhibit and to get a taste for history’s best motorcycles. The Sturgis Motorcycle Museum and Hall of Fame is the perfect place to bone up on some of motor history’s most loved bikes and riders.
Compete: Have a unique tattoo? Proud of your protruding beer belly? How about entering one of the many quirky contests the rally has to offer. You can be crowned Miss Full Throttle Saloon, pinned the blue ribbon of redneck or pin-up tattoos, or win the Rockstars Beer Belly Contest.
Like the first buds of spring or like bears emerging from a long hibernation, Sturgis comes to life at the onset of August with the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. When you pull up after a long and weary ride, you feel the energy of the adventures that await you. The common ground you ride on will hold you together as you set out on your expedition. The endless stretch of highway under the blue skies above all leads to one place: Sturgis.
2014 marks the 74th annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally and it is scheduled to take place from August 4th to August 10th. For more information about the rally, lodging, or the event schedule, please visit the homepage here.