69th Annual Sturgis Rally 2009
Aug 9, 2009
|The Sturgis Motorcycle Rally is a motorcycle rally held annually in Sturgis, South Dakota each first full week of August. It was founded on August 14, 1938 by the Jackpine Gypsies Motorcycle Club who still own and operate the tracks, hillclimb, and field areas that the rally is concentrated around.
The founder is generally considered to be Clarence "Pappy" Hoel who is still honored in various ways by the crowd at Sturgis.
The main focus of the motorcycle rally was originally racing and stunts. This could include half mile track racing (the first year in Sturgis, there were 19 participants), board wall crashes (intentional), ramp jumps and head on collisions with automobiles. The Sturgis Rally has been held every year, with exceptions during World War II.
Today, there has been a revitalization of motorcycling and a new group of fans that are interested in the old rallies and creating new ones. This has led to huge attendance numbers for classic rallies such as Sturgis. Attendance was estimated at 514,951 in 2004, and 525,250 in 2005. This rivals the resident population of the entire state which was 754,844 in 2000.
Many of the new attendees of the Sturgis Rally are family people, bringing their children with them and often driving trailers and campers to the rally and riding their motorcycles the last few miles. This has prompted several of the attendees to start wearing patches and shirts saying "I Rode Mine to Sturgis" with the date instead of the traditional patch stating that the wearer attended the event in such-and-such a year. There is an abundance of rally memorabilia for sale in every town for 100 miles from Sturgis. It has become as important as the event itself. All of the towns throughout the Black Hills hold riding events, food and music events. Many campgrounds provide big food and entertainment events which substantially contributes to the volumes that attend the rally.
Preliminary reports indicate that the 2009 rally was significantly bigger. The actual statistics won't be available until September/October. Rumor has it, however, that the tax revenue exceeded $100,000 and attendance was once again over 500,000. I am can hardly wait untill all the actual stats are available. There were five fatalities in the region. DUI and drug arrests were down this year. Guitarist, Steve Tyler of Aerosmith, broke his shoulder in a fall. Thats all the tidbits I could find.
Our first opportunity to attend the rally was Friday, August 7th which was near the end. Sturgis was still very busy and crowded with bikes and their owners. The bikes ranged from the traditional Harley to the bizarre that could barely qualify as a motorcycle.
Sturgis is a generous 70 miles from Crazy Horse and a great drive through the west side of the Black Hills. The Black Hills is a dream for the touring motorcyclists like ourselves. Gently winding roads carved into breathtaking pine covered ancient granite mountains. Interspersed with grand meadows and crystal clear creeks flowing into perfect lakes.
Once we arrived in Sturgis and got parked we found a nice grassy area and had our picnic lunch then went shopping and sightseeing. Wow! As you might imagine, we saw all walks of life and such variety on two or three wheels.
This year's rally has been dubbed Soggy Sturgis 2009. August 2009 has been very wet and cold, but the weather throughout the country has been a little weird this year. Late in the afternoon, J.C. and I experienced one of the worst storms we have seen since being here. Torrential rain, 40+ mpr winds, and hail the size of quarters. Really! A public horn warning and information over a loud speaker system were sounding off in downtown Sturgis about 10 minutes before the storm hit.
Many of the vendors were setup in temporary tents. The winds were tearing them apart. The flooding was washing inventory down the streets. Some bikes sustained paint damage and dents from the hail. Our bike was unharmed. The worst of the storm lasted about 30 minutes. Then, the sun came out and everyone continued whatever they were doing. It was getting late in the day so many businesses started closing and the crowds starting thinning. It was all so amazing.
We drove back through Deadwood. Stopped for the crab leg and prime rib dinner at one of the casinos, but the wait was 1 1/2 hours. After some searching, and a little wait, we got a table at the Midnight Star owned by one of my favorites, Kevin Costner. The restaurant was decorated with many of the costumes he wore in his movies. The food was nothing to get excited about but was OK and the service was good.
We finally got on our way home by about 7:30 and were crossing our fingers that the weather would hold. We still had a healthy 60 mile drive ahead of us. There were very low clouds crossing the highways and accumulated hail on the sides of the road that looked like snow. It was a little chilly. We got within 20 miles of Hill City and it started to rain again...not the torrential rains of earlier in the day but nonetheless wet. Fortunately, once we got south of Hill City the rain let up a little bit and we made it home just a little soggy. Fun, fun day.