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The 81st Sturgis Rally

This year’s 81st Annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally took place from Friday, August 6 to Sunday, August 15, and it was a much-needed breath of fresh air for the hundreds of thousands of riders in attendance. We came, we partied our asses off, and lived to tell the tale. Law enforcement officials said that the first few days of this year’s Sturgis Rally had been among the busiest they’ve ever seen. According to the city of Sturgis, over 400,000 bikers came out to celebrate their passion for motorcycles. “There are more people here than in the 31 years I’ve been doing this,” Meade County Sheriff Ron Merwin told the Rapid City Journal.

Sturgis billboards proclaimed, “The Ride. The Roar. The Rally.” Yeah, baby! That’s what I’m talkin’ about. Bikers came from every state in the Union and from every country imaginable to experience biker heaven on earth. Riders everywhere heard the call and answered it with the roar of their Harleys. In a world of constant and often insane changes, Sturgis abides. The little town of 6,627 souls welcomed us back and put out the welcome mat. The Jack Daniels flowed and the party was on!

Exit 32 off of I-90 brought us right into town, greeted by the giant Law Tigers inflatable. Welcome to Sturgis! No matter how many times you’ve made the trip to the Black Hills, there are just certain things you have to do. You have to ride down Junction to Main Street, you have to have a cold beer at the Iron Horse Saloon, and you have to attend the all-you-can-eat pancake breakfast at the First Presbyterian Church where gray-haired grannies remind you to ride safe and come back to see ‘em… and they mean it.

Head east past City Park and you’ll soon see the massive metal Buffalo sign that welcomes you to the world-famous Buffalo Chip Campgrounds and Music Festival, home of the ultimate rally party since 1981. Here you’ll find non-stop biker shenanigans going on from mild to wild. The Chip has become party central for rally-goers offering up camping, cabins and RV hookups. Events include killer ride-in bike shows, off-road racing, biker games, the Wall of Death, rally grub, endless cold beer, and mind-meltin’ concerts every night.

The Chip brings bikers the best entertainment anywhere, with live concerts from such headliners as Puddle of Mudd, Buckcherry, Drowning Pool, Kid Rock, Reverend Horton Heat, Stone Temple Pilots, REO Speedwagon, Clint Black, ZZ Top and many more. Riding herd over all this, Rod Woodruff presides just as he has for 40 years. That’s right, the Chip celebrated 40 years of offering up the best biker party on earth. An extra slice of raisin pie goes to our dear friend Woody. He still keeps it real.

The Sturgis Rally should be on every rider’s bucket list, and if you haven’t made it to South Dakota for the amazing Motorcycle Mecca that is Sturgis, keep in mind that there is so much going on every day that there is no way to see it all. It’s best just to take your time, choose a few “must-see” experiences, and know that no matter where you go in the Black Hills, you are the party.

If checkin’ out scooters puts a smile on your mug, you’d enjoy the endless parade of bikes on Main Street or visit any of the ride-in shows that took place at places like the Iron Horse Saloon and the Buffalo Chip. These included Warren Lane’s True Grit Show, the Cycle Source Chopper Show and the Perewitz Paint Show at the Iron Horse, while the Chip offered up the School’s Out Chopper Show, the FXR and Dyna Show, the Hardcore Cycles Performance Show and Skinny Tire Bagger Show. Pat Patterson of Led Sleds put on a killer Sportster Show, and on Wednesday, the Chip held the Women, Wind and Wheels event showcasing women-owned and ridden customs. The big finale was the Rat’s Hole Show on August 12, the longest-running custom bike show in Sturgis.

It needs sayin’ that the people of South Dakota are some of the finest folks on this green earth. Everywhere we went, we experienced their good humor, their patience and their support of this rally. They laughed along beside us, opened their homes, broke bread with us and generally made us all feel like kings and queens. The bikers of America thank you.

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