Sunday, July 5, 2015

Sturgis, SD

We got to bed late last night and the fireworks were still going off around 1am.  The sky to the east was full of rockets, bursts and lots of noise very late in the night.  The people in the Rapid City area really know how to put on a fireworks spectacular.  It seems most of it was from private people shooting them off.

Debbie & Dale came by this morning and we headed for Sturgis, SD to look the area over.  I've heard of Sturgis bike week for years and have seen photos, movies, etc., of the bikes lined up on main street for blocks.  It is hard to visualize the number of bikes until you see the area.  There were only a hundred or so weekend bike riders out today to add a little flavor to the town.

We took the back way there and missed a turn and wound up driving a couple miles on a gravel road.  It was a good road and smooth to drive on which was a surprise.  The scenery along the road was beautiful with hillsides covered in pine trees, meadows with bubbling creeks running through them and an occasional house thrown in.  The old barn below really looked nice sitting near a meadow and small pond.

The first rally was held on August 14, 1938, by the "Jackpine Gypsies" motorcycle club, who still own and operate the tracks, hillclimb, and field areas where the rally is centered. The first event was called the "Black Hills Classic" and consisted of a single race with nine participants and a small audience. The founder is generally considered to be Clarence "Pappy" Hoel. He purchased an Indian Motorcycle franchise in Sturgis in 1936 and formed the "Jackpine Gypsies" that same year. The Jackpine Gypsies were inducted to the Motorcycle Hall of Fame in 1997. Hoel was inducted into the AMA Hall of Fame the following year, in 1998.
The focus of a motorcycle rally was originally racing and stunts. In 1961, the rally was expanded to include the Hillclimb and Motocross races. This could include half-mile track racing (the first year in Sturgis, there were 19 participants), intentional board wall crashes, ramp jumps and head-on collisions with automobiles.
The Sturgis Rally has been held every year, with exceptions during World War II. For instance, in 1942, the event was not held due to gasoline rationing.

Main street in Sturgis on a less busy day and just a few tourists checking out the t-shirt and souvenir shops looks like a typical main street in small town USA.


 Main street during bike week with a portion of the bikes attending the rally.

 Of course with all these bikers here during August with the sun shining and heat, a tremendous thirst comes on.  The organizer had thought of that and some saloons, beer gardens, bars, etc have fullfilled that need.

The Full Throttle Saloon (FTS) bills itself as the largest biker bar in the world.  After inspecting the bar and drinking one of the thirst quenchers, I would not disagree that it is the largest biker bar in the world.  It is huge with a number of bars and areas dedicated to keeping the beer and whiskey flowing.

  It isn't very often that one sees a truck tractor parked in a bar, but they have one there.  All along the wall they have motorcyles much like some restaurants have model trains.

 This is the back of the bar with side bars along both sides and three trucks on poles with the FTS logo below them.  In the center are two more trucks on poles.  

 The Knuckle Saloon also is quite large and is a block long.  We didn't go in there to check out the cold beverages but I am sure they have a huge supply cold and ready for consumption.

 Another large saloon is Easyriders and it is quite impressive.  One-Eye Jack's Saloon and the Broken Spoke Saloon are two other popular bars.  They all have bands and other forms of entertainment for the adult bikers.

 The Full Throttle Saloon also had a resident donkey who walked around begging food and drinks.  I wonder how much beer he can drink and still walk.  
They do ask you nicely to not feed the donkey and the message is very clear.  It didn't seem to help much since we saw many people petting and slipping some chips or other snack the donkeys way.

That was our visit to Sturgis and I don't think it would be that much fun to fight the crowds out there.  I read where one year there were over 450 arrests and motorcycle thefts over $300,000.00  Not that bad considering the attendance runs from 400,000 to 600,000 bikers in attendance.

We also made a trip to Deadwood, SD today, but I will include it in the blog for tomorrow. 

That was our day, how was yours?


  1. We were at Sturgis right before the big bike week. It was so busy we could barely drive through the town. Glad you gave us a tour because there was no way Paul was stopping.

  2. Our son went to bike week when he was 16 or 17. However, his bike was a bicycle with a gas weed whacker engine painted a bright orange. He went with his buddy and his buddy's Dad. They had so much fun parking their bikes along with all the other bikes. The other bikers were all really good to the kids and they had so much fun. But it is not someplace you would ever find us even if we had a bike. Hope you won some money in Deadwood.

  3. We were in Sturgis during bike bike...and we didn't have any trouble. Lots of fun seeing all the bikes parked down the middle of the main streets and lots of fun just looking at the different builds in bikes.