Saturday, 14 August 2010

Sturgis !!!

This year is the 70th anniversary of the motorcycle rally in Sturgis, South Dakota.

I have been at Sturgis for just over 2 days and I think I have seen just a small part of what is here. The place is absolutely full of people and bikes- it is quite something to witness and be a part of.

Being a town of just 6800 people, I am sure the impact of the bike rally is huge on the town and the surrounding area. I think in the order of 600,000 people attend the Rally each year and I have heard that the estimate of numbers for this year’s rally is greater than normal. Finding a hotel around here needs to be done many months in advance as they get fully booked very early.

The rally is full of interesting people and bikes. By far the greatest majority of bikes are Harley-Davidsons, but the people come in all different varieties! I think I found the people to be the most interesting aspect of the rally – there some very normal and some very strange people here in this huge melting pot of the US biking community.

There are 3 main areas. First the Main Street area where people park their bikes along both sides and down the middle of the street. If you have seen pictures of Sturgis, a shot of main street is nearly always included. Nearly all the shops along Main street sell bike related clothing – mainly T shirts. There are a few bars and a few places to get your Tattoo (no, I didn’t). Second is the rest of the town which is pretty much taken over by the rally. It becomes full of temporary buildings and large tents selling everything you could possible ever need for you and your bike. There are some of the main manufacturers selling bikes as well, but mainly only those that already has a mass appeal in the US (Harley, Victory, Indian). There are numerous specialist bikes for sale such as customs, trikes etc. The third main area are the campgrounds which are all around Sturgis and up to 10 miles away. The most famous of these is Buffalo Chip where concerts are played nightly.

There have been some big name acts playing concerts - Ozzy Osbourne, Bob Dylan, ZZ Top, The Scorpions, Motley Crue, The Doobie Brothers to name but a few.

I took quite a few photos while here and I have included some in this post. Actually quite a lot!

I have arranged these in three groups..... General Sturgis shots ..... Bikes ...... and People ......

GENERAL Sturgis shots......

This is Main Street showing perhaps the most well known view of Sturgis....




















Just to prove I was here, this is me and the Leading Ladies at the city sign....




















Me on Main Street....




















Finding a space to park your bike on Main Street can be a little challenging. Bobscoot please note – it is free!....





















It is really impressive seeing the rows and rows of bikes....





















See if you can spot my bike!....




















BIKES in Sturgis....

By far the greatest type of bike here are Harley-Davidsons, 99% of which are pretty standard. I have therefore included pictures of some of the less standard bikes.....

The rear wheel on this custom bike is hub-less. I did manage to work out how they did this....




















This is an Eddie Trotta bike, with a stunning paint job....




















A back-to-front bike. The front wheel is fixed and the back wheel turns to steer the bike. It was a fantastic piece of engineering....




















I have seen this bike before in London. It wouldn’t be very rideable!....




















A horizontally opposed four cylinder custom bike....




















I am not sure, but I think this is an old aircraft engine built into a custom bike....




















The engraving on this bike was incredible. Click to enlarge it....




















The first of the strange bikes. Just look at the size of the rear wheel....














































A bike covered with a buffalo skin. The owners claimed it was the most photographed bike in the world. Quite how they are able to know this I am not sure, but there were a lot of people taking pictures of it....




















I love the shape of the engines in the new Indians....



























These two bikes were funny – they looked like bobbers and indeed are bobbers, but the engines are tiny – not sure what they are....




















A trike with a rear end that looks like a car....



























This trike was amazing – it had a V8 engine and was being ridden by a very small woman. It sound very good indeed....




















There were many V8’s at Sturgis, but not content with a mere V8. The owner of this bike put TWO V8 engines in his bike.... A V16 trike!!!.... It was getting a lot of attention....




















I really like this style of bike, a Bobber....



























The paintwork on the same bike....



























Another great looking bike, with a shovelhead engine....




















A completely over-the-top “Diva” bike....




















I liked the name of this bike, ripped off from Von-Dutch....





















The final bike.... not a great photo of it, but look at the trailer...it is a coffin....




















Now my favourite photos.... the PEOPLE.....

This is Donna and Stu who contacted me after finding my blog. Knowing they were in Sturgis at the same time as me, they suggested we meet which we did over a drink and lunch. Both retired, they now spend their time living in their RV travelling around the country. They both have motorbikes as well, but I forgot to ask them how they move them around with the RV. I was really pleased to have met them and shared lunch with them in Sturgis. Their blog is www.2takinga5th.blogspot.com



























I saw this very unlikely looking couple on the street....



























And here is the back view....



























Cool headgear....



























I think this guys headgear was meant to be a hot dog. That only leaves one question. Why?....



























This chap must have been hot in his get up....



























This guy has been to Sturgis many times.....




















And so has his partner....



























I couldn’t resist asking this guy if I could take his picture....



























I first noticed this woman on her bike because of the way it was over-loaded with her camping gear....



















It wasn’t until I walked passed her that I noticed what was on her lap.... a little puppy....



























Sticking with dogs, this fellow was very cool....




















There were quite a few dogs on bikes....



























See, I told you he isn’t dead.....



























This was a very tall, er, woman?....



























This is crazy, but I like it....



























Very silly....



























These are some guys I met about a week ago and amongst the 600,000 people at Sturgis, I bumped into them in the street!....




















I took a few photos of this woman who was wearing nothing but body paint and a smile on her top half. This back view is pretty good, but the front was even better. I thought about putting the front view on my blog but decided not to as it may offend some who might report it as inappropriate to Google. I didn’t want to take the risk of getting my blog closed down so I left it out. Don’t worry Bob, I will send it to you!....



























This guy has a lot of tattoos!....



























A religious march down Main Street....



























Cool looking guy on his bike....


























This is Willie Davidson, of Harley-Davidson fame. He was in the World Championship of Custom Bike Builders tent when I saw him....



























Finally, this guy had had enough!. He was fast asleep on his bike....



























My overall impression of Sturgis? Great fun, really busy, pretty wild (I left out a lot of risqué pictures), easy-going, well organised and well worth visiting. Would I go again? Yes, definitely.

But, the road calls and tomorrow morning I continue my journey west.

19 comments:

Donna aka Froggi said...

Gary, it was so great to meet you! Hope we can touch base again somewhere in the world.

Great photos...you saw some sights we missed. Thanks for sharing!

securityfactory said...

Gary, I read a lot of Donna and Stu's blog about their travels with their cycles and a recreational vehicle. You were wondering how they transport their bike and trike, right? Well they have what we call a "toy hauler." The rig is a diesel tractor pulling a 5th-wheeler trailer that looks like it is over 40 feet long. The rear compartment is a "garage" that has a ramp for loading and tie-down rings for travel security. [At least that is the way the rigs I looked at were arranged. D&S's look similar.] If you see them again, I bet they'd be happy to give you a tour.

BTW, your pic is on their blog today.

R!ch

Axel said...

Thanks for this, what a great collection of pictures. Th tiny engines look like Honda 50cc as I had on my SS50 35 yeras ago...
...and for the more risqué pictures, isnt there a more x-rated blog somewhere for you?? :)
Safe ride

iansolley said...

was 2 days enough - I was thinking of going one year and I guess for all that effort I would need to spend some more time there!
Great pics and comment as usual.

Eve said...

Wow so much to say! Well it was so great that you met up with Donna and Stu! I'll go see their side of Sturgis too.
What a bunch!!! Loved the bike with the sneaky hub-less style. I could see that is has two wheels on the back. Pretty cool. I really loved all the dogs there! That one woman on her Honda with her dog...wow wouldn't you like to know her life story!
Great pictures Gary...I was wondering if we would see any risqué photos...I'm torn between relieved and slightly disappointed!! hahahahaha what is Sturgis without a few Boobs!! hahaha!

Charlie6 said...

quite the diverse set of pics Gary, thanks.....still way too crowded for me.

Canajun said...

Great pictures Gary. Sturgis truly is an experience to remember. Thanks for sharing.

IHG said...

Wow...you got some excellent photos in Sturgis! Isn't that a crazy place? Gotta love it though. That's America...the place where you can be yourself and not have to worry about being shot by a firing squad for it! You are truly living the dream...what a wonderful journey. Thanks so much for sharing it all with us. It's so interesting to read other peoples prospectives of places they've been. It's even more interesting because you are not from the United States. So far I think you have seen mostly GREAT things about our GREAT Nation!! That makes me smile!!!

Jimmy B. said...

Those two bobbers with little engines were probably Kikker 5150's. Here's a link to the manufacturer's website: http://www.oldschoolhardknock.com/

SonjaM said...

Thanks for reporting live from Sturgis. I have to admit, I am not a big fan of crowds, so your story is probably as close as I will ever get to this place. Nevertheless, an interesting bunch of people and bikes you captured.

cpa3485 said...

Aren't you glad you booked those rooms a year ago?
Looks like you are getting to see a little bit of everything.

Jimbo

Geoff James said...

I think I'd need psychological counselling after the first hour or two there, but some amazing machines nonetheless.

Gary, regarding that bike with the radial aircraft engine, I saw an article in a magazine about the company that makes them for replica light aircraft and bikes. a good business apparently.

Milwaukee Dan said...

Gary you could always get a job as a field reporter. One of the best coverages of Sturgis that I have read.

That is a semi-truck tire on the first of the strange bikes with the large wide rear tire.

Gary France said...

Donna / Froggie – Glad you liked the photos. I was getting quite good at just walking up to people and asking if I could take their picture. A very un-British thing to do!

R!ch – Thanks, I was wondering how they did that. I like the idea of a “Toy hauler”.... I took a look at their blog and saw my mug-shot on there.

Axel – I think you may be right, they might have been Hondas. Fancy spending all that money to build a great bike and then putting a little Honda engine in it. What a waste! They weren’t really x-rated, just a few women with their boobs out and painted – all part of Sturgis I guess.

Ian – No, not enough really. I think if I was doing it again I would go for about 5 days. That would be enough to see it all, plus a couple of concerts.

Eve – Yep, it was two wheels with a swing-arm and chain arrangement that could be seen if you looked underneath. I would liked to have talked to the woman on her Honda, for she didn’t look like your average biker....

Charlie – It was crowded, but that was all part of the fun.

Canajun – I will remember it for a long time, especially the wacky people!

IHG – Thanks! I loved Sturgis for exactly that reason – people could be exactly what / who they wanted to be. It felt truly relaxed and laid-back. I imagine the attitude of the people there was somewhat like California was in the 60’s. It is a pleasure to share what I have / am seeing and I am glad that you like reading my take on what I see. In the main, your nation has been great and everyone I meet (even at gas stations) just want to talk about what I am doing. I guess the big yellow license plate and an unusual paint job are great ways to get to chat with people.

Jimmy – They might have been although looking at the link you sent (thanks) the bikes on there look more sophisticated that the one I saw in Sturgis, but who knows?

Sonja – It was quite a place and I liked the people most of all

Jimbo – Absolutely! There were very few rooms available and those that were still free were ridiculously overpriced.

Geoff – Counselling? I seemed to fit in quite well.... The radial engine was a bit much really.

Dan – Thanks, I am pleased you liked it. That tire was just too weird on a bike!

Alessandro said...

Hi man I've been following your fantastic blog and journey for quite a while now. I've recognized the bike with the number 39 on it, the one you said it wouldn't be very rideable: it's from Italy, built by Garage65. I know it because I'm from Italy and it was on a monthly magazine I read. Just so you know..anyway, see you on youtube: I'm the guy of CompagniaDellaRuota, we're "friends" on youtube. Carry on like this!! I apologize if my english is bad.

harley davidson for sale said...

Happy Anniversary to your motorcycles. These are very nice and hot motorcycles indeed. However such are quite extinct, gladly there are still stores that are open to buyers of classic motorcycles.

Gary France said...

Alessandro - Thanks for following my blog. I saw the Garage65 bike in London at the Alexandra Palace Custom Bike show. It is a fantastic piece of engineering. That is good that we are friends on YouTube as well! You never need to apologise for writing in another language, I wish I could do it as well as you!

harley davidson for sale - they are based on old technology for sure, but they full of character!

Dallas Nyberg said...

Rolled in on a wave - surfin the web.... tripped onto your page..... Love those cycles - be nice to get to Sturgis one day... I live Down Under... it's a bit of a long ride! Cheers

Gary France said...

Dallas – Sturgis is one heck of a place to go see, so if you ever do get the opportunity, then grab it with both hands! I agree though, it is a long way from down under!