Each August, tens of thousands of motorcycle enthusiasts from all over America descend on Sturgis, South Dakota. For more than 50 years, this small town just outside Rapid City has welcomed them, temporarily swelling its population from about 5,000 residents to more than 100,000 devotees of the art of the motorcycle. Included in this number are everyone from hard-core Hell’s Angels to bike-loving doctors and schoolteachers--anyone who likes to ride. Some come individually, but most come in droves, shattering the quiet of the Black Hills with a roar of engines echoing across the rolling landscape. Everyone has fun, and drug use and fights are surprisingly rare.
The 54th Annual Sturgis Rally & Races will be held this Aug. 7-13. Cyclists will enjoy demonstration rides, concerts and what is billed as the world’s largest motorcycle show. But there are other attractions: Garland Black, 61, of Brunswick, Ohio, has been a rider for 30 years. He comes to Sturgis, he says, for “lots of noise and excitement.” Ronnie Owens, from Wagoner, Okla., and a 25-year veteran biker (and vocational school director), adds: “It’s kind of like the Grand Canyon. You can’t describe it to people. You have to see it for yourself.”