One of the defining elements of my time in South Dakota has been the Sturgis Rally. For an official week, and unofficially, the week before and after the rally, South Dakota gives into the tourist dollars of a half-million Harley-Davidson enthusiasts.
By design, motorcycling is a solitary activity, and I can appreciate how exciting this rally must have been for them. It’s a chance to meet other riders, show off sunglass tan lines and buy leather accessories.
But as someone driving across the country in a hatchback, the rally has been a pain. In South Dakota, I wasn’t able to experience the silence I imagine fills the state during non-rally weeks. And I feel bad for South Dakota residents. Summer there is so short, and three weeks of it are given up to the rumble of motorcyclists. Of course these riders nearly double the population of the state, and the economic benefit outweighs the cost in noise pollution.
When I planned this trip, I had never heard of Sturgis. The timing just worked out to be in South Dakota at the same time as all those bikers. I have a friend who drove out to LA from New Jersey, the timing just worked for her to do the whole trip in five days. Even if driving across the country feels like my American birthright, it’s really an adventure in logistics. It’s not possible to plan the perfect cross-country adventure. Things just time out as they do.