Paul Sr. at Sturgis Bike Rally
Sturgis Bike Rally Originally Known as Black Hills Motor Classic
Sturgis Bike Rally in the Black Hills of South Dakota is an annual event that started back in 1936 with J. Clarence "Pappy" Hoel and his wife Pearl. “Pappy” is considered the founding father of this Sturgis Motorcycle Rally which back then was known as the Black Hills Motor Classic. His love for motorcycles prompted him to purchased an Indian Motorcycle dealership and he then formed his Jackpine Gypsies Motorcyle Club. In 1937 the club invited the Rapid City Pioneeers Motorcycle Club over for a field day and Pappy and his wife welcomed the neighboring motorcycle club to camp in their backyard . His wife Pearl made the bikers feel welcome by offering a picnic lunch , coffee and donuts. The Gypsies rode Indian bikes sold by Pappy while the Pioneers rode mostly Harley Davidsons.
The town of Sturgis roars with bikes for a full week. It is an awesome sight to behold to be able to watch every make and style of bike and thousands of bikers lining the streets . Bikes are as unique and creative as their owners, many bikes custom painted with meaningful memorials designed for fallen fellow bikers, family members or friends. Others customized to fit the owners need, personality and comfort.
The event has grown such that Sturgis began blocking off Main Street so that bikers had a place to park their bikes without worrying about them or traffic. This gives bikers the opportunity to walk the town infusing a little money into the local economy by purchasing from vendors lining the streets with their wares. Merchants rent space and set up tents selling biker related products. Boots, t-shirts, bandanas, helmets, apparel, leather vests, chaps, motorcycles and a wide variety of other bike accessories to rev up or fix your bike. Other vendors sell tattoos and body piercing. And of course there is plenty of food and beer. August of 2010 will mark the 70th anniversary of this famous bike week event.
Other Bike Week Towns
Daytona Beach, FL
Key West, FL
Myrtle Beach, SC
Sturgis is a small town in South Dakota with a population of approximately 9000 people. Neighboring towns are Rapid City and Deadwood. Sturgis Bike Rally is held the first week in August each year. Sturgis and adjacent towns prepares for the hundreds of thousands that show up to partake in this unique motorcycle adventure. Bikers make reservations months ahead of time and stay in cabins or campgrounds, pop up tents, campers or RV’s . The lucky ones have planned ahead to secure home rentals and hotel rooms in close enough towns to main street and downtown activities.
Paul Jr Signing Autographs from OCC Booth
Orange County Choppers Paul Sr.
Sturgis has seen a change in biker types as well as motorcycles throughout the years. In the beginning there were only the real bikers with their Harley Davidson or Indian bikes. Over the years the bike rally has evolved to include all, old bikers, new motorcycle enthusiasts and weekend warriors all show up with their favorite motorcycle, be it Indians, (HOGS) Harley Davidson, Honda, Choppers made famous by OCC , and Trikes. The important thing is that they gather for a fun time to admire other bikes and share the camaraderie of the biking world.
The American Choppers reality TV show in 2002 featured Paul Sr and Paul Jr in the OCC Shop (Orange County Chopper New York) customizing bikes, a business that began in the late 1990s as an extension of Paul Sr.'s steel business. In 1999 he actually founded Orange County Choppers. The company's first bike, "True Blue", was debuted at the 1999 Daytona Biketoberfest.
My First Sturgis Rally
Our first trip to Sturgis was back in 2003. My husband and his friend drove an RV and trailered the bikes. Myself and our friends wife flew into Denver rented a pretty blue convertible and fashioned ourselves Thelma and Louise. The plan was to drive through parts of Wyoming into the Black Hills to our Rapid City destination Katmandu Campground. My research done and mapquest printed I had calculated 6 hours from Denver. What I didn’t take into account was that through winding Black Hill roads your time is much, much slower. As that wasn’t bad enough my friend Ms Drama Queen kept reminding me we were in a National Forest doing about 30mph through twists and turns , up and down blackhills in the middle of the night with two single motorcycle gang members ahead of our vehicle that at any turn could slow our rented convertible down , attack, rob and rape us. After about 45 minutes of this, my mind started playing games and I became genuinely concerned. She reminded me to not slow down for anything and I vowed I would run them over if any suspicious arose. Some bikers look scary , they could also be dangerous, who knows.
We made it to the campground in one piece and without incident but a bit shaken. After this harrowing experience all I want is a glass of wine. The next thing I find is my husband has shaved his head completely bald and is now sporting two earrings. Maybe I should have stayed home.
I got used to it real quick , not about to spend my vacation ticked off , plus its not like he could have grown it overnight anyways.
From then on I'm glad to report everything went pretty smooth.
Sturgis Bike Rally Places to Visit
Daytrips from Sturgis
What could be better than riding your Harley to anyone of our amazing and beautiful National Parks ?
Custers National Park via Needles Hwy
Yellowstone National Park
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