One of the really great things about America is the tremendously diversified opportunity that she offers her residents and visitors. I have always loved the sound, smell and energy associated with the internal combustion engine, whether it be the heart of a chainsaw, lawnmower, car, airplane or motorcycle. Today we are going to talk about a unique gathering of internal combustion engines in a place called Sturgis, South Dakota. You would have to be tone deaf to miss the migration of motorcycles north to this Mecca especially those of us who enjoy the intoxicating appeal of two wheels, horsepower and the rush of wind in your face…the annual Sturgis Rally.
Sturgis is to motorcycles what Oshkosh is to airplanes. These are places where enthusiasts gather to see the best their affliction has to offer, whether it be superb piloting or unbelievable riding, replete with scores of the newest trends in aviation and the fine art of motorcycling, respectively. I am told that your senses, all of them mind you, will be exposed to stimuli on an existential level….something that all gear heads should experience. Next year, I am going to take a peek at this phenomenem……during the big week and not the week before as I did several years ago while on vacation. I am a law and order guy, some say Calvanistic in my day, but can approach the “edge” with a smile and appreciation for the excitement that it brings.
How in the name of all that is sacred do you police such an event? Hang on and I will offer a glimpse of what it takes to send the revelers home upright rather than prone, no small undertaking. The Sturgis PD, comprised of 14 sworn officers is augmented by the usual compliment of state troopers, deputies and federal officers having jurisdiction here. In addition, officers from an additional 7 states are sworn in and help with the round the clock policing necessary in an event of of this size. The exact number of officers is not publicized, however you may rest assured it is “enough”. The crowd varies from some 400,000 to nearly a million, many of whom place sleep at the bottom of their priorities. The troopers alone, assigned to this event, typically work 100+ accidents, make 230+ DWI arrests, write 1200+ citations and issue some 4,000 warnings. The edge may be fun, but a trip to the county lockup can easily be earned if you teeter too long on the wrong side of the “hold my beer and watch this” line. The officers who annually return to Sturgis, some for their 20th or even 30th anniversary, are justifiably proud of their efforts in lending dignity to an event where dignity is a nebulous concept.
So, when you see one, two or a covey of motorcycles, bedrolls and bike luggage securely fastened to their machines, heading north……smile and enjoy their excitement. They are living their dream…………are you?