Friday, August 18, 2006

Ride it Like You Stole It

I just returned from South Dakota. I was there to help my husband's family celebrate the 100th birthday of Frank Stukel Sr. We had a spare afternoon so I was able to visit Sturgis during the 66th Annual Motorcycle Rally.

Every year, over half a million bikers descend upon Sturgis (population 6,400). It is truly something to behold. A few of the highlights:

1. The tee-shirts. Almost without exception, each person had some type of tee-shirt that announced their love of motorcycles - particularly Harley Davidsons. My favorite is noted in the title of this post.

2. The tattoos. Interestingly, I was reading Denise Wymore's book "Tattoos: The Ultimate Proof of A Successful Brand" I can attest to her claim that Harley Davidson is one of the most requested tattoos. There were hundreds of them! Other brand tattoos I saw - M&M, Oakley, Apple, and Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen.

3. The manners. Everyone was so nice. I have to admit, I have seen many photos of the rally and I wasn't quite sure what to expect. I am happy to report that I saw far more digital cameras and bottled water than I saw brass knuckles or Jack Daniels. (I didn't see any brass knuckles or Jack Daniels to be honest).

4. The camaraderie. I was struck by how much the crowd embraced their affiliation. It was like being there meant you were part of a big club. I am sure the people I chatted with on the streets were as different as different can be, but for one week, they all came together and celebrated their sameness. It was quite an experience.

5. The credit union. So... on the drive from Rapid City, we saw several huge billboards one after another. You can imagine the line up... Harley Davidson.... Budweiser.... Play Boy..... Jim Bean... and then..... Northern Hills Federal Credit Union! There they were advertising their drive through ATM (brilliant, if you ask me). Sure enough, their branch was in the thick of the motorcycles. Talk about people helping people They had taped to their door a sign that read, "Welcome Bikers. Here is what you need to know about Sturgis..." and then it listed where all of the Honey Buckets could be found; along with the pay phones, the churches and the hospital.

In closing, I must say, Sturgis, South Dakota during the Motorcycle Rally should be on anyone's life list. It is an incredible experience.

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