By M.C. Vee
A transformation that could have global ramifications is occurring in the Black Hills, and I think you should be aware of it.
Sturgis is becoming…Winnebagoed!
It’s true! I’ve seen it with my own eyes.
The main drag was just too damn thick with bikes, so I tried to find a safe side street spot in which to park my ’94 Road King. I nearly ran out of gas trying. There were cars and campers all over the place. Finally, I dueled it out with some guy who could barely see past his windshield wipers and got a spot.
Mothers and fathers packed their families into RVs, conversion vans, trucks and cars and headed to Sturgis. They were not interested at all in the camaraderie or the riding experience; they just wanted to see 357,000 bikes and bikers. It was a freak show for them, a spectator sport.
How did this happen? Whom can we blame for this tragedy in the making?
Unfortunately, I must admit, that it was my fellow Harley riders.
Not all that long ago, Sturgis was a dangerous place to be during rally week. Hard-core riders would take over the town while residents would board up their homes and leave.
As motorcycling gained popularity in the U.S., the hard-core bikers had to distinguish themselves from the riders who were not as tough. Rather than align their loyalties with other hard-core riders who shared the same attitude, dedication to, and passion for the open road, but who rode different makes, Harleyists aligned with those who only rode Harleys.
So, what does that have to do with Sturgis?
What that means is people realized that their ticket to toughness was simply owning a Harley. They thought they were tougher than the guy who rode his foreign bike around the globe, even if they only used the thing twice a summer to go buy milk at the local store.
Soon, these milk-fetchers began putting on their dry-cleaned and pressed leathers and trailering their bikes to Sturgis (so as not to get wet or dirty). If their Harley broke down, they wouldn’t have to worry about getting home.
Since they have no concept of what cross country biking is all about, the milk-fetchers would return home and tell all their friends what a great costume party it was.
The next thing you know, I can’t find a parking spot.
If we stay on our present course, all you’ll need to become part of the Harley “scene” is a magazine cutout of a Harley in your wallet and a naked chick mural painted on the side of your camper. Sturgis will become a wanna-be rally. The serious enthusiasts, sick of it all, will move to a secluded location with controlled access–no trailers allowed! They will admit clean bikes only with proof by gas receipts that someone rode them there.
By then, the city of Sturgis’ economy will be dependent on the rally. It will fork over huge sums of money to the hard-core biker gangs to keep the “freaks” coming to town.
The event will be so big that television networks will vie for the broadcast rights. Naturally, corporations will want to get their grubby fingers into the pie. They’ll build a stadium with skyboxes! (They will eventually retrofit it with a retractable dome.)
Gangs will get multimillion dollar contracts, brand new bikes and clothing designed to look ratty and old. Promising young felons will score outrageous signing bonuses, even though they’ll be unproven at the professional level. All the toughest bikers will abandon gang loyalty and jump to new gangs for more money during free agency. Bikers’ agents will file for arbitration when they reach an impasse in contract negotiations.
Corporations will market clothing and merchandise to hook kids on Sturgis at an early age. They will advertise Sturgis toy knives and guns during breaks in Saturday morning Sturgis cartoons. Sunday morning will find teenagers glued to the tube watching their favorite “bikers” dueling it out in sold out arena gang wars.
Soon thereafter, the cops will arrest some nine-year-old for killing his best friend using some war technique he saw on TV. Bikers’ Union Local will testify at a U.S. Congressional Hearing that bikers are not role models; parents should raise their own kids; bikers are corporate pawns providing a service at Sturgis for a fee. America will scoff at their testimony.
The Christian Coalition will refuse to endorse the Warner Brothers version of “Sturgis: To Hell and Back” instead supporting Disney’s politically correct “Soo Hong Lee’s Week at the Rally.”
Greenpeace will fly airplane banners over the stadium to protest the displacement of the yellow-headed earthworm. The construction of an eight story parking ramp at Mount Rushmore’s Visitor Center for the Republican National Convention will ruin one of the worm’s six million breeding grounds.
The future will reveal politi-corporate motivation behind the 1996 desecration of the historical monument and grounds. We will discover that the construction of the cavernous monstrosity called the “Visitors’ Center” was a strategic move by Sturgis, Inc. corporate leaders to lay the foundation to win the convention bid. (Could this be the same motivation behind Little Morais, Minnesota’s new 59 story “North Shore Interpretive Center”? Only time will tell.)
Controversy will flare up in Sturgis during a nationally broadcast presidential debate, when one candidate will admit to having sat on a foreign bike once but never starting it up.
Sturgismania will sweep the globe putting all non H-D bike manufacturers out of business. Angry jobless workers will form a terrorist group and infiltrate our Sturgis National Holiday Week. The extensive loss of life will tarnish the images of the corporate sponsors, so they will pull out. The deaths of several visiting foreign dignitaries will enrage other countries and launch us into World War Three.
Let’s avoid this mess. Lose the attitude, and ride your damn bike to Sturgis.