Throughout South Dakota, I saw more motorcycles than cars.
Stop and think about that for a second. More motorcycles than cars in the middle of the country, where everything is so spread out, life requires that you drive everywhere.
Walking to the store? Not really a thing in South Dakota.
Granted, that doesn’t seem to be a thing for people anywhere outside of huge cities, where parking is so much more of a pain and where you’re more likely to shop at a corner market than a supermarket.
Growing up, we walked everywhere we could, even in LA. And, as we all know about walkin’ in LA, nobody walks in LA. It’s only as an adult when I say to people “Why drive? It’s only a thirty minute walk,” and they look at me like I asked them to light their eyebrows on fire, that I realize I’m not normal.
I think I mentioned before that I hate being cooped up and not moving around for long periods of time. What I don’t think I’ve mentioned is that I will walk any distance rather than get on a bus or train, grab a cab, or — heaven forbid in SF — drive.
I have literally walked from Golden Gate Park back to my old apartment in the Mission simply because I wanted to avoid the N-Judah. (Though anyone in SF will tell you that the N is the worst of the worst for crowding.) I’ve walked to Union Square from the Inner Sunset. I’ve walked from Ocean Beach to Parnassus. No distance is too great, no fog too thick, for me to choose walking.
I need to move around in fresh air just as much as I need coffee to remain a sane human being. So you can imagine that the horrible weather I’ve been experiencing on this trip has been slowly driving me crazy.
But I digress.
Bikers! So many bikers. Everywhere in Wyoming & South Dakota. In Yellowstone. In Jackson. In Rapid City. In Badlands. In all the gas stations, lining up two or three to a pump (which I thought was actually pretty considerate of them, rather than clogging all of the pumps at once). In Wall. Traveling in packs on I-90. Most of the rooms in my motel in Rapid City were occupied by bikers. I saw maybe 2 other cars in the lot while I was there.
They. Were. Everywhere.
And then I got to Sioux Falls and only saw two or three and felt really weird about it.
I have no issue with motorcycles on the road. For the most part, bikers are very aware that, should they get hit, they’re less likely to survive an accident. So I find that, in general, bikers are better drivers than cars on the road.
I don’t even have an issue with loud motorcycles — you know, the ones that have their mufflers removed? — because at least I can hear them coming from inside my car with my radio blasting.
So it’s not that I found them annoying or anything. I’d just never seen so many bikers in one place! I marveled for the entire time I was in South Dakota.
It made me curious, so I did a little digging.
Meet the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. It’s been held annually in Sturgis, South Dakota since 1938.
Before you get too excited, take a look at the stats for the event (provided as a source on that Wikipedia page). Numerous unsolved deaths. $250,000 worth of motorcycles stolen annually.
But still pretty cool.