(this one is a bit long).
Greetings from La Crosse, Wisconsin and the Days Hotel!
Hours Driven: 15 hours
Kms Covered: 1338.1
Money Spent: $155
There is an inherent feeling of danger that comes from men who are bikers. If I said fill in the blank: “Biker ______”, you’d probably say “Gang”. I suspect that the truth is more like society at large – people on the entire spectrum of evil and frightening scales. Sure, in a group of bikers, there surely is a chance of meeting a mean person as there is an encounter with a weekend warrior lawyer in the throes of a midlife crisis. Nonetheless, put me in a large group of bikers, and my intellectual understanding of stereotypes is somewhat drowned out by yeas of bias training in movies, headlines and books.
So, while driving the streets of Sturgis (Like we didn’t stop to drive through town! Do you not know us at all??) during the 2012 Motorcycle Rally, I felt conspicuous. Never mind we were in the 5% of the traffic in an automobile, but we were also driving a tinted-window, sport packaged, purple (ahem, “Blackberry”) Honda Fit with Ontario plates and a photographer hanging out the window trying get close-ups of nipple tassels.
And while I am on the subject of nipple tassels, I ponder this. Why is it that many of the women who live in this club or culture or whatever you want to call it, are overt and confident in their sexuality? I mean, there are some who in regular life we would encourage not to wear a tube top, to please put on a bra and certainly get longer shorts. But here, everything is hanging out in its glory. Now perhaps this is in the vein of the blatant sexuality at Pride celebrations that is used to boldly claim this as their right, their place, and to make a stir to provoke thoughts. But Sturgis? I don’t think it is political – I think it is just men and woman enjoying each other, and to hell with the concern of extra rolls, or saggy boobs, or ripplely thighs. Shouldn’t we all take a little lesson from this?
The logistics/planner person in me was fascinated by the preparation of Sturgis and surrounded areas for such a huge influx of bikers. All of the intersections in Sturgis were changed from lights to four-way stops and every square foot of space was either parking, booths or gathering places. It was fascinating – and made me want to meet the person in charge of this project – because this isn’t anarchy, people somewhere are planning this and planning it well.
Anyways, imagine driving the short distance from the South Dakota I-90 to Mount Rushmore with 50% of the traffic being cruising bikes. We were in a group of about 15 bikes and us. It felt like being in a poor country’s presidential motorcade.
Mount Rushmore charged $11 to “park” indeed not for entrance to the monument. Even at Mount Rushmore, there was a Sturgis Gift Shop set-up and 2 specially designated motorcycle lanes. Mount Rushmore was interesting, but the image is so iconic, it was difficult to really understand that I was actually there. It seemed smaller than I expected, and I found it more fascinating to look at the uncarved “needles” in the Black Hills.
The nearest town, Keystone, was almost a replica of Niagara Falls, Canada – with bold SHOUTING billboards and bizarre twisted history (ie, Sitting Bull’s Crystal Caves. Really?)
We travelled through South Dakota stopping at strange places. Pioneer Auto is home of THE General Lee (um, wasn’t there like 40 or something?) and Elvis’s motorcycle, but we were too cheap to pay to the $10 admission, so we’ll never know how cool it was. Alas. Wall Drug has brilliant marketing campaign with 40+ billboards in the 50 miles leading up to Wall – they advertised free doughnut and coffee for honeymooners. We were going to try to scam them, but we don’t like coffee and didn’t feel like doughnuts. But the worst was the “Corn Palace” in Mitchell who is a victim of “setting expectations”. We expected a building made of corn, but instead it was an arena/stadium thing that was covered in corn. I suppose that is impressive in itself, but it seemed lacking when we thought corn was used instead of concrete. People, under promise, over deliver!
Our journey through Minnesota was almost entirely during dusk and we were treated to a slowly darkening cloudless sky with fields of corn and wind turbines. We drove on to make up for our short day yesterday, and arrived at a Days Hotel that only wanted $60 for the night. Clean and cheap. Love it.
August 5th, 2012 Extra-Ordinary: A run in Wyoming at 7:30 am, through a field, down a bike path, around a lake. It made me feel like I am “that” person. Yep. Her.