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Waking up in Sturgis 2009

My eyes peeled open, crusty with disbelief. I… I survived it? I survived Sturgis?

It wasn’t a normal vacation, but then again, it wasn’t really a vacation at all. My uncle John is the CEO of a small startup company called MotoringUSA. This year, the company had the opportunity to work along side the city of Sturgis, SD and plan the entire Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. We arranged all of the corporate sponsors, vendors and events. My role was to act as the city of Sturgis photographer and to capture imagery for next year’s magazine.

A motorcycle rally of this magnitude surely didn’t disappoint. There were an estimated 300,000 riders in attendance (keeping in mind that Sturgis itself is home to a mere 6,000 people). Some would call it a party, some would call it a freak show, but whatever you called it, it had individuals from every flavor of humanity.

You’ll see from the picture stack below that I got some good shots. The stunt riders you see are called the StarBoyz. Their personality is exactly as you’d suspect, and I remember one night, after the City Councilman and I went to a bar for a drink, we decided that a better place to drink would be the StarBoyz’ tour bus. I had a brief moment of clarity on that bus when I realized to myself ‘a week ago I was sitting at a desk in Pittsburgh, and now I’m in South Dakota drinking beer with stunt riders on a tour bus with a city councilman’. I wondered if someone gave me the red pill or the blue pill.

Another few shots you’ll see in the stack below are from the Budweiser Burnout Competition, featuring the Budweiser Burnout Bike. I got up close and personal with shredded pieces of tire and the resulting smoke. Frankly I’m surprised I survived the show, as flying bits of tires and hot rubber-smoke don’t make for the healthiest conditions, but I got great photographs.

Outside of Sturgis, you’re immersed in some of the best motorcycling country in the world. Spearfish Canyon, Needles Highway, all of the winding roads between Mount Rushmore, Devils’s Tower and the Crazy Horse Memorial… these roads can’t be beat. Sweeping curves, scenic vistas, its the type of riding where they probably film all of the TV commercials. I got t0 participate in the 2009 Mayor’s Ride and ride with the Mayor of Sturgis and Governor of South Dakota from Sturgis down to Mount Rushmore. Interesting experience, as we had a police escort and a very large motorcade (I think we had around 250 bikes). Though it got a little frustrating riding in formation 10 mph below the speed limit for 3 hours. Still totally worth it.

It was a cool experience, if you’re in to the hobby, I highly suggest making the trip. We trailered our bikes out the 1,400 miles (over 24 hours non-stop in a car), but members of our party flew out and shipped there bikes. Apparently, shipping them only costs about $500. Check out these pictures I snapped for the week (sorry about the annoying ‘Smarto Studios‘ logo that got pasted on all of them, I forgot to disable it in my resizing program. By the way, quick tidbit, the I use FastStone Photo Resizer, it’s excellent software and it’s completely freeware.)

Sturgis 2009

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