If This Was Surgis Main Street. Would you Still Come?

Another beautiful text with intelligent thoughts written by Chris Callen, Editor of Cycle Source Magazine. His words are a beautiful gift to all true Bikers. (picture Sara Liberte)

“Cyril, I am writing to you after reading another article where people are talking about how “BAD” Sturgis will be this year. After the pile of magazines and news articles I have been receiving over the past few months I can no longer sit by and take it. What does it take for someone to have a good time anymore? Have we lost the ability to get on our bikes and just go on the adventure, or is it all so focused on who will be at an event that the only reason to go is to be lost in the crowd?
I can hardly believe that I have to write something like this but does anyone remember what Sturgis is about? Sturgis man, the Jack Pine Gypsies, ya’ know, the original motorcycle adventurers. There has to be a reason that this location was picked for the greatest rally of the year and it has little to do with being the geographical center from East and West Coast. If there wasn’t another single soul in Sturgis but you and I, we could still collect a lifetime of memories. I’ve been there more times than I can count now and I still see something new, each and every time I go.
The majesty of monuments like Crazy Horse and Rushmore, The natural wonders like Devil’s Tower and the Bad Lands, the beauty of a simple afternoon ride through Spearfish Canyon and let’s not forget the historical significance of Deadwood and the Sturgis Museum. This whole area is very special and to discount all of this because not enough people will be there, it just doesn’t make sense. You have to honestly ask yourself why you are going in the first place. If it’s just to see a lot of bikes and get drunk and sit around, there must be a closer event for you than this right?
Sturgis has and always will have a spiritual purity. For some of us it is the return to a place where the soul of motorcycling lives. A place where names like J.C. “Pappy” Hoel, Dick “Bugsy” Mann, Ed “Iron Man” Kretz, David Mann and finally, Sam Morgan and Sonny Pelaquin will live on for as long as we keep the spirit of motorcycling alive. The fact that you can, in the same few days, travel over almost as many different terrains as this country has to offer, from near deserts to mountains and valley, plains and bluffs, this part of the country is a treat for anyone who really loves to ride.
So ask yourself if what you expect to get out of Sturgis is a sense of belonging to a group of whatever the number is from year to year, or do you want to do something that wipes away all the superficial elements in motorcycling today. If you choose the later, I promise you that you can find it in Sturgis, I did, one day on a back road from nowhere to nowhere special I sat alone and stared out at the red rock crevasse below me and was in awe. I had found the place where my mind went silent”. Chris Callen, Cycle Source Magazine.

32 Responses to “If This Was Surgis Main Street. Would you Still Come?”

  1. 1 Seymour Jul 14th, 2008 at 9:21 am

    I have been to Bike Week 3 times before. I decided to “do” Sturgis this year, just not during bike week. Went at the end of June instead. What a difference. Probably the best vacation I’ve ever had.

  2. 2 Dan Jul 14th, 2008 at 10:14 am

    Good writing.

  3. 3 scharf Jul 14th, 2008 at 10:16 am

    A-men brother!

  4. 4 raycwheeler Jul 14th, 2008 at 10:34 am

    Chris ,

    A mans worst day on his motorcycle ( not possible ) will lead to untold adventures .

    Rather than pick a destination , pick a direction and haul ass .

    Motorcycling is pure magic over and over , good for your mind and spirit .

    See you somewhere on the road ,

    Ray c wheeler

  5. 5 CJ Jul 14th, 2008 at 11:10 am

    Great article Chris. My first trip to Sturgis was in 2000 and it had to be one of the best vacations I ever had. The riding is absolutely awesome. We trailered the bikes (the ladies didn’t want to ride all the way) and still put over 1,500 miles on the bike that week. The next year we rode out and stayed an extra week and did over 4,000 miles. The excitment and brotherhood during the rally is awesome, but so is the riding adventure you make with your friends. Even if you can’t make it to Sturgis during the rally, you need to make it out sometime. I went out a few years later in June and it was quiet and you get a chance see things you don’t normally see during the rally. We also got a chance to meet some of the locals. Some real nice people.

  6. 6 Gerry Jul 14th, 2008 at 11:17 am

    It’s all about the ride, not the crowds. Love the chance to just throw the leg over and haul ass. No better place or destination than the Black Hills. So see you there come hell or high water. Seventeenth visit to the rally and the Black Hills.

  7. 7 Doc Robinson Jul 14th, 2008 at 11:19 am

    Hey Chris, you nailed it brother.

  8. 8 a 1 cycles Jul 14th, 2008 at 4:40 pm

    i attended sturgis for the first time this last year, and had the time of my life,i rode over 1800 miles in 5 days, spearfish canyon, needles, deadwood to name a few incredible scenery, incredible people, never ventured downtown but onenight, dont care for the crowds, the ride the comraderie, the places you see and go. awesome place, tom motzko from drag specialties lives there year round he says to come a week early or stay a week later and you will enjoy it even more. i say if you can afford to go..go. its worth it dont listen to naysayers, numbers are down bullshit, ride your bike enjoy your friends and live life to its fullest everyday.

  9. 9 Mike Jul 14th, 2008 at 5:27 pm

    Honestly, the numbers were down last year, and they probably will be again this year. That fact makes an even better draw. You can get around a lot easier, and the riding is better. Last year was the best time I;ve ever had at Sturgis, because the numbers were down a little!

  10. 10 Henry Schneider Jul 14th, 2008 at 11:14 pm

    Cyril. I love your blog and reading what Chris Callen has to say is always a pleasure. The most intelligent online motorcycle magazine for people with both a brain and a motorcycle.

  11. 11 Wolfe Jul 15th, 2008 at 7:55 am

    That picture is how it should be!

  12. 12 Gar Jul 15th, 2008 at 10:29 am


    Maybe you should be careful what you wish for …… at the rate motorcycle companies and affiliated motorcycle parts manufacturers in the US are folding up this may be what the streets of Sturgis will look like soon. Face it, no matter how much you pine for the old days, the old days are history and besides the “Old Days” financially sucked anyway. Please remember that “Leave it to Beaver” was nothing more than a TV show and James Dean was a Hollywood created character!

    Ray Wheeler — Dude, you hit the nail dead on the head! I couldn’t have said it better myself!

    Gar out!

  13. 13 burnout Jul 15th, 2008 at 10:37 am

    Yes I would still go if main st. looked that way! last year I did 4919 miles round trip to Sturgis and back, I rode through the Black Hills……literally, did miles of DIRT roads! IT WAS AWESOME! when they have to post speed limit signs on dirt roads…………………! I swam in a mountain lake instead of a pool. I had to dodge cows roaming the mountains. I slept in a tent for 12 of the 14 days I was there. my pictures suck compared to actually being there! peace

  14. 14 Chris Callen - Source Editor Jul 15th, 2008 at 12:20 pm

    Just to add one more thing, the old days live on. The above photo was taken last year right outside of Sturgis in a little town we all rode to on the Cycle Source Ride called Hoover. I think the population was like 6 and if you look closely you can see that some of the bikes are modern. We’re doing the ride again this year and anyone that’s in town who wants to get away is welcome. Tuesday at Noon from the County Line!

  15. 15 raycwheeler Jul 15th, 2008 at 5:10 pm

    Chris ,

    Marking my Sturgis to do calendar .

    So many miles to ride and so little time …

    See you there.


  16. 16 Nicker Jul 16th, 2008 at 3:26 am


    “… What does it take for someone to have a good time anymore? …”

    Probably about the same thing it’s always taken and that’s a desire “to go for a ride.”

    And if ya run into some interesting people to talk to, that’s just a bonus. It isn’t a requirement.
    That is, unless your only interested in “being seen” …….as part of “the scene”…..

    Good scenery and nice weather are a bonus, but not necessary. Hell, this years ride included 3 days of Montana/Idaho rain, sleet, & hale. Even with Arthritis twinges, it was a great time…. for all those who know how to be “water-proof”…. anyway….. 🙂

    Never been to Sturgus…. for some reason….???

    “…talking about how “BAD” Sturgus will be this year…”

    If by “bad” …..people mean a down turn in attendance….. remember this, 1% is by definition a “lack of numbers.”

    RE: (Gar)
    “…, the old days are history and besides the “Old Days” financially sucked…”

    No, they sucked because of theft, crime, and Murders.
    Any demographic that causes the implementation of a “National Gang Task Force” has nothing to recommended it.

    Remember, it was the B-movies the glorifying the criminal element and erroneously associated them with the 1%ers.

    RE: (gar)
    “… the old days are history …”
    Well, that would be nice, but some ugly stuff is starting to show back up…..
    Is it instigated by people who just wann-a-be some-body….??? or…???


  17. 17 Ben Jul 16th, 2008 at 10:54 am

    Sturgis is a spiritual place for me. It is indeed a place to resource. The smaller it get and the better it will feel to me in the end.

    Sturgis existed before big business. It will still be there for us to gather and play.

  18. 18 Gar Jul 16th, 2008 at 3:40 pm


    Don’t you find it difficult to comment on Sturgis if you have never been? Write back concerning the “crime, murders and thefts” after you have been to Sturgis and you have experienced something other than what you read or imagine to be true.

    Sturgis a spiritual experience ?????? Sturgis is just another annual destination on the motorcycle show tour circuit. Sex, now that is a spiritual experience!

    Gar Out.

  19. 19 madpuppy Jul 16th, 2008 at 10:48 pm

    Very good article Chris. And yes I would still go. Rogue has some excellent pictures of “old” Sturgis, on BikerPics and they will really bring back old memories.

  20. 20 rodent Jul 16th, 2008 at 10:57 pm

    City Park Lives in our hearts and minds

  21. 21 Curt Jul 16th, 2008 at 11:20 pm

    The SO and me went to Deadwood for our vacation in the middle of June. It was the best vacation I’ve had in a long time. Lots of bikes and friendly people. It rained more than I’d like, but we still saw the usual sites and communed with many bikers.There were bikes all over the place. I have no interest in fighting the Sturgis crowds. From now on I party in Sturgis in the “off-season”.

  22. 22 Nicker Jul 18th, 2008 at 11:15 pm


    “…Don’t you find it difficult to comment on Sturgis if you have never been?…”

    Ahh….. NO!
    Try reading what i wrote again.
    The point was “what it takes to have a good time”.

    “…“crime, murders and thefts” …”

    That was a reference to your assertion that the “bad old days” some how “sucked financially” (??).
    Your not even close on that.


  23. 23 Dave B. Jul 19th, 2008 at 12:01 am

    I am glad you revealed the source of that photo, I hoped it was a real shot, and not just some generic “photoshop” image. There is a pleasant variety of bikes and other vehicles at an unfamiliar place, (at least to me), that made me wonder about it. Thanks.

  24. 24 raycwheeler Jul 19th, 2008 at 10:42 am


    Let’s see … drag racing , shit house fires , 24 hours a day non stop partying , pass out next to your hot rod , beautiful dancing girls on top of a school bus that provided endless hours of wholesome entertainment and a few locals ( back-up Entertainment Committee ) and law enforcement that dared to enter .

    To the best of my recollection , no one was killed , raped or pillaged .

    Thats my story and I am stickin to it ….what were we talkin about ???


    Your bike will love you .
    These are the good old days .

    Ray c wheeler

  25. 25 Gar Jul 19th, 2008 at 3:29 pm


    I’ll bet you are a Brit aren’t you?

  26. 26 Nicker Jul 20th, 2008 at 3:53 pm




  27. 27 Gar Jul 21st, 2008 at 10:02 am


    Let me rephrase that question: Were you a Brit before becoming a US Citizen?


  28. 28 Nicker Jul 21st, 2008 at 11:43 pm



    What’s your point?


  29. 29 Gar Jul 22nd, 2008 at 10:49 am


    My ex-wife was a Brit and her writing, attitude, and nit picking mirrors yours. Therefore I thought you might be another “Save the Queener”. No offense intended!


  30. 30 Nicker Jul 22nd, 2008 at 8:25 pm


    O.K…….i guess that explains it.


  31. 31 Jody Jul 24th, 2008 at 12:13 pm

    Great story Chris! and point! I would still go and are going! See ya there! I absolutely agree about the scenery. It is like no other place in the country and it’s not about numbers it’s about the good people that you see or don’t see and the riding!
    Hey at least with the number BAD maybe there won’t be so much traffic!

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