Source: Sherman Publications

Locals fire up Harleys for Sturgis

by David Fleet

July 27, 2011

Riders head West.

Ortonville businessmen Bob Wilk and Ron Brosseau will fire up their Harley-Davidsons and travel 1,256 miles west on I-90 to join more than 500,000 motorcyclists who converge between Aug. 8-14 on the western South Dakota City of Sturgis.

The 71st annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally was first organized on Aug. 14, 1938 by the “Jackpine Gypsies” motorcycle club. The club still owns and operate the tracks, hillclimb, and fields in the Sturgis area. The first event was called the “Black Hills Classic” and consisted of a single race with nine participants and a small audience.

Since then, the event has grown to include entertainment, great riding country and plenty of interesting people to hang out with, said Wilk.

“There’s plenty of motorcycle gangs but they’ve all been nice that I’ve seen,” said Wilk, 65. “Last year we met some members of the ‘Sons of Silence’ gang and they were alright. It’s pretty mellow from what it was years ago when they supposedly burned a Honda motorcycle out in the desert just for fun. Back then everyone drove Harleys.”

Wilk and Brosseau agreed they will take a more leisurely ride.

“It’s not far from Mt. Rushmore and plenty of great rides around the Badlands. There’s a saloon you can ride your motorcycle right inside and up to the bar. And concerts that bikers can watch from the seat of their motorcycles. They don’t clap to show appreciation, they rev their engines. The sound is deafening.”

“Still it’s all pretty easygoing—many of the bikers are just too old to be too rowdy. Lots of great motorcycles out there, too—plenty of choppers, too. The crowds are very well-behaved—although you hear a lot of stories. There are big campgrounds where most of the bikers stay. Most sleep in tents.”

The pair will spend about three days at the Broken Spoke Campground before heading back to Michigan.