Auditory Assault: All Hail Bike Week!

It’s Bike Week.

Anyone who rides a motorcycle will probably know what I mean. For those of you who live outside of South Dakota and don’t ride a bike, it is Sturgis Motorcycle Rally week. From now until this weekend, the population of the state of South Dakota nearly doubles, Sturgis is elevated to rock star status, and the fear of having to scrub Biker Splatter off your windshield is instilled in every motorist.

I work in Deadwood. This means two terrifying things: 1) I have to drive through Sturgis every morning and evening on my way to work; 2) I get to listen to the bikers drive by the office all day and by my house all night.

 Waiting at a stop sign. You can't see it. It's another four blocks up.

 Honestly, I shouldn’t complain too much. Last year, I sat at the front of the office where the bike noise was so loud I couldn’t hear myself think. Now, I work upstairs, where the bikes are reduced to a steady, pulsing growl all day long, a swarm of half-ton bees. It’s rather hypnotic. After only five days, I’m convinced, the rumble has begun to numb my brain.

I don’t know how people can work in places so noisy they have to use earplugs all day. I have always been fond of using my ears. Some people are visual learners, some people hands-on. I am an auditory learner. Worker. Player. I love to listen to things. Music, voices, stories, weather, water, nothing – but I’m reaching my limit on bikes.

We can hear the bikes on the interstate from our house. This isn’t too strange; we can usually hear the interstate traffic. There’s just much, much more of it this week. During the first official day of Rally (there will be insane numbers of bikers here for a week on either side, too), I wondered to myself on two separate occasions why there were so many helicopters flying around. Wrong sort of chopper. I’ve been wondering the same thing again tonight. It’s hard to believe that such small (relatively speaking) machines could make so much noise.

This is also the one week of the year when you are most likely to find locals not at their friendly best. The Rally is fantastic for businesses, but tends to make all the local residents a little extra grouchy. Popular gripes revolve around the traffic situation (“why do they tell us to watch out for the bikers? We drive here all the time. Shouldn’t they have to watch out for us?”) and the unavailability of regular services (“what do you mean there’s a two hour wait at the McDonald’s drive through?”).

Me? I just wish they were a little quieter, though I understand the appeal of all that noise if you’re the one making it. I’m convinced there is an adrenaline tie-in.

In the end, I feel the same way about extreme tourism as I do about extreme weather: it’s kind of a fun change from the usual, as long as it doesn’t last too long. Maybe I’ll just go out and see how much earplugs are going for these days.

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2 thoughts on “Auditory Assault: All Hail Bike Week!

  1. I read an article in the Rapid City Journal the other day about some people that live on Old Hill City Road that had posted signs by their driveway asking noisy bikers to stay away. The interview with them suggested that they were disturbed that the Rally was interfering with their tranquil quality of life – one of the reasons they moved there in the first place.

    If they moved from out-of-state, I’ll have a little more sympathy for them. Still, anyone who moves to a new place is ultimately responsible for researching the neighborhood well before they sign the deed. If the Rally was going to annoy them so much, they really should have moved somewhere else. Is it noisy? You bet. Do I like the Rally much? No way. It’s been four years since I’ve even ridden a bicycle. But I deal with it. And if I couldn’t stand it, I’d take a vacation rather than get huffy and post rude signs outside my house.

    ::sigh:: Why can’t we all get along?

  2. That’s what my family used to do. We all packed up and moved to California every summer for the three weeks of Biker Invasion. I remember coming back one year a little too early. We tried to find a hotel somewhere in Wyoming because it was so late my dad was afraid to drive any longer, and NOTHING was open. So we drove the rest of the way anyway. I also remember one year trying to count all the bikes from the car window as we drove from our house to visit a friend. We were pretty little. I think the numbers quickly went higher than we could go…

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