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.
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.