69th Annual Sturgis Rally

Today we drove from Rapid City to Spearfish and back again. It was a typical August Black Hills day – hot, dry, windy and dusty. My predictions from yesterday seem to be holding true because there were lots and lots of motorcycles on the road. There were also a lot of cops parked here and there, stalwarts reminding us all to behave.

The Sturgis Rally is an odd annual event. One that drives marketers to madness because there are no definitive indicators or metrics allowing an accurate prediction of how many wallets, er bikers will attend. One year there may be half a million, the next a mere 250,000.

Obviously, gas prices weigh in. Last year was perhaps the least attended rally in a long time. A gallon of gas? $3.94. This year we are sitting at around $2.36/gallon (unless you fill up on Mt. Rushmore Road, the rally goers most traveled road – it’s $2.47.)

Other indicators are hotel/motel/campground reservations and to a lesser degree the main rally website traffic stats. I’m sure the police, FBI, CIA and whoever else cares about these things have a keen eye on the incoming traffic counts from all roads north, south, east and west. There are the stats on beer consumed and garbage collected but those come after the event is over.

Point is, there is no real way to count the participants even as they participate. There’s no definitive registration like there is at conventional conventions. Folks hold mini-rallies up and down Interstate 90 from Billings Montana to Cheyenne Wyoming. Many don’t choose to walk the famous Main Street of Sturgis.

Yet year after year they come and they come with money in their pockets and fun on their minds. They are here this year and from the looks of it by Wednesday we may hit yet another attendance record.

Right now Twitter is abuzz with tweets from people who are either on their way or already here. It will be interesting to watch the various live feeds. I’ve already read tweets about one wedding, a couple of deaths and a lot of comments about Steven Tyler and Aerosmith.