Sturgis Without the Motors

There has been a bit of a hiatus from the blog this summer. I have to say I enjoyed July and August. Spending time getting used to the new job and with my family.

The time off included a trip to Glacier National Park – hard biking hills with the single speed – and to the Black Hills on the way back to MSP. On that drive we stopped in at Sturgis SD for the motorcycle rally. 500,000 motorcyclists – bikers? – descending on the Black Hills area for a week. As we drove west through Montana we could see the migration moving East.

When we stopped first at Deadwood then spent a couple of hours in Sturgis, we experienced a culture that was loud, strange, interesting and fun for most it seemed to me. My wife quipped she thought the average age was 60 and weight 260. Round numbers.

While walking the main street in Sturgis, it occurred to me how much fun it would be to have an equivalent event for cyclists. Not a race. Not a ride. But a get together of epic proportions.

SturgisSturgis Main Street – 2013

Even as a statewide event. Pick a city centrally located. If that city is already bike friendly even better. Hold a state wide get-together of cyclists with manufacturer tents, food vendors, coffee and beer vendors (both always seem to go well with cycling. Think of it as a state wide Minneapolis Institute of Arts Bike Night.

MIA Bike Night 1 MIA Bike Night 2013

MIA Bike Night 2MIA Bike Night 2013 – valet

On Bike Night in the middle of summer, hundreds of cyclists turn out to listen to music, drink a bit of beer, enjoy the summer and get some exposure to manufacturers wares through tents owned by local bike shops. It was event where roadies, tourers, mountain bikers, commuters and messengers could all hang out under the beg umbrella of the joy of cycling.

How could this work in a small Minnesota City? Close the downtown area to cars invite everyone in the state – indeed the region and imagine a weekend where a similar group – to Bike Night crowd – could convene, listen to music, drink a bit of beer, watch movies, enjoy the summer and get some exposure to manufacturers wares through tents owned by local bike shops…..note the similarity. Add to this rides on regional trails, slow races, mountain bike races, kids rides and so on. It could add up to the equivalent of Sturgis without the motors, noise and general lack of fitness.

It could have the additional benefit of demonstrating the joys of cycling to the”locals”.

Many people could bike in. Others could drive with bikes in tow. Open up camping in or near the center of town and get the hospitality industry in on the fun and the beginnings of an annual event are there. First year? Maybe 100 people. Year two? some hundreds? By year three it could be the event of the summer for cyclists.

The inevitable comparison to Ragbrai will be made but this isn’t – by definition – a ride but a gathering and potentially a huge gathering. I’d go. Would you?

Question is, which city will take this on?


Tony Desnick

About Tony Desnick

Tony Desnick is an architect, urban designer, and bicycle activist. He has worked in the bike share industry since 2013. He has ridden a bike for the last 56 years and commutes year 'round by bike today. He serves several local and int'l non-profit boards of directors. In May 2016, he presented a TEDx talk about how bicycles can change us and our communities. It can be found here: