Sturgis Motorcycle Rally: The Day After

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Sturgis Bike Week

A letter from the Chip… It’s difficult to believe the rally was only 2 weeks ago. The entire Chip crew works all year to prepare for the coming rally.

Then, surrealistically, it “suddenly” starts and the next thing we know, we need a few days’ sleep to recover.

Now we’re preparing to welcome you to the 2011 rally, which is only 338 days away. Part of the 2011 preparation is a recap of the rally just experienced, so here it is.

First, thank you for the many compliments given to the crew. They deserved it. Though not without the seemingly unavoidable challenges when the human population of this pasture explodes from zero to tens of thousands, the crew really outdid themselves this year.

Second, a special thank you to those of you who sent cards thanking us for putting on the Chip. Your telling us how much you enjoy the Chip is what makes it worthwhile for the crewmembers to invest so much of their lives to make the Chip what it has become.

Third, we extend another special thank you to those who’ve already made reservations for 2011. It isn’t just that, like some of you have said, you’re the smart ones who will have paid less for two weeks’ camping and shows than someone else will probably have to pay for the day the Rolling Stones confirm. It’s really the ultimate thank you and note of appreciation for the job the crew has done.

Now, finally, I’ll review of the details of 2010’s physical stuff. Many of you have seen and heard me say when one is in a “people” business, one is really in the water, toilet and trash business. I should have added “electricity” to the list.

The year of planning and preparation really paid off in minimizing the number of challenges and in having the ability to take immediate curative action. I’ll start this recap addressing the challenges the crew met.

The first challenge I’ll address is the electrical power. This worked exceptionally well throughout most of the campground’s 560 acres during the entire rally. However, the South 40 experienced some problems, reportedly related to the high temperatures experienced rally week.

The S40 power is provided by West River Electric Cooperative. WRE replaced multiple transformers during the rally, which caused temporary losses of power while the exchanges were being made.

Almost everyone was out riding, so many were unaware of it. The issues were experienced on Tuesday and Wednesday, and I believe the WRE issues had been resolved by late Wednesday afternoon.

WRE engineers are presently investigating preventative measures to insure there’ll be no similar problems encountered in 2011. We will take them at their word.

The second challenge to discuss is the toilet attendants. One might suspect there are not a lot of people looking for employment as toilet attendants. That has been our experience.

It’s why we were so pleased to contract with a group from Florida that performs these services at a number of other public events, including bike rallies at Daytona Beach. They did an outstanding job for the Chip in 2008 and 2009. However, unexpectedly, they let us down in 2010.

We thank those who came in to replace the contractors who’d let us down, but there was certainly a transition period when things were not up to standards. Like I said, the professionals had performed admirably for the two prior years.

We had confidence they’d provide the same stellar performance in 2010, but it turned out we shouldn’t have. Backup plans will be in place for 2011.

A couple of non-functional toilets were to have been, but were not, removed prior to the Rally. Their removal was apparently just overlooked, and they’re being hauled off now. Our apologies for letting it appear there were a couple that simply weren’t properly maintained.

Now on to the trash, which was, overall, handled very well. Oh, there, too, some folks let us down, but the backup crew picked up the slack immediately and there was only one day where the trash was even slow to be picked up.

The replacement crew was very impressive. Thanks, too, to Waste Connections for providing additional dumpsters and trucks, as that really helped avoid any trash problem. That leaves water.

The water supply system seems to have worked perfectly. We have 3 wells and a chlorination system that feeds water throughout the campground. The entire rally was supplied without incident or even the need for a repair. Yahoo.

The showers went quite well. The two companies that vend showers were appreciated and made private showers available at the east and west ends of the campground. The free and permanent showers at the North Shower Building worked well without incident throughout the rally. The showers at the South Shower Building, however, experienced some challenges.

The South Shower Building’s showers are heated first by a 500,000 BTU boiler and by a series of 4 large hot water heaters. The boiler broke early in the rally (nothing breaks until after the rally has started).

There simply aren’t a lot of 500,000 BTU boilers available in the neighborhood, but we found a rental and had it in place later the same day. The rental boiler, however, broke repeatedly.

The rental company was not able to make it dependably and continuously fully operational until Wednesday. The 4 hot water heaters continued to work but, depending upon the time of shower, couldn’t always keep up with the demand for hot water. Luckily, it was really hot weather and a semi-cool shower wasn’t always unwelcome.

Now, let’s discuss more good stuff. The entertainment was truly exceptional. No one fell off the stage. More than 200 Chipsters got to be “extras” and can be seen in Pee-wee Herman’s biker bar scenes now on “FunnyOrDie.Com” or on Jay Leno’s Tonight Show broadcast of Wednesday, August 11.

Others got to help with Schwinn Bicycle’s Biker Buddy program where 60 bicycles were assembled and ultimately gifted to The Black Hills Children’s Home.

It was a year like no other. A senior vice president at Warner Brothers Records commented that he hadn’t seen a comparable entertainment lineup anywhere in the United States for more than 5 years. We got to see Bob Dylan and Kid Rock on the same stage on the same night! Incredible!

Nothing is without challenge, however, and, again, nothing breaks until mid-rally. The Buffalo Chip is privileged to have a brand-spanking new state of the art line array system that produces sound second to none.

I’d never heard anything sound so good and, when I saw folks come out of the campground just to check out that sound during the sound check, I knew others were likewise impressed.

The state-of-the-art technology included a system that prevents bands from blowing out the speakers. Motley Crue, however, seemed to have had a super high-tech ability to overcome the safeguards and blew out about 25% of the system on Wednesday.

The crew reconfigured the system to provide balance and only one or two of you audiophiles could tell the entire system wasn’t working when Ozzy Osbourne performed on Thursday.

Parts specially flown in from LA were in place and the entire system was back in use on Friday. No one had to perform acoustically, thanks again to a very competent crew.

Another challenge I believe to be related to the good stuff involves fans who have handicaps. We simply had more of these attendees for the Dylan show than we’d ever anticipated, which caused some inconveniences in the midst of a huge campground and concert crowd. It’d be nice if we had advance notice of special needs and preferences so we can better plan.

Another good topic is the traffic reports that indicate many more Chipsters utilized the alternate routes and avoided the traffic congestion that is the City of Sturgis.

Likewise, many utilized the new road the Chip developed to assist Chipsters to exit the Chip more quickly by riding past the machine gun range to enter directly onto SD Highway 34 from 132nd Avenue.

This worked really well, and it’s hoped even more folks print out the maps (available on buffalochip.com) and utilize the routes shown in 2011.

Well, that’s about it, or at least as much as I know of at the moment. Please do send us your suggestions for improvement. We take them all seriously and look forward to seeing your smiling faces again next August.

Woody & Crew