John Bartel of Pierre held court on a narrow wooden bench, just taking in the sights and sounds of the bustling Sturgis Main Street scene this week.

“The people are always interesting,” he said.

Bartel, a retired engineer, has a choice between a Harley-Davidson Heritage Softail and an H-D Ultra Classic for the relatively short ride to Sturgis. This year he rode the Softtail, stopping to check things out at Black Hills Harley-Davidson’s Rally at Exit 55 on his way.

Coming through Rapid City isn’t the shortest route to Sturgis. Taking Highway 34 from Pierre would have been more direct, he said.

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"It makes the ride a little bit longer," he said.

For Bartel and so many others who congregate from all corners of the globe, the Sturgis motorcycle rally is a reunion of longtime friends, sharing the bond of motorcycling.

“We’ve got a group of people that come from different parts of the country and meet up here at a friend’s house up here,” Bartel said. “We like to catch up and talk about what’s happened since the last rally.”

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