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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.

"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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