STURGIS | It was all too appropriate that the rumble of early morning thunder from a passing shower signified the start of Monday’s Mayor’s Ride and a full week of Sturgis motorcycle rally.
The thunderclap, coming just as riders were about to throw a leg over their machines and kick-start the morning tour, drew an audible cheer from some of the nearly 100 paid riders joined by as many rally sponsors for the 18th annual ride, which began at 9 a.m. at the Sturgis Community Center.
“It looks like we might get a little rain, folks,” said Sturgis Rally Events Chairman Jerry Cole. “So you might be ready for that.”
Steve Edmonds of Yuma, Ariz., took the advice, zipping up the jacket of his rain gear.
“Not my first ride,” Edmonds said of his second Mayor’s Ride and 10th trip to the rally.
Riders lined up and motored through a shower just south of Sturgis, but conditions cleared up for the remainder of the approximately 100-mile trip.
This year’s ride was paced by co-grand marshals Michael Ballard and Jesse James Dupree of the Full Throttle Saloon and Campground, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary, rising from the ashes of a 2015 fire at the campground east of Sturgis.
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The rally usually means a hectic 24-7 schedule for Ballard and Dupree, but the ride gives them a chance to enjoy the rally as other rally visitors get to do.
“This is a good excuse to get out and ride,” Dupree said.
“I’m so honored to be here,” Ballard said. “This iconic ride has been going on for a lot of years. It feels so good to be part of the city and see what this town has done over the past 79 years of a rally.”
Up in Deadwood, Dale Claymore, Naja Shrine Potentate of Black Hawk, readied for the 12th annual Buffalo Chip Legends Ride by securing a pair of large stuffed animal bears to a pair of motorcycles lined up in front of the Franklin Hotel.
A portion of the ride’s proceeds go to the Shrine Transportation Fund, Claymore said.
“I always tell everyone that this is the time of the year that my little bears get to ride together at one time,” Claymore said. “It’s a fun time and looks like we’re going to have a great day, some great blue sky."