Rapid City Journal

August 15, 2010

The Sturgis rally ends today, so brace yourself for the roar of motorcycles heading out of town.

Yes, they are loud. Really loud. Obnoxious, deafening, annoying, and often illegally loud.

But most of South Dakota doesn’t mind. It’s just something to put up with for a few weeks out of the year.

That’s why the “Noisy Dozen” award bestowed last week upon Gov. Mike Rounds was graciously accepted by the governor.

Riding with his wife, Rounds took part in the annual Mayor’s Ride (see picture at right) in Sturgis.

That prompted Noise Free America – a New-York based nonprofit organization that fights noise pollution – to name Rounds as a recipient of its “Noisy Dozen Award.”

The group blasted Rounds for promoting “the spirit of noisy lawlessness that permeates the rally through illegally modified exhaust systems.”

Not only did the award fail to heap political scorn upon the governor, it raised his stature in the eyes of bikers and rally fans.

And Rounds’ response?

It’s just the sound of South Dakota having fun.

Many South Dakotans agree. Some love the noise. Others don’t mind putting up with it. And the complaints tend to fall on deaf ears.

Comments from our online readers reflect that range of sentiment.

Supporters had this to say:

– “Thank you Governor Rounds for supporting Sturgis.”

– “God gives us thunder and howling winds during the year. Should we outlaw him and his nature too? Enjoy the sound of a country that gives our citizens the freedom to ride their motorcycles.”

– “I for one love to hear the roar of the bikes in August because I know how much money they leave in our state.”

– “I love all the people complaining about the noise. … Get a grip and move on, or better yet move to the middle of nowhere where there is no noise.”

– “I suppose these noise-conscious people live in large urban areas, where you can never see the stars at night, smell the rain or hear the crickets on a summer night. I’ll take a week of bikers over a year of the alternative.”

Those who put up with the noise said this:

– “I’m against the straight pipes but they usually only appear during the rally when one biker is trying to be meaner than the next biker. Within a week or so they leave and the noise follows them out of town.”

– “There’s no realistic solution to this problem. We just have to suck it up and accept it as part of living here.”

Then there are those who can’t stand the noise:

– “People are entitled to peace and quiet. Period. End of story.”

– “The governor should be ashamed of himself for turning a blind-eye to this retrograde segment of the population.”

– “I’d like to invite Gov. Rounds to my home to hear the ‘sound of South Dakota’ … I’ll even provide Mr. Rounds with a souvenir as the neighborhood is littered with booze bottles and beer cans. In the morning, when Mr. Rounds heads out, he needs to be quiet. The hung over bikers that partied until 2 a.m. will not hesitate to call law enforcement if you disturb them before 9 a.m.”

No one can blame those who don’t enjoy the sound of South Dakota having fun during the rally. But the rally, now in its 70th year, is here to stay.

Most people have the option of taking a vacation during the rally.

They even have the option of renting out their homes for a tidy sum to fund their vacations.

For those who are stuck here, one reader offered this helpful advice: “Get ear plugs if you don’t like the rally.”