Custer Cruisin’ is good for the town
Published: Thursday, August 15th, 2013
The motorcycles come every year for the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally the first week in August and it has grown to be a rally throughout the Black Hills. It has spread out by necessity because the Sturgis area can't possibly handle the estimated 450,000-500,000 motorcycles that roar into western South Dakota every year.
In Custer, the Custer Cruisin' Committee works hard year around to ensure there are things to do and rides to take for our two-wheeled visitors. Vendors are solicited and signed up for the 10-day event. Motorcycle-only parking in the center of Mt. Rushmore Road is set up to accommodate the hundreds of bikes that enter our community every day during the rally. The Mayor's Ride and Veterans Ride and Veterans Appreciation Day are set up by the Cruisin' Committee. Mayor Gary Lipp led his own ride this year and the VFW helped organize the Veterans Ride and Appreciation event that followed at the post home, as they do every year.
In other words, the committee works hard to bring some kind of order to what could otherwise be outright chaos in the community for 10 days. Parking downtown would be more of a nightmare if it were not for the motorcycle-only parking areas in the center of Mt. Rushmore Road. Allowing vendors to set up in one area of downtown makes it convenient for them and for their motorcycle-owner customers.
This year there was a real winner of an event added on Monday, the Vintage Bike Show. We attended part of the Custer Cruisin' Committee meeting when organizer Kevin Cordill was pitching his idea to the committee. To say there were some skeptics in the room that day would be an understatement, but the committee gave Cordill the go-ahead to start planning for the event. After all, how many vintage bikes were in the area and how many owners would take the time during the busy rally week to enter the show?
Cordill himself had to be estatic over the more than 60 vintage bikes that registered Monday, Aug. 5, of rally week for the first-time ever event. It was good to see local owners like Bobby Whitaker who had multiple entries in the vintage bike show. We remember when he owned what is now Custer County Market. It seemed he was always working on an old motorcycle in the back room of the store. Obviously, he continues this passion for vintage bikes today and is more than willing to share his prize possessions with the public.
So it was with the other vintage bike owners. There were bikes in their original condition that are still driven and others that were obviously just for show. We saw one from as far away as New York State. It was great to see so many of them lined up on South 6th Street just off of Mt. Rushmore Road. It was another first-class event to be added to the Custer Cruisin’ motorcycle rally events in the community.
The Custer Area Chamber of Commerce does its part in welcoming the bikers with reenactors at the intersection of 5th Street and Mt. Rushmore Roads. Riders have the opportunity to dismount and have their photos taken with the likes of chamber director Dave Ressler and Mitch McLain and helpers dressed in their frontier garb.
Custer Cruisin’ has its supporters and detractors, but we would say that the committee and the City of Custer City overall does a good job of seeing that the local rally is conducted safely and that it goes off without a hitch. After all, the motorcyclists are here to ride and have a good time.
We should continue doing everything we can to accommodate their needs and see that they leave this area with a positive impression and smiles on their faces when they think of their experiences in Custer, S.D.
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