USA - Society
town called Sturgis
The town's annual
Harley Davidson festival draws bikers from all over the world
the Harley Davidson motorbike
is something of an American legend, Sturgis is the book in which that
is permanently refreshed. It is the world's biggest annual biking
the annual get-together
for America's Harley
fanatics. Gil Eble went there and sent back this exclusive report.
imagine what "Sturgis" is like, you really need to go there; words
fully express the atmosphere of this small town in South Dakota (the
of nowhere) when, each year, it is invaded by hundreds of thousands of
They come from all
over the USA, and from all over the
world, most of them on Harley-Davidsons. There are old Harleys, new
big ones, small ones; standard ones, custom-built
ones, shining ones and muddy ones. The riders come to watch, to talk,
discuss, to drink beer, and to meet friends; but most of all, they come
for the atmosphere.
It was back in 1938
that the first wave of bikers came
to this unsuspecting
little town (the twelfth
biggest in the whole state of South Dakota) in the heart of rural
They had been invited along by J.C. "Pappy" Hoel, a native of the town
who had a passion for "Indians" (the name of a type of bike), and
to organize the first flat
recognized by the American Motorcycle Association.
In the year 2000 the
Millennium rally brought 633,000
people to Sturgis for Bike Week, a large percentage of them on Harleys;
but though the races drew in huge crowds, the main thing most people
to do was to walk or drive round Main Street and the roads around it.
bike or on foot, there was little difference in speed; either way, it
about two hours to cover the two miles from the town center to the interstate.
As for the Sheriff
and the State Police, they are always
alarmed about the impact on the small tranquil community of the sudden
and brief invasion of hundreds of thousands of people -- many of them
Police are everywhere, and it is said that there are over a thousand
agents in the crowd, passing
themselves off as
ordinary bikers. Yet now, after more than sixty years, the town of
has learned to live with the annual event!.
The press make a lot
of noise whenever bikers are killed
but there are not a lot of problems
at Sturgis - and certainly no more than one would expect to encounter
an excited population of around half a million. In 2000, in spite of
huge numbers of visitors, there were only ten rally-related deaths, 363
and 111 people sent to jail,
according to the organizers. Most bikers want to avoid trouble, and
to meet old friends and make new ones; but in any population of over
most of them males between the ages of 20 and 50, a week without any
trouble would be exceptional under any circumstances!
On the plus side, the
Sturgis rally brings in up to a
million dollars each year in sales taxes and tourism taxes, for the
of South Dakota!
to Hell's Angels
America's own bike, the
Harley, developed into something
of a cult object following the film Easy Rider
which it starred
with Dennis Hopper and Peter Fonda, riding to the music of Bob Dylan,
and other cult groups of the time. No movie captured the spirit of the
American sixties more than Easy Rider
contemporary odyssey in
which the Harley was the symbol of freedom and of
Rebels, rockers and
romantics took to the roads on their
Harleys, like pioneers on their ponies; they formed clubs and groups,
names such as Hell's Angels, Outlaws, Bandidos.
Many of those clubs,
founded over thirty years ago, still
exist, and the same bikers still belong to them; many of the bikers at
Sturgis are noticeably older than those at big European rallies. But at
Sturgis, the different clubs keep the peace. Outlaws, Bandits or Hell's
Angels, they do not really live up to their names.
Of course, there are
other more conservative bikers' clubs
too, like the Harley Owners' Club; though they put in
an appearance at Sturgis too, they have their own
meeting a few
miles away in another town. For the Harley is not only a bike for
with or without a cause; it is an "establishment bike" as well. It is the
American bike. It is the most popular bike used in almost every police
force across the United States.
for the Firefox
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ADVANCED ENGLISH - STUDENT
Sturgis : Exercises:
active (not passive) sentences starting with the prompts suggested:
- The legend of the Harley Davidson
- Hundreds of thousands of bikers
- J.C. "Papy" Hoel .....
- The impact of the invasion
of so many bikers .....
- Almost every police force
in the USA ......
Students should imagine that they have
in Sturgis either as visitors to Bike Week, or quite by chance, and
a letter or a postcard to their American
sketch: Divide students into groups of about
half a dozen (anything
up to eight), and have each group script and be ready to act out a five
to ten minute radio report on Sturgis, complete with interviews. People
to interview could include a local shopkeeper, the organizers of bike
a police chief, and at least two bikers.
Have students write sentences defining or explaining each of the
in each case, the subject defined should be the subject and the opening
words of the definition.
Sturgis, Harley Davidsons,
South Dakota, Pappy Hoel, The Outlaws, Easy Rider, Peter Fonda, The
The pro form "one(s)":
this sentence: There
are old Harleys, new Harleys, big ones, small ones; standard ones,
ones, shining ones and muddy ones.
are pronouns that can generally only be used
to reflect count nouns,
nouns that refer to countable (but not necessarily concrete) objects,
as Harleys, books or even ideas.
This form is often
used with the definite article, as in:
bikes, which is the one you like best?"
"The one with the
American flag on it; the custom-built one".
in English adjectives
are not usually used alone. There are some exceptions (the
poor, and many superlative forms such as the best,
but normally adjectives need to qualify a noun; "one"
is used as
a pro-form to avoid repeating the noun.
the ones are
not normally followed by "of".
We can't say
"the one of Peter",
though we can say "Peter's
common mistake is to use
the one or the ones to take up process
nouns (verbal nouns such
as growth, arrival) or attributive nouns such as height, size,
"of". You cannot say:
I saw the
of the first runner, but not the one of the other runners.