The small town of Sturgis can’t house the hundreds of thousands of bikers who attend its motorcycle rally.
So bikers spread across the Black Hills, staying in hotels, tents, RVs, and AirBnBs that often have jacked-up prices.
But just past One Eyed Jacks in downtown Sturgis is an option for rally-goers who are determined to stay in town without breaking the bank.
The spot is a tan house with a white-fenced-in porch and perfectly manicured lawn. During this time of the year, the property is also full of parked motorcycles and peppered with brightly colored tents.
“It’s actually kind of rewarding. We kind of enjoy the culture that goes with it,” said Mike Bachand, who owns the house and rents out his lawn during the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally.
Bachand, a city council member and semi-retired rancher, has been renting tent space to campers since the mid-1980s for $25 a night. He enjoys meeting diverse people from across the country.
“We’ve currently got an aerospace engineer on the property and we have another individual who just works odd-jobs at the rallies as he travels from rally to rally,” Bachand says.
Steve Kalabany, a masonry project manager from Colorado, has kept in touch with friends he’s made while camping at the house.
“We’ve been coming here years,” he said. “Beautiful yard, concrete driveway, coffee in the morning, two port-o-johns, it’s a block off Main Street. So sometimes if we don’t ride, we just park our bikes here and put on shorts and flip flops and walk around town.”
Kalabany keeps an air mattress and pillow in his tent and pays for showers at the nearby community center.
Bachand said the simple campsite “kind of goes with the motorcycle culture.”
“In the very beginning, we all rode and camped,” he said. “I was one of those people myself. And this tradition is still kind of taken on, they love to ride and camp.”
The location also has an added safety benefit.
“These people come to have fun, partake in the activities of the rally, without the possibility of getting in any form of a DUI because of driving. We’re less than 700 feet from two major downtown establishments that provide alcoholic beverages,” Bachand said.
Rally goers learn about the unique campsite through social media, word-of-mouth, and signs on the Baschand’s yard.
Bachand and his wife spend the money they make on their grandchildren, whether it’s for extra Christmas gifts or travel costs so the grandkids can come to visit them.
“It just gives us that little bit extra cash to make things a little nicer,” he said.