I took my first ever motorcycle tour this summer, traveling from Brainerd, MN out to Yellowstone National Park, and back home via the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in SD, over 2450 miles, on the back of a Harley-Davidson motorcycle. (You can read all about it at Ride off the Page!) See the bag strapped to the back? That held all the things I brought including my laptop, Nikon camera and all the chords one needs for all their gadgets these days. It was freeing, actually, to pack light, rewear clothes (same jeans all week, oh, ya), not worry too much about my hair considering it either looked like helmet head, windblown tangles, or pulled back in a headband, and focus on the experience.
I did not bring an ipod, and it seemed impossible to read a book back there with the wind whipping around, sometimes trying to drag my helmet off, so I spent all those miles…thinking. At first, I had to let my responsibilities go, feeling them roll off and down the highway as we speeded along the “super slab”, as the Biker Chef called it. By the time we got to the Beartooth Pass, I heard the message that it was okay to be there.
So, what’s my beef with the Sturgis Rally Survey? I was a first-time attendee, feeling a bit like I was in a foreign country, wondering if I belonged. I got to the page of the survey that has you check your interests. They were all things like attending other rallies and outdoor activities like hunting, fishing, and riding. Only one choice was something different, quilting. I didn’t check that one either because I don’t enjoy quilting (don’t tell my mom). I looked at the Chef and said, “I guess I’m an atypical person attending the rally.”
What’s the point of having that question if they already assume they know who shows up there? And, really, no other person who enjoys riding also enjoys art? Have you seen the artwork on their bodies and bikes? No other biker is into music? Hmm….I have proof otherwise.
So, I had to wrestle with the Who am I question, and the Do I belong one, too. And, the Sturgis Survey didn’t do anything to help me feel more welcome, so I had to keep thinking as I watched the highways and byways roll beneath me and the mountains rise before me and the hot wind tear around me, and discovered that I’m me no matter where I am or what I’m wearing. I’m still the same creative spirit under the leather as I am at the coffee shop. And, I’m grateful for all those thoughtful miles. In fact, I miss them. I haven’t had much time to just think since I’ve gotten home.
And, hey, Sturgis Rally Survey Writers, if you really want to know who attends the rally, have more variety in your hobbies/interests page.
Go. Create. Inspire!
Journaling Prompt: Have you ever been in a situation where you felt out of place? What did you do to regain your sense of self? Have you attended the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally and taken the survey? What did you think?