Don't drink and ride. It's common sense, right? Sadly, no, it isn't for many riders. During my travels in and around Sturgis this year, I saw an unfortunate trend of area restaurants and bars trying to draw in more business by offering cheap or even free beer to bikers.
I saw banners inviting bikers to stop in and enjoy extremely affordable beer in nearly every town I rode through in the Sturgis area. Now, granted, cheap beer doesn't exactly have high alcohol content. It's still there, though, and when the beer is that cheap it's all too easy for one to turn into four or five. Considering how many motorcycles I saw parked at places advertising cheap beer, the marketing ploy was working. This is good for business, but the side effect is that all these riders who have been drinking head back out on the road afterward.
As I saw, the roads in and around the Sturgis area are twisty and challenging. You have to be on your game, or you'll end up like the Harley I stopped to help drag and push out a ditch after going into a corner too fast. Fortunately, no one was hurt, despite the bike crossing the oncoming lane of traffic before going into the ditch. To be clear, I'm confident that alcohol was not a factor in this particular crash, based on the behavior of everyone involved. I mention it as an example of how easily things can go wrong even while sober. Add alcohol to the equation of numerous riders on roads they don't know, and it's a recipe for disaster.
According to the Argus Leader, police have made 136 DUI arrests so far this year compared to 117 to date last year. The City of Sturgis alone accounted for 106 of this year's arrests. Those are just the people who got caught. One police officer from Sedona, Arizona crashed his police motorcycle while in pursuit of a fleeing bike in Boulder Canyon early Thursday morning, according to the Rapid City Journal. He was hospitalized, but released and back on the job Friday.
There are many more who ride intoxicated out there on the road with us who get away with it, at least for now. While the motorcycle rally does bring in a great deal of extra business for local eating and drinking establishments, it is irresponsible of them to encourage this behavior by offering cheap or free beer for passing riders. Don't drink and ride, and be extra cautious about "the other guy" (or gal) on the road with you.