STURGIS, S.D. (KELO) — Bryce Flint affectionally calls Sturgis Motorcycle Rally attendees and the rally guests that stay on his property “old farts.”
“Most are old farts,” Flint said with a laugh.
Flint is 74 and has lived in Sturgis for 40 years.
The Sturgis Motorcycle Rally guests that stay on he and his wife Carmen’s property in Sturgis aren’t wild and free wheeling.
Instead most of the guests are older and they’ve become like friends over the years, Flint said.
“The age of the crowd is getting older,” Flint said.
Forty years ago, bikers were younger and rode motorcycles that didn’t handle as well as today’s machines, he said. The bikes also broke down more.
Today’s attendees ride better motorcycles and have more money to spend than years ago, Flint said.
He and Carmen have rented property to attendees with motor homes or trailers over the years.
They got tired of managing a house they own as a rental property so the Flints converted it to a vacation rental property this year. The house was remodeled and opened to guests on July 1.
The house has been rented since early July. Last week it was filled with motorcyclists who stayed five days. It’s filled with rally attendees this week.
“It’s been good to us,” Flint said of the vacation rental house.
Folks like the Flints are not unusual in Sturgis around rally time.
Rally attendance has been more than 400,000 during the past several years. Staying in people’s homes, renting a room or space in a yards is traditional. According to data from the city of Sturgis, about 4,900 of last year’s 490,000 attendees stayed in private rentals.
“They can rent their homes up to so many days in South Dakota, according to the Department of Revenue,” said Christina Steel, the public information officer for the city of Sturgis.
Some residents will rent out property or homes and then, leave town for several days during the rally, Steele said.
Neighborhoods are dotted with the motor homes, campers, tents and motorcycles of rally attendees.
“The house next door to me, the house across the street…,” Steele said of properties in her neighborhood that are rented to rally attendees.
“A couple of neighbors rent out their yards. A neighbor with several bedrooms rents out a bedroom, another rents out room and yard space…,” Flint said of his neighborhood.
A 2019 rally report from the city of Sturgis said that just over 10% of rally attendees stayed at private rentals and about 10% stayed with family and friends, while a smaller percentage stayed Airbnb or similar rentals.
It’s not unusual for many of those guests to return to the same house, yard or camper spot each year, Steele and Flint said.
“We have so many repeat visitors,” Steele said.
Like the group next door to her. “I know them, I know their dog’s name,” Steele said of the couple who has been coming from Colorado for about five years.
“We get the same people year after year,” Flint said of his camping spots. That’s true for most of his neighbors.
Not only do the repeat guests establish relationships with the property owners, Flint said, the guests also forge friendships with the others who stay in the neighborhood.
“It’s the same people who sit around and tell stories…,” Flint said.
Flint said their new rental property offers a large porch. Along with the couple’s house and other property it’s and is about a six block walk from the downtown.
Rally attendees have an easy walk to the heart of some rally activities, Flint said. That’s important in Flint’s estimation because, as he affectionately describes them, the motorcyclists are getting older.