What do you think of when you think about noise pollution? For most of us, it’s really about four main sources of noise, all associated with traffic—two with automobiles and two with motorcycles.
I live about two blocks off the main drag and so noise pollution seldom affects me at home, that is except around 10:30 each night. I don’t know exactly where it’s coming from but I know the source of that low house-shaking, dull bass rumble is from the trunk of a nearby rolling, overly-exuberant, rap aficionado, eager to share his musical proclivities with an entire neighborhood before passing through.
Now whether their cars are equipped with the latest dual 15 inch woofers and an amp rated at 500 watts or not, their total lack of consideration still propels the culture to play their radios so loud as to make every word clearly defined two blocks away. This is particularly evident at gas stations, where I have heard more rap music emanating from open car windows, than at any other venue.
Ah, but at least it’s music… most of the time. With motorcycles it’s different.
Every month at our neighborhood meetings, we get complaints about motorcycle noise that scales the fifteen story condo building situated on the main drag, like ramparts at a siege. One type of noise is that high pitched whine of over-revved “rice-burners”, Japanese superbikes, racing through our 25mph zone at speeds over 80 mph. The other is the bombastic CHUG-CHUG of V-twin Harleys and foreign knock-offs, mostly ridden by grey-haired, hold-outs of a mis-spent youth and their biker-babes. It’s an interesting line of demarcation between the two groups. As the former is younger and more modern, being therefore progressive, they tend to skew liberal, while the latter decorate themselves in variations of the flag, eschews “freedom” and whether in a motorcycle “club”, gang, a veteran or just a wanna-be, skews right wing, and is clearly a component of Trump’s loyal base. Riding helmetless, hair blowing in the wind, taming a 1300lb hog is the fulfilment of a longing to return to a time long gone. It is a personalized version of “Make America Great Again” expressed on Harleys and Indians, modern relics of an old technology, high in vibration, low in comfort, but oh so soothing to the rider that wants to hear the roar of that beefy V-twin purr away into the night.
So it may be with some satisfaction that you learn of Trump’s initiative to reduce noise pollution in our neighborhoods by winnowing the source. Yes, just as his lack of a national Covid policy and a compliant governor has eroded his Floridian Republican base of stalwart seniors by moving them from the nursing home to the mortuary, so too that same policy is sure to thin the ranks of the 250,000 bikers, V-twin bikers all, who will be attending this year’s annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally that starts tomorrow an runs through the sixteenth, in a town of some 6700 residents. CHUG, CHUGG, woo-woo.
While a quarter million out-of-towners are expected from all around the country, attendance at the event has peaked in previous years at 739,000 and as some media report may hit a million this year. Revenues from the event average about 800 million yearly, quite a bit for a sleepy little town. To say that their financial sustainability is dependent on this single event would be an understatement. So it is that the wearing of masks, repugnant to helmetless riders, is not mandatory, social distancing will be impossible, and the enormity of this event dwarfs even the most ambitious Trump rally. Expect that after sharing this all-encompassing weekly spectacle that includes performances by 36 different national bands, drag races, group swimming, hill climbs and dirt bike races, and of course, mass consumptions of alcohol, expect that these senior warriors of the road will mount up and return home carrying the shared infections of a brew concocted, like a cheap Scotch, from a blend of states peaking their daily virus stats. I don’t expect they will quarantine themselves on their return. However, one thing is for certain, there will be less of them a month from now