Up to 250,000 bikers are heading into rural South Dakota for one of the world’s biggest motorcycle rallies - as many health officials across the nation continue to warn against even small gatherings.
Thousands of bikers rumbled through the streets of Black Hills - some without masks - for the start of the 10-day event in the city of Sturgis.
One rider who rode in from Arizona said that while he didn’t want to die, “I don’t want to be cooped up all my life either”.
Stephen Sample, 66, added: “This is a major experiment. It could be a major mistake.”
The mayor of Sturgis said he couldn’t stop people for coming and instead encouraged personal responsibility and promised officials would be giving out masks.
A city survey found that more than 60 per cent of Sturgis residents wanted the event postponed, and some have stocked up on supplies with a plan to self-isolate from the incoming crowds.
The spectacle is centred on Sturgis and fans out to surrounding towns, bringing in more than $1m in city and state tax revenue, according to local media.
Typically, the event draws 500,000 people to the area, but this year is expected to be half that due to the coronavirus outbreak.
On June 15, city council members voted 8 to 1 to forge ahead with the 80-year tradition.
Average new daily cases reported in South Dakota have risen in recent weeks but remain under 100, and the state records an average of one or two deaths a day from Covid.