Hello, everyone. I'm finally getting around to writing up our rally. Procrastination is a heck of a demon. This will come out when most of you have snow and last summer's riding will be a somewhat distant memory. Hopefully, this will jog loose some of those dormant memories.
Once again, we had a wonderful weather forecast, i.e. no hurricanes were bearing down upon us. Our rally location lost their bridge last year due to hurricane flooding; so, now they have a new bridge that is constructed of concrete and steel. The old bridge was fabbed up tree trunks. It floated downstream. I spoke to the campground owners a couple of weeks prior to the rally date and they assured me that they had plenty of Italian entrees for the Saturday night meal and that all the cabins had been booked out well in advance. They were happy and were looking forward to the event.
Our rally location is the Blue Ridge Motorcycle Campground just outside of Asheville, North Carolina, off of Highway 276. There, an on-site restaurant takes care of all the food services. What a relief. All we have to do is show up, set up our registration booth, and let the festivities begin.
I loaded up the door prizes, tied a bike onto the trailer, and headed west. Upon arriving at the rally site, I off-loaded the bike and went for a ride down 276, to 215, and then up to the Blue Ridge Parkway. This was about an hour-long ride full of the twisty curvy roads that we like so much. Then, back to the rally to set up registration and start the fun.
I really enjoy working the registration table Friday afternoon. You can hear the Guzzis coming down from the Parkway, winding down 276 on the twisty descent. Newbies to the rally always comment on the road and I just tell them, "That's nothing. Wait until tomorrow when we go on the lunch ride."
We usually get around 75 to 90 people in on Friday - just enough to keep things jumping. I forgot the name tags and, when I did remember them, no one else remembered to wear them. Oh well, we all know each other by now or at least recognize one another or remember what Guzzi we ride. We did a snore patrol around 11:00 and I guess everyone was sleeping on their sides because we had a very quiet campground; so, it was off to bed.
Saturday dawned with a little mountain haze drifting through our sanctified Guzzi gathering. Some campers even went so far as to ask if rain was in the forecast. Rain? That awful four letter word was not in our future.
Sure enough, around 10:30, people started gathering for the lunch ride to Hot Springs. Our route was up Highway 209 which has some sections that require first gear, very tight turns, and no runoff. You have a mountain on one side and a guardrail on the other or you have church right next to the road and someone's pea or cabbage patch on the other side. You better keep up your best riding manners or you'll be picking vegetables or going to find salvation. We all arrived at Hot Springs and filled up a restaurant for lunch.
After lunch, folks split up for one of four or five different routes back to the rally, which was fine with me as it is difficult to maintain a group of overfed unruly Guzzi riders - too much southern sweet tea, I think.
Back at the Blue Ridge Motorcycle Campground, Emily Banks and Brenda Marcum did an excellent job of running the show, counting heads, and filtering through the registrations for oldest, farthest-ridden, etc. awards. Also, another 30 or so folks drifted in.
This year, Highway 276 had a really cool set of switchbacks for a detour. One of the group had flown over from the Netherlands, bought a Guzzi in Florida, and then drove it to our rally. He missed one of the turns in the detour and became a dual sport enthusiast in short order. As to be expected, bits were twisted to accommodate the foliage - well, no big deal. Back at the campground, tools came out and, with about the length of time that it takes to consume a cold beer on a warm mountain day, the Guzzi Viking was back on the road for further exploration and conquest.
We had more Guzzis in attendance this year, somewhere around 100; I like to see more every year, so this was great. Phil and Leslie did a wonderful job of feeding everyone - no complaints. The seven different Italian entrees were gladly consumed and I think that I split mine with Barbara.
I would like to thank all those that show up at our rally with door prizes. People have been doing this for quite some time now and it is really great. One never knows what you'll be giving away. I think every attendant received a door prize, so that was cool. Following awards and door prizes, we had a very nice evening hanging around the campfire or just wandering around the campground admiring the Guzzis. Now, I do have a complaint. I was really disappointed in the overall snoring. Our snore patrol came up without a contestant. I can't believe that we were let down. This cannot happen again. I will not tolerate this lack of compliance. Next year, no more seconds on the lasagna and no more deluxe brownies. Grant Borden, you have the award on contingency until next year.
The following received awards:
Long Distance Male: Henk Krijnen, Asten, The Netherlands, who rode from Naples, Florida, on a 1999 Bassa as part of his tour of the U.S.; Long Distance Female: Jeanne Zibell from Huntsville, Alabama, on her Breva; Long Distance Two-up: Robert and Bobbi Johnson from Shelbyvilee, Indiana, on a 1999 EV; Youngest Rider: 16-year-old Israel Alexande, Blairsville, Georgia, on his 2002 LeMans; Oldest Rider: 73-year-old A. J. Ciaponi, Orlando, Florida, on his 1998 EV; Long Distance Male (Open Class): Howard Rhinehart, Columbia, Maryland, on his 2000 Suzuki Bandit; Long Distance Female (Open Class): Kim Davis, Knoxville, Tennessee, on her Ducati 750SS; Long Distance Two-up (Open Class): Lemuel Stephens and passenger from Huntington, West Virginia.
Many thanks to the generous door-prize contributors who included: Whitehorse Press, Harper Enterprises, MG Cycle, Precision Imprint, Protect All, RiderWarehouse (Andy Goldfine), Carl and Dorothy Merrill from Union Cycles, Fred Sahms and Kim Davis, Marjorie and Ed Dorr, Phil and Leslie Johnson from Blue Ridge Motorcycle Camp Ground, Joe Kenny, Myers Moto Guzzi in Asheville, Moto Guzzi North America.