The Ontario Guzzi Riders returned to Utopia once again in 2005 to welcome all their friends for another successful rally that was enjoyed by all. Even the weather gods waited until everybody was safely back in the campsite on Saturday afternoon before sending us a little shower, but it certainly didn't dampen spirits, as we had plenty of shelter to continue our celebrations.
In the past we've been hampered by rally dates changing from year to year, even at the last minute, and to less than ideal weekends, but for 2005 and the future, we have a good, fixed date, that worked well for us this year and hopefully for future years as well. So now we've got a great site, with a postal address of Utopia (near Barrie, 50 miles north of Toronto) and most people agree that it really is Utopia when it comes to motorcycle rallies.
For 2005, Guzzi/BMW rider Helmut Haus invited some of his friends from the International Order of Rolling Broccoli Riders (interesting name, but you'll have to come to the rally to find out the origins) to share in our festivities and they helped bring our total numbers to 141, a record for an Ontario rally. Of these, some 72 came from Ontario, 64 came from various U.S. states, two from British Columbia and two from Quebec, with the odd one coming from Germany, via Pennsylvania.
Joe Katz, went home with the long distance guy award as he'd traveled 7000 miles between leaving home in Deland, Florida and arriving at the rally on his BMW R1150RS. He obviously didn't come by the most direct route, but we ask people how far they've ridden to the rally, not how far away they live. Luann Parendo received the long distance gal trophy for riding her Guzzi 878 miles from Duluth, Minnesota, but most impressive were Brian and Marjie Radford who rode their '78 BMW R80/7 all the way from Salt Spring Island in British Columbia to get the two-up award. They didn't know how far it was, but according to Mapquest it's 2825 miles, a distance very worthy of an award! The People's Choice award went to Mary Harvey who rode a beautiful '61 Falcone to the rally. Actually, the bike is husband Dorien Berteletti's, who rode an equally nicely prepared '67 V7. The "Best Hard Luck Story" award this year went to Carl Simmons who also received a high performance driving award from the South Simcoe Police. If the awards were given out on Sunday, instead of Saturday evening, I'm sure that Dave Schmidt from Guelph would have been in the running for something, maybe "The person who got the biggest scare" award. He was camped under a tree that decided to split in two during the night. Luckily, neither Dave or his FJ 1300 were hurt, but it was a very close thing.
Saturday activities this year included a run to the local micro-brewery in Creemore Springs, where the Copper Kettle festival is held on this weekend every year which includes some good food, drink and live blues bands. Another favourite was a run to the Big Chute Marine Railway, where boats are lifted over rocks from one lake to another on a tracked carriage instead of the usual lock system, and others went exploring on their own to find some curvy roads or interesting establishments where thirsts could be slaked and hungers sated. It seems that some people were a little disappointed that there were no field games this year, so we've appointed a new director of field games for '06 to keep everyone happy.
Food this year was a collaborative effort, as our caterer from the previous two years couldn't do it this year. Chili on Friday night was cooked by Rose Schulz and myself with one big pot of mild and another big pot of fairly hot. The hot was supposed to be mixed with the mild, but a few hardy souls ate it, with a little bit of sweating, but no complaints! Terry Menaul also helped us out by cooking burgers and sausages which smelt great and were very much appreciated. Continental breakfast was provided for Saturday and Sunday with plenty of juice and coffee to wash down cereals, muffins and bagels, and on Saturday evening a great roast beef dinner was provided by Mary Scarrs, who was ably assisted by her husband and son. Mary wasn't familiar with the kitchen equipment which caused a problem with the timing, but after everyone had a delicious meal with some tasty pastries for dessert, she was given a big round of applause at the awards ceremony.
The sprinkling of rain on Saturday meant that the activity around the campfire was kept to a dull roar, with most people opting for inside activities in the bar, where everybody had a great time and no-one was concerned about what type of motorcycle anyone else rode. Guzzis and BMWs were the predominant brands of course, but there were seven other makes attending and we even had one Dnepr show up. The bar is one of the many features that makes Camp Saulaine (sunshine in Latvian) such a great venue for motorcycle rallies. Other niceties include the sleeping accommodations - dormitory beds for over 100 people, six house rooms for up to 18 people and four motel type rooms for people who really don't believe in roughing it. But the camping at this site is also about the best I've ever seen, with a beautiful grassy meadow along the banks of the Nottawasaga river offering your choice of shade or out in the open camping for tents or trailers, not to mention motor homes (but the less said about those...).
Finally, I'd like to thank everyone who helped out this year, including Rose, Klaus, Elisabeth, Steve, Andrew, Donna, Larry, Lionel, Martin, Terry and the many others, and also thanks to all who donated door prizes, including Frank Wedge/MGNOC, Cycle World West, Toronto, Parker Brothers Powers Sports, Toronto, Open Road BMW, Newmarket, to name but a few. To those I haven't mentioned, please accept my apologies, everybody's efforts were really appreciated, but the biggest thank you goes to all the people who attended and helped to make this the best rally ever. Hope to see you all again in 2006.