Wednesday, August 3, 2011

A Scorching BMW MOA Rally

If I had to pick two words to describe the BMW MOA Rally (Motorcycle Owners of America) it would have to be SCORCHING and HUMID.  By Sunday my brain was cooked from the 100+ degrees at the Bloomsburg Fairgrounds, my occipital lobe had slowed down to a crawl, it had stopped interpreting information from the retinas of the eyes, and the thinking function had stopped operating completely, drinking beer did not help.
The four days I spent camping were so hot that by the time I got home the bike was at least 50 pounds lighter, either I lost a lot of weight or I might have left stuff behind, in either case, who cares, I was riding, I had fun and that's all it matters.

I attended last years rally in Redmond Oregon with my brother, this year we had Wayne join us for the trip.  The weather guys had predicted 95 degrees for Thursday, I decided to meet Wayne at his house, about 45 minutes from mine and leave early, my brother would meet us there later, he works nights and it would be difficult for him to get up early.

I was stopped in front of Wayne's house loaded and ready to hit the road at 8am.  We had 160 miles ahead of us, about 2.5 hours riding.  We head across the Delaware River into Pennsylvania and cut north on the Pennsylvania Turnpike Extension.  About halfway up we pass a red pickup truck with two BMW motorcycles on a trailer, one of them looks familiar to me, a red K75 also known as the flying brick.  Wayne riding a Triumph Sprint ST waves his finger at them, pointing out the fact that BMW's should be ridden to the rally, not taken on a trailer as most riders of another motorcycle marque usually do.   Wayne likes to stir trouble.
With the temperature climbing faster than fireworks on a 4th of July, we pull in to a rest area for a drink and some refuge from the heat.  We had parked the bikes and were about to go inside when a certain red pickup comes around, here comes trouble was my first thought.  The pickup slows down as it rounds the parking area, I throw a glance at it and see a big guy smiling at me instead of an angry face.  I turn around and I'm faced with Jack Riepe's smile, we immediately recognize each other.  You see, Jack has this blog called "Twisted Roads By Jack Riepe" which I have been following for a long time and he had recently started reading mine but we had never met.  We had exchanged a few e-mails and had planned on meeting at the rally during his seminar.    We introduce ourselves, shake hands, I excuse my friend's actions as just another hooligan Triumph rider and we all move inside to chat.  I will leave it to Jack to explain why he was not riding his flying brick, the very famous K75 AKA "Fireballs".

After registering ourselves we head to the camping area and proceed to setup our tents.  Less than an hour later and already sweating, we head to the vendor area but after a while we make our way to the main building where the air conditioners were running full blast and we knew we could take refuge from the heat.  Inside the building there's a large collection of old BMW's, NSU's, a single Douglas and a Brough Superior which I had never heard of.  Wayne is a motorcycle expert and he quickly explains to me how rare and expensive they are.  Another expert hears us talking about it and quickly points out the bike we are looking at is worth about $350K.  My mouth must have dropped, I thought only cars went that high. I did some research and was totally amazed with these machines.
Brough Superior motorcycles were made by George Brough in his Brough Superior works in Nottingham, England, from 1919 to 1940. They were dubbed the "Rolls-Royce of Motorcycles".  Approximately 3,048 of 19 models were made in 21 years of production. T. E. Lawrence ("Lawrence of Arabia") owned seven bikes and died from injuries sustained after crashing one. Wikipedia
Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Edward Lawrence, known professionally as T. E. Lawrence, was a British Army officer renowned especially for his liaison role during the Arab Revolt against Ottoman Turkish rule of 1916–18. The extraordinary breadth and variety of his activities and associations, and his ability to describe them vividly in writing, earned him international fame as Lawrence of Arabia, a title which was used for the 1962 film based on his First World War activities. Wikipedia
Every motorcycle was test ridden to ensure that it performed to specification, and was personally certified by George Brough. The SS100 model was ridden at 100 mph (160 km/h) or more prior to customer delivery.

SS100 Brough Superior made by George Brough

There was a large display of WWII motorcycles, I have always had a fascination with military hardware and seeing these motorcycles up close was very special, I could almost hear the staccato of the machine guns and the sounds of exploding rounds as I stood there admiring these wonderfully well kept machines.

The Harley-Davidson XA (Experimental Army) was a flat-twin shaft drive motorcycle made by Harley-Davidson for the US Army during World War II. The HD XA was based closely on the BMW motorcycles. Though an excellent machine, only about 1000 were produced. Wikipedia

There were lots of vendors selling BMW parts, I talked to a few that will have parts for the Yamaha Tenere. Altrider, Twisted Throttle, Micatech and a few others were mostly displaying BMW farkles.   There was a guy selling used motorcycles, some weird like the Suzuki Bandit trike and others more of my style like the BMW R1200S, one of the most beautiful motorcycles BMW ever made.

Later in the day we rode into Bloomsburg center and stopped for ice coffee at the Phillips Emporium and Coffee shop, a cute little book store that serves an amazing ice coffee.  Bloomsburg is a little town, in the north eastern part of Pennsylvania, with a population of about 15 thousand.  We then went to Applebees for diner, we knew the air conditioner would be running and the waitresses are always friendly.

The sun woke me up early Friday and I quickly got up.  Today I would attend Jack Riepe's seminar "How To Breathe Life Into A Ride Report Or Motorcycle Story".  I have breakfast and get to the grandstands about an hour early, I wanted to make sure I had a seat on the first row, I knew this was going to be a packed room.  Jacks shows up and immediately the fun starts.  I knew there was trouble when he asked the audience if anyone knew anything about computers, you see, he's an Apple computer guy, his computer did not have the standard VGA plug needed to connect to the projector.  Jack's a good writer but a computer geek he is not.  I volunteered to help, luckily he had the correct adapter, after some hiccups and lots of people suggesting different solutions everything was sorted out when we resorted to rebooting the damn computer.  Jack gave an amazing presentation and I got lots of good information.  His stories and jokes thrilled the attendees for about an hour.  I met John Bunce, Richard Machida and Steve Williams, all fellow bloggers I have been following.  Refer to the end of this post for a list of everyone's blogs.  After the seminar we had lunch at one of the vendors, it was extremely hot under the tent as you can see from the picture, we were all wet like someone had turned a hose on us.  With our eyes burning from all the sweat we still managed to down a pulled pork sandwich with Jack Riepe topping it with hot apple dumplings.  Jack has an amazing rapport with the ladies, a discussion quickly ensued about the type of apples and when they would be at the perfect stage for the apple dumplings.  The poor lady had no idea what she was getting into, last thing I heard she had invited us to come back and try the hot apple dumplings in two months, I only see myself going back perhaps in January when it's nice and cold.

L to R - Jack, Steve, Richard and me
In the afternoon we attended the trials where BMW riders were putting their bikes through hell. I do admire these guys putting their bikes though all kinds of terrain, boulders, water, ruts and mud.  There were a few mishaps but nothing to worry about, after all these are true adventure motorcycles.

The evening couldn't come fast enough, it cooled a little but by 6pm the temperature was still hovering around mid 90's.  We had purchased diner tickets for a meal of authentic German food and BMW had invited a very famous event band from Germany called "Blechblos'n".  The Bavarian group entertained the crowd with excellent German music and American songs but the band brought the house down with funny renditions of Lady Gaga and Tina Turner.

R to L - Wayne, Paul (my brother) and I
The "Blechblos'n"

Click to expand the panoramas

Saturday morning we headed to town for a proper breakfast at the local dinner.  We were standing outside planning the day when a large group of bimmers stopped at the light, there were a few ladies in the group with the pink GS650 being obviously one.  We left town and headed up into the country side following route 44 in a north western direction.  I stopped to take a few pictures of what I thought was a nuclear power station but quickly moved on, didn't want the security guys chasing me down the road.  We passed next to the station and realized it was a coal powered station.

Bush Road, winding road next  3 1/4 miles, I didn't see any problems with the road and we definitely did not follow the suggested  40mph.  We continued through the very hilly and sinuous country side stopping only for a drink.

My brother looks in his GPS and finds out there's a few covered bridges nearby, we plot the course and head to the bridges.  Pretty soon we enter what seemed to be a scene from a Stephen King story, we see lots of detour signs and no matter which direction we followed we ended up on gravel roads and no way out.  Lots of u-turns ensued.  You will notice I'm at this point riding the red Triumph ST, the gold visor being a giveaway, Wayne and I had swapped bikes.  I have always loved the triple sound and I was having lots of fun blipping the throttle on every downshift, the gurgling sound bringing out the hooligan in me.

I had to keep slowing down, the sound of the gravel stones hitting the fairing of the Triumph made me cringe.  My bike is also covered in plastics so we both decided not to continue down gravel roads, I could see the disappointment on my brother's face, of course he wanted to continue, he does ride the big GS1200 Adventure after all.

We were standing by the bridge wondering how nice it would feel to take a swim in the river when a cow started approaching us, we laughed as the cow proceeded to enter the water, I think I detected a smile on the cow.

We return to the campsite just in time to attend the BMW MOA awards ceremony.  We head to the grandstands finding a spot all the way up to escape the sun.  The temperature was about 100 degrees and no wind to help cool us down.  The event organizers had a display of fire shooting cars, very uncharacteristic for BMW riders and pretty soon people were booing. The flames shooting up into the air and blasting the stands with more heat only exacerbated  the agony of the spectators.

Later we moved to the beer garden tent and spent the night listening to various bands, drank beer and enjoyed the night in good company.  The 2011 BMW MOA ended with the last song a little after midnight.

On Sunday morning we quickly take down the campsite and head to Cracker Barrel for a healthy breakfast.  We hit route 80 east and head towards NJ making a stop in New Hope for an Ice Coffee.  I split from my brother and after crossing into NJ make one last stop along the Delaware river in Lambertville.  All the way from Bloomsburg we endured mid 90's temperatures but near the river it felt a little better.  

I continued east towards home knowing my pool was waiting for me, my wife had told me the water was almost 90 degrees.  The last 45 minutes flew by and soon I was parked in front of the garage taking my boots and socks off.  After a quick dash to the backyard I felt much better having jumped in the water with clothes on.  My mom stood there in utter amazement as I fell backwards into the pool while my wife took the pictures.  A few beers later I was feeling much better.

For the first time I saw BMW riders riding around town in shorts and even saw a few without helmets, Pennsylvania has a no helmet law. We don't usually ride without ATGATT but it was so hot that we decided to throw caution into the wind and rode into town in our more casual riding attire.  You will notice my very fashionable plaid shorts, black Nikes with white socks while my brother went for the more Germanic shorts and boots look, having forgotten to bring sneakers.  Wayne, besides the heat, looked very comfortable on his Triumph ST. 

It had been a scorching and humid BMW MOA event but the music, the beer and the camaraderie of the people had made the event special and worth attending.  I got to meet fellow bloggers and extract some valuable information from Jack.
Next year the event is schedule for Sedalia, Missouri in the middle of July, I hope we have a cold wave going by at the time.


Jack Riepe                 Twisted Roads By Jack Riepe
Steve Williams            Scooter in the Sticks
Richard Machida        Richard's Page
John Bunce                John's Alaska


  1. That is a great blog mate, sounds like a awesome trip, and good to see you on a triple. Did you enjoy it? Those sort of tempertures almost to hot to ride. Thank god for the pool ah!

    Hopefully your next report will include the Tenare!!!!!

  2. Great post!
    So cool that you met up with Jack, Richard, and all the others! I don't envy you the hot weather. It's been a strange weather year, but I'll take too much rain over too much heat. And you were camping to boot! Well, despite all that it sounds like a good time for everyone.

    I hear some of the Teneres have arrived on these fair shores. Any idea when yours will be here?

  3. Roger and Kari:
    Thanks for visiting, we had a good time besides the heat. About the Tenere :-)
    YES, TODAY IS THE DAY, my bike arrived on Friday, I opened the box and took pictures. I'm taking off at lunch time today and heading straight to the dealer to pick it up....YEPEEEE!!!! Finally!!!

  4. Dear George:

    Did you really think the temperatures were hot at the BMW MOA Rally? I found them to be quite enjoyable. There is nothing like jumping on your motorcycle at 5am and find the motor already warmed up. Also, I have alwayus wondered what BMW women looked like under all that gear. I finally found out — and they are beautiful, as well as smart.

    Your blog gave a number of interesting perspectives on warm weather riding, deportment, and biker interaction with a marque that is both mystical and mysterious. When I am King, everything will be on the Apple system. It should be noted that with one minute to go before showtime, the computer came up, the sound worked, and the scalding hot tee shirts on my two lovely assistants pleased the crowd.

    I don't usually admit to stuff like this, but that was the first time I ever gave a PowerPoint presentation.

    I too was amazed that BMW riders had abandoned the ATTGATT policy in that scalding heat. (By the way, the woman riding the pink GS650 is Kimi Bush, the younger of my two assistants during the presentation. Her bike is called "Tuff Cookie.")

    I had a great time meeting you — especially on the Turnpike — and I am delighted there were only minor differences in our two accounts. This was a great blog, and I thoroughly enjoyed your version of our four days in purgatory.

    Fondest regards,
    Twisted Roads

  5. GeorgeF:

    I don't envy your heat but it was nice that you managed to meet with other bloggers. You must be very excited that your S10 is finally here. Can't wait for photos and future ride reports

    Riding the Wet Coast

  6. Yes, waiting for photos of your new arrival....

    Great post, BTW, and I enjoyed finally meeting you. I thought I had posted a comment before but I think Blogger ate it....


  7. Phew, I feel the heat through the blog. Looks like you had an awesome trip. The pictures show! (I love the covered bridge)
    What a great opportunity to meet up with other bloggers. Good for you guys!!!

    ATGATT can be a bit of a pain during those scorching temperatures.
    So, is that how Beemer riders look without their road gear? White legged, hideous shorts and (white) socks? Better cover yourselves up, gents.

  8. Jack:
    It was a pleasure to meet you and attend your seminar. You right, I guess one has to look at the positives, warmed up bike at 5am, being able to see the beautiful ladies in less than ATGATT.
    Your assistant Kimi is a doll and so was the other lady, you are lucky, hanging around them ;-)

  9. Bob:
    Picked it up today, love the sound of the big twin, it's like a big thumper, pictures will be up soon :-)

    Thanks. Likewise, pleasure meeting and chatting with you.

  10. Sonja:
    You don't approve our shorts and white legs :-(
    Ha ha, that's what happens when you always ride covered in gear, no tan ;-)
    I'm going to Florida in two weeks on vacation with the family and will be getting a tan but don't expect me to snap a picture like a certain Bob, ha ha

  11. Love the photos of the military bikes. I also like to see what they did for the military bikes. Great trip and post.

  12. George,
    Thanks for this post. I enjoyed it very much.

    As was another commenter, I was glad you included the photos of the military bikes.

    I'm glad you are getting your bike. You have been waiting for what seems to me a very long time. And if it seems so to me, I can imagine it has seemed an eternity to you.

    Good luck with your new ride and thanks for taking me along on this ride.

  13. That was a great rally report. It sounded like a very cool (sorry) rally with lots to see and do. I was surprised that you had never heard of a Brough Superior, but was pleased to read that Wayne was able to put this right. I once saw three or four in one persons personal bike collection and had to be careful not to drool on the bikes. Can you imagine what it was like to ride at 100mph back then? I am glad you took a lot of pictures of the bikes on display – I love seeing such exhibitions. So pleased you got to meet with so many other bloggers and listening to Jack talk must have been a highlight. Sometimes cows are wise – not often, but at least they know how to cool down! I see you took the hint from the cow and kept your clothes on to cool down when you got home. What news of the delivery of the Tenere? Forget that question - I just read your reply - congratulations!

  14. I guess some of Mr. Riepe's tips must've payed off - this was a very well written post, George. I can actually feel the sweltering heat coming off the screen. :)

  15. @Motoroz
    I can spend hours looking at military equipment, new or old but specially WWII. Thanks

    @Circle Blue
    Thanks for visiting and I'm glad everyone enjoyed the photos of the military motorcycles. There will be a blog soon with pictures and report on the Super Ténéré.

  16. @Gary
    Yea, had never heard, fascinating story though. Of course I took lots of pictures, it was much better indoors than outside ;-) I picked up the Super Ténéré last Friday and by Monday already had over 500 miles. There will be a full report soon with lots of pictures, ha ha

  17. @Fuzzy
    That's a great compliment, thanks. I try and yes, Jack did have good tips.