Mission accomplished, I suppose. My three day stint promoting Haywood County, NC at the Leesburg, FL Rally was an experience I’ll not soon forget. Event attendance is reported at between 200,000 and 300,000, a number I can believe. It was pretty amazing to see so many bikes, so many riders, so many vendors and a city that opened it’s arms to embrace the throngs and make it a success.
From early in the morning to late into each evening I was the solo voice of the mountains and to be honest I missed hearing it echo off the hills of home. I don’t know how many people I spoke with. It was practically a constant flow through the booth I shared with Full Throttle Magazine of Florida. I left the booth only to endure the port-o-lets baking under the 90 degree sun, or cross the vendor paddock to get food or drink. Nothing like $11 for some kind of mystery meat on a stick to keep your strength up, but it was after all a working trip, not a pleasurable vacation. While I’d do it again for a price, it’s not my cup of tea, nor is Florida the first place that comes to mind when I dream of great motorcycle riding.
It’s not that I don’t know Florida or riding in the Sunshine State. I lived there most of my life. I began riding in Florida. If that’s all you know it could seem really nice – except for the heat, the set-your-watch-by-it-rain, the long flat straight roads with horizons shimmering in the heat waves, the traffic, the congestion, road-kill vultures, did I forget to mention the heat? Sorry guys, I’m “ruint”. Seen paradise. Moved there. I’m trying to tell you how to find it. I am convinced motorcycles were made to get you here so you can discover their true purpose and set them free.
Bottom line – I’m not a rally guy. I just don’t get it. I just don’t have a hankerin’ to go hang out with 100,000 of my fellow rider buddies. Yeah, it’s cool to see all the different bikes, but after the first 10 or 20 thousand of them, honestly, anything that stands out is probably a freak and nothing I’d consider putting my ass in the saddle of. I’m far too experienced to ride my iron pony to a beerfest without recognizng it’s pretty darn likely to buck me off on the dizzy ride home. I don’t need the validation of my choice to ride a motorcycle confirmed by associating with a mass of “individualists” all emulating one another in black leather appearance, skin art, and badder-than-thou attitude. I still don’t get it.
Rallys seem to focus on the destination, the party at the end of the road. For me, it’s all about the ride, not the destination. My party is getting there, not arriving. When the sidestand goes down, my party is over. That’s the time for a few brews and reflection on the good times I’ve already had.