I’m not sure I’d have flown in for it like some people I met, but the rally was fine except for the lines (British English translation = queues) for everything – food, beer, bathrooms, showers, trips, talks, rides, electrical outlets. Internet access was non-existent otherwise we’d have queued for that too. The evening Bavarian Bier Keller visit on the Thursday I arrived was, disappointingly, a half-hour bus ride each way to a mall, and a kitsch experience. On the other hand, the tour of Nashville on Friday was excellent, especially the one-hour tour of the city on the open top deck of a double-decker bus. And I kept busy during the rally – a visit to the laundromat, a visit to Walmart for drinking water and shampoo, a repeat visit to Walmart for brake cleaner for my squeaky front brakes, queuing for the restrooms and the showers, etc. 🙂
I had time for one complete tour of the large inside pavilion featuring vintage bikes and vendors – mostly companies offering tours all over the world, otherwise clothing and accessories – and one tour through the outside vendors. And both evenings it was grab a beer from the beer tent and grab a chair to listen to live music. I had no time to queue for another hour to take a demo ride on a new BMW bike, or to attend any of the many talks and presentations.
Returning from Walmart on Saturday evening I stopped at Blue Moon BBQ across from the rally and opted for the two-meat combo – pulled pork and ribs. That was a mistake. First, the guy loaded three massive hot ribs onto my plate leaving little room for much else. Then he turned for what I thought would be the pork but no, two more massive ribs from a fresh rack went on top of the first three. Only then did he retrieve the pulled pork and fill the rest of the plate. It was absolutely, totally, incredibly delicious but I could barely finish the pork alone, so I pulled the rib meat off the bone with my fingers, boxed it, and took it with me.
The closing ceremonies were in session as I came back into the rally and the crowd in the stadium was huge! I was a newbie and had no idea. But being half an hour late turned out to be good strategy as donor after donor of “door prizes” showed video after video of their product or services before a name was pulled from the drum and each winner received and congratulated. I kept hoping, but did not win a motorcycle tour of Iceland or Portugal or Russia or Thailand worth several thousands of dollars, though others did. But as you well know, the journey is the reward.
Throughout the ceremonies, the emcee gave us statistics relating to the rally:
- Oldest pillion passenger to ride to the rally – 91 years!
- The two oldest bikes ridden here – BMW’s from 1961 and 1964
- The two oldest ladies who rode here – 81 and 83 years!
- Attendance this year – 6,018 people, with 800 first-timers like me
For some reason, there are a surprising number of men in kilts here but without the accent to match. I learned that after I put on my pretend Scottish accent in front of the kilted man serving beer, and got a totally blank stare in return.