Sunday, July 17, 2011

Notes From A Rally Virgin (Hiawatha Rally) by Gordon Courbat

On Friday, June 3rd, Jerry Zeeb and I met Dale Nordlie, Izzy Szkok and his wife Deb at Pilot and we headed out for The Hiawatha Rally at Money Creek Campground in Minnesota. At 8 am the weather looked pretty promising with the usual 30+mph winds. For most of the way I was following Izzy who was pulling a trailer with his R1200RT. When I saw him suddenly lurch to the left or right I braced myself for a turbulent gust of wind and did my best to ride through it. As I have mentioned to some of the coffee crowd since then, it is a strange and tense feeling when you are passing a semi while battling strong cross winds. As you approach them from the rear there is a sudden turbulence that grabs you and tries to push and pull you back and forth. Then as you near the back of the cab it sucks you in for a few seconds before blowing you in the opposite direction as you speed on past them. Hang on and throttle up was my best way of dealing with it. Man, dirt track racing was relatively safe compared to this. Was I having fun yet? Well, I kept telling myself, “I think I am”. All was going along pretty well until we neared the I-35 crossing at Albert Lee when it started to sprinkle and then it turned to rain as we rode into Austin. It’s kind of fun riding in the rain as long as you can see where you are going. I got a kick out of people’s expressions as you passed them in their cars. They look at you like you are “nuts”! And, it occurred to me that maybe they were right?! Oh well, as long as you get a little rush and have some fun, right?

Somewhere after leaving I-90 and turning onto Hwy. 16 we stopped for lunch at Tootsie’s. After eating we stepped outside and the sun was now shining bright and the humidity had shot up quite a bit. From here on the roads got more interesting as we wound our way around the twisties leading into Money Creek. The campground and facilities were really nice and pretty well filled up as we arrived. The Autobahn group was camped out right near the entry so we didn’t have to look for them.

(I’ll try to shorten this up for all of you who have attended these rallies and know the routines.) Pitch the tents, take a break and have a beer, discuss the day’s journeys, drink some more beer, etc., etc. and look forward to dinner time. Vege soup and hotdogs……. and some more beer. Worked for me, although I’m not a big drinker. It’s not that I don’t like it, I just don’t handle it well. Especially when I’m around bikes. Great people, enjoyable conversation and just a relaxing good time.

Sunday morning I woke up about 6am looking forward to some hot coffee and a little breakfast to start the day. As I headed toward the pavilion I met some people returning from there who said an electrical breaker had blown during the night and those big urns of coffee were stone cold. Wouldn’t be ready for quite a while yet. Oh well, go back to camp and start getting things together was my next thought. Back at camp I grabbed my towel and toilet items and headed for the shower. By the time I got back to the tent some of the others already had tents torn down and their bags packed. How did they do that so quickly? I expected everyone would be sitting around drinking coffee, shooting the bull and getting ready for the day ahead. Wrong! These guys were packed up and ready to roll?#* What was the rush, we had all day? Maybe I’m just a slow starter.
In summary: Naturally, after I get home I pull out the program prepared by the BMW Owners Club of Minn. and learn about all the events that I missed. Polish Cultural Institute, Ed’s Museum, Harmony Toy Museum, etc., etc. And I am told, let’s not forget that this is the area where the world’s SPAM is made! There was one opportunity missed .

All in all a great time, wonderful people and a lot of neat bikes. I realize I was caught up in the mechanics of the thing (how to tie all that camping stuff on this damn bike, I just bought an air mattress but no pump, will my saddle bags leak in the rain, how do you keep from having such a sore butt and so on). With a little more practice I can figure this thing out. Hope to see you at another rally one day soon and I’m always open to your helpful suggestions. Enjoy the wind in your face, the beautiful scenery flying by and the comfort in knowing that the next gas stop is coming up soon. Be safe and enjoy the ride.

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