There are a lot of good motorcycle clubs and as most of you have probably already ascertained, I’m a bit of a motorcycle club over-joiner. Like the Autobahn Club, most motorcycle clubs are filled with great and interesting people - the kind of folks I enjoy hanging out and spending time with. Besides the Autobahn, Big Sioux Riders, and a few other clubs, Leta and I are also members of the Glacier Lakes Motorcycle Club (GLMC) which originates from Watertown, SD. The GLMC is made up of all sorts of riders who ride all sorts of styles of motorcycles and they are some pretty interesting characters. Another thing that the GLMC has in common with most BMW clubs - these folks like to ride and they ride a lot.
The GLMC has two club missions. The first is to support a public off-road riding area near Watertown, SD, for motorcycles and ATVs. The new second mission is to provide scholarships to new riders for their MSF training classes. The GLMC members are spread throughout the upper Midwest and a few other states (Ohio, New York, New Jersey, etc). They use an Internet forum called “The Barn” to communicate and organize.
Each year the GLMC has a Grand Tour (GT). With a $25 entry fee, a participant can earn a t-shirt and then get a shot at some door prizes. The more photos you collect and submit the more chances you have to win a door prize. In the four GTs I have finished I have yet to win a door prize, but a lot of other people have won nice door prizes. The GT is open to everyone and there have been as many as several hundred riders some years.
Each year there is a Grand Tour theme. The 2011 theme was “An Affair with Water”. To earn a t-shirt. riders had to take photographs in 25 or more different towns, townships or cities which had something in their name to do with water. For example, I stopped and took photos at
Running Water, SD, and Springfield, SD, on my ride to the Spring Campout in May. The 2011 photos had to show your GT flag, most of your bike, and a building or permanent structure with the town’s name on it. Unlike past years, free standing town signs were not accepted. The 2011 GT started on April 1st. All the photos had to be sent on CD or as printed photos to the Rally Masters, Jack “Sleddog” and Marlene “Mrs. Sleddog” Backer. The photo submissions had to be post marked no later than Sept. 15th.
Leta and I got most of our photos riding to and from BMW rallies. On our ride to the Iowa Rally in June we netted Chelsea, IA, Riverside, IA, Brooklyn, IA, Lake City, IA, Wall Lake, IA, and Lakeview, IA. After canceling our ride to the BMW MOA National, we decided to go to the Top of the Rockies Rally in Paonia, CO. We got Colorado towns of Big Springs and Glenwood Springs that weekend. Eastern Colorado is a dry place and there were not many water related town names to get.
We picked up seven more towns on our way to and from the Corn Husker Rally in Franklin Nebraska: Silver Creek, Wood River, Blue Springs, Elk Creek, Cedar Creek, Springfield (home of the Simpsons), and Weeping Water. Our friend Dave McBride rode with us part of the way home on Sunday and we had a great time finding some of those little towns with him. Leta’s chain was starting to stretch and fail by Sunday afternoon, so Dave and I spent quite a bit of time trying to barrow or purchase a 46mm socket or wrench to fit the hub nut on Leta’s Honda VFR. The thinking was that I had to loosen that nut in order to tension the chain and I had left that socket at home. After quite a bit of searching we were able to barrow a wrench large enough to fit, but I was still unable to loosen the axle nut. I then opened Leta’s MOM (Leta calls her motorcycle owner’s manual her MOM) and found out I was having my first verified significant senior moment. We easily tightened her chain with a 13mm socket and a spanner which we have been carrying for 3 years for that purpose. In my defense, I hadn’t tightened that chain in three years and it is kind of a obfuscated, but clever and easy-to-use single-swing arm design.
We picked up some towns near home in Sioux City in late August and then got our last few towns in South Dakota on our way home from the Hawes Campout in September: Beaver Creek, Valley Springs, Sioux Falls, Dell Rapids, and Rock Rapids. We had two busts that day, East Sioux Falls, SD, and Ash Creek, MN, neither of which had any structures with a town name on them. We had to pick up the old rail station in Waterbury, NE, the next evening to guarantee that Leta had enough stops to be a finisher.
Sometimes towns just don’t pan out and are just plain busts. This can be a little frustrating when you ride 30 or 40 miles out of your way to get a photo and then find there is nothing there to be used for a photo. There has been a running joke about carrying enough materials on your motorcycle to make signs for towns and villages that didn’t have enough civic pride to put up their own town sign. To my knowledge, no one has ever done this because it would be a violation of the spirit of the tour.
In past years only town signs and post offices could be used for photos. Riders would often ride past town signs while looking for either a more colorful sign or a safe place to pull off for the photo. Often many U-turns where made for each photo stop. In 2009, there were 12,525 photos accepted and some riders joked about how that probably resulted in over 25,000 U-turns being made. There were so many U-turns made that one group started referring to themselves the U-turn Crew in the forums. Town limit signs are no longer used due to concerns about rider safety and quite possibly because the rally scorers (the Backers) got tired of looking at photos of town limit signs. Even more strangely, many small town post offices no longer have the town name on them or are gone entirely.
In 2011, there were 121 riders signed up for the GLMC Grand Tour. Of those, 72 riders picked up the minimum 25 towns to finish. John Frick, the third place male winner of the 2010 BMW MOA mileage contest, had 600 GLMC GT stops in 2010. In 2011 John had 388 GT stops, (Cont. P3)