Report from New Ulm
By Dean Baker

Last month Webmaster George Tuttle and I made the trip down to New Ulm and the annual BMOA rally held there each May. George had never been and it was only my second visit, the first being eight years ago. Of course, traveling with George you can count on the scenic route at a quick pace, and this trip was no exception.

We started out Friday morning. The weather was forecast to be nearly ideal for the weekend, albeit a little warm. George was aboard his Yamaha FJR, I was riding my Honda Interceptor. Carving our way down the back roads through Hico, Hamilton and Llano we encountered light traffic and minimal bugs. We spent that evening in Dripping Springs where we enjoyed the hospitality of Ron and Karen Brock, friends from George’s days in the Air Force. Their home outside Austin is a haven for deer, raccoons, foxes and other wild creatures that recognize benevolent humans when they see them.

The next morning we made a leisurely start for the relatively short trip to New Ulm. As we got closer to the rally site, traffic began to increase. Happily, it was comprised of motorcycles of various brands and vintages. We fell in behind two Hinkley Triumphs that led us to the park where the BMOA rally is held.

Minutes after our arrival we found that the NTNOA was well represented. President Clay Walley, VP Dave (JCFR) Edinger and several other club members had already set up a base of operations. The NTNOA has always had an open invitation to New Ulm, and it was gratifying to see our club members taking in the sights.

The BMOA rally location is much different from our Lake O’ the Pines. It is a city park with lots of trees, flat sandy soil and some good permanent facilities. There is a large hall with restrooms and a spacious picnic area with tables. One does have to get used to the trains transiting on the tracks a few hundred feet away. Those who camped were unanimous in their observation that the trains were more frequent, faster and louder at night. Their passage punctuated the night sounds familiar to those hardy souls who try to sleep at motorcycle rallies.

For scenic beauty our Lake O’ the Pines has the undisputed upper hand. However, that flat sandy ground proved advantageous Saturday afternoon when the field events began. It is obvious that the BMOA takes the Field Events portion of the rally very seriously. The events are well organized, well thought-out and well attended. Rider skills were tested in several venues, including “Cold Starts”, slow rides, drag races, riding the plank, and some events designed for two-up skills. While a couple of the events are open to any kind of bike, most are designed for vintage machines and some of the members have spent a lot of time setting up their old Triumphs and BSAs to excel in their chosen events. These guys aren’t spending the day before the bike show polishing and buffing trailer queens. They are thrashing the hell out of forty-year-old bikes and having a great time doing it.

I was impressed by several aspects of the competition. The events were well staffed by volunteers. As any current or former officer of our club will attest, finding volunteers to assist in club functions can require varying combinations of diplomacy, bribery, intimidation and deceit. Each event required several officials, but there was no shortage of members helping out and the competition ran smoothly and expeditiously. Also, there were events for everyone who wanted to participate. The cold start required riders to run a short distance to their machines, kickstart them and then ride a measured distance before the other competitor. The slow ride was won by the rider who took the longest to transit a measured distance without touching down a toe. Of course, the drag races need no explanation and wisely planned so the distance was not enough to get out of first gear, much less pose a braking problem. Riding the plank required transiting a lengthy section of 2 x 4s without a wheel dropping off or touching a foot to the ground. Two-up events included a competition in the number of clothespins a pillion passenger could clip on a clothesline and a ring toss, testing not only the participants’ abilities but the strength of their relationships.

The willingness of the competitors to subject their machines to various levels of good natured abuse was impressive. I’ll be the first to admit I tend to pamper my bikes, but these guys have no such neurosis. And I’m happy to report that with the exception of a few glazed clutch plates the bikes came through it all no worse for wear. At the risk of being anthropomorphic it’s not hard to convince one’s self the bikes were having a good time too.

Lastly, it was gratifying to see the level of audience interest and participation. The events were done in heats giving the crowd plenty of opportunities to cheer for their heroes. Our own Scooter Jay participated in every event and represented our club with distinction, despite heavy competition from the local favorites and a highly partisan crowd.

Unfortunately George and I were unable to stay for Sunday’s bike show. However, if the level of enthusiasm we witnessed in Saturday’s field events was any indication, I’m sure it was a great display of motorcycles. I do know that the officers and members of the BMOA put on a great rally. You should definitely make plans to attend next year’s event. I’ll be ready; I’ve already put a couple of ten foot 2 x 4s end to end in my back yard.

Sincerely,
Dean A. Baker


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Revised: January 29, 2008 .