THIS IS PART 4 OF A 5 PART SERIES
As we were nearly a day early, Jill asked us if we might pitch in and help a vendor unload, a task we were happy to do. After getting a lay of the land we were told how to get to the camping area. 2 miles back down the access road to US 32, a quick right and then left, up the road about a quarter mile to the Bear Paw lodge. Wait, what? We’re not all in one place? The Caanan Valley Resort is a beautiful retreat nestled in the Monongahela National Forest where the Appalachian and Allegheny mountains meet. It’s a full four-season resort with golf, camping in the warmer months, skiing in the colder with a full main lodge and conference center that includes cabins and hotel space.
The primitive tent camping, the Airheads tent and all the evening’s festivities were, fortunately, together near the Bear Paw lodge.
Was the site ideal? For a rally like this? I would say no, not really. The separate locations created some logistical issues that weren’t as easily overcome as one might have liked them to be. For example, folks in the cabins and hotel needed to get to the Bear Paw lodge in the evening for the beer trailer and music which meant shuttles except that the cost per hour for the shuttles made continuous runs throughout the weekend prohibitive, so they ran an hour before and after the evening’s merriment. Not ideal and many rode over but based on the amount of fauna among the flora, riding in the dark of night wasn’t encouraged. Showers were available at the Campground and Rec Center meaning a decent walk or ride for those of us tenting. If you’ve been to an MOA or RA National, you know the Airheads have a hospitality tent serving up food and beverage throughout the whole event. Circumstances sprung late in the game beyond the control of the folks at the RA and Airheads made that difficult at best. I applaud the efforts that everyone put in to make the best of the situation.
Having now had some perspective on it, none of those things, for me at least, detracted from the event. We were early enough to the tenting area that we found what I think was the prime spot, on a small hill looking directly west over the tenting area with the Airheads tent on the other side parking lot. Behind us separated by another parking lot was the Bear Paw Lodge serving coffee and breakfast each morning with indoor bathrooms and Quencher’s Pub.
We were set up just to the left of the maintenance building among a couple of pines. The lower parking lot is another 8 feet down.
On Friday Kathy attended a Tamela Rich seminar on writing travel articles and getting published, followed by a ride-to-lunch with Tamela and seminar attendees to Seneca Rocks. After lunch, Kathy and a couple of her riding companions broke off and made their way to Smoke Hole Road, I’m told, a highlight of the weekend. While I shopped the vendors, Wendy and Gilly also took off for Senaca Rocks and Smoke Hole Road, returning with similar stories of what an incredible ride it was.
Because of one of the aforementioned circumstances that the RA had to deal with, there was no food available at the tent camping area aside from what the Bear Paw lodge served. So after their ride Saturday, Gilly and Wendy stopped at the grocery store in Davis and picked up stuff for stir fry. Our resident MOA Ambassador, RSM and MOV club member, friend and all around bad-assed rider Muriel Farrington was camped right next to us so naturally she was invited to dine on Gilly’s creation. It was another delicious meal as we ate our fill and even sent leftovers to a couple of gents camped nearby.
Saturday dawned just as crisp and beautiful as the prior two days. But we were up earlier and moving so that we could all be part of the RA’s “100 years of BMW bikes” picture at the Rec Center parking lot. Wendy and Gilly had already departed, and Kathy was still gearing up when I left. As I turned to head up the access road, I found an artsy opportunity. As we were at the Canaan VALLEY resort, the morning air often conjured up something special for early risers and this morning was no different.
I have no idea if it came in “on little cat feet” as Sandburg opined or rode in on an R1800 but as I approached the valley fog, I had to stop for a picture. The reality is that the Rec Center parking lot was just about 150 yards ahead of me, but you wouldn’t have known it.
I don’t know how many bikes it took to spell out 100 in the parking lot but with the fresh donuts and hot coffee provided by the Airheads Beemer Club and Beach’s Motorcycle Adventures made the wait for everyone to appear to be worth it! After all the pictures were taken, I took the opportunity to hit the showers as I was right there. Fresh shower, fresh shave. I needed both!
Saturday was a down day for all of us as we knew what was coming Sunday and we hoped to make it home in two days. I shopped and found a new Klim Badlands Pro jacket that fit and given that it was a sample and with the show discount, it was ALMOST affordable! Also a new pair of BMW waterproof gloves to replace the (no longer waterproof) pair I bought at Street Cycles in 2011. Gilly found himself a new BMW waterproof jacket on the 50% off table and the girls frequented the on-site jeweler-artist.
One highlight of the weekend was the chairlift ride to the top of the ski mountain. For $10 one can enjoy a ride up to the top, walk around and enjoy the vistas and a ride down. It was worth it not only for the views of the surrounding valley but, if your timing that day was right, you got a treat!
On the eastern side of the mountain, there was a launch site for paragliders! We were fortunate to be there to watch two go off. It was such a serene event, breaking down the wonder of flight to its bare essentials of a wing and some warm air.
As we descended back down the mountain, we caught a glimpse of the reality that we were facing. While we’d been blessed with near perfect weather for this rally, what was coming on Sunday morning was moving many to pack up early and get a move on. We’d committed to staying through the closing ceremonies for reasons that will be clear shortly. So, like others, we packed up as much as we could leaving just the tent, sleeping bags, pads and a few odds and ends to pack Sunday morning.
The closing ceremonies were held at the Bear Paw lodge and the celebrations of another very successful rally were tempered by the stark reality that we all face and accept when we swing a leg over a bike. Earlier in the day, Josh the general manager (I believe) of Kissel Motorsports, the local dealer supporting the rally, was leading a demo ride when a deer ran in front of him. Rider, bike and deer all went down. Fortunately, Josh’s gear performed as well as it could, and Josh sustained some not insignificant but survivable injuries. We were then informed of another would-be rally attendee, on his way from Ohio who had his own incident with a deer strike. Unfortunately, he was then hit by a car and did not survive.
Making the best of the situation, rally prizes were awarded and the grand prize, a two week tour of the winners choice in Europe provided by Beach’s Motorcycle Adventures. The winner was in the audience and seemed almost stunned that he’d won! I can guarantee that he hasn’t felt anything yet! Just wait for the tour!
You might remember at the end of chapter 3 I mentioned that Jill Ververka, one of the rally co-chairs with Drew Alexander, wanted to speak to me. What she told me was that next year’s BMW Riders Association National Rally will be held at the Fryeburg Fairground here in Maine!
We’ve already started planning and plotting!!