Just so happens the MOA and I were born in the same year, 1972. Even though I have been riding (legally) since I was 16 years old, I didn’t straddle my first BMW until 2005, and later owned my first BMW in 2008 at the age of 36. However, I wouldn't find the rally until 2014, when the MOA set up camp in my own backyard - St. Paul, Minnesota. I proudly displayed the blue “#1” rally button during the Down By the River Rally. That rally sparked an interest in attending more rallies away from home.
I now look forward to each rally, creating an experience for myself in my own way. I generally do not do large group rides. To me, the rally is about a few different things. It certainly is about the epic travel to and from the destination. However, now it has become more about what I do once I get there. I have found it to be an excellent time to find and purchase an item(s) to enhance my life as a rider, either more comfortable, safer, or just simply happier. In today’s world, we all need a little more happiness in our lives.
In 2017, after repurchasing a bike of mine from its second owner in California, I rode up to Salt Lake City, Utah, for the Rally in the West. Epic scenery, and Utah is now one of my favorite states to travel. It was there that I discovered and purchased the Big Ear plugs. My ride back to Minnesota was certainly more quiet and comfortable as a result.
In 2018, the ride to Des Moines, Iowa, was not that far of a direct ride from the Twin Cities. However, I was in the market for a new helmet and I knew this would be the place to have all vendors in one place, at my choosing. I rode back to Minnesota with more than just a new lid.
I managed to find another experience that has since become a new tradition of mine, and that is to volunteer. I ended up volunteering for the first time simply because a volunteer asked me at the time of check-in if I knew anything about beer. Um, that was a quick “yes!” I volunteered to pour beer that night, and had an absolute blast doing it. What a great way to meet people and talk about bikes, beer, music and whatever else!
In 2019, traveling to the Volunteer State of Tennessee was also beautiful and a fun experience. I tend to believe that loud horns can save lives, so I decided to upgrade to a louder horn from Twisted Throttle. Since I was close to one of the most epic roads in the country, I was able to hit the Tail of the Dragon, something I would never have been able to had I not attended the Rally.
I believe in the old adage "It is what you make it," so here’s to the BMW MOA, which established one of the best motorcycle rallies in America back in 1972. Here’s to the volunteers who continue to make the rally better each year. And lastly, here’s to everyone who continues to make these events something to remember. I am ready to forget about 2020. I am looking forward to the ride to Montana, the music, the scenery, the vendors and most of all, the entire experience.
Cheers! See you in Great Falls!