Article By: Chris Callen
Photos By: Heather Callen, Darren McKeag, Matt Reel, Killer & Jimmy Frizzell
Originally Published In The September 2016 Issue Of Cycle Source Magazine
Believe it or not, with all the articles I have to write throughout the year, this is one that I toil over. You see, it’s easy to give yourself a word limit for someone else’s event or even one of the many events we hold all over the country. When it comes to the Big Mountain Run however, I labor over the idea of how to fit it all into one issue. With that said, another year of Big Mountain Run is in the books and man with all that went down I would like to start this article off with a simple reminder… It’s really not that good!
Although this is touted as the most laid back motorcycle event on the planet, once we get to the main site, BMR does have a rather full schedule. For the third year in a row, and yes that is some kind of record, the great people of Camp Kidd in Parsons, WV, hosted us for BMR Number 7. This facility has everything and if I have any say about it we will stay here for the rest of time. Thursday night the bulk of the Gypsy Tour pulled in and it was on. There was an open mic but mostly everyone went about the business of setting up camp and reveling in the idea that we had made it back (again) for another year. By this time there was already a decent crowd of people (on site) that had rolled in before us and who had gotten a head start on the party. Flip was the first person to try out the flat track followed by Brotha Jeff. The track was just under an eighth mile of freshly turned dirt and giant hay bales that would separate the fans form the action. This little addition to the festivities was sure to provide more good times for everyone. The whole weekend was ahead of us and the rain was supposed to hold off until Saturday.
Friday morning came early and it was a hustle to get the event site finished up. There was nothing big to do but we did have to place some hay bales for the Hillbilly Invitational. Typically, this is one of my favorite days of the event. We all head out around noon for a riverside BBQ with the people at Patriots Four just about ten miles away from camp. Each year they serve up a great picnic for us and all proceeds go to wounded veterans. This is also where we hold the now legendary “Tramp Triathlon.” For those who have never heard of it: it’s a race where two barefoot competitors at a time start off from inside a tent. From there they race to get out of the tent and into their shoes to run 30 yards to their bike. Then they fire up the bike and ride 30 yards to the edge of the river for a quick dismount and a 30-yard swim to touch the raft. The person with the fastest time, in addition to being completely out of breath, is named the grand champion of the year with full bragging rights. This year we saw Morganne Phillips come in with the fastest time but the real winners were everyone who stood by and watched fat, white belly bikers run and swim in work boots. It’s a hoot man and all part of getting down in West Virginia. We hang out there for a good part of the afternoon and then head back to camp to make ready for another run. Yes, this is a motorcycle event so we ride to other places, have some good times and ride away again.
The second part of Friday’s events was a guided tour of some of the finest roads in the area. The ride to Black Water Falls goes over killer mountain roads and along river valley floors and winds through passes that, at times, are less than a single lane. After losing our little brother last year in an accident we had decided to name this event the Dain Chapman Memorial Ride. This is a simple way that we can keep his memory with us since BMR was such a big part of his year. Friday night came way to fast and found us back at camp with live music, free beer and plenty of sunlight left to get hot laps in on the dirt track. I had forgotten just how much fun this group can have with such little encouragement. We also realized pretty fast that we needed a water solution to the problem of keeping the dust down. The boys from Led Sled had pulled in earlier in the day and they were ready to handle the night shift. That big trailer with the double knuckle salute didn’t disappoint and at last report it must have been 5:30 am by the time the last of them passed out. There were pictures we saw the next morning of flaming ramp jumps, some running two up, absolute chaos and we couldn’t have been happier!
Saturday morning came shortly after the Led Sled Crew went to bed and it found Matt and the boys from The Led Sled Sportster Challenge getting ready for their scheduled shake down ride. They mulled around for a bit and split around noon with some 30 bikes riding to qualify. There were so many great bikes, but by the end of the day Ross Latimer took the overall win and the trophy from Led Sled for the best Sportster this year. Big thanks to Lowbrow Customs, Led Sled, Matt Reel and RJ Powell who all make this event happen. We were scheduled to hold the bike games, a crowd favorite at BMR, at noon but so many people decided to take in the mountain roads for the morning that we held them off for a bit. Apparently several riders found the riverside swimming holes and got held up a bit at a truly great spot along the Cheat River. We got started on the games closer to four with a quick run of barrel roll, plank walk and slow race. Zach Conway of Diamonds N Rust took home the overall championship. One of the things about BMR you’ll notice real quick…. People that come to it can ride, like to raise hell and have good times on bikes and if they break something they can usually fix it, and if they can’t someone is right there willing to lend a hand.
After the bike games were complete it was over to the roadway for the Metzeler Burnout Contest. We decided to use the van as the wheel stop this year and wrapped our sponsor banners around the backside of it. While there were quite a few jockeys in the running for the win Darren McKeag turned out to blow the crowds mind in grand fashion for another year. Apparently RJ didn’t understand that the mineral spirits Darren handed him to help get the fire lit were only to help start the tire catch fire and he didn’t need to pour half the can on it. Before we knew it the flames were getting out of hand and you could actually see in the videos that circulated afterwards where Darren was waving his hand behind his ass in a desperate attempt to keep his seat from blistering. Another one of the top moments was watching Dave Mattei who did a mile and a half free style burnout standing on his pegs rolling at about ½ a mile and hour past the crowd. With the sun coming down it was time for the inaugural Hillbilly Hot Shoe Race. In true hillbilly fashion we made up some flags on sticks that closely resembled race flag colors and one of us even studied the real flag guys to see what the proper etiquette would be to run a race. There were three classes: Vintage, Modern and Farm Boy. We were better off not to make it too complicated: all we really wanted to do was get out there and raise hell. I can tell you that for next year we will be making the track much wider. When it came to the farm boy class final all I can say is that I’m pretty sure RJ cheated. Anyway, everyone was having a blast and by the end of the event we took a hat around the crowd to fund the “Dash For Cash” race where almost every bike from every class lined up for a chance to win nearly $300. The purse was captured by James Gillaspie Who immediately turned the profits over to the Aidan Jack Seeger Foundation. This was a pretty cool thing for him to do because this cat had about three bikes in a rotation of being fixed and re-broken all weekend. Thanks man, from all of us!
The bikes had been lining up all day for the ride in chopper show and you’ll get to see the best of them in the pages of this magazine for months to come. I can tell you it was my very sincere pleasure to give XS Speed a trophy for his wicked chopper and it was a real blast to spend some time with him. With the trophies handed out and all the games played it was time to get the party rockin’. We had a night full of music and a half a trailer of beer to go and not a cloud in sight. It had turned out to be the perfect BMR, like all six before it. All weekend there were parts swap vendors, Darren McKeag was doing live painting, Hijinx had some stuff out but other than that, things just seem to happen naturally. That’s how last year’s little bit of rain turned into annual tarp drags by Sal and the boys from NY. As a byproduct I’m pretty sure that this year we had the world’s longest biker slip n slide.
As opposed to typical rally food that we’ve now learned can sit in the sun for three days and never change color, consistency, shape or smell (thanks Jack Schit) all we had to offer was good home cooked food in the BMR Cafeteria made by Panhead Frank’s family. Oh yeah, Frank Dotson, the man behind BMR has his entire family help out with this event. His brother runs the sound and stage, his sister runs the kitchen and his wife runs the gate. It’s a good thing he has such incredible people around him as it take a village to raise a bunch of idiots… Or something like that. The location is the best ever, the people of Parsons love us and we couldn’t begin to thank them for such an amazing place to call home. As Big House Pete took the stage and I handed out (the) thanks to everyone who helped make it all possible, I kindly reminded everyone that if they came to BMR for the first time this year and had a good time to please…. Go home…. And keep it to themselves. Don’t tell anyone cause the last thing we need are droves of people to roll in next year and make one of the best old time motorcycle events into a circus. So in closing, repeat after me… BMR….. It’s really not that good. In fact, I think next year has been canceled!