Big Mountain Run 9

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Article By: Chris Callen

Photos By: Matt Reel, Melissa Shoemaker, Heather Callen

Originally Published In The September 2018 Issue Of Cycle Source Magazine

It’s hard for me to believe that we are at year number nine of the little event that a ragtag bunch of chopper kids threw together just to get away from the over commercialized events of the time. It was raw, old school as hell and we didn’t care if anyone but us showed up. As long as we got to ride some great roads, spend time with each other and have a good time, we were golden. Well, all these years later that original mission statement still holds true. Although we have moved the event two times and now are in the best location we could ever hope for, it manages to stay low key, no hassles, no assholes and most importantly, just like the motorcycle parties we all used to go to back when we were kids. If you make it to this event, then you came with someone that knows us, and they brought you into the fold…. Otherwise, we advertise that “It’s really not that good.

As tradition would have it, we start this thing the way old-time bike rallies happened; with a gypsy tour. Even though people come to BMR from all over the country, we camp out at a kickoff spot and then ride from spot to spot with each other, camping and partying until we get to the event grounds. For the third year in a row, the good folks at Steel City Harley- Davidson in Washington PA played host to our group. Lisa and Pokey really go all out for us with killer food and drink all evening and into the wee hours. As if that wasn’t enough, they even brought in the Living Deads for our listening pleasure. Of course, we hand out some trophies in a down and dirty ride in bike show. Best of the show from that night was taken by Gaylord Plantz. Later that night we had the biker drive-in movies after most of the locals split for the night. The feature film chosen by Steel City staffers was “Then Came Bronson” to which I was quite surprised to see so many younger riders were both new to and completely enthralled by. Michael Parks still rocks that Sportster man!

The next morning the coffee flowed, and new riders showed up just in time for our departure that is always subscripted by “ish.” Meaning we are slow to get moving, and no one is in a rush…. By noon we were headed up the road towards our second location. Now, this was the first time I made everyone aware of the roadway we were riding on. It seems a little less glamorous than the second half of the day on face value, but the history is what is important. The road we travel for most of that first day is historic Route Forty, the national road. It’s called the national road as it was the first roadway across the United States. Originally, a series of footpaths shown to then young General Washington by the Native Americans, which were instrumental in the colonial Army’s success in liberating the colonies from England. Later, this became a road system that carried travelers westward in the expansion of the United States. Along this road are toll houses and signs everywhere telling the historical significance of different sections of the nations first highway. Anyway, even though the first chocolate chip cookie was invented by a woman named Ruth Wakefield of Massachusetts decent in a restaurant called The Toll House Inn, I believe that company name and the very idea of the cookies came from these early tool houses. They were, of course, places were money was collected for travel, some were actually also small hospitality centers and would sometimes have food for long-distance travelers, sometimes just warm cookies… hmmm. Never the less, Ruth and her famous cookies took the credit for the name, and the rest is history

We stopped for a lunch break beside the falls at Ohiopyle. Since we were getting ready for Laconia and running everything for this event, Heather had to stay behind, but she sent Dana with a carload of sack lunches for all the riders. We picked up more riders at this spot, and after an hour or so of filling our bellies and greeting old friends, we hit the road again. This part of the country has some great history too. Frank Lloyd Wright’s most famous house: Falling Water, was at the back of a driveway we rode right by. At this point, the riding starts to get fantastic. Big mountain roads that lead to country streams and incredible views. We rode for the rest of the afternoon before pulling into our stop for the night at the Wapocoma Campground. This was not our normal stop of Buck’s Indian, but the Rinker’s were expecting the arrival of a new grandbaby, and we didn’t want to intrude on their family event so for this year we gave them a break. Good, thing we did, the little bundle of joy entered the world that very day, congratulations to the Rinker Family! The campgrounds, however, were beautiful and the people there welcomed us with open arms. They gave us an entire section of the grounds right next to a river, to call it a spectacular view would fall short. In no time at all Smiley, Taylor, and RJ had the grill fired up and as new riders showed up and the smart ones got set up, our merry band of staffers prepared a proper campside dinner for everyone on hand. Later that night the conversations roared at campfires throughout, the laughter was priceless, and when it started to settle down, we watched the “World’s Fastest Indian.”

Up with the morning sun, we were all itching to get started, but we held the group back to wait for BMR veterans Tim Stull and Rachel, oh, of course, the infamous Kool-Aid was in tow. The sun was out, and the roads from this point get insanely good. It’s usually at this point that people start to realize that a Gypsy Tour means you can do your own thing and we started to see groups of BMR riders all over the place in little pockets. By lunchtime, we all gathered back together for a lunch break at a little country spot across from Seneca Rock. I should mention that I was in the run truck by this point, actually for the second half of the day before and the entire last day. You see, Delberto had broken several motorcycles and was in the middle of a great time riding with his buddy Marcus, the guitar player from Stone Senate. I knew  how much he had wanted to do this ride with Marcus, so I insisted he ride my bike, and I’d just drive the run truck. Let’s face it, I get to ride everywhere we go, but this is what BMR is about, making memories. After another afternoon of hills and valleys, each taller and deeper than the ones before the BMR Gypsy Tour pulled into Parsons WV where the town had erected banners that read “Welcome BMR Riders” which for me is a hell of an honor. To think that we found a place that actually appreciates us being there, I’m proud to call it our spot. At Camp Kidd, the hot laps were starting on a somewhat soft track that was freshly tilled. People were setting up tents everywhere, and you could tell that some people aren’t worth a damn at keeping a secret, BMR was getting a little bigger. Everyone kinda did their own thing for the rest of the night and the rumors of possible bad weather coming in by the end of the weekend start to circle.

The next morning the gates were open, and people were pouring in. This year we were the official kick-off party for the Long Road to the Smokeout Riders, and a bunch of their guys were getting in too. But this is the day we do our run to Patriots Four. Right down the road from our camp is another campsite that does good work for veterans. They hold a chicken BBQ for us and for the first time we held a Mini Bike Jousting. The rules were: a hit was a point if you dislodge the other riders pool noodle you got two points, knock them off their bike you got three. First to five points won but if there was a tie, then both riders had to jump off their mounts and fight to the death, well, first to smack the other with their noodle. The inaugural champion was Mailbox from the women’s and Mailman from the men. As we returned from the ride, it was time for the Cycle Source ride in bike show. The best of show award went to BK Kennan; you can see his full feature in this issue. There were a ton, and a half of killer customs and awards were handed out for 21 classes, the bike show is really that good. That night the DBI Band took the stage, and the real flat track practice started. There were tons of swap meet spaces filled thanks to Fenton. I spent a good part of the time looking for project ideas. BMR was in full swing, but the rumors of weather were getting stronger, and we had no idea what Saturday held in store for us. It turned out the storm kept getting pushed back, and by the time we got up on Saturday it was gonna hold off until the event was over. Good thing too cause Saturday is the big day. The day started with the Dain Chapman Memorial Ride to Blackwater Falls. Dain was our little brother, and we commemorate his passing each year with this ride. Once we got back to the camp, it was Old Time Bike games which Tim And Rachel killed again, taking trophies in Weenie Bite, Barrel Roll, and Overall Rodeo Champ. I was surprised he let the slow race get away from him. Directly after the Bike Games was the Metzeler Burnout contest. While the big bikes rolled smoke, the little bikes decided to run impromptu drag races down the center of the midway, and the champ for that was Smitty.

Now the serious business, Saturday ends with the Hillbilly Hot Shoe Races. It’s an old-time circle track that we just open up to anyone who wants to run. There were two races that need to be mentioned regardless of who won trophies. First was Squirrel and Bob Streets who did ten laps on Sidehacks with their old ladies in the hack. This was, without a doubt, the best race that has ever been on that track. Neck and neck for all ten laps until the final lap when Squirrel sealed the deal. The other was Jeff Fording on his ’49 Panhead and Zach Conway on his ’49. Both these cats are top shelf riders and seeing the fun they were having on that track together was priceless. So the official races saw classes from the mini bike, modern, vintage and open. The final race as always was a dash for cash that scored Branon a cool $267 and a cold PBR. Special thanks to our official flag girl Jay Cirrito, who outdid himself this year with a brand-new outfit that Tim Stull didn’t get a chance to violate. As the sun went down and Matt got a little further into his pineapple drink, the Matt the Wrench Sportster Show was in full swing. Matt gave out eight different awards for different classes of quadcams but it was and Kyle McCartney who took best of show. You can see that bike in an upcoming issue. Stone Senate was the headliner, and after Marcus spent the three days of gypsy tour riding with us I suspect that these cats will always be a BMR band, they rock. While they were on stage, Sal and the New York crew kept their part of the bargain and offered non-stop tarp rides around the fairground grass. Of course, the flaming jumps, the all-out speed runs, the occasional firearm salute, I mean firework report…. It’s all part of the freedom we enjoy in this country and the exact ingredients for an old-time bike party.

As we packed the last of the show equipment, Stone Senate was killing on stage when a cat walked up to me and told me how much fun he was having. He then went on to say that the only thing that would make it better would be a better internet connection. I smiled and asked him if he noticed that all around the event people were sitting and talking with each other, having a good time and that there were no circles of people with their faces in their cell phones instead of looking and talking to one another. He agreed that this was cool but…. I stopped him and said man, I know this kinda thing might not be for everyone, but I love the friends we have gathered together here on this small raft, we have constructed pyramids in honor of our escaping… And then I told him to make sure he went home and told everyone that Big Mountain Run…. Really Isn’t That Good!

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