Article By: Chris Callen
Photos By: Heather Walker
Originally Published In The April 2015 Issue Of Cycle Source Magazine
This was the 10th annual Rally at MountainFest. I thought as something a little different this year, since we have had so many new readers come on board in the past few issues, that I would give a little history of the event. This now national level motorcycle event in Morgantown West Virginia had very humble beginnings. Since its inception in 2005 there have been vintage bike shows, vintage motorcycle racing, for a time the AMCA held vintage motocross at this rally and world class entertainment. Of course being in our back yard we have supported MountainFest since nearly the beginning. I still remember that first year they asked us just to come and cover the event. Free lodging was provided in a beautiful chalet. The place was so nice when we got there that the few of us from staff thought we were in the wrong spot. Suffice to say we weren’t used to very lush accommodations back then.
It would be a few years later, the Cycle Source’s own annual Custom Chopper Show moved from Pittsburgh to Morgantown and joined the ranks of those promoting MountainFest. I have always felt personally invested in this event since that day because they gave us a new home for what at one time was the only real event we did each season. Coming out of the city into what is probably some of the most beautiful riding in the country soon spawned the idea for us to do an annual ride to go along with our show. We started to bring in custom bike builders like Indian Larry Motorcycles, Led Sled Customs and others from across the country to give people who might not otherwise get to see their bikes or meet them a chance to be face to face with the builders. With 18 to 20 of these builders in one spot Cycle Source would also start to host an annual VIP reception at that same chalet for the builders and several select known associates. This would also become my own annual birthday party celebration so to say that this is a very special event to us would be putting it mildly. This is where we first met so many of the people today who are our friends and family, some of them have even been dumb enough to sign on as staff.
That said, as we prepped for this years event we got a call from long time supporters at the bar we kick off our annual run from: Archie’s. They were trying to become a larger part of the festivities surrounding MountainFest than just the typical vendors and bands they normally have. The fine folks that run the joint asked if we could do a little more with them as well. No problem, we decided to throw a welcome party at their place, have a little eight trophy ride in bike show to warm everybody up for the weekend and give the builders and riders coming in from around the country a welcome befitting a national event. Ya gotta remember, for a lot of these guys and girls the event actually starts days before the gate opens and the traveling even sooner. So Thursday night the bikes pulled in, friends and family gathered as has been the case at this event for us and we kicked back a little for a change of pace. There were some truly incredible bikes that came out for that quick little show, but none better to give the best of show award to than Ralph Cook, Jr and his 1935 Harley Davidson.
The next day it was on in full scale. This would be Killer’s first trip to the Morgantown event and I loved watching her eyes pop out of her head as we crest the hill and she got her first look at the massive event site. We got in early and got everything set up at the Cycle Source booth since we had to be back at Archie’s by noon to leave for our annual “Run Through The Hills.” This is a ride that my good brother Matt Reel started years and years ago for us. His e-mail that simply said “Hey, I was wondering if you wouldn’t be into putting a ride together during MountainFest” kicked off what would be some of the best memories I’ve ever had doing this magazine and this year was nothing short of that. As usual, I got to Archie’s barely in enough time to say a few hellos before we had to get everyone lined up to split. Somewhere around noon-ish we headed out with 150 riders in tow to tear up some of the mountain roads around the Morgantown area. I love bringing new people into this thing because these roads are just like what we have at home and ride all the time. About halfway through this ride we always stop at the Riverview Lounge in Rowlesburg. This is a hometown hole in the wall kinda bar with great food and only about 25 yards away from the river so of course we get a minute to swim in West Virginia’s Cheat River.
The ride back is somewhat less organized and eventually we end back up at the fairgrounds where Ted Nugent was playing this year. I spent a considerable amount if time taking the Panhead front head on and off for practice in the parking lot where the magazine and the builders were set up. It had been giving my trouble and I was stumped. On the lot this year were some pretty great names like Jeff Cochran’s Speedking, Faith Forgotten Choppers and Justified Defiance, just to name a few. These guys make it easy to hold a bike show that’s for sure. Saturday kicked off early again and we started signing up bikes for the show at 8am. By the end of the day there would be some 200 entries that were all bidding for their share of the 52 trophies in 16 different classes. Since this was the original Custom Bike show the magazine held in Pittsburgh, it’s still the only one that we do this big and that uses such strict judging criteria. So many great bikes from this part of the country roll in every year that it gets harder and harder to pick the winners. One in particular that we pulled out for a photo shoot with Jeff Cochran was a little shovelhead trike that I fell in love with. You can see it in an upcoming issue of Cycle Source.
All in all it was a great day filled with bikes in the Asian, Antique, Street Custom and Radical classes but only two major awards were important in the end. The First was the Pro Class overall winner who went to our good brother Daniel Donley from Pandemonium with his killer XS650 and the open class Best Of Show that was Sam Coleman with his scratch built turbo diesel powered bobber. The amount of engineering that went into this kid’s bike was incredible and you can see his full feature in The Horse Backstreet Choppers. As we handed out the last of the prizes the work back at the Chalet was starting to heat up. As part of the VIP reception we put out a nice dinner for all the builders and everyone who comes out to support us. At the same time Big & Rich was taking the stage at the fairgrounds and our old pal Jack Shit had things in overdrive up at the Coal Bucket Saloon. This is the onsite rally bar that Jack runs by his own hand, or mic that is. If you’re looking for the crazy times at MountainFest, that’s the spot.
As we pulled out of the event later that night to get our party started back at the chalet, we noticed the New Triple S just before we got to the highway. This place is like a city all on its own at the very top of the hill before you get back to the highway. They had bands and vendors too, but man the amount of people was mind blowing. They actually had to stop letting bikes pull up the hill because there were just too many people, now that’s a good kickoff for your new digs! Back at the chalet Heather had the food going and I spent most of the night watching Killer swoon over some of the young boys that came into town with the builders. Ughhhh, it’s everything I ever was afraid of in having a daughter: the teenage years! The end of the night came with rain but it didn’t dampen spirits very much. I think because we realize how lucky we all are to have this motorcycle family and share such a beautiful life. So don’t sit there on the bar stool this year, come join us for what is legendary as a Wild and Wonderful time!