Monday, July 23, 2012

BMW MOA Rally recap


Last weekend’s 2012 BMW Motorcycle Owners of America rally in Sedalia, Mo. will go into my memory book as my least favorite.

The venue was excellent – the Missouri State Fairgrounds – and the local people were gracious hosts who seemed genuinely glad to see us. I was accosted Wednesday evening in the Walmart parking lot, while loading my $10.71 canvas chair, by the president of the Sedalia Chamber of Commerce who welcomed me to town and made sure I knew he was the guy who spearheaded the effort to bring the rally to town. The rally was well organized and, with the exception of the horribly mismanaged shuttle operation, was among the best. (At least two people suffered minor injuries when they fell off of the shuttle trolleys. I witnessed one of the spills.)

But it was all for naught, as far as I was concerned, because of the insanely hot weather. The image above is of my Garmin Zumo 550 on Thursday afternoon when the official temperature hit 104° with a heat index of 108°. I rode up to Sedalia on Wednesday, arriving about 1:45 p.m. and very nearly suffered heat exhaustion putting up my tent in the blazing sun.

Thank God and the Indianapolis BMW Club for the shade provided by the club’s canopy and an ample supply of bottled water!

Wednesday night was stifling and I quickly stripped off my tent’s rainfly. It remained off most of the rally, except for a brief period of showers Thursday morning.

Trying to sleep while bathed in sweat is not my idea of a good time. My sleeping bag stayed in its stuff sack until about 4 a.m. Friday when the temperature finally dropped into the 70s. The only thing that made sleep possible in that heat was the extreme comfort of my new Big Agnes Q-Core air mattress. It clearly is the most comfortable air mattress I’ve ever used and the CampTek inflator worked flawlessly. My only complaint is that I have yet to master the technique of deflating the mattress well enough to get it back neatly into its stuff sack. I’m either going to have to master complete deflation or buy a slightly bigger stuff sack.

The heat was made bearable by the fact that the vendor buildings were very well air conditioned. There was plenty of good food available on the grounds including excellent barbecue and great ice cream. One place advertised “plate-size breaded tenderloins.” That’s a Hoosier delicacy unknown in Arkansas, so I was eager to get my mitts on one. Unfortunately, it was substandard. They could learn a lot from the tenderloin experts at the Spartan Inn in Wingate, Ind. or Stookey’s Family Restaurant in Thorntown, Ind.

Sedalia is close to Whiteman Air Force Base, home to the Stealth bomber fleet. We were treated to a fly-by of one of the bat-winged bombers late Thursday afternoon. And the guy who does the anvil shoots at the Falling Leaf Rally in Potosi, Mo., did an anvil shoot at 4 p.m. every day of this rally.

I can usually gauge how much fun I’m having by the number of photos I shoot. I only shot about 50 photos at this rally and never got out the GoPro HD video camera I packed.

That said, I thoroughly enjoyed camping with my Indianapolis BMW Club friends, renewing old friendships and meeting folks who joined the club after Maria and I moved to Arkansas five years ago.

The internet cafĂ© in the ‘MOA Country Store building was tiny and the struggling air conditioning made it even more uninviting. Ditto the charging station there.

So I rode a couple of miles each morning to breakfast at the Sedalia Panera Bread Co. The food was great and I could get my Wifi fix in comfort.

Arriving a day before the rally opened afforded me a good spot to pitch my tent, but it made the rally last a day longer than I really cared to be there. I was glad to strike the tent, pack the bike and head for home about 7 a.m. yesterday.

I paused for breakfast yesterday at a McDonald’s somewhere east of Springfield, Mo. and was invited to sit with an older couple from Alabama. It turned out that the woman won the Oldest Female Rider Award at the BMW RA Rally a month ago at Copper Mountain, Colo.

I’ll keep an eye out for them if I make it to the Return to Shiloh or Falling Leaf rallies this fall.

Just for the record, I rank this rally experience close to the 2003 MOA rally in Charleston, W.Va. It was the organization’s first and only “urban” rally and was spread out all over town. It was the only rally Maria has experienced and I think it soured her on the whole idea.

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