Through my eyes

living my life without regrets

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

MOA & RA Rallies - 6. Full Rally

6. Full Rally

3 days of fun. You just walk around, chat with everybody. People will approach you to just chat, trying to get your opinions on anything. 
Snacks - Ice-cream and Cookies

I had a mission though; I wanted to update the new bike I just bought. While basically the bike is fine, does not need a thing, I noticed I lean forward too much, putting pressure on my wrists. What I needed were handlebar risers and sure enough there was a guy selling them. It seems so easy to ‘just’ raise the handlebars by putting a block over the steering column, but it is not. One has to consider the brake lines, the clutch lines or any other cable that runs from the handle bar to wherever. If I extend those by 2“, will the cables be OK? I was glad the man from ROX was there to help. Naturally I wanted them installed too, but that created an issue. He only sells them, who will install them? Again, it seems an easy thing to do, but it’s not.
Food Vendors Open Only Until 6:00 PM

You need the correct tools and it does not make sense to buy tools for a one time application or use. 

I also did not like the one rear light on my new motorcycle. I like a ‘backup’ system, just in case. So I went to a lighting specialist ‘Clearwater’ and they sold me the ‘full Billy’, a light that seems indestructible and will light up in addition to the stock, standard light I now have. I like it that way. 

The last item I was looking for was a replacement for the ‘light bulb’ stock lighting system, with the newer, better system of using LED lights.

Weiser helped me with that. 

But... even that was not so easy, you cannot just snap on the LED’s. You see all new Motorcycles now have a CANBUS system, an electronic watchman that constantly, at all times, cycles a checkup through the whole bike’s electric system. If new electronics are added or anything ever goes askew, a light will notify you that something is wrong. Or, in critical circumstances, the bike will not even start. 

Welcome to the new world of electronics, yes even on a bike. The world is no longer a totally mechanical place, high tech reaches into the deepest crevices of our lives. 

So for the first 2 days I was on a search mission, finding what I needed, having it installed, picking up the bike later on, etc.
Vintage BMW Bike Display

The rally has vendors, many of them. All seem to specialize in items that a motorcycle dude needs or things he/she needs like improved noise cancelling ear plugs. You would be surprised as to how many ways you can ride a motorcycle. You can be a racer, an off road biker, a dirt track specialist, a dual sport rider, a long distance tourer, etc., etc. If you like very old bikes, like 1926 or later, they have a section for vintage bike riders too. 

I fall into the Long Distance Adventure Rider (of the mild adventure sort). There are hard core riders who will leave me in the dust, literally! While I travel on dirt and gravel roads I cannot say that is what I love to do. The bike becomes wobbly and traction is never really secure. Only your skill will keep you balanced and going forward. 

And therein lies the point, the MOA tries to teach ‘all’ riders what is best for them, for their way of riding. While it is a club it is also a teaching institution on many levels. You can learn to be a good street rider with courses offered. You can take the course of the GS Giants, a sub-club that loves riding over obstacles and through dirt, rocks and sand. So where do you want to go when you are at a rally like this?  It really depends on your interest as to where you will spend most of the time during those 3 days.
Furkot Seminar

The MOA rally is full of seminars. For about an hour you sit in a lecture-like setting and listen to topics that interest you. 

I attended a lecture from Garmin on the latest GPS, the Navigator VI.

I also took a mini course on Furkot’s latest edition of travel planning software.

I thought about travelling with a ‘group’ through Russia via bike and listened to a Russian Company advertising their guided tours from St. Petersburg to Moscow. 

Carol attended seminars on First Aid, Noise Reduction Hearing Protection, Sidecars and Furkot.
One Free Beer at Each Brewery - We Were Done In After the 2nd Brewery

Carol and I took half a day off doing the Pub Crawl; Visiting a few local beer brewers in Des Moines. We found out really quickly that this was a tour we should have avoided, but hey, we tried it. 
Tracy, Our Pub Leader

Carol and I do not walk around together, we just meet for lunch or dinner but do our own ‘research’, then bring it back to our tent base at night and rehash what we have seen, learned and experienced. We also listen and share what is ‘new’ with the other tenters all around us. At night there is kind of a get together ‘circle’ of folks that are at the rally and now just relax in their chairs. The weather is hot, nobody wants to get to ‘bed’ early, the tents would still be too hot.

So people hang around, talking, sharing info and experiences, having a drink, etc.

It is the ‘cozy’ hour, most people actually come to the rally to just do that, shoot the breeze, sit and chat, listen to the latest.
Hardworking Karol Who Collects Donations Every Year For a Local Charity

It certainly is appealing to just sit and talk, we do this a lot too but at the MOA rally we mostly try to visit the seminars, learn of the latest, newest and then chat with friends we have not seen for a while. 

We walk around the vendor area and there is a lot to talk about. One of the, now not so new vendors, is Mosko who develop soft luggage for bikes. Their picture gallery gives you an idea what I love about motorcycle riding.

3 days fly by. There is just too much going on at a rally to list it all. Come and see for yourself in 2019 in Woodstock, TN.

Have My Rally Mug & Ready for Coffee? Beer!
Half the Room of Rally Goers Waiting For the Closing Ceremonies

MOA & RA Rallies - 5. Volunteer Days

5. Volunteer Days

Some actually start volunteering way before getting to the rally. There are a slew of emails asking us to select our job, where we want to volunteer.
Making Signs

You can be a Committee Chair, you are then in charge of signs, or the charging station or the beer tent, or security (policing the premises) or seminars or entertainment or finding other volunteers, or whatever you like. 

Carol likes to assort, fold and prep merchandise that will be sold in the MOA ‘store’. She spends 4 days folding, tagging and sorting items that will be sold during the rally. It’s a big job, thousands of t-shirts and other
2 Full Days Folding Shirts - We're Tired

merchandise all with the BMW logo, need to be folded so they fit the display shelves perfectly. They need to be tagged with barcodes, and then finally set up by style, color, size, etc in the sales area. Naturally the MOA offers hats, gloves, real shirts, mugs, key chains and whatever as well. A full retail store needs to be assembled, set up and operated during the rally. It needs cashiers, needs restocking, needs sprucing up once an hour or so, just like real life. All run by volunteers. The

More Boxes Emptied
trash needs to be removed, yes we recycle. We are running a small town so to speak and it is a lot of work and co-ordination. We even have a lost and found booth, a sewing station for repairs or adding decals, and for the bikes, we have an oil changing station, a bike wash and whatever else you can think of, we have it. 

No, neither Carol nor I want to be in charge of a section, like shipping and receiving for example. It is a big responsibility to be ‘in charge’, to be a Committee Chair. We both prefer to be ‘just’ the volunteers. 

Charging and Communication Station (Much Busier When Rally Starts

I tried to fold clothing; I am not good at it. I like to do it ‘my’ way but they had to refold every item I folded, I did not do it in a way that would fit on the shelves. I am not good at doing anything ‘your’ way. So I walk around and help wherever I see the need for help. As you can tell already, I am peculiar.

Someone needs tables, I make sure they get tables, or I bring them the tables they need. Someone is short of people for a little bit, I jump in and do whatever they need doing. Call me a fixer. I do whatever is needed but I can tell you; this place, this MOA rally, is super organized. 
Shipping and Receiving

Shipping and Receiving
The people who are working as volunteers are doing a terrific job. It does not take long before the charging and communication station is up and running (they supply and recharge the walkie-talkies for the Committee Chairs and provide a secure charging area for personal electronic devices); the shipping and receiving for example start to work almost immediately, receiving and cataloging packages sent to the rally. Signs are distributed and set up all over the rally grounds. 

All that super organization is largely due to the people who work in those areas, they know their stuff, have done it before, are ready to jump in and help. I don’t feel useless doing ‘nothing’, I offer my services, walk around, talk to people, ask them if they need help and then move on to the next spot where there ‘might’ be help needed. Sure I fold some shirts; they now have a ‘system’, a folding board you need to operate, but I am really not good at doing this for hours. I grow antsy. 
This is One Tiny Corner of the Country Store

The next 3 days are all about getting everybody set, everybody ready for the ‘grand’ opening, which really is no event. On Thursday morning the Main Gates will open and that is all the ‘official’ ceremony needed to begin the rally. And yet...

It seems all of a sudden and seems pre-planned but it just happens, somehow. 

There is a registration process, the rally is not free. You have to pay admission. During the rally, you need to wear an identifying wrist-band that and show it each time you re-enter the fairgrounds. Once on the grounds, you are checked for the wrist band but ever so subtly. At the beer tent for example, you cannot get a beer if you have the wrong color band, or if you somehow sneak in, not wearing a band at all. Yes, we have different colors: the vendors wear white, the registrants blue, the less than 18 crowd (for beer’s sake) green, and youngsters under 12 white bands, because they get in free of charge, etc.

I told you, we are very organized.

The best parts of these 4 days are the people you meet or re-meet, because you have seen them a few years before. While you work, you shoot the breeze, you talk, and you joke around. It feels like a family reunion. Everybody is pitching in during the pre-rally setup. If you do not want to volunteer that is OK too, but then you are not allowed on to the premises before the rally officially opens. Setting up camp earlier (choicer camping spot) is a perk for volunteering for set-up. You cannot have people who just want to hang around, be in the way. It would not be fair; it would actually hinder the work flow. So, officially the rally starts on Thursday morning, you are more than welcome to attend but please.... if you come early, you must work, no exceptions.
Resting Before the Rally Starts at Our Camp Site

The Supervisors, we call them Committee Chairs, are in charge of their individual sections. As a volunteer you report to them. Do as those Committee Chairs want you to do things. They know, they most likely have years of experience. All the Committee Chairs report to the 2 or 3 Rally Chairs who ensure someone is in charge of each section and troubleshoot any issues that arise. All these amazing people are volunteers.

Ah, you want to come and see us in action, want to see how we do things?

Come and partake, the next BMW MOA Rally will be Woodstock, TN in 2019. See you there?  Google it!