BMW MOA Rally in Gillette, Wyoming on 17-20 July 2008
by Steve Cantrill
Word has it that many people stayed away from the 2008 rendition of the BMW MOA Rally in Gillette, Wyoming on 17-20 July 2008, because they thought the ride would not be exciting. Much of the excitement of travel is in the anticipation of it and apparently this journey was not high on the anticipation list. I’m living in New Mexico now though, so I didn’t have to go through Four Corners Indian territory to get there.
Overall thought: it turned out much nicer than you would have imagined. However, I have been to several MOA rallies, such as Spokane and Durango, where the locals said: “Gee, I dunno, it’s never been this hot here in July before.” A hundred miles out of Gillette I stopped in a one-horse town for gas, after passing many lakes alongside the highway. I said to the gal inside: “Looks like you had a lot of rain.” She said: “NOPE, that all came down two months ago. We really need rain badly.” So, fellow riders, how do you think it was going to be at the rally? The first night I slept in a tent under the most rain I have ever endured in a tent—but I stayed dry. The rest of the rally was good weather, except for a couple of hours of heat each afternoon.
Ride through Colorado as part of your trip and you cannot go wrong. Scoot the quick 30 miles over to the Black Hills of South Dakota and you doubly cannot go wrong. I had not been there for 25 years and wished I had planned to stay many days to ride there. It is on my short list for a return, but not within a week of “Sturgis”. Add the Top O’Rockies Rally to it the next weekend and you have 80% “plus-plus” and 20% “so-so”. And if you don’t like the scenery, Wyoming is big sky country, you can pick your speed to get through it.
Pure Prairie League was the outstanding band on Friday night. Everyone stayed around, tapped their feet, nodded to the music and had a few extra brewskies. Vendors were, as usual, terrific. When you get as old as I am, you should know that you get your tires before you go. Plus, don’t let anyone like A&S BMW of California suggest Bridgestone BT014s and “play dumb” about the wear. The rear lasted 3,500 miles and the new Metzeler Z-6 at the rally was a cool $400. Service writers everywhere have developed a professional knack for “not blinking an eye” when they quote you the price. The grim alternative is of course: riding on your rim. Besides, I met really terrific people in the line to write up my tire order. The same goes for the rest of the rally: I am forever reminded of the many colorful, humorous and friendly, like-minded people I meet at BMW rallies.
They should rename Gillette the “walking rally”, because it was more spread out than any rally, any where, I’ve ever been to. Fortunately I like exercise and don’t have any health problems. But, the shuttles are never there when you wanted them and passed me over four times one year, as I tried to get to the showers, which were, I think, very close to South Dakota.
Wyoming has no gastronomical delights. While the coffee was free, the rally also had no gastronomical delights - at least none you could trip over - unless beer counts. I cannot imagine what you could identify as culinary culture in Wyoming, unless it comes under the act of taking a rare bite out of a buffalo hind end. All of you S.E.A.T. members who have a knack of riding somewhere scrumptious to put on the feed bag, should have been there to lead the blind.
Bottom line: You just have to congratulate long-time, hard-working, faithful rally co-chairs Deb Lower and Karol Patzer and all of the many volunteers for a real friendly BMW get together in cowboy country. I’m really, really glad that I was fortunate enough to be able to go. Johnson City, Tennessee is on my July calendar for the MOA next year. I am anticipating it.