2005 Rally XVII
June 17-19, 2005
Beckley, West Virginia
17 - WHEN PIGS FLY
By: Robert H. “Bob” Miller
Another Turbo Rally is history and this one rekindled old friendships, provided the chance to make new ones, put a rally ride on DVD, and created an eager anticipation for next year’s rally. Host Scott Schmidt provided rally goers with two ambitious routes - 240 miles on Friday and 220 miles on Saturday. Eight riders took advantage of the Friday ride and we rode along the narrow flat land between the creeks and the mountains. I think Scott routed us in loops because I kept seeing the same coal crackers, railroad crossings, and dirty-faced barefoot children, but I can’t swear to it.
The ride began ominously when Mike Chestnut’s Kaw Turbo quit shifting. His electronic shifter refused to work so Mike and I took it to a local dealer while everyone else went for breakfast. The dealer diagnosed the shifter and found nothing wrong. The group returned at 10:30 a.m. and everyone began trying to find the problem. With at least six “experts” present, there wasn’t much hope for solving the problem until we looked at the connector between the shifter and the controller and found corroded connections. A quick fix got Mike on the road, but it was now noon.
Fifty miles down the road we stopped and Mike jumped off his bike and began removing the side cover. It was not a promising sight. When asked how his bike was shifting, he said “it quit 45 miles ago”. We had lost our patience with the connector so we bypassed it by cutting and splicing the wires and Mike rode the entire weekend without any problem. The day turned sweltering in the afternoon and by evening riders were cutting the route to return home before dark. Under the West Virginia stars, Scott distributed shot glasses engraved with a Honda Turbo and the rally date and location - a very classy move. At 3:30 a.m. we were treated to a local rider doing a parking lot burnout which we were undoubtedly blamed for.
Saturday’s ride was nothing short of perfect. Scott’s route had everything a motorcyclist could want - mountains, valleys, spectacular scenery, curves, and the best part was all 24 riders (half of them Turbos) rode the entire day as a group - a TMIOA first! We visited New River Gorge and Bridge, Hawks Falls and Hawks Falls Restaurant, and Glen Ferris Falls. Ahead of us the entire day on every nice curve was local GXSR rider Jeff Smith with his digital video camera recording the event. Look for the DVD on this website soon.
Riding in West Virginia is different than riding in any other state. You pass thorough economically depressed town after economically depressed town - all with a McDonald’s, a Dollar General, at least one “Church of God” (as if you’d advertise your worship of someone else), and if they’re on the upswing, a Pizza Hut. These towns are surrounded by mountains and connected by curving roads the locals think are race tracks when log and coal trucks aren’t blocking their path. Without exception, when a cage driver noticed a Turbo on its tail, the cager floored it and the race was on. I even had a Harley rider two up and towing a trailer twist it WFO when he spotted me closing in on him. That Hog was flying! If NASCAR isn’t recruiting in West Virginia they’re missing out on some of the fastest drivers in the land.
By 6:00 p.m. on Saturday evening, we were still at the bottom of New River Gorge and not quite through the route so Scott thankfully guided us straight back to the hotel. Both nights, we didn’t return to the hotel parking lot for tire kicking until after dark, but nobody was complaining. In the parking lot on Saturday night certificates and plaques were awarded and good byes were said. It was a great rally with no off-road excursions, no tip overs, and only one citation. Scott - nice job!
Miller (PA) - XJ650LJ
S. Schmidt (WV) - ZX750E
R. Butler (PA) - CX500TC
J. Callahan (PA) - CX500TC
R. Mitchell (MD) - XN85
S. Colvin (GA) - ZX750E
M. Chestnut (TN) - ZX750E
W. Brint (GA) - ZX750E
W. Brint (GA) - ZX750E
T. Marcotte (ONT) - XN85
R. Fitzpatrick (ONT) - XN85
C. Goodall (ONT) - FJR1300
P. Goodall (ONT) - FJR 1300
M. Milne (PA) - FJR 1300
S. Smith (PA) - CBR919
B. Black (TN) - ZX12R
J. Altom (TN) - KLR650
P. Brown (MD) - RZ350
R. Twito (TN) - ZX750E
Additional Rally Review
What follows is a rally review written by John Altom. TMIOA member and co-host of the 2004 Rally XVI held in Kingsport, Tennessee. This was posted in the TMIOA forums but I have placed a copy of it here with some of the photo's that have been collected.
I personally, arrived late around 5:30pm on Fri. Several of the early arrivals did a more sporty ride and had not returned when I arrived. Colin and his father had arrived shortly before myself and a few more arrived later. We (late people) went to dinner at a local steak-house chain. When we returned we found the early riders had also returned and had gone to their own dinner at a local barbecue restaurant.
After everyone had returned, we gathered outside Bill Brint's mansion on wheels and we all parked our bikes together to help protect them from questionable locals at the club located in the hotel parking lot. Our host Scott Schmidt then supplied everyone with very nice shot-glasses etched with the rally info and a pic of a rider in full lean. Good job Scott! Later that evening, certain individuals (no names to protect the guilty) left for the pleasures of the local strip-club. A good time was had by those attendees. Certain others made the mistake of attending the club in the lot. Apparently, it was a huge drug spot with people shooting-up right there in the open in the club! I spent the evening with Steve Smith in the parking lot until 4am due to his mistrust of the 600+ people leaving the club at 3am. We finally went to the room after the police showed-up to run them off.
The next morning, one group left way early to have breakfast and by the time they returned, the rest were ready for breakfast. Steve and I (understandably) were a little later than the rest and as they left for the Bob Evan's, we headed to McDonald's. Everyone returned and it started to rain slightly. Steve chickened-out and decided not to dirty his bike. The rest of us left for out Sat. ride.
At the first turn, we had gone about a mile when our leader pulled-over and we of course, followed. It turned out he had taken a wrong turn. At this point, I was a little concerned with the rest of our trip. Just then, Steve pulled-in having wrested himself from the grip of obsessive-compulsiveness and decided to chance the rain. We then got ourselves on the proper route and left the rain behind.
The weather was cool until later in the day but, stayed dry the whole trip. Our first stop was at a small gas station to fill-up and relieve ourselves of fluids. Unfortunately, the station had no public facilities! Shortly after our arrival, one of West Virginia's finest pulls in in an old Jeep Cherokee and immediately an obviously enraged woman joined him from inside the store to scream at several of the group. I headed over to see if I might be able to calm the situation thinking she was upset at our blocking the parking lot. I was mistaken! Apparently, a few of our group decided the small area behind the store was a perfect place to relieve themselves of their fluids and had been seen. The officer was nice and asked us to make our next stop somewhere in the woods off the road a ways. The officer left and we left shortly after.
After a few miles, we fell in behind the officer who was behind a truck on the two-lane so, our speeds were somewhat reduced well......for most of us that is. It seems Mort didn't make the connection that the Jeep directly in front of us was the same one that carried the officer to the store moments before. After about a mile of following, Mort decided to lead. He passed the officer at a high rate of speed! The officer was unable to immediately follow due to the truck in front of him but, at the first chance he was wide-open in hot-pursuit!! We passed Mort a few miles down the road having a charming conversation with the kindly officer. Speeding, passing in a no-passing zone and reckless-driving were his charges for the day. Hmmm? I don't recall Mort being at the front of the pack the rest of the day. I wonder why?
Anyway, we continued on to a dam for a pic and rest stop then continued on to the Hawk's Nest which is a nice resonably-priced restaurant with a great view and good food.
We then headed to Glen Faris which appeared to be an old power station in the river with some nice waterfalls. We then headed back the way we came. At this point, we were led by a local on a 2005 GSXR1000. Once we hit the twisty portion of the road, he decided to open the throttle! Roger Twito decided to do the same. I figured since I was on a 98 KLR650, I might as well do the same! It took Roger a little-bit to reel in the gixxer but, he did a fine job of it considering he was on a 20 year old turbo Kaw! Roger never lost sight of the gixxer once he had him in view and I never lost sight of Roger. He would leave me on the straights but, by the time he hit the curves, I was right back on his ass. It was the fastest section of the day's ride! It was lots of fun!!
We headed on to the New River Gorge Bridge which is the highest steel arch bridge in the western hemisphere. The display at the overlook states the Washington monument and two statues of liberty would be able to stack underneath and still be short of the bottom of the arch! There were many, many steps down to the overlook. As I was making my way back up, I heard a voice from behind say "Everything's a race John!". I immediately opened-up with everything I had since I knew it was Roger! We raced to very near the top when we both decided we should stop the race so as not to embarrass any of the others who may have thought they were in good enough shape to run up the 178 steps (according to Steve Smith who counted them on his way up) in full-leathers without breaking a sweat!
From there, we proceeded downward to the bottom of the gorge following a single-track road with 180 degree steep turns. We stopped at the bottom across the original bridge and watched some white-water rafters drift past us on the river. We then headed back to the hotel cutting the ride short as it was getting late.
After showers, everyone went to the dinner location of their choice. I and a few others had barbecue which was ok but, not up to my N.E. TN. Standards of excellence! We ended the evening with the usual gathering and chatting until everyone drifted-off to their rooms.
Steve and I were again rather late with our awakening. There were still a few left chatting in Bill's RV and we said our good-bye's and loaded-up the bikes and headed off to Bob Evan's for breakfast. Word of warning to those from the south. West Virginia is not southern when it comes to the fine art of making biscuits and gravy! I'm amazed I didn't vomit right there! The lovely waitress softened the experience with the sweet smile!
After breakfast, Steve and I parted ways and hit the road. The ride home was uneventful with a short stop to rest and refuel (me, not the bike. It made the trip easily with it's 6.1 gallon tank. That's a lot of liters to you brits!).
All in all, I have to say, it was the best rally ride I had been on and I was the host last year so, that should tell you how good it was! I would like to thank Scott for a great ride with lovely scenery and a nice souvenir! As always, it was great seeing everyone and meeting some new people. Colin's father is always a pleasure to be around and one of the nicest people I have ever met! I can't wait for next year's rally! Now, does anyone know the best way to turbo charge a KLR?
The gang resting on the bridge at our first stop of the day. (Photo supplied by John Altom)
Standing around at the first gas stop of the day you see (from left to right) your rally host Scott Schmidt, Roger and Steve Smith. (Photo supplied by John Altom)
A silhouette picture of the New River Gorge Bridge taken from the bottom of the valley. (Photo supplied by John Altom)
TMIOA President Bob Miller and his well traveled Yamaha Seca Turbo. (Photo supplied by John Altom)
The bikes parked in the lot awaiting the days ride while everyone is inside getting a good breakfast to start the day. (Photo supplied by Colin Goodall)
Another picture of the bikes during breakfast. (Photo supplied by Colin Goodall)
The first stop of the day provided a handy spot to get a picture of all the bikes on one spot. (Photo supplied by Colin Goodall)
Another picture of the bikes during the first stop of the day. (Photo supplied by Colin Goodall)
A group shot of all the Suzuki XN Turbo riders who attended the rally. From left to right are Robert Mitchell, Troy Marcotte and Russ Fitzpatrick. The later two coming all the way from Ottawa Canada. (Photo supplied by Colin Goodall)
During the second stop of the day a local LEO takes an admiring look at the group of bikes. (Photo supplied by Colin Goodall)
The lunch stop was held at the Hawks Nest which is downstream of the New River Gorge Bridge. Here we see the group inspecting the cable-car ride down to the bottom of the gorge. (Photo supplied by Colin Goodall)
The whole gang during lunch at the Hawks Nest. (Photo supplied by Colin Goodall)
Another photo of the whole gang during lunch at the Hawks Nest. (Photo supplied by Colin Goodall)
Further downstream from the Hawks Nest was this waterfall which made from another great photo stop. (Photo supplied by Colin Goodall)
Nearing the end of the day the whole group traveled down the bottom of the New River Gorge to view the bridge from below. At the bottom was the original bridge used to cross the river. (Photo supplied by Colin Goodall)
The bottom of the New River Gorge is quite narrow and has the river and two rail lines squeezed in with the old road. Here we see the bikes parked under a passing CSX coal train. (Photo supplied by Colin Goodall)
All the riders heading back to the bikes to begin the ride back out of the gorge. (Photo supplied by Colin Goodall)
Another photo of the bikes at the first stop of the day. (Photo supplied by Jeff Smith)
This collection of pictures was sent in by TMIOA Prez Bob Miller.
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