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MY GUNNISON EXPERIENCE: 187 is Not a Prime Number.


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Warning: Go grab a cup of coffee. This is going to take a while.


Funny how things get started. In the flow of daily life, ideas are cast about like seeds, mostly falling on the hard, unyielding ground of "We’ve never done that before." But once in a while, one of those seeds finds a fertile spot and takes immediate root.


So it was on December 8, 2001, a cold, drizzly evening in Pleasanton, CA, that I attended the first-ever BMWRT.COM Christmas Party, held at Mike Capilla’s (Short Cut's) lovely home. I’d ridden up to Marin BMW and had camped out at Cary’s. Given the nature of the bay area, Short Cut’s home is about 11 crow miles, but an hour’s worth of traffic and bridges, away from Chez Littell. We arrived a bit late and had to park a block away, what with the driveway, the cul-de-sac, and half the neighborhood awash in RT’s, the odd KRS, and RoadKill’s REALLY LOUD HOG.


What a great group of people. I spent the evening meeting and putting faces to names from the BBS. Few people looked like I imagined them to, and I’m sure it was mutual. But everyone came with an open heart, and a love for their fellow BBSers that superceded the impending Yule season. I first met our own David Baker there. I had no idea who he really was or the important role he’d come to play in our community.


We knoshed on spectacular food, including roast lamb that I will never forget. We went outside for a group photo later in the evening and those of us with cigars left the others to their after-dinner wine. It was there, smoking a very nice Romeo and Julietta that Cary had given me months before, that I sat next to Tom Roe. We’d coordinated a bit on the Vegas Tech Daze (a fair success, if I say so myself) and I still remember one of those mornings, sitting on Glen McIntosh’s front porch, looking at the line of 20 RT’s against the long driveway wall. It was a dry 85 degrees already and people were shuffling about in sandals with their 6AM eyes barely focused, cup of java in one hand, already reminiscing about the first day’s events and the previous evening’s BBQ. Tom and I looked at the results of our planning and Glen’s grill mastery, and the phrase, "Can you feel the love?" was born. It was Tom’s.


So here we are at Short Cut’s just a few months later, when Tom looks at the assembled and says to me, "Can you believe how many people rode in the rain to be here? Don’t you think our website has gotten big enough that we could probably pull off our own National Rally?"


I chewed on it and wanted to talk about it some more. But Tom was WAY ahead of me. By the time I rode home, Tom had flown home to Minneapolis (you didn’t think he RODE to the west coast in December, do you?) and had posted his idea on the web. It was like tossing a box of baking soda into a cauldron of vinegar. The bubbling excitement took on almost explosive fervor. Tech Daze Tom had done it again.


Within a week, dozens of locations had been discussed. Colorado was looking like the place. And when someone mentioned Gunnison, I posted that it would be ideal, not only for its interior location, but because BBS founder Cary Littell graduated from Western States College in Gunnison. That sealed it. Now we needed dates that didn’t conflict with the MOA rally, but could feed off the Paonia Top of The Rockies Rally. July 22-23 were it.


A committee was loosely formed. Initial contacts were made at the KOA and with motels in town. Rooms were booked. And it was done. At least for a while. It was still two weeks before Christmas.


The issue lay dormant for months. Eventually, those whose winter riding consists of GP videos, started to hear birds and see leaves. They tickled the starter and the whole issue came roaring back to life. Only now it wasn’t Cary’s BBS any more, it was David Baker’s.


David took the reigns and like a good executive, he delegated. I got the call to take the point on the Gunnison Committee. I resurrected the list of volunteers, only to find that a couple of them could no longer make it to the event, so I had to go recruiting. And we got some top people (more below). We communicated incessantly about food, camping, costs, the HA situation, and other organizational issues and details. I learned early on that it was best to follow David’s example. . .delegate and let these guys, professionals in their own right, just do the job. To a man, they came through. And before we go any further, they need some serious acknowledgement.


Point man or not, David Baker was really steering the ship. This was the first national event we’d ever held, as well as the first on his watch. As a management consultant for marketing/advertising and PR firms, it was only natural that David take the reins on communicating with the political and law enforcement powers that be in Gunnison and Colorado in general. The results of that are detailed further down. He also served as MC for the event, even firing back a Gleno zinger like a Pete Sampras forehand, and landing it just inside the baseline, to the loud approval of the crowd.


Stephen Slisz stepped in as the Registration Chairman. Stephen gave up his time from 3P to 6P on Sunday, and 6-9A on Monday, to make sure everyone was registered, that those who’d paid for T-shirts got them, that the money for the meals was collected, as well as for any extra stickers that people wanted to buy. Ably assisted by the lovely Miss Vickie, who graciously ignored Wurty’s recently lasered, but still ogling eyes ("the better to see you with, my dear"), they did a masterful job. Also, they’re probably the only ones there who actually got to meet every single participant.


Jake McDonnell inherited the Meals Chairmanship and handled it like a pro. A couple of phone calls and ba da bing, two days later it was all set: Mario’s (at Dick Frantz’s strong suggestion) was recruited for Monday night’s pizza and F-Bar Catering for Tuesday’s BBQ. Jake then worked with Brant Herbert on the sign-up form to make sure they had a proper head count for each night’s repast.


Who better to be the Route Chairman than Buena Vista, Colorado’s own John Bellantonio. He, working once again with Dick Frantz (whose earlier trip through CO provided invaluable insights and information), came up with several pre-printed routes to some of the most spectacular roads and scenery in the state. Also, as a LEO in the state, I think John probably dropped a good word for us as no one was cited on any of the rides, although I heard one person got a performance award for 103 in a 70 on the way in. Only 103?!!? What, you lose fifth gear or something? wink.gif


Even with his recent get-off amid the remnants of Winnebago snot, Ride Captain Dick Frantz made it to Gunnison aboard a 4-wheeled motorcycle, Laney’s Toyota MR Spyder (with Laney and her broken ankle from said slip-n-fall in tow). I doubt they left an untouched apex in their wake. Anyway, Dick provided all with some important reminders about group riding and group dynamics, then each morning proceeded to hold court on his own PACE ride lectures, followed by some excellent rides, I'm told.


Tom Roe was the Tech Chairman. And while the Tech Daze Light event was canceled because Tom was pretty drained from the Marin Tech Daze the weekend before as well as 4,000 miles of riding before he even got to Gunnison, he was absolutely great walking among the gathered, answering technical questions (sometimes at great length) and providing information to any and all who inquired.


Michael Snodgrass. Let’s all bow our heads and say a prayer of thanks for him and his wife. They came to Gunnison from Denver on their own time a few weeks before the event. They checked out the coffee and bakery goods situation. They secured coffee pots and coffee (leaded and unleaded), OJ, donuts, danish, plates, napkins, tablecloths, a room at the KOA for hosting, and during the rally they were on the road at 5:00 to pick up the baked goods, and at the campsite before 6AM every single morning to make sure it was all set up, the perkables perking and the sweets warm and gooey, before the first rider arrived or rolled out of their tent. Snod even secured a lectern with mic/amp/speaker so that each morning’s meeting and presentations could be heard by all.


Eric Luksich (Luky) is an engineer, not a graphic designer. Yet he loaded Illustrator on his laptop, having never used it before. And by the time he landed in Korea for his latest business trip, he’d figured out the software and had designed the event’s logo, which ended up on the sleeves of the T-shirts as well as on the name tags that were issued to everyone.


Brant Herbert IS der pollmeister. Between attendance surveys, who’s coming to dinner, return surveys, etc. he kept us all informed and kept the data all centralized. His work made it possible (along with Stephen and Miss Vickie) for check-in to go as smoothly as it did. And he continues to track wayward, wandering and lovesick honeymooners as they slowly work their bikes back to their native areas.


When you got a guy like Glen McIntosh on your team, you know you’re prepared for just about anything. As our official "Floater," Glen was available to help where asked. No reservations, no job too tough. But he did more. . .a lot more, as you’ll soon learn.


And finally Ron Barthelme, who volunteered to do the name tags. All we did was e-mail him Luky’s artwork and he created keepsakes for all of us.


If I forgot anyone, it’s not on purpose. We had so many great performances that every one of them deserves a big heap of thanks.


OK, so where were we? Oh yes, the Gunnison event lay dormant for several months and then it started to come alive as spring rolled around. Plans were confirmed, new plans were made, the Team came together, did their prep work, and off we went Kawluhrahdo.


To say that we were all pleased with the size, location (just outside town by the airport) and the management at the KOA would be an understatement. The place was absolutely perfect, and Norm and Co. who run it could not have been nicer or more cooperative. I arrived around 1PM on Sunday and, after a quick search of the main drag (Hwy 50 or Tomichi Blvd, depending on where you are in town), Pepo and I settled in for lunch at Sonic Burger.


Pepo is actually Antonio Chanco (BIKIST) of the BBS. He saw my thread seeking a riding companion to Gunnison and e-mailed me. We decided to go for a local ride in SoCal just to make sure our styles and speed were compatible. We were a bit different. But in the end, we decided that the differences were minor and we’d both sacrifice a little for the sake of enjoying the company and making a new friend. It worked out spledidly.


After Sonic Burger I headed to the KOA. Pepo took off to find his cousin, a BBSer with the screen name of Leo Silver, who had found him on our website, inquired if he was the same cousin Pepo he knew from back in the Philippines some 35 years ago, and after discovering each other all over again, had made plans to meet in Gunnison (Leo’s from Toronto, Canada). Interestingly they both went back to motorcycling after many years away from it and both bought 1150’s as their re-entry bikes in the very same month.


Mike Snodgrass picked me up at the KOA in his truck and took me to my hotel where 80 lbs. of T-shirts waited in two boxes. We also picked up the RT side panel that I’d posted about and which Jim Lawson of Dallas Motorcycle Accessories was generous enough to donate (more on this later) as well as ship to Gunny for us. Let's support this guy. He supported us. And HOW!


By the time the 3-6PM registration ended on Sunday, more than half of the people were already there. Others would trickle in as we milled about, introducing ourselves, shaking hands and stinking up the place with cheap cigars even after the sun finally settled at around 8:30. We scored on the lunar cycle too, with a beautiful moon to softly light each evening, sometimes playing peekaboo with the day’s remaining clouds.


5AM comes early especially at altitude where, unless you’re acclimated, your recuperative powers fall a bit short of those at sea level. Approaching the fringes of Old Fartdom, I decided to call it a night, my head swimming with screennames, real names and faces galore. Besides, I had a special guest sharing quarters that night, ready to spring him on the assembled masses the next morning.


Arriving at 6AM, I thought I’d be one of the first, what with coffee and danish scheduled to run until the 7:30 Opening Ceremonies. I was wrong. People were already eating. Thank goodness Mr. and Mrs. Snodgrass had been up with the chickens and had it all laid out for us. Some OJ and a danish (OK, two) and I was starting to feel alive. Some Diet Mt. Dew and I was positively humming.


At 7:30, David Baker stood in front of the lectern, turned on the amp and officially welcomed everyone to The Gathering in Gunnison, the Unofficial Un-Rally of BMWRT.COM. Before much else got under way, David turned the mic over to our own jOHN rOBERT hANNA who led us in an invocation, the pledge of allegiance, and a stirring acappella rendition of our National Anthem (we, uh, "sang" along).


The excellent PR work of David Baker had brought out the Gunnison Chief of Police and the City Manager to our first morning. After months of concern on their part about the HA coming into town, the sight of us must have truly been that of angels. So much so that the Chief told us that whatever we wanted, all we had to do was ask. Someone (I think it was me) muttered something like "Turn off the radar." Based on the chuckles, only half the group heard it. Unfortunately, the Chief was in the other half, but it never did become an issue.


The City Manager was just as glad to have us, thanking us for choosing his town as our location and asking us to come back next year and for as long as we want. They both got a round of applause, especially the Chief who commented that this reception was quite different from the one he got from that "other" group. We laid a free event T-shirt on each of them and they left thinking we were good folk. You know what, they’re right.


David went through a number of agenda items swiftly, then handled a very delicate situation with exceptional dignity. We’ve had a few board members who have, and are still, battling cancer. For some it looks like they’re winning. For others, it’s still unclear. Glen McIntosh pointed this out to us about two months ago. Steve Danner is in a very tough fight. Some days are good. Others not so. Still, he made the effort to come to Gunnison with his family and share in the companionship and the entire experience. Glen had suggested that we do something to acknowledge Steve’s courage. It was suggested that we all sign something for him. But what? A T-shirt? Nice, but several radar blips below where this needed to be. Then the idea came forth that if we could find a light-colored RT body panel, something from a tip-over and without too much damage, we could all sign it and offer our best wishes to Steve and his family.


David asked Steve to come forward, explained what we were doing, and that the blank side panel he was presenting to Steve would be full of our love and signatures by Tuesday night. As you can imagine it was a very touching moment. Steve, we love you and want to see you at our next Un-Rally, wherever it may be. Gleno, you know, doncha bro. Thank you from all of us, man. By the end of the two days, it was difficult to find an unautographed spot on that piece of Tupperware, and I think we wore out two Sharpie pens in the process.


Finally, we got to our special guest. David let me do the introductions and I was proud to present Cary Littell to the crowd. Cary had closed shop on Sat., flown out to Denver, rented a car and driven to Gunnison just for the event. He was cheered by the crowd who appreciated what he started with BMWRT.COM, and even though he could only stay through dinner Monday, he had three offers for the use of personal RT’s so he could ride the Rockies with the rest of us before he had to leave. He finally settled on Kathy’s (Paper Butt's) 1150, as she decided to ride pillion behind Colorado’s own Jeff Burns for the day.


Cary, David and I took off and rode a beautiful loop through Lake City, stopping in Creede for lunch and then continuing home through South Fork and then north to Hwy 114. It dumped us back on Hwy 50, eight miles north of Gunnison. That’s when we got wet, enduring a five-minute mid-level dousing, but drying off enough by the time we got back to the KOA that it didn’t matter. On some loops, people got hailed on.


A few notes about riding with the then honcho and the now honcho. These guys are fast and smooth. Even with Cary taking it easy (for him) aboard Kathy’s 1150, and David following comfortably behind, I had to work to stay with them. But it was great to watch. They never seem to make mid-corner corrections. Both roll smoothly into turns such that if you count on their brake lights to signal what you should be doing, you’re going to find yourself going in a lot hotter than you anticipated. And both were kind enough not to say that I held them up much.


As the day’s dimmer switch began rotating, we noticed that it was 7PM and the Pizza that Jake had so carefully ordered, began to arrive. One hundred and seventy HONGRY (no u, just an o as in HONGRY) people looked at these 14 pizzas like a pack of hyenas on a dying quail. Little did they know that this was just the first third of the night’s deliveries. I saw the panicked look on Jake’s face as the crowd started to head for the central picnic tables, so I grabbed the mic and the first thing that came out of my mouth was, "Y’all relax. Those that came the farthest eat first. Everyone east of the Mississippi come on up."


Well, that went over like fart in a two-man sub. But eventually the rest of the pizza arrived and everyone got fed, and then some. Of particular note is that Luky, who arrived at the rally from a detour to Denver just moments before the pizza arrived, went immediately to work slicing and serving. Good job, Eric!


Still, it was a bit of an uneasy evening as night fell and a group of our brethren were still unaccounted for. Eventually, Rojen showed up, having ridden virtually an entire week’s worth of roads in one day, and getting stuck in some weather, to boot. But where were Russell, Lisa, Sean, Shelly and the rest of their group? Getting their picture taken with Malcolm Smith, that’s where!


It seems that one of them broke a throttle cable. Not an easy thing to replace on the RT, although Russell does have experience doing it in the dark (DVD ’02). So here they were with this Beemer half apart, when who should roll by but multi-time Baja winner, ISDT Gold Medalist, and star of On Any Sunday, Malcolm Smith hisownself. "Hi guys. I happen to own a BMW dealership. Is there anything I can do to help?"


"Sure. Face the camera and say, ‘Cheese,’ Mr. Smith."


They finally got it fixed and rolled into the KOA around 9:30. All was right with the world, so I checked out and went to my motel. Cary had left for Denver after the pizza so he could catch a few winks, take a 6AM flight out, and be at his dealership early enough Tues AM so that his employees wouldn’t know he’d been scraping 1150 parts at 11,350 feet (Slumgullion Pass) in the Rockies just 16 hours before. I know he told you, Kathy, but thank you once again.


Day two’s breakfast was to be a repeat of the first. But suddenly we had a plethora of goodies to give away. Rocky Mayer had sent a $250 gift certificate toward one of his saddles. Helen 2 Wheels, who’d been camping and hanging with us for the past two days offered one of her bags. Steve Chlavin of Cee Baileys donated two windshields. MotoEquip tossed in three reflective kits. Pat Patterson of EMP Brackets donated some brackets. And suddenly we were confronted with How Do We Give This Stuff Away? It would take forever to put names in a hat. And if we all tossed in our name tags, it would take forever for everyone to get the right ones back. So David came up with the Birthday Game.


Without telling anyone why, he asked a half dozen people to pick a number between 1 and 400. Then he asked each of us to multiply the number of our birth month by the number of the day we were born. So, July 26th would be 7x26 or 182. Whoever’s birthday combo produced a number closest to the preselected numbers, won a prize. It was going along well until Don Kramber was closest to the preselected number with a birthday combo of 187. I thought that a prime number so I quickly did the factoring from 3 through 9 and said to David, "Wait a minute. 187 is a Prime Number." Had I just done the math through 11 instead of just 9, I would have realized that Don’s birthday is November 17th and that 187 IS NOT A PRIME NUMBER (I’ll bet you were wondering when I was gonna explain the title to this endless epic, didn’t you?).


So now David, having taken me at my word and announcing to the crowd that 187 was a prime, was forced to backtrack. That went over as well as if the other guy in the sub farted.


I confess I was a bit tuckered and that led to my math error, so I decided to take it easy for the day. I moseyed up Hwy 92 to Joe Cocker’s Mad Dog Ranch in Crawford, had a burger and bought the T-shirt. In fact, I pulled over to the side of the road on the way up, found some shade, and with helmet and earplugs still on, cracked the visor open a notch and instantly got 45-minutes of eyelid time. Made the rest of the ride much more enjoyable.


When I got back, I was approached by Pat Patterson of EMP Bracket fame. Pat had made friends with a Mennonite family from Ohio that was stuck at the KOA while their van was in town awaiting parts and repairs from a run-in with a deer. This was a family of modest means, the children dressed in simple, clean clothes and very well behaved. The parents were likewise humble in their appearance and actions.


Pat suggested to me that we might consider inviting this family to dine with us at that evening’s BBQ. A wonderful idea. As riders finished their day and rolled in for the 6PM meal, I asked Jake to see if we had enough money in the food kitty to provide a full meal for these folks. Jake disappeared into the back of the tent where the BBQ was served, spoke to the owner of F-Bar Catering, and came back to say, "It’s handled." Good man, Pat. Good man, Jake.


Pat led the family to the front of our line for BBQ, and as they sat down to their meal, we passed the hat among our members, collecting in order to share our bounty with them. After all, we ride the world’s finest motorcycles, had just spent two days in an area God created immediately after he had the idea for motorcycles, and we'd made at least a hundred new friends each. And here, sharing the KOA with us, was a humble family down on their luck.


Well, we collected $641 from our members while we dined. David presented it to the family’s patriarch. Looking at this young man, already with five young children, we all expected him to say something like, "We’re not worthy. We’re just humble servants of the Lord, etc. etc." But while he at first resisted our donation, he eventually accepted on behalf of his family, and thanked us profusely, to raucous applause from our group. Then, sensing a receptive audience said, "This worked out pretty well. I think we’ll go hit up the H*ell’s Angels next."


The entire dinner tent (which seated 90 but housed all of us at that moment) exploded in laughter. I was sitting across from Patty and Spike and I swear he was doing everything he could to keep baked beans from coming out his nose. Some I saw weren’t so lucky.


In all, it was a storybook way to end a fairy tale weekend. As we put our plates in the trash, the event officially came to an end. Not that the socializing didn’t continue until late into the evening. I, however, took off west down Hwy 50 for Montrose, a mere 62 miles away and home to Raj, my former neighbor and now proprietor of the Days Inn there. He’d reserved me his hot tub room, so I got out of my gear, turned on the bubbles, and relaxed until the water got cold. I slept the sleep of the dead, only to be snapped to attention by my 5AM wake-up call. Gleno, Brian and Meghan, and RickZ were coming down out of Gunnison and would pick me up at 6AM. Raj put out the Continental Breakfast supplies a half-hour early for my friends, so everyone got to stuff a bagel down their gullet and wash it down with some coffee. We were good to go. So we did.


We stopped for a full breakfast an hour later. As we were leaving the restaurant (where Glen discovered the world’s WORST grits), this guy on a Kawasaki sport bike pulls up with a metal rack on the back and a black labrador retriever, wearing a customized set of purple Scott goggles, riding on the rack. Some of us got pictures. We need to post them. It was classic.


At breakfast we picked up Marty Hill from Marrieta, GA, on his way to Salt Lake City, plus Pepo blew past us while we were inside. We must have passed him back somewhere along the way because once we got on the highway, he caught up to us and rode all the way with us on I-70 and into Utah until we hit SR72.


At that point Gleno and Pepo continued on the Interstate, slabbing all the way home, each with work to report to on Thursday morning. The rest of us (Brian and Meghan, RickZ and I) went south into Loa and then Torrey. We lunched at Brinks Burger in Torrey, then took Hwy 12 south toward 89. Brian, Meghan and I had been down this road several times before. But this was Rick’s virgin run. And it showed. He couldn’t help but look at the vistas to either side and shake his head in wonderment. I think if it was up to him, we’d have gone down the road at about 10mph so he could soak it all in. Can’t say I blame him. That is not only a rider’s road, but one of the most scenically diverse roads around, changing from the tall trees and mountains near Torrey, to the multi-hued rock strata for which Utah is known, to desolate, wind-eroded canyons along whose vertical walls our serpentine path had been carved.


At Hwy 89, our plan to go north to Panguitch and then over The Breakers, an 11,000-ft. pass, got washed away in rain. Looking north it was ugly. It looked a little better to the south. So after a stop at the intersection of 12/89, south we went. It rained, hard sometimes. But it wasn’t too bad.


I’ve been through Zion 4 times recently. Each time in the morning and each time entering from the west. This time we came in from the other end, late in the afternoon. The park looks completely different. The sharp red tones of the canyon walls are more muted, the rock formations more pronounced as you start "up top" and drop into and through the park. Descension vs. ascension. Morning vs. afternoon. I got two different National Parks for my $10 one-week pass. Fair dinkum as the Aussies say.


Fifty yards outside the west gate traffic came to a stop. Couldn’t see why because of the trees and the twisties, but we heard a siren. We thought the worst. But it wasn’t an accident. It was a local parade, including the Fire Dept. What? On a flippin’ Wednesday? At 4 in the afternoon? On a road LEAVING one of the country’s most popular national parks? Oh well, I guess if you live there, the park’s no big deal. But a parade, now there’s something to talk about. We sat for nearly a half hour. Then it took another 15 minutes just to get the line of cars up to about 20 mph. Then 30. Then we finally cleared the last of the little towns that serve as motel heaven for park goers (as well as radar traps), and we carefully picked off cars one at a time until we were clear of the delay.


The winds started in Hurricane, UT, just before St. George. I guess there’s a reason for its name, but they were mild now, with worse to come. As we finally got on Interstate 15, we could see some powerful rain ahead. No, not just the typical hazily vertical alluvia falling, but three distinct and powerful columns of water coming down. It looked like we could split them, so we talked on the radio and stayed the course. Not too far away, we could see one column of rain and wind tossing debris around pretty viciously in a St. George hillside trailer park. But that was to the east. The one we had to concern ourselves with was to the west. Still, it looked like we could clear it. Then we went through a gap in the hills and our southbound Interstate turned right. Bahwooosh!


Actually, the wind was the worst part, forcing us to ride Kansas style through Utah and into AZ. Once we got clear of it, it became evident that we weren’t going to make it past Vegas to Stateline as hoped. The heat of the desert and the humidity from the remnants of the rain made it like a sauna. I know you easterners are used to this stuff, but for us, it was getting hard to breathe. We skipped across the NW tip of Arizona and pulled off in Mesquite, NV, got a couple of $25 rooms, ate a pretty decent dinner, tithed generously at the poker machines, then zonked for the night. The next morning we were to leave at 6AM to beat the heat. No one stirred until 8.


OK, as long as we’re gonna fry, let’s do it on full stomachs. Down to the Buffet, load up, eat, load up again and eat some more. Probably not wise, but we were within striking distance of CA, so we did it anyway. But by the time we got our bikes loaded and our gear on, it was 9:30 and already 100 degrees.


I switched to my Joe Rocket Phoenix jacket as did Meghan. Rick and Brian both have ‘Stitches, so they loaded the big and little pockets up with ice, and took off, me squirting myself down from a water bottle I’d brought just for the occasion.


I stayed warm, but not hot, which was OK until I heard Brain on the radio telling me he was getting the chills from all the ice. Rick didn’t have an FRS (he was riding DTool’s RT, having tipped over his own RT days before leaving, no doubt on some of the same Winnebago snot Dick Frantz located a half state to the north). But he, too, looked way too comfortable. And so it went. We’d ride, stop for ice for them, water for my bottle, and then they’d complain for the first 40 miles about the cold in the three-digit heat. Still, we made it fine until Barstow, where Rick peeled off and headed across the desert to his home near San Diego. Brian Meghan and I made it to Victorville where we stopped for a good half-hour at a mini mart, sucking up the free A/C and Gatorade-ing ourselves back into electrolytic balance. From there it was downhill (literally) into the L.A. basin and home.


Gunnison. There will be others in other places. There will likely be better Un-Rallies as people build on what we did right and avoid what we did wrong. And there are no doubt beautiful, scenic and challenging roads in every part of this country. But Gunnison was the first. And there will never be another first. About 170 souls were there, with another 1,500 in spirit. We met. I know what a lot of these people look like, now. I know the grip of their hand, the look in their eye. I’ve heard their laughs. I’ve seen them reach into their hearts and wallets and give. We broke bread. We broke barriers. We hugged. And we carved up roads that relatively few will ever ride.


To all who were there, in body and in spirit, and to my buddy Tom who’s always thinking about What’s Next, thanks. You’re all more friends and family now than ever before.

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Another superb read. Thanks for sharing. And BIG thanks for all you did to make this happen.


In reply to:

they’d complain for the first 40 miles about the cold in three-digit heat.


That settles it. I'm gettin' a 'stitch.

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Great read. Thanks. Twas a real pleasure meeting you and all the others. What a group.

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Cup of coffee? I ate my breakfast reading this one. Very nice run down. I really want to make it to one of these and after reading this excellent review I now know why.

Fernando thanks for sharing and to all Congratulations!!

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I've been waiting for this and you haven't dissappointed me. Wonderful report even if it did take me two cups of coffee and six pack of mini-donuts to finish it (cop food you know). Thanks Fernando---when's the next un-rally!!

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Very nicely said. I picked a great time/ride to break my Touring Virginity. I wish to thank everyone who helped put this together as well. A+++++

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Wow FB! What a ride tale!! You have this uncanny ability to allow me to laugh through the tears, both of which, you caused by your excellent writing.


I'm genuinely saddened to have had to miss out (I'll not miss the next one!) but your description brought me closer to having been a part of the experience than I could have otherwise ever been. I thank you for such a sharing and delightful story.


What a wonderful group of people! What wonderful individuals each and every one of you!!

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Excellent Ride Tale, Fernando. You captured the event beautifully! More misty eyes here, recalling the great time we had, the love we shared, and the beautiful scenery. I want to be there still!!!!! Wah.


Until next time,


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Thank You FB. smile.gif The nicest thing about reading these Ride Tales is the "reliving" the time together. I do not think I ever saw you relax, not once. YOU were incredible. YOU were thinking of us every moment. It was nice to see those names. Bravo...to all.

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When I saw the size of the scroll marker on the right, I had to go for the crackers and cheese. Knew it was going to be a good one! No disappointment here at all!! Great read Fernando.....


Just so that everyone else gets a bit more of the facts on the Mennonite family story.....it was Fernando's idea to pass the hat. After seeing the generosity of our fellow riders, he was so overcome with emotion, that he just couldn't make the presentation. I had a lump in my throat just looking at him!! It was a very clear and lucid moment!

David did the presentation, and everyone of us felt good! My thanks to everyone of you.....


I got to spend a bit of time with the family's kids (and dad) at the sandbox next to THUMPER-DOC47 and my tent area. Tried to teach one of the girls how to get her mom to help load her pump squirt gun with warm jello....get one of the others to eat more spinach, and another was to get more chocolate icecream, while the 4th was to eat more navy beans, and the 5th was to grow up to be just like his dad! We had a great time...........sure hope they got home OK.



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As I watched you guide those children and their parents to the head of the food line, observing as you carefully tended to their every need, I could not help but think that you have one of the sweetest hearts found in man.


You and FB and others allowed us all to be a part of that families family by simply paying attention to another human in need. You engaged them and took the care to learn that they needed help. While we all benefited from being able to say "we helped", it was you guys who gave us all the gift of giving.


I'd go to war with any of you. Funny, that is a violent thing, but it's the truth. I'd trust you all with my life.



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Great work! The great writing helped me relive every minute. I'm going to have to remember (as in "steal") some of the one-liners, too, like "a pack of hyenas on a dying quail." Where do you GET these things?

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Creativity is the art of concealing one's source.


David, truth be told you've worked with enough creative people to know that this kind of visual imagery just pops up in our heads. I don't know why it's there or how it got there. It just is.

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Well, FB, I knew you'd post something that would capture it all for those of us who couldn't be there, and you've come through again. Thank you for posting and sharing. You are gifted.


But while he at first resisted our donation, he eventually accepted on behalf of his family, and to raucous applause from our group. He thanked all of us profusely, then sensing a receptive audience said, "This worked out pretty well. I think we’ll go hit up the H*ell’s Angels next."






Chris (aka Tender Vittles),

Little '77 KZ400 in the Big Apple

Black '99 RT for Everywhere Else, such as...color=green>


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Cup 'o coffee h*ell, I had time to grow a beard during this read!!!


FB, you are a farkin' arteest my man. What a read. Thank you for all the kind, meaningful words, and all that you do for the BBS(ers). You da man. wink.gif

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Thank you for painting a crystal clear picture of an experience that I was so sad I couldn't experience. Truly a great piece of writing, Fernando. Unreal.


Something just dawned on me after reading this that I would like to share with the other members as I feel it is a great snapshot of the kind of person Fernando Belair is. In his post, he had so many great stories to share about his committee members - so I'd like to share something about him - and I hope he doesn't mind.


I remember the very day I picked up my RT at Brown Motorworks in Pomona, CA. On this very cloudy day, I was there by myself, after getting dropped off by a friend of mine who was late for work.


I was nervous. I was excited. I was feeling all of those things that you feel when you pick up a new bike - and unfortunately didn't really have anyone there to share the excitement with on that day.


There was the group of obvious 'regulars' milling about in the shop swapping stories, having coffee and Krispy Kremes. I walked over to pour a cup of coffee and tried to introduce myself or do something to jump into the conversation, but for whatever reason, it didn't work. Never been too good in those situations.


For the most part, I didn't know a soul there except for Robyn - who sold me my bike - a wonderful lady... but she was busy helping people. I was a BMW Newbie - and boy oh boy did I feel like one.


The only people I 'knew' that were 'BMW people' were folks that I had corresponded with on this BBS in the months leading up to the purchase like Steve (Steves1150), and Fernando. Didn't know what they looked like, didn't know what their voices sounded like - but these two guys helped me make a decision that would ultimately change my entire perspective on motorcycling for the better - forever.


So there I sat. After owning and riding H.D.'s for close to 18 years, the papers were signed. I had the keys. I owned an RT. I'm in the dealership, not ready to leave yet, staring at the Silver Beauty I was about to ride 85 miles home on. But in a way, the whole event was feeling a little anticlimactic. I felt alone.


Then out of the blue I feel a tap on my shoulder. "Is that one yours?" I turn around and see a very friendly looking man - with a friendly voice. One of those people that the minute you see them you know they're a good person. "Oh, hi... yes... yes... that's my new RT - just got it." "Wow... that's a real beauty... you did it up right." "Thank you" I replied - "This is really an exciting day for me.... blah blah... first time Beemer owner... blah blah...rode Harleys for 18 years... blah blah...fell in love with the RT... blah blah." I probably sounded like a babbling idiot.


So this total stranger - had no idea who he was - starts gushing with enthusiasm about my new RT. Firing off tips for this... "You'll eventually want to do this... and these are great... get these... stay away from those..." The guy was a true enthusiast of the machine - and he obviously knew his stuff. Trying to keep up with his suggestions - I was taking as many mental notes as I could. Wow - this guy was like an encyclopedia of information! Where the heck did he come from?


After about 20-30 minutes - if not more, this man extened his hand and said, "Congrats - you made a great choice." "Alot of us go on rides around here - so you'll have to go sometime."


"That would be great!" I exclaimed... "Sounds great!". "By the way... I'm Tony - I didn't get your name."


He looks at me and says, "Nice to meet you - I'm Fernando Belair."


I about fell over. The only person who genuinely took the time that day in that shop to share in the excitement of my new bike (except for Robyn)- was one of the main people that had been advising me, and putting up with my endless questions in previous months on this BBS.


Just by coincidence he was there that day and took the time to celebrate the delivery of my new RT with me. Fernando - that is a day I will not soon forget and I thank you for that.



Now, almost a year later... I'm one of the 'regulars' at the shop along with Fernando... and others... who share what is a really great dealer.


Nope - there aren't many people in this world - at least not many that I've met like Fernando Belair. I consider you a mentor, a friend, and am one of the more than 2500 members that are extremely grateful for your hard work and dedication you give this virtual-community every single day.


Thank you my friend.

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Gee, thanks, Dad. You too, Uncle Russell.


Seriously, my timing was just right to have been there the day you picked up your bike. But after attending Gunnison, I can tell you that this kind of enthusiasm runs rampant among our members. I'm sure any one of the people who was at Gunny would likewise have loved to offer you tips on your new RT had they been there. The bike, and this board, simply engenders that kind of passion. THAT is why Gunnison was such a success and why the next Un-rally will be, too. The people. Our members.

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Well, I started the CLAS (Cary Littell Appreciation Society) and I'm going to keep that in my signature through the end of the year. Then, even as strong as my friendship with Cary is, it will be time to move on. Why? Because of what an incredible job David Baker has done with this site. If anyone had a true inkling of what a momunetal undertaking this was, and what it takes to keep it running seamlessly day in and day out, you'd post constantly about it and start the DBAS.


Gunnison was a one-shot, and yes, I do appreciate the thanks. But this place is every day, 24/7. We got really lucky with DCB, and I don't think he hears about it often enough. So let's give thanks and credit where it's really due.

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An excellent story Fernando, but you've just said it all with that last post.


I hope you don't mind if I start now.

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Maybe we need


FBAS (Fernando Belair Appreciation Society)


How about the Fernando Appreciation RT Riders of the US (FARTs-R-US)

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OK, for that I get to speed through Tucson whenever I want and just have them call you if I get pulled over. tongue.gif

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Thanks for the great write up Fernando. Now I'm really bummed because I missed it, like I wasn't bummed enough already. I'm really glad it went over so well.

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FB: I've been away from the board a day or so thanks for telliporting me back to Gunnison. I now know what I've been missing when this group as gotten together for Tech Daze and other smaller gatherings. I wish we could have the next Un in a place that would unite East and West. To that end, I offer the humble state of Arkansas. No it's not Colorado, Utah, Texas, Tennessee, Georgia, Virgina, West Virginia or the Carolinas, but it is more central and is not flat. To the other states I did not mention I didn't mean any slight. Great event FB and everyone that helped. Thanks smile.gif

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