Missouri’s “Mother of All Rallies” Kicks Off - I kept looking around and thinking I was in Sturgis…really! That’s probably in part because of the large number of motorcycles and bikers, the top-notch sound stage full of non-stop performers, the vendors, the food, the setting, the people and the atmosphere. Admittedly, the $2 beers may have clouded my perception a bit.
The Grand River Summer Rally (GRSR) is destined to become Missouri’s premier rally experience, and I don’t say that lightly. Arkansas has Bikes, Blues and BBQ. Oklahoma has Bikelahoma, Bike Week Oklahoma and the Illinois River Run. Kansas has the BlackTop Nationals and Thunder on the Plains. This was its first year, but the 2010 Grand River Summer Rally will certainly be Missouri’s jewel, and much anticipated by the Midwest biker community.
Held on 80 acres of private land in Urich, Missorui, this year’s event took place on June 18-20. Even before the event started there was already a lot of talk about it. This was not going to be a 50-bike get-together with a few local bands on a flatbed truck. The GRSR had over 30 sponsors, five big name tribute bands and a couple local bands, a soundstage fit for RockFest, camping, showers, contests and bike games. And because it was held on private property, the bikers got to do what bikers like to do, all in a safe, fun environment.
Todd “Braindead” Tally had dreamed about putting on such a rally for over 15 years, and in 2007 he sold his home in the Kansas City metro area and moved to the country; specifically looking for a venue for his dream. “It was snowy and icy when Summer and I came out to look at the 55-acre place next door. It was okay, but then we saw this place, which we found out was also for sale. We drove around the property and could instantly see the whole rally in full swing. It just came to life right in front of us.” They picked out the location for the stage, the beer garden, camping and showers, and then made an offer on the property. Anybody who knows Brainead knows there isn't anything he does half-way, and his vision for the rally came together like clockwork.
Gates opened at noon on Friday and there were beer tents, tattoo artists, bike builders, painters, food and gear vendors, and a massive stage in place. “People were clearly blown away by the setup,” Todd chuckled. “I think they thought there would be a few coolers of beer, a barbecue stand and a cheap P.A. system.”
The party got started in grand fashion with a welcome ceremony and a wedding at 6 p.m. There must have been at least 300-400 bikes lined up in front of the stage, which our newly married couple walked between like pews in a church. This was followed by a Bob Seger tribute band called “Silver Bullet.” After that, a combination Men's and Women's Hot Chaps/Mr. and Ms. Grand River Summer Rally Contest was held and the winners were crowned on stage. Shaunta' from Blue Springs, Missouri, who was also one of our Cycle Connections girls for the weekend won the Ms Grand River Rally contest, and we couldn't find out the name of guy who walked away with the Mr. Grand River Summer Rally title. If someone knows who this was, please let me know. The Guns N’ Roses tribute band “Paradise City”
performed next to a raucous crowd. Friday night ended with a massive set by “Poison Overdose,” a Poison tribute band. With camping available on the grounds the bikers didn't have far to go to turn in for a good night’s sleep under a gorgeous Missouri starlit night, although some stragglers continued rolling in until nearly sun-up on Saturday morning.
On Saturday morning, many of the bikers joined Todd and Summer for a short ride to Urich for breakfast at the Lion’s Club of Urich to benefit the Creighton/Urich Baseball Association. Word spread about the wonderful food and hospitality, so the breakfast ride was repeated on Sunday morning.
Saturday was a full day of fun that for many, started with a ride through the beautiful scenery of rural Missouri. Bikers found themselves in Montrose, Germantown, and gliding across mile-long bridges over Truman Lake near Deepwater and Warsaw. Some stayed at camp to partake in the Christian Motorcycle Association’s blessing of the bikes.
Something that is so often missing at motorcycle rallies is the biker games, but not at the Grand River Summer Rally. Cycle Connections Online Motorcycle Magazine hosted 10 events that tested the skill and competitive prowess of the participants, and provided great entertainment for those who preferred to watch.
Several participated in the Slow Ride, the Keg Roll (at which Sidecar competed in his wheelchair and damn near won the thing!), Tennis Ball Race, Ring Toss, and Weenie Bite which was unceremoniously cut short by 75-mile-per hour winds and a brief storm that scattered the onlookers and cost Budweiser a few beer tent awnings. The stalwart returned though, in part to see the much-anticipated “Thong Pull” event, Men's and Women's Keg Toss and the Cycle Connections Cover Bike and Cover Model competition.
A word about the Thong Pull: I had never seen one, but will make it a point to find them at future bike rallies! The event works like this, and is very similar to a tractor pull. Event officials attach one end of a rope to a contestant’s thong and the other end to a sled. Then they fill the sled with weights. The contestant pulls the sled forward, across a line about 10 yards away. The winner is the contestant who pulls the sled the farthest before their thong rips away. The winner gets a trophy, and the losers get many cheers and applause from the crowd. There was one twist to this year’s Grand River Summer Rally Thong Pull that bears mentioning. Some of the male onlookers were enlisted by the female contestants to put their money where their mouth was, and the contest ended up featuring two male contestants too, much to the delight of the females watching. Thanks for being good sports, guys, and somebody please pass me some bleach for my eyes!
Although the wind storm blew away some of our bike game tracking sheets and delays from the storm prevented us from putting on our official bike game trophy presentation, we did manage to hand out trophies and prizes to the following bike game winners. If some of the names below are inaccurate and if you can help fill in any missing information please let me know and we will update this information. Friggin' tornado!
Bike Game Winners:
1st Place Slow Race: David Neslo
2nd Place Slow Race: Dirty Dave
1st Place Keg Roll: Bria Norris
2nd Place Keg Roll: Dirty Dave
1st Place Tennis Ball Race: Dirty Dave and Jamie Bray
2nd Place Tennis Ball Race: Doug (passenger unknown)
1st Place Ring Toss: Ed Hale (passenger unknown)
2nd Place Ring Toss: Doug (passenger unknown)
1st Place Men's Keg Toss: Joshua
2nd Place Men's Keg Toss: (name unknown
1st Place Women's Keg Toss: Mandy Owsley
2nd Place Women's Keg Toss: Paula
1st Place Women's Thong Pull: Vicky
2nd Place Men's Thong Pull: Ben "The Thong Boy"
At 5:30 p.m., contestants took the stage for the Cycle Connections Magazine Cover Bike and Cover Model Search, in which 41 incredible bikes and 6 beautiful women competed for our September 2010 cover. We originally had 14 girls signed up for our cover model search, however, some chickened out and some may have been passed out in their tents during the event.
Cover Bike Search Winners:
1st Place: Jimmy Fletcher from Grandview, Missouri and his 2005 Harley-Davidson Sportster
2nd Place: Tim Atkinson from Pleasant Hill, Missouri and his 1989 Harley-Davidson FXR Chopper
3rd Place: Forrest Schubert from St. Joseph, Missouri and his 2007 Harley-Davidson Street Glide
Cover Model Search Winners:
1st Place: Ami Solberg from Kearney, Missouri
2nd Place: Candi Richardson from Belton, Missouri
3rd Place: Karen Kennedy from Garden City, Missouri
As the sun started to settle, “Eliminator,” a ZZ Top tribute band, took the stage, followed by a Rally Girl contest. The night finished with a top-notch AC/DC tribute band called “Big Gun” performing to the delight of the crowd.
“Our vision for this rally,” said Todd, “is to provide a safe place for bikers to express themselves, to let themselves go, and to do it without being judged by anyone.” They’re off to a good start, as bikers traveled from as far away as Colorado, Texas, Oklahoma and Iowa to attend this year’s rally. As word spreads, this list of states will continue to increase. Todd wants the rally to become known as a place where “You come in as a friend, but you leave as family.” More than once, Todd said he thought of it as a big family reunion, and hoped the bikers would feel that way too.
And a family it is. When asked who helped him get the rally set up to run it during the event, the list seemed endless.
Ed Hale and his Bikers for Babies® “Posse” provided security in the beer garden, trash pickup after the event, and plenty of support along the way. Ed even officiated the wedding! I didn't even know he was a minister. The Southern Cruisers of Clinton, Missouri provided a shuttle service for the elderly and handicapped as well as for cage-bound attendees in the parking lot. The Christian Motorcycle Association parked cars and helped with the trash pickup. The Iron Order MC of Blue Springs, Missouri provided general security over the 80-acre property, and EMT and first aid services throughout the event.
Homer, Fat Feeder, Danno, Neil Meisner, Brian Minnick, Browneye, Jeremiah, Bob Hamm and Dyno Mike lent a hand, as well as many other businesses. I wrote down the names as fast as I could, but there is no way I got them all.
Originally, the city of Urich was not so excited about the presence of the rally. In fact, last year, they took Todd to court to try and stop the Grand River Autumn Rally which ended up being cancelled due to rain, however, after cooler heads prevailed, this year's rally went off without a hitch, and the townsfolk actually welcomed the bikers. After all, part of the proceeds went to the March of Dimes® through Ed’s Posse, and the local children benefitted from the proceeds from the breakfasts, which will be used to give their baseball field a much needed facelift. Local businesses also saw the benefits that thousands of bikers can bring to their coffers so we expect to see a lot more local business participation in future rallies.
“The city and county emergency services and law enforcement have been very supportive,” said Todd. “During the entire rally we had only two speeding tickets, no DUIs, no disorderly conduct, nor anything else.”
Each year the Grand River Rally plans to pick a charity or two and donate a portion of the proceeds from the event as a way to spread good will, love and friendship throughout the community.
There is already talk of a fall version of the rally on September 24-26, 2010 and next year’s summer rally is scheduled for June 17-19, 2011. Improvements being discussed include larger shower houses, and although he wouldn't commit to it, Todd wondered aloud what it would be like to lounge on a floatie in a six-eight acre lake while watching the bands on stage.
Hmmm… This rally sounds better and better all the time.
Story by Bruce Stimpson with Stimpson Photography.
Photos by Bruce Stimpson, Doc Lonnie Blum, Stripe and Mike Schweder