Rides, Rallies and Events Recap

5th Annual Thunder Beach Autumn Rally

Written by  October 31, 2005

The end of September means it’s time for the 5th Annual Thunder Beach Autumn Rally in Panama City Beach, Florida. Jeff and Sherry from Bessie’s Cycle Barn in Irondale, Alabama, had planned their usual ride to the beach from Bessie’s. There were probably around 30 bikes making the ride with them. Leigh and Jerry had talked about riding with them, but they were leaving a little earlier than the boys were wanting to go, so they rode alone, and Harley Jane and I followed in the truck.

We chose to stay at the Howard Johnson hotel at the Boardwalk on the beach, one of the host hotels. Here, Harley was in Hog Heaven in every sense. She was staying right in the middle of all of these bikes and people. She was quite the celebrity. We couldn’t get her out of the room without people wanting to pet her, take her picture, or put motorcycle clothes on her. She’s such a ham. She thought everyone was there to see her!

We missed Sandpiper Beacons kick-off party Wednesday night with free BBQ, beer, and a live band. We got to the beach Thursday evening, and since the Boardwalk was host to several events as well as having vendors set up in the parking lot and inside the convention center, we decided to walk Harley around and see what all was right there within walking distance. We found B & Shirt Tales, with T-Shirts, flip-flops, and fanny packs. Butt Buffer, with their seat pads, and North Georgia Traders. They have hairpipe jewelry, lingerie, etc., but they also have little fur pieces, hairpipe, and senew, and other little goodies that I like to find to make dream-catchers.
We made some new friends with the people from Fat Dog Leather. These guys are pretty cool! They came to the Big Kahuna one night when I was bartending, and I had to send Leigh over to get a picture of her wicked little black outfit that she was wearing. We also found a friend from home set up doing pin striping, Michael Swann, with Swann Graphics. He is also very capable of doing some serious airbrush work!

Friday, we rode back up the beach to see what all was at the Pier Park venue. There weren’t quite as many vendors in here as there were back in the spring and maybe half as many bikes parked inside the park area. American Iron Horse Motorcycles, Big Dog of Tampa, Bikers Dream of Atlanta, Bourgets Bike Works, and Victory Motorcycles were among the dozen or so builders, manufactures, and dealers that were at this venue site, as well as several food, jewelry, clothing, and accessories vendors. Part of the fun of a rally on the beach is eating great, fresh seafood, and riding. So we went riding in search of something to eat!

We then went to check out the Miss Thunder Beach contest back at the Boardwalk. The Miss Thunder Beach contest was a blast! They picked out this cute little girl from the audience to be one of the judges. She was so cute, and so funny! She should have been a contestant; she was having a good ole time with it all. Hillary Walkins, from Warner Robbins, Georgia, was crowned Miss Thunder Beach. Kimberly Thornbury, from Concord, Georgia, got second place, and Michele Bowen from Panama City, Florida, got third place. Afterward they all went to the boardwalk next to the pavilion for a photo op on a few bikes.

Saturday morning we took Harley and went to the Kahuna to watch the parade with Jim and Fay Pitts, who own the Kahuna, and a few other friends, among them, Steve and Julie Finch, from Metairie, Louisiana. It was good to see them, as we had only spoken with them once or twice since Hurricane Katrina. The parade was canceled in the spring due to rain. But this weekend had picture perfect weather. Back in March, Panama City Beach Police Sergeant Kevin Kight was killed in the line of duty, and since they weren’t able to do it in the spring, they dedicated this parade to his memory and collected donations to help his family out. The police as well as the town have always welcomed the bikers from the Thunder Beach rallies. I think they enjoy it as much as we all do.

There were a handful of evacuees staying at our hotel that Harley and I got to meet out walking their dogs. I thought it was pretty cool that they got to have their pets with them, as so many places were not allowing them to bring them. Hopefully, the rally brought a little fun to their lives, momentarily anyway.

Thursday, Friday, and Saturday all had a poker run going on somewhere. There were also wet T-shirt contests at The Boardwalk, Sandpiper Beacon, and Katmandu’s. There was live entertainment at those venues as well as at Ruthie T’s, Ms. Newby’s, the Shoppes at Edgewater, Shuckum’s, Buck Wild, and the Outpost. There were 40-45 vendors set up at the Shoppes at Edgewater including bike builders and dealers like Iron Works and American Classic Cycles. I always enjoy checking out the bikes that American Classic brings to any event. They have so many awesome bikes! Also, there were several jewelry, clothing, accessories, doo-rags, leather, and shades vendors. We met Marc Arnold from Showride Images. His LED Shop, come to find out, is near our house!

Then it was time for us to head back to the other end of the beach to check out the “going’s-on” at Sandpiper Beacon, home of the bikini bike wash! This place is always a buzz during Thunder Beach. You know, it’s a tough job having to ride back up and down the beach to check everything out, but somebody has to do it!

Howard Johnson’s gave all of the rally people a low rate for the weekend and a late checkout, so we slept in Sunday morning then rode the beach one last time. Before we left, I wanted to get a picture of Harley on the beach. Talk about a Hot-Dog! She was dying in the heat, so we just managed to get her in the sand for a quick picture. My Harley was over-heated! After we had walked her one night, the waves were kicking pretty good from Hurricane Rita, so we decided to see what she would do with the waves crashing onto her feet. We figured she would run; she just stood there! Leigh and I were running to get our leather shoes out of the water. It was too funny!

It’s always kind of sad to leave the beach, but the weather couldn’t have been better for Leigh and Jerry and everyone else to ride back home in. There were, however, the love bugs to contend with. On the ride down, they were horrible! We thought if we didn’t wait until the evening to leave, that they wouldn’t be so bad, WRONG!!! They mate, and then the male dies! Interesting concept! A lot of them were killed while they were still coupled up, what a way to go, huh?

It was a pretty good rally! Hope to see you at the Spring Thunder Beach Rally May 4-7, 2006.
Until then, Ride Safe, and Ride Often!

Write-On and Ride-On
Story and Photos by Lynn Reynolds & Leigh Lilly:
Lynn Reynolds and
Leigh Lilly - Birmingham, Alabama