Rides, Rallies and Events Recap


Photojournalist/Account Representative - Kansas City, MO

Dave Baxter, a.k.a. Stripe joined our staff in December, 2003, as a photojournalist. If that road name sounds familiar, you may have seen his photos on the pages of such publications as American Iron, V Twin, VQ, In the Wind, and Easyriders. Stripe attends as many rallies, bike shows, and charity runs as he can and is a major contributor of photos and articles to our magazine. His first assignment was our January, 2004, cover photo, where he snapped the awesome photo of a 1958 Harley-Davidson Duo Glide. A rider since the age of 14, he loves to help and encourage new riders. Stripe enjoys meeting new people and looks forward to catching many of our readers in the viewfinder of his digital camera. Contact Stripe at stripe@cycleconnections.com 

Gailapalooza at Gail’s Harley-Davidson in Grandviw, Missouri, is the event that annually marks the beginning of the motorcycling season in the Midwest. The morning of April 4 started with a thick overcast and blustery winds, but the sun broke through, and conditions improved throughout the day. As the weather got better, more and more people rolled in to check out the bikes and merchandise inside the dealership as well as the more than 30 vendor booths that filled the parking lot out front. Several charities also had booths to promote upcoming rides such as the City Union Mission ride and Bikers for Babies®.

Visitors to Blue Springs Harley-Davidson during the dealership’s 15th Anniversary Celebration had the opportunity to take demonstration rides on brand new motorcycles. There was a large selection of Harleys from which to choose. The route covered more than 20 miles north and east of the dealership and offered riders the chance to experience the bikes at highway speed. The curvy roads allowed participants to evaluate the handling characteristics of the various models. Demos were conducted on both Friday and Saturday.

Requirements for the ride were: age over 18, current motorcycle license, eye protection, long pants, closed toed shoes with heel strap, and a helmet meeting D.O.T. standards. Loaner helmets of all sizes were available. Following a safety briefing, each rider straddled his or her bike of choice while escort riders wearing highly-visible fluorescent orange or green vests climbed aboard the remaining bikes. Experienced road captains from the Greater Kansas City Chapter of Harley Owners Group took turns leading the group rides. The standard staggered formation for group riding was strictly adhered to in the interest of safety. During the pre-ride briefing, it was pointed out that anyone who became uneasy about the ride for any reason could stop, and arrangements would be made to transport the rider and bike back to the dealership. I noted that a young man who was a new rider and had recently completed a rider safety course and a lady who mentioned that she was not comfortable riding in a large group were each given individual rides accompanied by only one escort rider. I was in a Softail mood and tried out the new Breakout, the Fat Boy Lo, and the Softail Slim.

There were several other bikers who took multiple rides. One lady told me that she was nearly ready to trade her Sportster for a big twin, possibly a Heritage or Softail Slim. The demo rides gave her the perfect opportunity to evaluate each bike before making her selection. During both the Friday and Saturday rides, the H.O.G. volunteers did a great job with their registration, traffic directing, and escort responsibilities. Scott, the Harley-Davidson truck driver who delivered the demo bikes mentioned that he was very impressed with the group.

List of motorcycles available for demo:


Night Rod Special


Anniversary Heritage Softail Classic

Fat Boy Lo

Softail Slim




883L Superlow

1200 Custom

1200V Seventy-Two


Street Bob

Fat Bob

Wide Glide



Road King


Street Glide

Electra Glide Ultra Limited

Road Glide Custom


Tri Glide Ultra Classic

The 2013 version of Oklahoma Bike Week at Sparks America Campground ran from June 14 through 23. As usual, my schedule did not permit me to attend the entire event, but I was able to get away on Thursday, June 20, for a long weekend. This year, I was pleased to have editor Mike join me for his first visit to Sparks. With Mike on his Fat Boy and me on my Wide Glide, we headed south late in the morning.

After a gas stop in Joplin, we decided to drop by the local Harley dealership. We discovered that the name had changed from Cycle Connection to Hideout Harley-Davidson. That should eliminate occasional confusion resulting from the similarity of the names of the dealership and our magazine. We had planned a late lunch at the huge McDonald’s that straddles the Will Rogers Turnpike near Vanita, Oklahoma, but were disappointed to discover that the whole service plaza including the restaurant was closed for renovation. When we stopped at the nearby tollbooth, we agreed to look for a good place to eat in the Tulsa vicinity. Our meal was further delayed as we endured a major traffic jam on Interstate 44 near the east edge of Tulsa. After a fuel stop in Sapulpa just southwest of Tulsa we found a nice Mexican restaurant where our meal was more like dinner than late lunch thanks to the traffic delay. Arriving at Sparks America with plenty of daylight remaining, we made a quick stop at the campground office where I introduced Mike to Robert Butler, the owner of the facility and the host of Oklahoma Bike Week. After stetting up camp, I gave Mike a quick tour of the area including a ride on the Magic Bus, a retired school bus that provides transportation around the grounds throughout the event. We listened to live music for a while before calling it a day and retiring to our tents.

At Sparks America, it’s not the crowing of a rooster that greets a new day. Instead, we were awakened Friday morning by the shrill cry of the resident peacock. It’s a beautiful bird, but its voice is not pretty. Other close neighbors were a llama and a tame deer. It was my birthday, and I was happy to be spending it in the company of Mike and other friends. Daytime activities on both weekends of Oklahoma Bike Week centered around the “playground” where bike games and people games provide great entertainment for participants and spectators alike. Friday’s scheduled games included: plank race, drunk driving (not really drunk, just drinking a beer or water while riding a short distance between two kegs), blind man’s bluff, dizzy race, tampon race, quick start (find and start your bike while blindfolded), straw in the bottle, potato race (using tennis balls), pickle licking, tittie licking, newlywed game, Twinkie eating, and buff the woody (sand the paint off the handle of a plumber’s helper held between partner’s legs). Considerable riding skill was demonstrated during the bike competition, and the people games were just plain crazy! The Sparks America crew always does a great job of keeping the games organized and on schedule, and nice plaques are awarded to the first place winners.

After the games, Mike and I decided to ride to nearby Chandler and enjoy a meal in air-conditioned comfort, although there are very good food options at the campground. We made a quick stop at the local Wal-Mart for sun block, bug spray, and a few other items we had forgotten to pack for the trip. Mike also acquired a flotation device for use in the pond where many of the bikers gather to cool off during the rally. Live music began in the evening and continued into the night, and some adult on-stage competitions provided entertainment during the breaks. For me it was a great way to celebrate a birthday!

First on the Saturday schedule was a bike show put on by volunteers raising funds for the Motoring for Marfans charity seeking a cure for Marfan syndrome. There were lots of great entries in every class. I was particularly intrigued by the V-Rod that won the American Custom class, and I enjoyed visiting with owner Clint Loveland

The Saturday game schedule included the following: slow race, double slow race, men’s and women’s keg toss, men’s and women’s keg roll, weenie bite, cherry bite, and balloon toss. When the time came for the panty slide, there were not enough competitors entered to justify the effort required to roll out the slide, so that event was scratched. Bummer!!!

Everyone migrated from the playground to the dirt drag strip where lunatics, some dressed in shorts and flip-flops, competed in 100-foot drag races and tire drags. Following that wild competition, the crowd returned to the playground for a solemn ceremony, a memorial service for biker Bobby Jack Jackson, Jr. In accordance with his final wishes, Bobby’s vest was ceremoniously burned, and a container filled with his ashes was dragged around the Sparks America Campground behind Robert’s trike.

Prizes were awarded for longest hair (men and women), longest beard (men only), and best tattoos (men’s single color, men’s multi-color, women’s single color, women’s multi-color, and best overall). There were awards for longest trip to the rally and longest ride to the rally.

The final afternoon event was a charity auction of chainsaw art by Woody and an associate. Funds were raised for tornado victims in nearby areas. There was also a 50/50 drawing benefiting Bikers Against Child Abuse. The festivities beginning at 8 p.m. included more live music and craziness on stage.

The ride home on Sunday was hot but uneventful. An early start got Mike and I back home to the city early enough for us to get some work done on the July issue of Cycle Connections.

Sparks America hosts several big events each year. The biker Halloween party coming up October 24 through 27 features more of the same brand of fun enjoyed during Bike Week plus a costume contest with cash prizes. There will be a drawing for a 2014 Yamaha Bolt (950cc) from McAlester MotorSports with custom paint by Passionworks Body Shop. The winner will be drawn from the gate tickets on Saturday after Woody’s auction. You must be present to win, so come on out for a great time and a chance to take home a brand new ride. See photos on Sparks America's website .

Photos by Mike Schweder and Stripe.

Dedicated to the memory of B.J.

I arrived at the A.B.A.T.E. of Kansas rally area at Paradise Point, Perry Lake, about mid-afternoon on Friday, August 30. The weekend weather forecast calling for extreme heat proved to be accurate. Free bottled water and a mist tent provided welcome relief for bikers at the end of their ride and the beginning of their party. After getting registered, I joined several friends who had arrived earlier from southeastern Iowa. As usual, they had set up camp near the area always occupied by A.B.A.T.E. District 7 from the Dodge City area, my old stomping grounds. After hanging out in the camping area for a while, we headed over to the vendor area and spent some time at the beer tent. Friday evening’s musical entertainment included Last Chance Flight, Final Drive, and Led Astray.

The Heartland Police Motorcycle Association was formed in September 2010 with the goal of emphasizing the importance of continued training in an effort to improve the safety of police motorcycle operations in conjunction with raising money for various charity organizations or groups. Each year the association conducts a police motorcycle training seminar/competition. The event gives motor officers an opportunity to hone their riding skills while providing the general public with a chance to observe and appreciate the amazing way the competitors are able to maneuver their police bikes. The large parking lot outside the Macy’s store at the Independence Center becomes a sea of orange cones marking the courses for the competition.

For ten years, people who share a passion for their religious faith and the love of motorcycling have gathered on the campus of Calvary Bible College and Theological Seminary on a Saturday early in January for a Christian Biker Workshop sponsored by the Kansas City Chapter of Cycle Disciples M/C .

On September 7, thousands of motorcyclists gathered at Gail’s Harley-Davidson in Grandview-Missouri to honor the memory of the 9-11 victims and to show appreciation for veterans, those currently in military service, and people who work in law enforcement and emergency services. The day began with free biscuits & gravy. There were activities for the children and various displays to see including first responder vehicles, antique military vehicles, police cars and motorcycles, General Tommy Franks Traveling Museum, and dozens of vendor booths.

Witches are said to ride broomsticks. As it turns out, some ride motorcycles. So do ghosts, vampires, knights, naughty nurses, doctors (with questionable credentials), and various other costumed characters. Around Halloween, they all head for Sparks America Campground near tiny Sparks, Oklahoma for a long weekend of partying, playing games, listening to live music, and celebrating the biker lifestyle. Robert and Brenda Butler are host and hostess for these festivities and many other events at Sparks America.

The campground has a large wooded area where the office, shower house, vendors, and much of the tent camping are located. South of the vendor area, there is a large stage next to an open area commonly referred to as the Playground where most of the bike and people games are contested. Nearby is the dirt drag strip where the 100-foot drag races and tire drags take place.

The weather for the 2013 Halloween Bash was not bad considering the time of year. Nights were cold, but the temperature during the days was moderate, and the sun was out at least part of the time. There were enough games on the schedule to keep everyone entertained until late each afternoon. Friday’s lineup included slow ride practice (solo and two-up), plank ride, keg roll, keg toss (men’s and women’s), straw-in-the-bottle, drunk driving (to see how much beer or water a rider can drink while riding a short distance marked by two kegs), buff the woody, sex positions (clothed on an air mattress), potato race (substitute tennis balls for spuds), butt darts, dizzy race, 100-foot drags, and tire drags. After dark, partiers enjoyed hanging out around two bonfires while listening to live music. Some were already in costume while others chose to defer dressing up until Saturday.

Saturday morning’s bike show, as always, was put on by a group of volunteers who raise funds to fight Marfan’s Syndrome. There were lots of cool rides, and the judges did not have an easy task deciding who would take home the awards. Immediately following the bike show, games resumed with the schedule including slow ride (single and double), newlywed game, weenie bite, cherry bite, tittie licking, Twinkie eating, blind ride, tampon race, pickle licking, and quick start (while blindfolded, find your bike and get it started). There were prizes for best tattoos in several classes and longest beard.

When the games were done, chain-saw art by Woody was auctioned as a charity fund-raiser. Next was the selection of the very first Miss Sparks America who will be featured in Sparks event advertising and will travel to other rallies to help promote Sparks America. The field of competitors had been narrowed down to five based on how contestants answered several questions. In turn, without being able to hear the other contestants’ answers, each was asked what it would mean to her if she were chosen to be Miss Sparks America. After hearing their answers, audience chose the winner by their applause. Any of the five would have been a fine choice, but the winner was Biker Red, a pretty lady who has attended numerous Sparks rallies, rides her own bike, and always competes in the games. Congrats, Red!

Next was the much-anticipated drawing for a new motorcycle, a 2014 Yamaha Bolt with a special Sparks America custom paint job by Passionworks Body Shop. Everyone who had purchased a ticket to attend the party was entered, and attendance at the drawing was mandatory to win. Red’s first duty as Miss Sparks America was to draw tickets from a large drum. Tickets were drawn until there were 25 finalists on stage. All of their tickets were placed in a box, and Red reached in to pull one out. That ticket belonged to Jessi Allegre who was absolutely thrilled to be the winner. Not currently a motorcycle rider, she expressed her desire to start learning right away.

The evening activities included more live music and a costume contest with cash prizes for best men’s, best women’s, best couple or group, and most original costume. Each category filled the stage with costumed characters. Captain Spaulding (from the Rob Zombie movies), a dead doll, and a cave-couple were the winners from the first three groups. As the competitors for most original took the stage, one was dressed in ordinary clothing and carried a laptop computer. He would appear to type on the keyboard and then stomp his foot in disgust. He explained that he was a “government employee on furlough trying to enroll in Obamacare.” The audience roared its approval, and the prize was won.

Whenever an event takes place at Sparks America, it is certain that great fun is in store. The main motorcycle-oriented events are the Halloween Bash and, in June, Oklahoma Bike Week. It’s about a 700-mile round trip from my home in Kansas City. I’ve been attending Sparks events for years and have always considered it well worth the trip.

The 9th Annual Christian Biker Workshop was presented by the Kansas City Chapter of Cycle Disciples M/C on Saturday, January 5. For the first time, the event was held in the Conference Center on the newly-expanded campus of Calvary Bible College and Theological Seminary. The recently remodeled building was a significant upgrade from the old Education Building across the street that had been the venue for previous workshops. The room was modern and spacious with several large circular tables around which the 42 participants sat as they viewed various workshop presentations.

Following the opening prayer, Teddy Bitner, a.k.a. Colonel, began the program with a welcome and announcements. Event marketing was the topic addressed by the first presenter, Bethany Bashioum who writes for the Cass County Democrat Missourian and the Kansas City Star. She explained the many advantages of promoting events via social media such as Facebook, and shared useful tips on working with various media outlets such as television, radio, and newspapers for event promotion and coverage. Behany’s presentation included detailed instructions on creating and maintaining a Facebook page.

The next speaker was Ed Schmid, R.N., a member of Cycle Disciples who is currently employed at Children’s Mercy Hospital as a pediatric intensive care nurse and formerly worked as an emergency medical technician. Ed’s stated goal was to “begin equipping those present with knowledge and skills needed to make the scene safe and assist injured riders” in case of a motorcycle accident. Obviously, the subject of motorcycle crash assistance could easily fill a full day or even a weekend, but Ed did a great job covering the basics of securing an accident site to prevent further injury to crash victims and first responders, calling for professional assistance, and assessing the injuries to determine the appropriate first aid techniques to apply.

Next on the agenda was an organizational profile of Bikers Against Child Abuse (B.A.C.A.). Workshop attendees watched a short B.A.C.A. video featuring Chief, the organization’s founder. Local chapter president Thrasher and several chapter members answered questions and handed out informational brochures. The B.A.C.A. mission statement from the handout follows: “Bikers Against Child Abuse (B.A.C.A.) exists with the intent to create a safer environment for abused children. We exist as a body of bikers to empower children to not feel afraid of the world in which they live. We stand ready to lend support to our wounded friends by involving them with an established, united organization. We work in conjunction with local and state officials who are already in place to protect children. We desire to send a clear message to all involved with the abused child that this child is a part of our organization, and that we are prepared to lend our physical and emotional support to them by affiliation, and our physical presence. We stand at the ready to shield these children from further abuse. We do not condone the use of violence or physical force in any manner, however, if circumstances arise such that we are the only obstacle preventing a child from further abuse, we stand ready to be that obstacle.”

After a group discussion of upcoming motorcycle events, Bill McCormack of God’s Wheels M/C spoke to the group about one-on-one sharing of the Gospel with bikers and others. Speaking at the workshop every year, he always stresses the importance of sincere compassion, honesty, and commitment in helping to meet people’s needs, spiritual and otherwise. Bill is an inspiration to all who hear him speak. 

Each year the Cycle Disciples present the Kickstand Award to an individual or group in recognition of significant contributions to the motorcycling community. Previous recipients of this honor include Ralph Wayne Blackmore, Guy Girratano, Kim Suter, Bill McCormack, Ray Worth, Richard and Connie Kephart, and the Patriot Guard Riders. Slacker, 101 the Fox radio personality, was chosen to receive the 2013 award. His radio show promotes Cars 4 Heroes, an organization providing vehicles to military veterans in need of transportation, and supports Bikers with a Mission’s annual ride to raise funds for City Union Mission. He is very involved with the local motorcycle scene and is a worthy Kickstand Award recipient. Normally the award presentation occurs at the workshop event. However, Slacker was not available on that day, so the award was presented a few days later at the radio station. Congrats, Slacker! 

We appreciate everyone who took part in the program and thank the Cycle Disciples for hosting the event. Every year, the Christian Biker Workshop is a worthwhile, informative, and inspirational experience.  

The evening of November 16 was a special one at Blue Springs Harley-Davidson. The occasion was Guys’ Night, and the dealership was full of booths promoting all sorts of merchandise and services of special interest to guys. At the entrance, men were presented with goodie bags containing discount coupons from the dealership and the vendors. Each guy also received a ticket for drawings held throughout the evening for some very nice prizes.

The event’s special guest was baseball great Frank White who played second base for the Kansas City Royals for 18 seasons, won 8 Gold Glove awards, and is a member of the Royals Hall of Fame. Frank’s number 20 is one of three that have been retired by the Royals. Visitors to the Precision Roofing booth had the opportunity to visit with Frank, get his autograph, and pose for photos with one of the best ever to play the game. His story is told in his autobiography, One Man's Dream: My Town, My Team, My Time. A surprise visitor was former Royals slugger Willie Mays Aikens who also has a book telling the remarkable story of his rollercoaster life including baseball success, struggle with drugs, time in prison, and his life since his release in 2008. Its title is Safe at Home.

It wouldn’t have been Guys’ Night without great food served by beautiful ladies. Hooters delivered on both. Other vendors included Baker Image Group (BIG); Club 7 Fitness; Freebirds Restaurant in Summit Fair, Lee’s Summit; Hollywood’s House of Ink; Outlaw Cigars; and Rev Studio Creations. Blue Springs Harley-Davidson has been supporting the Salvation Army of Eastern Jackson County throughout the Christmas season, and a red kettle was set up next to the dealership’s Christmas tree to collect donations for this worthy charity.

Lucky raffle winners received great prizes including a Missouri Mavericks hockey stick and two special Frank White autographed baseball bats. It was a fun evening for all. The dealership can’t be accused of gender bias. Blue Springs Harley-Davidson hosted Ladies’ Night on December 7.

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