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The BMW Riders in the Northeast hear about it sooner or later because they ask each other about such things. "What rallies are you planning to attend this year? The MOA National? Daytona? Honda Hoot?" With little vacation time available and an overlay of family demands on Labor Day weekend, Watkins Glen and the Finger Lakes BMW Rally (FLBR) never made the "A" list. Even as far back as the Escanaba MOA National in 1987, my first rally ever, FLBR was touted as a fun event to attend.
The planets finally aligned this year and Central New York would be a September destination. Having waited fifteen years to attend, I was sure to know some other attendees because now I belonged to two BMW clubs whose members often went. Even better, the MOC offered a neat alternative to a straight-in ride.
Prez Crider sent an email about what was becoming a tradition with the Cleveland club. It started about ten years ago when Ralph Maarsen came to the rescue of two members stranded enroute to the rally. Ralph lives in Olean, NY, which turns out to be a good evening ride from the Cleveland area. He throws open his house, yard, and garage for present and former MOC members. Beer, pizza and a bonfire never fail to generate a good time.
I was one of the first arrivals this year because I burned a vacation day to lengthen the holiday break. The weather wasn't supposed to be as good as it was and made for a truly pleasant approach to Olean from PA to the south. I was going to use the occasion to get to know my fellow club members and there were plenty. On hand: Ralph and Marcia Crider, Tom "Q" Wintering, Russ Davis and his friend Charlie, Heather Gerow, "Fast Eddie" and Gabe Gamuscian, Dave and Pam Kean, also Karl Hoffman. When the beer, pizza and fire were consumed, it was time for bed in either tent or house.
Breakfast next morning came at a local restaurant, then six bikes trekked (Beemer us up, Scotty! —Ed.) on to the FLBR rally site. There I met John and Deb Gerow, Barb Cowan, Bob Zronek, Jackie Kean, Jerry Riha, Mike and Lucy Potisuk, Turp and Dale, Bob Burley, and two guys named Ron and Brillo.
Too bad I haven't gone to this happening before. It has a great location, ample facilities, many vendors, great meals, talented musicians with good dancing room and a woman named Solange1 from Canada on whose feet it was impossible to tread. Go again? Why not? Now, especially, I just can't resist2.
— Reprinted with permission and first published in the BMWMOC "Cleveland Club News"