This past weekend was our 8th edition of our special brand of Yankee Madness, the Damn Yankees Rally.
Our tale starts in 1998. This was the year that the Yankee Beemers were invited to host the RA rally. While looking at potential rally sites our Savant of the Pavement, Dana Lewis discovered a fairground in Heath, MA.
Heath is a classic New England farming community located in the Berkshire Mountains in western Massachusetts. With a population of 800 and a relatively remote location, calling Heath a "tight" community would be an understatement. While the fairground was not suitable for a large rally (98 set the RA attendance record) we felt this would be an ideal spot for the Damn Yankees which had been looking for a better home. While we were unable to bring the RA Rally to Heath we were able to bring some of the best of Heath to the rally by inviting the "Church Ladies" to attend the rally and sell their incredible baked goods.
While investigating Heath we met the local police chief who owned a few airheads and had obtained a grant to purchase a F650 Police special.
Chief Lauren Gowdy
Chief Gowdy encouraged us to go ahead and have our rally at the fairground and played a vital role in introducing us to the local folks. Over the years he became an active member of the Yankee Beemers and we enjoyed his company in and out of uniform. To us he was simply the Chief. Unfortunately the Chief was diagnosed with inoperable cancer in January and he left us just a short time ago. Rather than mope, the Chief booked us a band and donated his entire collection of fireworks with the stipulation we find a licensed pyrotechnic to run the show. One advantage to being one of the largest clubs is that when we need someone with a pyro license chances are we have one "in house".
In 1999 we held our first rally at the fairgrounds. Highlights included coming alarmingly close to burning down a 300 year old barn and the various creative responses to the lack of showers on site. We had a great time and decided to commit to working with the Agricultural Society to continue the event. At the same time we decided to make this event a pure fund-raiser for various organizations as well as commit to doing our best to use only local suppliers for services. The town responded by welcoming us back and ‘«£providing‘«ō Carol Stowe and his famous mobile bonfire. Over time it became obvious that Mr. Stow was the local pyromaniac, I figure they preferred a pyromaniac they knew rather than some crazy from ‘«£back east‘«ō.
As time progressed the Chief added some plumbing to the outside wall of the bathroom house and we were able to say we had showers available, albeit outdoor, no screen and standing on a pallet. This was fine until someone bet one of the Rallymasters he would not take a shower in the buff. At noon on Saturday time stood still as a very pale and paunchy RM disrobed for his shower. The following winter the Chief relocated the showers to a more discrete location, added a connection to the hot water heater and enclosed the showers in response to the numerous complaints about public indecency form the previous year. I heard that some folks wanted to complain to the RM that there was a naked man taking a shower in front of the works only to find out that the naked man was the complaint department.
This year the planets aligned to provide all the ingredients for an incredible weekend. While the forecast was marginal the weather was fantastic for Friday. I was excited as this is a great event to bring the children and I was traveling with two of my three boys for a weekend of internal combustion on two wheels. Can you tell how many bikes are in the truck?
Friday we arrived at the rally site. Co-Chair Dana Lewis and a group of volunteers arrived Thursday evening and had set up well under control. I unloaded the bikes and set Tabor up on the XR 50. This was a watershed moment for the little guy as his first experience on the 50 last summer resulted in a little target fixation and a slight collision with the back porch. While his older brother started at age 7 last year was just a little too early for Tabor so after the mishap I waited for him to make noise about trying again rather than push. A few weeks ago he sat on the 50 and asked if it was too small so I felt the time was right. After some time at home sitting on the bike he was ready to try riding on the large open field. He took to it so well I should have him write his own trip report. Here he is taking a break.
His older brother, Corbett has been riding for a few years. While not helping Tabor he was responsible for riding around and finding bikes without headlight stickers. If he found a bike without a sticker he had extras to offer if the rider had a wristband. JR security and hospitality rolled into one!
Here is a shot of Corbett.
He will be cranky at me because it looks like he rides a 50 and he would like to make sure you understand *he* rides the XR80 and his *younger* brother rides the 50.
Being the Damn Yankees that host this rally we have always tried for a little something *extra*. One year it was a bagpiper at sunrise on Saturday (now that was a big hit), this year it was a secret message on the rally pin that required perfect eyesight or a magnifying glass to comprehend. We also had a special surprise for Saturday morning, fresh doughnuts from Dunkin Donuts. Bear in mind that the closest Dunkin is a gas station outlet 20 miles away. Yankees are known for being resourceful and we solved the distance / freshness conundrum by using effective transportation.
YB Tom Grassia delivers
After a pancake breakfast from the Church Ladies and the aerial doughnut delivery folks were ready for some riding fun. It was a chilly morning with a sunrise temp of 45 degrees, too cold for the piper or the offered tubing on the Deerfield River. After serving 1000 cups of coffee folks were ready to ride. I am delighted to report that the GS and street rides were a success (everyone returned safely) and be mid afternoon riders were ready for field events.
Our first event was the Scottish Trials, a Damn Yankee version of English Trials. National Senior Enduro champ Doug MO set up a course on the side of a small hill with some full lock turns and minor obstacles to challenge riders without making it dangerous. Here a rider is making the turn at the top before heading back down.
Now this rider is on his way up and over the log before doing a full lock 180 and riding on top of an 8' 2x4 followed by a quick jog and a second 2x4.
As Doug Mo signals point deductions
We also had a street bike class to encourage every one to play. The first entrant was on a K75 and he found himself severely hampered by the short bars and turning radius of this classic cult bike. If you think a K75 will smoke after being on the side stand you should see one that has been inverted for a few minutes. The second street rider was Carl Saccoccio on a R1150R. He made the first loop and then broke course while announcing he did not want to drop such a pretty bike. Our third rider was a youngster on a very pretty airhead with a gold windjammer fairing. As he entered the starting area a murmer fell over the crowd as everyone on the outside of the turns started to move back, sure that carnage was to follow. Rather than entertain our morbid desire to see a wreck (isn't that why folks watch NASCAR?) this kid showed us how it was done, attacking the course in such a way that ensured him the prize. Amazing. Dude you ROCK!
The Scottish Trails were followed by "traditional" field events and don't doubt for a moment that the slow race wasn't competitive with Doug MO once again proving that he really is Slo Mo. After much fun with bikes, hotdogs, mustard and water balloons it was time for a great chicken BBQ from the Heath FD, a sunset serenade by the piper (serenade and bagpipes, an oxymoron?), more bier garden and a fantastic very local band featuring bluegrass and a washtub base along with our famous mobile bonfire it was time to call it a day.
end of part one