Larry’s Trip to the 2021 BMW RA National Rally

Story by Larry Ward 

One of the highlights of my year so far was my trip to the 2021 BMW Riders Association National Rally. This year’s event took place in Waynesville, N.C., in August, and I was joined on the journey by my riding buddy Alan Smallsreed.  

The forecast for the ride down wasn’t looking too friendly, so Alan and I decided to take the fastest route from Youngstown to Waynesville — which is Interstate 77.  

We followed I-77 through southeast Ohio and central West Virginia to the interstate’s overlap with Interstate 81 and stopped for the day at a quaint, well-maintained Scottish Inn. The inn had wonderful porches with rocking chairs out front — a perfect setup for some evening bench racing.  

The next day, we made a stop at Dale’s Wheels Through Time Motorcycle Museum in Maggie Valley, N.C., before finishing the ride to Waynesville. My last visit to the museum was 17 years ago, and my oh my how much it has grown. For those who don’t know, the museum was founded by AMA Motorcycle Hall of Famer Dale Walksler, who unfortunately passed away earlier this year.  

Dale’s son, Matt, has continued his father’s legacy of maintaining an excellent variety of motorcycles in a timeless museum setting. 

Among our activities at the rally were riding the sweeping curves of the scenic Cherohala Skyway, as well as a spirited-paced ride through Deals Gap. I was able to keep up with two younger riders on the 11-mile, 318-turn stretch of road, which made the riding very exciting and rewarding.  

It got a little hot in the riding gear, as daily temperatures topped out in the 90s for the most part — but it’s very important to wear all the gear all the time. 

The Riders Association put on a stellar rally this year. I thoroughly enjoyed the vendors and exhibits, as well as seeing old friends.  

The only downer part of the trip happened on the ride back to Youngstown. We got caught in a heavy rainstorm, during which an electrical gremlin with one of my BMW’s sensors caused the bike to stop running. I called Gene Robinson of Mathias BMW in New Philadelphia, Ohio, and within an hour a truck and trailer showed up to transport me and my bike to the Mathias BMW shop.  

Even though it was a Sunday, Gene’s crew got the bike running again that same day. Gene’s a rider through and through and has a reputation for going above and beyond for his customers — just like he did for me that day.  

My tag-team partner, Roy Dyckman, drove about 70 miles down to the shop from Canfield, Ohio, to get me and my soaking wet gear home. A turer friend cannot be found.  

Overall, it was a terrific weekend, and Alan was an excellent companion for the ride.  

Ride smart, wear all the gear all the time, and I’ll see you down the road. 

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