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Please post your Rally photos here. Provide any comments and/or suggestions. What went well and what went bad. What we can improve on.

Thanks and hope to see you next year.
 

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Was the event not a success? I have seen very little chatter on here or pics, that isn't the norm........
 

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Eastern V-Strom Rally

The Ugly, the Good and the Bad

Forecast constantly changed before we arrived but Thursday was a fine spring day with nary a drop of rain.

First the Ugly, yes I had my picture taken in front of a steel dragon. Note that those swords are free standing and one of several ways to settle differences on the Dragon. We rode the Dragon twice on Thursday when we arrived. Hardly any traffic and beautiful weather. Riding those curves I was quite rusty as this is only the second time I've been on my bike in three years due to an injury.



The Good

Strom Lurker met me at my house and we rode to the event through rural areas. It was great lots of little twisty roads but mainly nice rural state highways.

The roads in the area, and I don't just mean the Dragon, are so good that the only way I can describe them is water skiing in a cove. No waves just smooth water. The more you ride them the better you plot the line in and hold the line out. The more you look ahead in the curve. I didn't ride a single bad road the entire trip. And the company of V-Strom riders was stellar. I'm, as everyone knows, a cynic. Everyone was friendly and ready to do one thing above all others, share knowledge and go riding on awesome roads!

What a museum! I can already see that a trip to this museum is now a standard trip for this event. I can't imagine not going. A whole building full of vintage motorcycles, some cars and motorized bikes and.....not only do they all work the guy jumps on random bikes, cranks them and rides them around. And if that isn't good enough there is a story to go with this bike that nobody walked away from until the guy was finished. Imagine you could see 21 years into the future and see what advances and upgrades were on the current motorcycles in 2038? This bike was found in pristine condition constructed with features that didn't come out on motorcycles until 21 years later, and it wasn't constructed by any motorcycle company. Come to the event next year and experience and hear this for yourself! I'll give you a peek at the bike.



The Bad

Thursday Friday and Saturday had phenomenal weather. That caught up with us on Sunday morning at 3 am. Some people left on Saturday before dark to miss the storm as much as possible and some left Sunday in the storm. Strom Lurker and I decided to ride back Sunday and since my plotted route was to parallel I40 and I26 but not actually get on them we talked it over and opted for a quicker route on the interstates. My ancient Garmin Quest took us over and up when, for that route, we should have went up and over. I think it was trying to protect me from myself. We still hit I40 before the big jam up when I40 hits I26. I had trouble seeing due to all the mist from the tires. I was in the lead and while I passed some slower cars I was in fear for my life and mostly just stayed behind cars in the slow lane. Then I saw the exit that puts us off before the big traffic jam when it meets I26. Then I went the wrong way. When we hit I26 i thought it would be better but I was still blind and almost got run over by a truck that didn't know how to merge. From now on it rains, I go side roads. Those I can see on. I apologize to Strom Lurker as we were riding hard and fast up till the rain. I know I put him behind going home. I was glad when I pulled off and he went on so I could just slowly ease the last 20 miles and he can kick it up to a good pace.

All that being said, wouldn't have missed it for the world and will be there next year.
 

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Ok, I haven't had time to post any pics yet but I can just say that everyone I met had a good time. Rain was forecast for most of the event but never showed up until late Saturday evening. Storms during Saturday night but I rode 300 miles in only light rain to my home in North Central Kentucky.
I will say that on Thursday coming into the Iron Horse I ride the Dragon mostly because it is the quickest route, I never passed another motorcycle at 10am Thursday while on the Dragon. Going home at 7am Sunday again not one other vehicle was seen the whole route. So now you know when to ride the Dragon.
Mark444 may add some statistics later but I noticed that about 30% or more of the attendees were new folks just looking for new adventures. New friendships were made and old ones were enjoyed once more. No V-Strom incidents that I know of and Thursday through Saturday were almost perfect with Saturday being almost HOT. I cannot remember another Eastern Rally that had moderate temperatures like this one. Sometimes it has been known to snow.
The museum trip was "FANTASTIC" to say the least and Dale the owner of the museum was a great guide for our group. Dale went WAY out of his way to make us welcome. (see remarks by Mark444 for further details on the museum trip). We have been invited back to the museum by Dale and may possibly include another Hot Dog cookout by Mark if we can talk him into it again.
As usual the Iron Horse staff and owners John and Charlene were the best hosts you could ever ask for, treating us to our own meeting room upstairs in the Horse each night so we could have our own BS sessions and information sharing. We also had some prizes/awards that were provided or leveraged by Mark444 and Stalky Tracker for the event. A "BIG" Thank You to them both for again helping our event be one of the best in the country. I do want to say it was nice to meet all the new Rally attendees that were there for their first adventure with us. We hope you all had a good time and will visit us again next year on May 17-20th 2018 (official 2018 Eastern Rally dates.) Make your reservations and schedule that vacation now. More later after I unpack and settle in.
Prowler
 

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David here. You all know me as the youngest Strommer at the meetups!

My trip started Thursday when I left AL. I headed to Chattanooga TN for lunch and had some amazing noodles.

https://1drv.ms/i/s!AlcJTxprKOwohD6hF9Z70oR4Fv7b

I made it to the IronHorse Thursday evening around 7PM. It was a good ride once I left the interstate and had 2 hours of amazing backroads, including the Tail of The dragon while no one else was there.

https://1drv.ms/i/s!AlcJTxprKOwohD9rJdBhJgEFmvNk

https://1drv.ms/i/s!AlcJTxprKOwohEDPXyXuVi4v2ClI

https://1drv.ms/i/s!AlcJTxprKOwohEFxA4L-k6U3vfCk

I got a bunkbed at the lodge. How did I end up with a room with no guys that snore?? I was definitely happy with the room at the price that I paid. Last year, I stayed in a tent, but that required a lot more stuff to pack onto the bike. Next year, I will bunk as well!

Friday, 5 of us rode the Cherohala Skyway a couple times. The skyway was simply great. Another great day of riding.

https://1drv.ms/i/s!AlcJTxprKOwohEIPQFAie9Wnop-m

https://1drv.ms/i/s!AlcJTxprKOwohEPBm7D_l9HxmN5b

https://1drv.ms/i/s!AlcJTxprKOwohEQCkikC1wOBc7dZ

Saturday started out, just like Friday, with breakfast from the great guys at the IronHorse. I then got together with the group that headed to the Wheels Through Time museum. I am not a big museum guy but I still thought this place was great. Dale was a great host.

https://1drv.ms/i/s!AlcJTxprKOwohEW9jhM9DAR15pUN

After the museum and hotdogs, we headed back to the IronHorse. Then, cloveit and I went over to the dragon to watch the circus for a bit.
We got back for a delicious steak dinner. I had already packed up my stuff and was ready to leave as soon as finishing dinner. The plan was to get back home before the storms came in but the plan backfired on me.
I was about an hour away from the lodge searching for a Dollar General. I stopped and grabbed a $5 rain poncho that I taped over my riding jacket in the hopes to make it more water resistant. I also threw on my waterproof overpants and gloves just in time for it to start raining. I started back on the road, knowing I had 3 hours of wet riding ahead of me. The poncho was a success, but it lacked sleeves. My arms got wet fast, and my boots filled with water in no time. My head, torso, hands, and legs stayed warm and dry though. I rode for another hour until I was getting lower on gas. I stopped for 5 minutes, still raining, and filled up on gas knowing that it would be enough to get home. I headed out with just another 20 miles before getting to the interstate. I rode the next two hours straight without a single stop because I just wanted to go home, shower, and sleep in my own bed.
200 miles after leaving the Ironhorse, 4 hours of riding, 3 hours in the rain, and a total of 2 short stops later, I made it home. I drug my soggy self into the house, took off my dripping gear, showered and went to bed. Then I spent pretty much all Sunday sitting and recuperating. The trip totaled out to just shy of 700 miles.

FAQ
Do I regret leaving Saturday night? More yes than no. Once I figured out that I was riding right into the front of the storm, I had second thoughts about leaving. I did it anyway, but I think that it would have been better to wait until Sunday and ride in the rain while there was daylight. I was practically riding blind a few times. As soon as the sun went down Saturday, the rain came pouring.

Did I enjoy the trip? YES! Thursday morning through Saturday evening was a blast. Even Saturday night on my way home wasn't terrible. I enjoy a good adventure. Now I can say that I rode 3 hours in the rain at night. It was an adventure for sure!

Would I pay more for better WI-FI at the IronHorse? Yes. Bunk beds are $30 bucks a night. I would be okay paying around $35 for better internet. Being able to communicate with my friends and family are important to me.

Will I be back next year? Sure will! I hope to have a more farkled Strom by then. Side cases!

Thank you for a great time, ladies and gentlemen. I look forward to next year. Ride safe!
 
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Alright, I finally got home. 2300 miles in the Jeep, around 500 miles on the L2 Strom. Got hit on the way home in Louisville yesterday in that big rain.

I thought the WI FI was fine, so I want $20 camp sites instead! That was awesome and could have been $40 or more.

My cell phone sucks and doesn't know how to keep photos straight. Last one was on Wednesday at the north side of the Dragon, selfies are like taking pictures in a mirror! I spent most of my time on the BRP since it was a first for me. First one is @ 6000 ft BRP and water fall is on the moonshine south side.
 

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I wanted to look at a few things before I gave my opinion on better WiFi for the Ironhorse Lodge. What they are looking at now is, from what we were told, a huge investment to bring in a solid wired connection and then a huge monthly fee forever to maintain it. Basically a T-1 line.

In my IT experience that would be a massive waste of resources. I understand their wanting to offer things to their customers that other lodges lack, but this shouldn't be one of those things for several reasons.

1) It's just WiFi at the campsite and unless they want to spend another large sum of money to wire the campus you will still have to go to the main lodge.

2) When going riding your phone still won't work except in limited areas. It's those big things with trees on them.

3) Many of the campers really don't care if they stay connected 24/7 and if they wanted to they could just get a Verizon burner phone.

4) If Ironhorse really wanted to offer WiFi to the few that just have to stay connected a better option for them would be to contact Verizon and get setup as a MiFi rental agency. Let the people that want to be connected 24/7 with high speed pay for it. A typical MiFi national rental is about $75 a gig. I feel confident they would not rent may of these.

5) The truth be told if everyone in camp had access to a full T-1 and started uploading a bunch of photos it's still going to choke.

And for the option I would select if I owned the Ironhorse myself

First multiple signs to educate campers on how to use a low speed internet connection for the best throughput for everyone. If you are able to tell people not to flush wipes and put them in the trash can you should not be embarrassed to tell them to wait until they get home to send that 6 gig picture of you standing in front of a Deals Gap dragon.

I would contact a company and explore the feasibility of erecting up a radio tower and installing a commercial cell phone booster inside the lodge. Because if the phones work in the lodge nobody is going to care about WiFi, but probably only Verizon is going to boost. Then offer a $50 per gig secure WiFi running off a Verizon MiFi hot spot for that tiny amount of customers that just gotta have it, and that price is the national standard and keeps the line clear. What you don't want to do is offer high speed at a low price because then everyone buys it and it won't be high speed and all you will hear is bitchin, which I would not want. It's cheaper to offer it at a high price and not sell any of it. There are software / hardware packages like CloudTrax to track the usage for when the guest checks out and gets his bill.

Ask people if they want better facilities or fast WiFi and they are all going to say better facilities. With the advances in cell technology soon that landline will be a worthless lump of old technology that you spent money you will have wished you invested in your property because that is why people come to your business.
 

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Kudos to all who worked on the Gathering (Mark444, Stalky Tracker, Prowler, Clovett and any others I missed) for your time and efforts so the rest of us could better enjoy the Ironhorse and the good riding in the area.

Had a good time and I'm looking forward to next year.
 

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Organized Rides

The trip to the museum was the first organized ride ever for this event. Everyone that made it had a great time but now lets face the reality, not everyone made it!

Why and what can we do about that.

First the ride to the museum is not a bad ride in itself. The problem is we don't ride well in a group and as we hit red lights and other obstacles the people in the back tend to veer off and go riding because they don't know how to get to the location. While we could all buy pirate suits which draw up in the crotch area and force you to ride closer together I would like to make a different suggestion.

Probably a third of the riders, including myself, had GPS units. For organized rides in the future slips of paper with the address and / or GPS coordinates on them passed out the night before the organized ride in the meeting where we talk about the ride would be a good thing. That way if you lose the group ahead of you, just wait for the next group that splintered off to come along. Note this won't work for the last guy so if you start growing stubble waiting on a group you should probably go riding.

Also I might suggest talking about and informing people about the awesome GPX route files you have on your rally website. Had I known about these they would have been in my Garmin ahead of the rally, and they certainly will already be in my GPS next year. This is half of that collection. I believe the location of these files is easternvstromrally dot something.

3 State (NC - GA - SC) Loop 1
3 State (NC - GA - SC) Loop 2
Cherohala Skyway - TN 360 - Tail of the Dragon
Deals Gap - Suches Loop
Dragon - Ducktown - Cherohala Loop
Dragon - Foothills - Great Smokey Mountain Loop
 

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Misc Rambling Thoughts.........

No order of importance.......things just popping thru my feeble brain:

1. "Thankyou's" to The Iron Horse Lodge/Facility. John/Charlene + their Staff bend over backwards for us, year after year. Kudo's to "Stalky Tracker"......my go-to guy for rally advice on how to handle something. He is quiet, very knowledgable, and a true long-distance traveler on his strom. I call him "the Man behind the Curtain" (The Great Oz). Please send a PM or email to Crazy Fox Coffees and member "Mastery" (Riding Journals), both over on the ADV forum, thanking them for their Door Prizes. Also thanks to Kitesurfer's wife for donating the hats.
2. I'm not going to comment on the Wi-Fi thing as I still use a Flip-phone, have T-Mobile, and don't pick up a signal anyway from Stecoah.
3. Thanks to Les (Prowler) for MC'ing the Nightly Announcements........CLovett for finding a "Best Farkled" candidate.......and "others" who came up to me and said "what can I do to help out today". If I start naming names, I will surely miss someone.
4. LOTS of First-Timers at this rally. Your cherry has now been busted. We had approximately 55-60 total attendees this year.
5. We (the Rally) was interviewed by Mike Gouge of Blue Ridge Motorcycling Magazine, a VERY nicely done quarterly magazine similar to Road Runner, but confined to our riding area........the Eastern USA. We hope the Rally will make the next (or following) issue.

https://www.blueridgemotorcyclingmagazine.com/gallery/

6. Les and CLovett (I think??) were interviewd by a Public Relations Outfit (Advertising) that The Iron Horse has hired to video/photo the facility. We might see something concerning Vstroms in a future IH brochure??
7. Group Ride to Wheels thru Time Museum......all I can say is it rated an "A" for me. Dale (owner) gave us use of the outside Pavillion, chairs, tables, and Grill (if we needed it) to cook hotdogs......plus a chilled watermelon!!! Andy, the English Gent on staff who led some of the walks/talks inside the museum, seemed very interested in next year's Rally. He has traveled the world (Africa twice) and thinks the vstrom is THE bike for that kind of adventure. I will post more pics of the Museum later......and we should consider this an Annual Group Ride??
8. OK, now for my "passing the baton" plea. We need 3-4 folks to step up next year and take over some activities so Stalky and myself can go riding more. possible "positions" include: Tshirt coordinator, SWAG (Door Prize) coordinator, Awards/trophies if we elect to keep handing them out, Liason between the IH and the Vstrom community, and possible activities cat-herder. A couple of folks came to me with suggestions for next year and someone needs to coordinate all this: Rally Stickers (like Realshelby donated in 2016), a photo in front of the Lodge of each rider standing in front of his bike (to put a name with a face/bike), possible scavenger hunt of somekind??, Group Ride to go WW Rafting on the Nantahala, getting "local" dealerships involved with rally.......keep thinking outside the box differently of what we have done in the past. We need new ideas, or chance becoming "stale" with the Rally.
9. We brought a "Hooker" to the rally this year and it worked out great......everyone was "satisfied" one way or another.
10. We had the pleasure of meeting the infamous "Go-Go-Gadget" riding his "covered" Goldwing into camp. The top over the pilot served as a trampoline for toddlers as well as keeping the sun off the rider.
11. We had a good mix of ADV bikes present: Africa Twin, new DL1000's, BMW GS, I saw (3) other sidecars there besides Korney's rig, couple of Yami Tenor-rays, KTM's/a Buell and Trumps. Skip (the Snowbird) had his Spyder there and 2-3 Slingshots came thru the parking lot during the weekend. Of course the ZCar Rally was held at the same time as our's and they were EVERYWHERE. I made a note to myself: never let another member ride my bike in the SS Race. "Spokes" kicked my arse (timewise) on my own bike!! Anyone want to buy a nice little Honda CB500X "Vstronda"....??? ("Spokes" turned out to be my bunkhouse roomie for the weekend and it was a pleasure chatting with him during the day.....he kept me in stitches the whole time. And he really does Love Shinko Tires deep down inside, no matter what he tells you. It was good to room with "old timer" Scott Bonds this year, who sawed enough firewood to keep the IH warm for the Winter. :kiss:
12. SS Race........only 4 folks wanted to compete. A number I was disappointed in, and I guess we need to rethink next year if we want to have it. The first year we had about 2 dozen entries.....some were Gals on cruiser bikes.
13. Winning number for the "guess the widgets in the jar" game had to be closest to "210".......with Stromlurker (or Ms. Stromlurker??) having the Best guess.

Photos will come in a day or two. I use "Webresizer.com" to shrink them acceptable size.
The 2018 Rally will be the same weekend as this year.......weekend between Mother's Day and Memorial Day. Put it on your calendar NOW. If you want to keep your cabin/bunkhouse reservation that you had this year, let the IH know ASAP.
I'm sure I will "remember"other schtuff to post as I re-live the last 4 days here at work in my mind..........

mark444
 

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I want to send a big thank you to everyone for allowing me to interview a few of you for Blue Ridge Motorcycling Magazine. I've been a longtime lurker on this form and a brief visitor at previous rallies. It was great to finally meet some of you.

I had a wonderful time hanging out with my fellow V-Strommers, and you can bet I'll be back next year. Look for the article in the fall issue on news stands around Labor Day.

Thanks again,
Michael Gouge
Editor-in-Chief, Blue Ridge Motorcycling Magazine
 

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Kitesurfer, I was wondering if you made it. did we talk at the meet? If not, I really was hoping to say hello again.

Mark and others did a great job again. Next year, pending life, I plan on being one of the meeter and greeters so Mark can get some riding in!
 

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Kitesurfer, I was wondering if you made it. did we talk at the meet? If not, I really was hoping to say hello again.
.....a face only a mother could love......The Kitesurfer.
 

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Dang, we met a couple of years ago as I was heading out to Colorado for a WestFest, I believe. I'm glad he made it there but it's too bad we didn't sit down and gab.

Me and Mrs. Lurker got a cabin this year. She really appreciated it and is extremely excited to make it back next year.

The riding was excellent and like many others have mentioned already, the roads were pretty much empty on Thurs/Friday. Even with 500+ Z cars prowling the roads. I got to ride Cherohala this year and was so very impressed with it. Tarmac is so smooth and basically had it to ourselves until Saturday. Had great riding partners throughout the trip. I was a bit rusty and tentative due to my incident last year so I appreciated everyone dealing with my slowness! I didn't take too many pictures this year because I was mainly focused on riding and enjoying the time with my Lady.

Maybe it was smaller than years past, but the riders who showed up had a great time and new friends were made and old friendships renewed. I can't wait to get back next year!!!
 
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