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Home2019 GMR Review


BMW ON Logo transparentThe cool early spring mornings of the north Georgia mountains open the portal to some of the absolutely best road and dual sport riding the east coast has to offer, and 2019 did not disappoint for those attending the 29th annual Georgia Mountain Rally sponsored by the BMW Motorcycle Club of Georgia. As in recent years, the 2019 GMR was held at the Georgia Mountain Fairgrounds located at the base of the mountain range and right on the shores of beautiful Lake Chatuge in scenic Hiawassee, Georgia. The fairgrounds provides top notch facilities in addition to the beautiful lake side camping included with the rally fee. For those that want more than the stunning lakeside sunset and sunrise views outside their tent flaps, plenty of RV accommodations were available, as well as the full-service Lake Chatuge Lodge literally adjacent to the fairgrounds. Our hosts at the fairgrounds go well above and beyond to make sure the GMR is able to meet the needs of all our guests, including onsite concessions, full service bathrooms with hot showers and plenty of portable privies brought in to make sure nobody has far to go. This is all part of their mission to support the Lions club and other local charities while promoting tourism in north Georgia.

There are many reasons to start your riding season at the GMR, but of course one of the best reasons is the incredible ride opportunities. Despite the erroneously dire warnings of weather prognosticators, the weather was mostly great, with some storms Saturday afternoon, but fantastic riding weather outside of those few hours. This year we had a lot of interest in our group rides, especially the Motolombia sponsored ride lead by Alejandro Alvarez. Kyle Campbell, from Hourglass Cycles, lead a challenging dual sport ride Saturday morning. Other street rides were led by local author Hawk Hagebak and our club ride captain, Scott Lavern, providing exciting twists and turns through some of the vast local serpentine routes available in the region. These routes include the beautiful Cherohala Skyway, Deals Gap, the ever-popular Blue Ridge Parkway, Wolfpen Gap, the Richard B. Russell scenic highway, War Woman, and many many more.

Great food is yet another factor in the GMR’s appeal. On Friday evening, freshly prepared chili, both vegetarian and carne, was ladled out by our club volunteers who were led by our kilt clad Scottish Chili Captain, Ian “Scoobes” Scobie, and also included Jonathan Lovett, from BMW McDonough, our newest dealer to help sponsor the GMR. Days began with a hearty rally pancake and sausage breakfast, and of course all the free coffee anyone needed. On Saturday afternoon, skies cleared just in time for Kyle Campbell, from Hourglass Cycles, to serve up a fabulous steak dinner from Buckhead Beef, and grilled to perfection by cooks that know exactly how each person wanted their steak. That’s right, everyone gets to grill their own exactly the way they want it.

While everyone was grilling and eating their steaks, the Dave West Experience band provided a great bluesy rock atmosphere that went perfectly with the food. From dinner, we transitioned to the music hall for some unbelievably fantastic prizes. The GMR has the absolute best sponsors that go all out to provide some the best prizes available at any rally. We especially want to thank Bobby Wooldridge, from Wooly's Cycles of Atlanta (formerly known as BMW Motorcycles of Atlanta) ; Kyle Campbell of Hourglass Cycles; Jonathan Lovett of BMW Motorcycles of McDonough; and Mike Thomsen of Motolombia. Grand prizes included: a ten-day guided tour through Colombia including bike and accommodations, a full Klim suit, Schuberth and Klim helmets, a BMW Motorrad Garmin VI GPS and much more.

For those looking for more than great prizes, fantastic food, and the best riding on the east coast, the GMR offers motorcycle related programs throughout the event. While we missed our good friend Jack Riepe due to health issues (see you in 2020 Jack!), we had plenty of other programs. David Mays provided practical instruction on how to best use the continuing advancements of motorcycle adjacency technology, including Go Pro, GPS and Bluetooth technologies, helping us all to get the most from our rides using the latest technology available. Alicia Mitchel led us through her specially moto-designed yoga based Fit-2-Ride exercise workshops, I’m not sure I’ve ever sweat more or felt as good at the end of an exercise class as that (thanks Alicia!). Local moto-author Hawk Hagebak shared his “Code of the Road,” a practical and humorous overview of his approach to riding.

As always, these events take a lot of hard work from more folks than I could ever mention in the space for this article, but I especially want to thank a few folks that poured a lot of work in long before the rally ever started, including our club president Susan Benson, Vice President Ian Feinberg, Treasurer Joe Baker, Chili Meister Ian “Scoobes” Scobie, ride captain Scott Lovern, and communication director Mark Stiles. I would also like to thank all the club volunteers who gave their rally time to help everyone else have a great experience. And of course, the great rides, the thrill of winning, the renewed and new friendships and all of the comradery could not be had without those who attended, so I especially thank everyone who took the time to attend and enjoy everything that the GMR has to offer. We look forward to seeing everyone at the 30th Annual Georgia Mountain Rally in May 2020 for more great food, relevant programs, the best rides, good friends, and an outstanding time overall, so please start planning now!

David Will
2019 Georgia Mountain Rally – Rally Meister

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