The Wolf’s Head Rally 2004
by Sev Pearman and Victor Wanchena
The summer is filled start to finish with rallies and events to attend. With so many choices how do you even begin to decide? Well start with what’s important. Good scenery and roads around the rally are always a must. Activities to keep you busy while not riding and a few vendors sweeten the deal. And let’s not forget lots of riding. That’s what you get with the Wolf’s Head Rally in Two Harbors, Minnesota, a family friendly rally with something to offer anyone and it’s practically in our back yard to boot.
The Wolf”s Head Rally is not your typical motorcycle rally. Instead of the focus being on riders converging on one point and remaining there for the duration of the rally, the Wolf’s Head is a rally encouraging riders to avail themselves of the many guided and unguided tours of the area. Sheldon Aubut is one of five partners in Lake Basin, the promoter of the rally. He states that the Wolf’s Head Rally offers several unique things. First is Lake Superior, the largest of our Great Lakes. If you have never ridden around Lake Superior, you will be amazed. AAA, Readers Digest and many other motorist and travel groups have called Superior’s North Shore Drive one of America’s most beautiful roads. The road hugs the shore of the big lake along the 1500 miles of shoreline. You ride through tall pine forests and along ridges that offer breathtaking views of the area. It resembles portions of the Pacific Coast Highway in temperature and feel.
Here are the basics. The Wolf’s Head Rally, now in its 7th year, is held in the Arrowhead region of Minnesota along the shores of Lake Superior. Two Harbors, MN is the picturesque home to the rally headquarters located on the fairgrounds of Lake County on the outskirts of town. The ample sized area provided plenty of room for vendors, camping and a host of activities. From the campgrounds, Lake Superior is visible in the distance. Throw up your tent and rough it, bring your RV and relax or stay in Two Harbors or Duluth and your only worry will be room service. In other words, there are accommodations for any taste or budget.
The rally begins on July 10th with the first group leaving on a circle tour of Lake Superior. The 1500-mile ride circles the lake over the course of 5 days and due to the popularity of this aspect of the rally it was split into two groups, with the second group leaving the following day. Those who chose to do the circle tour received a rally pack that included, among other things, a numbered cast belt buckle, free camping on the 3rd night of the tour, a barbecue and breakfast. Riders were also provided with the security of a chase vehicle in case of mechanical problems. A safety seminar on group riding was offered for those wishing to attend. This rally also offers a new tour, which was a circle tour of Lake of the Woods. This tour runs through remote areas of western Ontario, eastern Manitoba and northern Minnesota and offers alternate routes for those wishing to travel on gravel roads or looking for dual-sport opportunities.
Mr. Aubut points out that none of the partners had ever attended a motorcycle rally prior to their first offering in 1998. Rather than being a hindrance, it has been a blessing. Freed from convention, they were free to develop their rally based on what worked and rider input. You’ll notice that few bikes are around the rally site. The campground area is full of tents, but people are out on their bikes. “This is a rally for people who like to ride,” says Jack Eudy, another Lake Basin partner.
When the riders from the circle tours arrive back they are treated to a welcome back ceremony and bonfire that evening. Thursday the vendors open shop and the riders from the other circle tour are welcomed back. The guided and unguided day rides are available in the morning as well as a street riding safety seminar.
When you arrive you’ll find tents abound in the campground but the rally grounds seem uncharacteristically quiet as most rally goers were taking advantage of the guided and unguided tours. Both riders and vendors enjoyed a family friendly environment. This casual atmosphere continues throughout the weekend. The guided day rides took advantage of the area history and nature. As an example the first day tour went through an iron mine that is now a state park and another heads to the famous Ely International Wolf Center. Rally goers enjoyed the option of taking a guided day or heading out on their own with the various unguided tours.
Saturday morning has various activities for rally goers. There is a Christian Motorcycle Association service held first thing in the morning with a charity ride to follow. Afternoon brings a burnout contest and biker games such as slow ride and plank ride to test riders and their machines. In late afternoon the bike show winners are announced and a bike rodeo is held, always a must see. Also there is a motorcycle stunt exposition scheduled for Saturday. There is a wide range of live music being played throughout the day in one of the vendor halls. Among the other activities are a wolf howling contest, a light parade and a best campsite contest.
Sunday means the packing of tents and the shaking of hands. There was a church service held on the shores of Lake Superior for those wishing to attend. With the rally over everyone said their good-byes and parted company.
In keeping with the family friendly aspect of the rally there were no wet T-shirt contests or obscene vendors allowed. The rally had no alcohol sales on-site. Mr. Eudy said simply that nobody missed it. “Riders are welcome to bring in their own beverages if they like. We certainly do not ban alcohol at the rally. We’ve just found that it’s easier to not deal with it. No complaints either,” he grinned.
Most North Shore residents are motorcycle friendly. The community of Two Harbors has embraced the event to the point that they upgraded the fairground’s infrastructure to ensure the rally’s continued economic benefit for the community. The beautiful Lake Superior scenery lends itself to tourism and there are a variety of accommodations in the Two Harbors area. Romantic bed and breakfasts to full service chain hotels cheerfully welcome you and your bike. People from other areas of the country repeatedly comment on how Minnesotans are very motorcycle friendly. For more information call (218) 384-9936, or go to www.wolfsheadrally.com.