BMW motorcycle enthusiasts from around the world are streaming into Minnesota this month as the state plays host to the 42nd BMW Motorcycle Owners of America (MOA) International Rally.
Expect an estimated 5,000-7,000 BMW brand enthusiasts on bikes, as well as multitude of RVs towing trailers loaded with bikes, to fill a seven-block portion of the Minnesota State Fairgrounds July 24-27, with the main festivities occurring on the five blocks between Hoyt Ave. and Dan Patch Ave.
The BMW MOA, based in Ballwin, Missouri, was formed in April 1972 as an all-volunteer organization with a mission to foster communication and promote camaraderie between individual members and dozens of BMW motorcycle clubs. Since then, the BMW MOA has grown to be the largest brand specific motorcycle club in the world that is not owned and operated by the marque.
Primary member benefits include direct member-to-member communication through forums, discounts with select vendors, a high quality magazine and website with events calendar, an awards program and towing service for premium memberships, and the International Rally held annually in July.
The International Rally site rotates throughout North America; previous rallies have been held in Montana, Colorado, Oregon, Illinois, New York, Connecticut and Ontario. The 2013 event was held in Salem, Ore., where Travel Salem and the Oregon Sate Fair & Expo Center were instrumental in attracting the MOA and an economic boost of approx. $5 million.
“Attendees will be privy to more than 100 seminars, more than 100 vendors, entertainment that’s primarily local, and a chance to meet with friends and ‘family’,” Patzer said.
Seminars range from fitness and riding tips to travelogues and travel planning, technical learning and service sessions, etc.
Riders in need of parts, garments or accessories will have a wealth of options to choose from, as there will be more than 100 vendors in attendance. Buy a Schuberth lid, or let the folks from Touratech attach your newly purchased luggage or suspension.
Want to plan two-wheel travel? There’ll be representatives ready to fill you in on trips to Alaska, the Alps, Australia, the Balkans, Colombia, Costa Rica, the Czech Republic, Ecuador, Germany, Hungary, the Iron Range, New Zealand, Peru, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and more destinations.
As for entertainment, music is to be provided nightly by The Sudden Lovelys, Lamont Cranston, Jonah & The Whales, Crankshaft & The Gear Grinders, and The Mustang Sally Band.
BMW Motorrad will have more than two-dozen motorcycles available for guided test rides and offer demonstrations via the BMW Performance Center. There’ll also be “Gears” training for young riders, as well as on- and off-pavement training for adults.
Local suppliers involved include Leo’s South, Moon Motorsports and Dr. Mudspringer. They’ll be joined on-location by retailers from California, Kentucky, Maryland and Missouri.
Closing ceremonies are in the Warner Coliseum. “That’ll consist of some more entertainment riders are sure to enjoy, various awards, and the announcement of major door prize winners,” Patzer said.
Meet The Locals
BMW owners like to ride. As a result, the Iron Butt Association has teamed up with the BMW MOA for a special SaddleSore 1000, with the ride finishing at the Rally site. Riders can begin anytime between 12:01 a.m. Saturday, July 19 and 11:00 a.m. Thursday, July 24 from any location more than 1,000 miles from St Paul. When registering for this special SS1000, you can simply enter the cities your route will use or select one of many predetermined start locations. For more information and to register, visit www.IronButt.com/moa
Riders also will be arriving in the Twin Cities as a part of the weeklong GS Giant Tour (www.GSGIant.com), an event that leads folks to the Rally site from along the Trans MN Adventure Trail, along the Trans WI Adventure Trail, and from across Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.
As for day trips, BMW MOA has suggested visitors utilize the county roads of northern Washington County and MN 95 along the St. Croix River through the towns of Stillwater, Marine on St. Croix and Taylors Falls. Since there is some major construction happening in that area, MMM suggests visitors instead aim their wheel south out of St. Paul, on a 180-mile round trip to Nelson, Wis. Of course, any motorcyclist visiting Minnesota will want to make the 300-mile round trip blast to Point Park, Aerostich and other destinations in Duluth.
Wishes & More
Wishes & More serves as the Rally’s main charity for 2014. Wishes & More was created in 2004 to fill the gaps of other wish-granting charities serving children with life-threatening or terminal illnesses. Their goal is to not only grant wishes to children, but also to fill other areas of need for this service population, from items such as nursery equipment and bedding to travel funds for grandparents unable to visit a sick child. The organization also provides a Scholarship of Hope to kids fortunate enough to be in remission, and present $1,000 scholarships to assist in furthering educations.
Sadly, there won’t be an opportunity for the general public to walk the venue since everyone needs to be a registered attendee. Not registered? There’s still time. The fee for MOA members is $50. The non-member Rally fee is $70. Children ages 6-15 enter for $10. Visit BMWMOA.org/TheRally.aspx for more information and registration.