by Thomas Day
Minnesota Rained on Moto Guzzi’s Parade
Members of the Moto Guzzi National Owner’s Club (MGNOC) met for their annual rally at Money Creek Camp Ground, near Houston, MN, over the weekend of August 17-19. Unfortunately, Minnesota had plans that didn’t include fair weather. While the weather report called for rain, nothing indicated possible flooding. Everyone was in for a surprise.
The first two days supplied the Italian motorcycle fans with beautiful weather and exactly what they had expected in events and riding. Saturday started off cloudy and it rained intermittently most of the day. Still, most of the folks at the event had come prepared for Minnesota’s unpredictable weather. By late afternoon, the rain fell hard. And when the campsite’s restaurant closed, the owner left the dining room open for anyone who felt the need to be inside during the storm. Later that evening, a Houston police officer arrived with a bus and an offer to ferry anyone who wanted to go to a meeting hall-turned-temporary hostel. When only three campers got on the bus, the offer was then rescinded because the officer didn’t think it would be worth opening the hall for only three people.
About that time, the road that intersected the lower half of the campground turned into a fast moving river. By 9pm, the downpour had turned into a flash flood that washed away motorcycles, camping equipment, and tossed trailers and 30-ft RVs into the trees.
Saturday night, several folks moved from the lower campground to the restaurant, parking their bikes on the higher ground that surrounded the swimming pool. When that area began to flood, only a few were able to continue moving their vehicles to higher ground. Several motorcycles were abandoned as the water quickly swamped the restaurant and made escape to the higher campground nearly impossible on foot, and completely impossible by motorcycle. Estimates of 15-22 inches of rainfall in the two days were blamed for the flash flooding.
Dozens of motorcycles were swamped. Many were totaled in the flood. The Moto Guzzi national distributor brought a collection of 16 new bikes for the participants to ride during the event and that entire inventory was lost, along with the semi and trailer used to haul the bikes. At least two dozen of the participant’s motorcycles were damaged or destroyed, including several rare vintage Moto Guzzis.
Seven people were killed by the southeastern Minnesota flooding. It was miraculous that no one was hurt at the rally. Although several people were at risk due to the fast moving water and vehicles tossed about in the current, acts of heroism and uncommon common sense prevented any loss of life at Money Creek. One rally participant, John Henry, was wading through waist-deep water when he tripped and was submerged in the current. Someone reached into the raging muck, hauled him back to his feet, and kept him moving until he was back under his own power. He felt he’d have likely drowned without that assistance, but doesn’t know whom to thank for the rescue.
According to the Winona Daily News, “The storm damage was evident at the nearby Money Creek Campground, where a picnic table — benches and all — was stuck in the branches of a tree and a trailer was practically vertical, resting atop a pickup truck that was covered in mud. A camper vehicle was smashed into a tree, and at least a dozen motorcycles were tossed about in the mud.” One participant said, “The camp was heavily flooded at the office/restaurant with water marks as high as my neck inside the dining area . . .” Much of the flood water was contaminated from feedlot runoff; it was literally “a slurry of waste.”
The next day, half of Minnesota Highway 76 between Money Creek and Houston was washed away. A local farmer cleared fallen trees and rubble away with his tractor, allowing some of the motorcyclists who had camped on high ground to escape the next day.
Although the people involved might be uncomfortable with being called “heroes,” there were many acts of heroism Saturday night as the Moto Guzzi crowd risked their lives and property to help others escape to higher ground. Leaving their equipment and motorcycles to the flood, they literally carried some of the campground’s permanent residents to safety as the water rose to levels that threatened their lives. Many of those trailer homes were washed away along with outbuildings and the campground’s pavilion. The fact that no one died at Money Creek is, in large part, due to the quick thinking and bravery of those motorcyclists.
First Female and American Domination at Red Bull FIM Motocross Of Nations
After 60 years of Motocross of Nations, the first female competitor is in the races. Puerto Rico’s Tarah Gieger made history for international motocross and Team Puerto Rico at Maryland’s Budds Creek Motocross Park. Gieger raced in the MX2 class, for Team Puerto Rico (also making first appearance in the Nations) riding a Yamaha YZF 250. Gieger lives in Florida and has won the Loretta Lynn’s Amateur three times and has twice placed in the top three in the USA WMA series. She finished 29th in her qualifying race, eight laps behind race winner Ryan Villopoto.
On the men’s front, the first day of qualifying heats saw the US team (Ricky Carmichael (MX1), Ryan Villopoto (MX2) and Tim Ferry (Open)) dominating the qualifying heats, averaging almost 30 seconds ahead of the second place finishers. The home crowd cheered them all the way around the 1500 long meter circuit. Team South Africa finished in second place, Italy qualified third, and the Aussies rounded up the fourth spot for the day.
Sunday was USA all the way in front of 75,000 fans. In the first race (MX1 + MX2), Ryan Villopoto took first, followed by Austrailan Chad Reed in second, and Ricky Carmichael in third. Carmichael crashed at the second corner and worked his way back into the top three by the finish. In the second round (MX2 + Open), Ryan Villopoto was again in the top spot, Belgian Ken de Dycker took second, Brit Tommy Searle was third, and Tim Ferry came in fourth. In the final moto (MX1 + Open), Carmichael and Ferry took the top two slots.
In celebration of the Motocross of Nations return to the US after twenty years absence, the US team locked up the Chamberlain Trophy for the USA for the 18th time. The French team came in second, despite losing two starting members to injuries. Belgium took third, after Ken De Dycker crashed and was injured in Saturday’s qualifying race. De Dycker finished second on Saturday, behind Villopoto, and placed eleventh on Sunday. Belgium’s MX1 World Champion Steve Ramon took fourth and eighth. Italy took fourth, even though the MX2 World Champion, Antonio Cairoli, crashed and DNF’d both of his final heats.
Marketing Isn’t His Game and Neither Is Motorcycling
Electric motorcycle designer, Bill Dube, put on a weird show in LA. Attempting to demonstrate a “burnout,” Dube screwed the pooch and rocketed himself and his prototype electric motorcycle out of control into the side of a van. Ironically, Dube named his bike the “KillaCycle.” Since the inventor performed his stunt wearing a farmer’s cap and street clothes, he was lucky to have avoided justifying his product’s name in an obituary. The KillaCycle is powered by lithium-ion cells made by A123 Systems. The bike can do 0-60mph in 0.97 seconds and has a top speed of 158mph! If you watch the video link, you’ll see how fast Dube took off when he made his dash for disaster for a local television stunt. Dube is a “government scientist” (which probably explains a lot) and is, obviously, not the usual pilot of his motorcycle. When he hooks up, the bike practically vanishes as he heads toward spectators and a parked van. He’d hoped to do a burnout, but had to settle for an Evel Knievel-style failed stunt. “I had not intended the bike to move in the soapy water, just spin the tire,” he says in his blog. The crash tossed him into the air and he landed on his back. He was conscious and conversational when the paramedics loaded him into the ambulance. Dube was doing “just fine” and is “just a bit scraped up” after being release from a Los Angeles hospital. Echoing squids around the world, as he lay on his back waiting for the ambulance, Dube muttered, “The throttle stuck.” Since he’s the inventor, designer, machinist, and assembler of this vehicle, it seems like a lamer excuse than usual. See the whole thing at www.tgdaily.com/content/view/33853/113.
Eleven Wild and Crazy Guys
We’re here on our way to Aberdeen,” Mulder said. “We figured we’d get off the highway because we thought it was time for a cappuccino.” Eleven Netherlander (Dutch) motorcyclists stopped in Fergus Falls on their way around the world in 100 days. They began this adventure on September 8th, shipping their motorcycles to New York. From there, they rode to Niagara Falls into Canada, where they made their way to Minnesota via Thunder Bay, Ontario. “The best coffees are in the towns along the way – not at places along the highway,” Hans Heinsius said. Edy Breukers added, “That’s why we drove to your downtown – to get a good cup of coffee.” Their American history was a little off, since “We stopped at your museum hoping to find some cowboys and Indians,” said Breukers. They were bummed that Minnesota didn’t produce much in the way of cowboy literature or postcards to ship home.
The BMW-riding Dutchmen explored the museums and commented on the Fergus Falls architecture and landscaping before heading off toward Aberdeen and Spearfish, S.D. They planned on taking a day to view Mount Rushmore before driving on to Spearfish Canyon. At Deadwood, they hoped to see some real cowboy history. Wonder if they’ll settle for the ruins of goldmines and whorehouses in place of cowboy stuff?