Robert Pandya, a motorcycle industry veteran and founder of the GiveAShift initiative that initiated the fund drive, says “motorcyclists are incredibly generous”.
The fund-raising project should go some of the way to dispelling the image of riders flouting social distancing and risking the spread of the coronavirus through the community and taking it back home when they return after the nine-day rally.
Organisers expect about 250,000 to attend the rally which is half the usual crowd.
Sturgis Mayor Mark Carstensen says they have increased cleaning schedules and cancelled many group activities. Following the rally, a mass Covid-19 testing program will be held.
Michael Osterholm, head of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, says the rally could cause a major virus spread.
“Come mid-August to late August, early September, Sturgis will have one hell of an imprint on this country,” he says.
Meanwhile, the Sturgis Meals on Wheels (SMoW) program has already been stretched thin by the pandemic increasing need and reducing resources, says manager Jamie Helms.
“With the uncertainty of the world right now, our seniors depend on us just so that they don’t have to worry about leaving their homes where they feel safe,” he says.
“With our ageing population taking the city advice to quarantine for a couple of weeks after the rally, we are a needed service now more than ever, but we will get it done as we always do.”
Cash donations will be accepted under the blue tent at 1230 Lazelle St between 2-5pm from today (8 August) until next Saturday.
Click here for the official GoFundMe page for those who chose not to attend the event.
“We respect any riders who choose not to come to the event due to Covid, but encourage them to ‘donate a tank’ to thank and help the local seniors who have seen the rally become the most famous of its kind in the world,” Robert says.
“Supporting the Sturgis Meals on Wheels program is a natural fit for any biker and will have a hugely positive impact for local senior citizens.”
The world is changing—and fast. The rise of social media has placed us just a few clicks away from sharing any harebrained thought with the collective hive mind. This newfound power can be a honed, double-edged sword if you’re hoping to get your kicks in the murky gray areas of legality, ideally without falling under the ever-watchful eye of Johnny Law. Such was the ballad of the Alley Sweeper Urban Enduro.
This moto rally can be traced back to its 2009 inception by the hands of Portland, Oregon’s Sang-Froid Riding Club, after club member Zac Christensen got the notion that an urban enduro through the city’s less-affluent neighborhoods and sprawling network of derelict alleys might be a good idea. Where some might see a troubling disparity in public maintenance allocation between these areas and Portland’s wealthier districts, Sang-Froid saw an opportunity for adventure in the long-forgotten back passages that fell through the cracks.
And they weren’t the only ones. Word spread through all channels of social media like wildfire, as subsequent years saw the annual run’s attendance balloon to more than 400 riders. The alleys choked to a standstill as hordes of would-be scofflaws all dove in for a piece of the action, and it became clear a tactical correction needed to be made. So in 2015, the event was “officially” shut down. Clever. Its leadership became decentralized and eventually morphed into the clandestine Alley Liberation Front. The tide receded and the hysteria fell back into obscurity as only a handful of the most dedicated miscreants set to work planning future years quietly among themselves.
Their strategy apparently worked, as the good word of the Alley Sweeper never came to me by any cliché Instagram post or wide-reaching Facebook promotion. Oh, no, my call to the Urban Enduro was conceived by a hushed whisper over a jar of moonshine, in the back of a short bus loaded to the gills with 200cc minibikes. You see, when Speedfreak Speed Shop gets together with the Gambler 500, we just can’t seem to help ourselves. “Let’s do the thing on minibikes,” Gambler Godfather Andy Munson cracked with a firewater grin. Some friend—surely the traffic courts already had a price on my head, yet he knew it wouldn’t take much more than the promise of senseless adventure to sucker me in.
So it was written, so it was done. A few weeks later I found myself on hallowed ground outside FoPo Tavern, the rally’s decade-old traditional starting point. Alongside me was a haphazardly assembled squad of guerilla fun-havers, our arguably illegal Coleman minibikes hastily camouflaged with homemade “49cc” decals and $13 bicycle safety flashers. Thrifty Southeast Asian riders would’ve stared in wonderment.
And, indeed, so did a few bystanders as I walked through the field of oil-burning dreams; a sea of dual-sport enduros of every make under the sun, easily matched by a population of either unplated or suspiciously plated dirt bikes. Not to be left out of the scramble, and true to “keep Portland weird” form, a subset of vintage bikes, mopeds, and a Ural sidecar also littered the scene. All told there were about a couple hundred participants. Eventually we made our way to the only real evidence of organization, a lone folding table with a stack of “course” maps, stickers, and event T-shirts. We were just in time, as the event unceremoniously kicked off and groups began sporadically blasting away down the street.
Further inspection of our map revealed less of a defined course, and more a vague suggestion of highlighted neighborhoods whose alleys needed liberating. Good enough for us; we ripped our pull-starts and unleashed our miniature machines on the nearest four-lane public thoroughfare.
The previously gloomy sky now pierced with daggers of morning sunlight, we joined another cluster of bikes as they veered off down a nearby side street. Surprisingly, after all the talk of irritated homeowners coming out to protest the mob of hooligans invading their neighborhoods, we were instead greeted by families either lining the sidewalks or perched over their backyard fences, happily cheering us on as we launched into the first set of alleys.
Smiles widened and cheers broke out when I picked the front wheel up past a group of kids, and into a jungle of overgrown bushes, blackberry vines, and knee-high weeds. Instantly the draw of this urban enduro made itself clear as we ripped through the undergrowth, vines and branches clawing at us like antibodies fighting off foreign intruders.
Eventually the tangle would recede, and our little 200cc motors could sing up to their de-governed, 30-whatever-mph top speed as we hilariously picked our way through a flotsam of refuse. It was a symphony of chaos. Intoxicated with glory, we dodged random cinder blocks, grimy couches, and abandoned shopping carts through the lingering curtain of two-stroke haze. Truly, this was the most sublime form of anarchy.
Soon enough though, the neighborhood fun-police got wise to the incoming waves of two-wheeled delinquents and made their opposition known. We passed a disgruntled homeowner standing in the alley in nothing but his morning bathrobe, scrutinizing us with a look of simultaneous awe and irritation. There were warnings of a guy throwing steel chairs at riders a couple of blocks away. And when we stopped on an inconspicuous side street for some minor bike repairs, we were kindly confronted by a lady who made herself known as “the one who went on the news last year to speak out against all this.” Her biggest complaints were a few minutes of noise, and some mud being splattered across the pristine gravel surface of the public right-of-way behind her home. Insistent though she was, I wasn’t hearing anything worth ceasing my onslaught of alley recreation.
So we carried on, as the day passed in a frenzy of adventure. We’d find ourselves lost in the labyrinth of overgrown passages, but it never took long to spot another band of roaming marauders to link up with. The rally, in truth, was a free-for-all perfected, and somehow all the chaos still led us to the aptly chosen finish line at the Alley Way Bar.
There awaited the final challenge for anyone all but completely lacking in self-preservation: a crudely constructed plywood jump that, to anyone on a suspensionless death machine, was more of a joke than any serious suggestion of flight without consequence. But ho! The siren song sings its promises of glory, and the call to Valhalla proved irresistible to our Speedfreak comrade and resident luck-pusher, Tyler Reitzer. Prior to that moment, I’d always wondered when we would meet an altitude that was beyond our skill level. Turns out, it’s somewhere around five and a half feet. The alley accepted its offering of broken man and machine, and glory was granted as Tyler sank into a handily presented wheelchair to the sound of onlookers’ thunderous applause. He thumbed his nose at death, and raised a final thumbs-up of defiance before being wheeled into the bar for a victory drink.
Even with his freshly scalped knees, our wounded friend was in agreement; it had been the perfect day. The smiles and thumbs-up had made up for the occasional chair-throwing protester, and the laughably senseless thrills easily compensated for any injuries sustained. This was the kind of fun that some would argue should be illegal. The kind that would’ve been quickly extinguished, had it continued above ground, a monster built of its own success and social-media hype. But thankfully the Alley Liberation Front had the foresight to know better, and take this last bastion of legally ambiguous depravity back under the radar. So, for now at least, it still lives there, safe from the outside world and ready to bestow foolish thrills upon any hooligan worth his weight in bad decisions—as long as you know where to look.
When we heard Ernie Vigil was going to compete in the 2019 NORRA Mexican 1000 rally we were not surprised. The Triumph factory frontman has been blowing people’s minds with his riding exploits aboard these British-born beasts for more than a decade. Obviously, there is a big difference between riding wheelies and drifting on a turbocharged Daytona and racing in Baja aboard a relatively stock Scrambler 1200 XE, but that’s exactly what he did.
The coolest part of the effort is that he competed under the number 278, which was a shout-out to Steve McQueen who rode a Triumph Scrambler with that same number during the 1964 ISDT. Honoring the man who helped make Triumph a household name was a nice touch to a truly ambitious endeavor. Oh, and did we mention he finished fifth in the Modern Open Class as well?
Not only did Vigil finish the five-day, 1,347-mile competition in 25 hours and 37 minutes, but he did the deed without any major mechanical problems to speak of besides a blown-out bib mousse. Basically, he got a flat tire that held him up for a few hours.
“We made it. It was a super-long week at the NORRA Mexican Rally,” Vigil said in the postrace press release. “I couldn’t ask for a better result, and on a stock bike. It was a super-rad week ripping in the desert with a bunch of dirt bikes. We had zero issues, she ran like a dream. Two of the longest days were in some really technical, rocky sections; you really have to stay focused and pick your lines without slowing down too much. But when we hit the open desert I could really let the bike eat; she was a rocket and took everything we threw at her. I’m very sad it’s all over, but I’m hoping we can get to the Baja 1000 later this year to run her in the Ironman Class. We not only proved the Scrambler 1200 XE could finish this rally, but be competitive.”
Just how stock was his Scrambler? According to Triumph, the suspension components were completely stock. The team did completely remove the ABS and TC equipment and installed a skid plate to protect the sump, but other than that, the only changes were softer grips and a set of Metzeler tires. They used an MC360 on the front and a Karoo 3 out back.
The objective of this adventure was to show the durability and potential of the Scrambler to the modern consumer and now that the dust has settled, we have to give them credit for kicking butt and ticking another item off of Vigil’s bucket list.
Sometimes the best motorcycle rides are right in your own backyard. That’s the premise of the Motorcyclist magazine Alley Rally. The event is a guided turn-by-turn tour through the center of Los Angeles by Editor-in-Chief Chris Cantle. The ride weaves through Cantle’s hometown and shows of some of the lesser known areas of this megatropolis.
Riders remained connected via Cardo’s slick Packtalk Bold Bluetooth-enabled communication device. Smaller than a pack of cigarettes, the device easily affixes to most any motorcycle helmet and allows riders to talk to one another, in addition to manipulating their smartphone when paired.
From winding bends to beat-up dirt roads, this tour shows off some of the most obscure portions of the city. Beautiful murals and street art line many of the narrow corridors which help expose the diverse nature of California’s largest city. But don’t take our word for it, watch the video and see for yourself.
The thing about the Great Mile rally is that, to participate, your bike must be the definition of inappropriate. The ride runs 1,250 miles, from the northernmost point in the British Isles to the most southerly, which means a great many machines meet that definition. So, it was classic Hondas, Moto Guzzis, BMWs, and even a 1957 Triumph Thunderbird that waited to disembark from the Castle of Mey, a 15th-century tower house on the teetering edge of Scotland. Who would be barmy enough to ride an average of 250 miles a day for five days straight in all manner of British weather? This year, it was 50 riders, all with origins as varied as their motorcycles.
Teams hailed from France, the Netherlands, Spain, Germany, and of course, the U.K. In that crowd, my BMW R nineT seemed out of place. As much as I wanted the experience of riding across my home country on an old bike, I was lugging a camera and wanted to get the shot all the more. At 6:30 a.m. on the first full morning of riding, a hot cooked breakfast greeted us, consumed as riders gathered their belongings and wrote out their routes, sticking them to their tanks. With logbooks stamped and a flamboyant billow of the Malle flag, the Great Mile began. Team by team embarked on their journey, only to be stopped at the end of the drive by a herd of cattle crossing the road.
The convoy to Dunnet Head Lighthouse was a sight, a trail of wheels and lights rolling across the moorland. Looking out to the sea, waves battered the stubborn rocks below. It would be five days before we saw anything like it again. Organizers made certain that riders didn’t have to worry with logistics. In addition to hot meals, our equipment was transported from camp to camp each night. Having the luxury of riding free of your gear and to arrive at a camp spot each night with your tent already up with a hot meal and cold beer waiting for you is one that can’t be matched. That’s not to say it was all luxury. Everyone underestimated the chill of the Scottish nights, even in July, and a shower was provided at just a couple of locations. Thankfully, there’s no rule saying you have to smell good to have an amazing time.
It’s one thing to travel from point A to point B by the easiest route possible, but it’s another to do so by way of the most breathtaking landscapes Britain has to offer. When the sun breaks in Scotland, for example, the vibrant contrast of colors is spectacular. Lochs glitter blues and silvers; green landscapes turn harshly dark at the edge of a cloud shadow. It’s a country full of surprises; you summit a hill, and whole valleys open up before you, beckoning you to travel the miles of zigzags you now see at your feet.
We rode past lonesome cottages—the kind you imagine running away to when life gets too much—boats that gently rocked a little out from the shore, and churches whose Holy Communion must consist only of three local families. White-sand beaches with crystal-clear waters looking like they belong to the Bahamas enticed us to swim as the riders felt the sun’s sweltering heat in their leathers. Our minds would have changed as soon as we dipped a single toe into the North Atlantic.
One of the finest stretches of road in Scotland’s wide portfolio is Applecross Pass. It’s engulfed by thick cloud most of the year, but as we rode through, the weather gods blessed us and we had a clear view as far as the eye could see. Harsh mountains wall the pass, and our riders gingerly made their way down the 20-percent grade. In the wet, this road is lethal. But even with the underlying caution, it’s a road that one could simply ride up and down all day, purely for the fun. It’s a grown-up version of a child’s slide—except you wouldn’t want to go down sliding on your arse.
We rolled through the Lake District on the third day. After the jagged, raw landscape of the Scottish Highlands, the softness of the lakes was a shock. Riding past swelling and sinking hills, the landscape breathes. That’s not to say the roads are any less exciting to ride. Just one look at Hardknott Pass will make your knees quiver against your tank. It’s tied first place as the steepest road in England, at a 33-percent grade, and I was grateful to have not read about the road before arriving at the foot of it. Isn’t it funny how one only remembers the immense power of gravity once on the edge of a guardless single-track mountain pass on a motorbike facing car traffic from the opposite direction?
Teams on the rally can be as few as two, but many join solo and are matched up with other like-biked teams. The sense of care and community was apparent from the word go. If a rider had mechanical difficulties, which was common, other riders swarmed to their aid with tools, spares, and advice. When riding, teams would often amalgamate for long stints, keeping an eye out on the more delicate machines.
Over the last couple of days, the weather worsened dramatically, leading to problems for some of the rally’s more fragile bikes. While riding through Dartmoor, we noticed one of my favorite rides on the rally stopped on the side of the road, alone. The rain and spray had played havoc on the gorgeous custom Honda 750’s electrics, and the owner had to keep stopping to dry them out. We all sat together with a cup of tea before spending the rest of the day taking it slower together, making sure he wasn’t left on his own and that he got to camp safely.
But despite the slow going, the last five miles of the trip were electric. You could feel the eagerness running through everyone. Eagerness not to finish and be done with the trip, but to have successfully completed an epic journey across Britain. Cars began to dwindle as we rode, and then it appeared suddenly as we crested a hill on a final, narrow lane: the sea.
The moment we dismounted, all previous squabbles about getting lost or riding too fast or too slow were forgotten. We flung our arms around anyone and everyone with cheers of euphoria at the realization that we had made it. None of us cared that we were all dripping with rain, the skin of our hands stained by our gloves. Or that we’d not showered in three days, or that we felt like we needed to sleep for a week. Together, we’d completed the 2018 Great Mile.
Sitting in the local pub afterward, happily sipping a beer and drying out, the reality of completing the rally began to sink in. As tough as the past few days had been, most of us agreed that we could carry on for another week. It happens that way, sometimes, after a long ride. Places that seemed so far out of reach now appear just over the horizon. What if we extended the trip to the south of France, or Spain, or through the French Alps and beyond? What if we kept riding? More than anything, that’s the mark of a good trip: it does not quench your spark for travel but ignites it, opening you wide to the world’s possibilities.
Motorcyclist magazine hosted the third edition of its Alley Rally this past Sunday. The event shows off narrow corridors and hidden passageways that connect Los Angeles, and is best explored behind the handlebar of a motorcycle. The ride kicked off over coffee at downtown LA’s Lucky Wheels Garage.
Cardo Systems was on hand, outfitting riders with its recently introduced Packtalk Bold Bluetooth-enabled communication device. The headset easily slips inside most any modern motorcycle helmet and allows you to connect to your smartphone, and communicate in a group intercom format with other riders.
Editor-in-Chief and Los Angelite, Chris Cantle delivered a guided tour, sharing interesting factoids about California’s largest city. The ride concluded at the Petersen Museum, where participants were allowed free access to its exquisite collection of cars and motorcycles. Have a look at some of our favorite photos and we’ll see you again next year.
Sometimes a great idea is born and you wonder why you’d never thought of it before. That’s the case with the MotorcyclistAlley Rally, returning for its third year in 2019 on April 7. The event has been such a blast the last two times out that we couldn’t say no to another go, and we want this year’s rally to be bigger and better than ever. That’s where you come in.
Grab your gear, fire up the bike and get your butt down to Lucky Wheels Garage in Los Angeles at 9 a.m. on April 7 and be ready for a day of riding you’ll never forget. We’re going to hit up all the seedy stretches you might typically avoid. Bring along some friends because this is one of those events that’s better together.
We’re teaming with Cardo Systems so riders can communicate wirelessly, via its new PackTalk Bold Bluetooth-enabled headsets. These devices attach to most any motorcycle helmet and allow you to communicate while riding. They also easily pair to smartphones so you can answer phone calls, listen to music, and/or navigation directions, so you’re never lost.
Did we mention it’s absolutely free to participate? Anyone with a motorcycle is welcome to ride along.
And though you might be imagining dilapidated stretches strewn with trash and stink, think again. We’ll hit up some of the street art hot spots along the way and take in some of the beauty among the wreckage. After a few hours exploring, we’ll finish it off with a stop for some lunch (you’ll have to cover your costs for that though).
So mark your calendar and be ready for a phenomenal ride. We’ll see you there! Lastly, give us a follow on Instagram so we can be a part of your next ride.