When you think of Utah, which of its famous places do you think of first? A lot of people will conjure up the Bonneville Salt Flats and streamliners streaking after the land speed record. Or maybe visions of Mt. Zion National Park and its spectacular rock formations. Perhaps Salt Lake City and the Olympics. But how many people would come up with Ogden? Raise your hands. Thought so.
Well, Alan Cease, international president of the Star Touring & Riding Association (STAR) not only thought of Ogden, he chose it for the location of the organization’s annual rally, appropriately called STAR Days. You might remember Yamaha builds the popular Road Star and V-Star cruisers, and still offers a Royal Star Venture…so the celestial connection is obvious. Utah does put on a truly stellar night show. They say the human eye can distinguish 3,000 individual stars on a clear viewing night. So that makes about 10 STAR members for every star visible, and the fast-growing 30,000-member club is adding new chapters on a weekly basis.
Even Cease, who rides a bike so hot that it’s decorated with styled Road Star Warrior and even the venerable V-Max hot rod. Star Rally participants also enjoyed a variety of daily activities conducted at the rally site at the Weber Country Fairgrounds just outside Ogden. Bike washes, a custom bike show, poker runs, timed rally runs, riding and customizing seminars, a Star-be-que and a benefit auction were held, many of which contributed to the $61,000 raised for the Feed the Children program.
There was also plenty of opportunity to get in some spectacular riding. Utah has 27 designated State Scenic Byways noted for their unique and outstanding scenery. In addition, Utah proudly boasts the most national parks of any U.S. state, five to be exact. You might recall that Ogden’s nearby Snowbasin mountains were home to the 2002 Winter Olympics and offer great skiing during the winter season.
From Ogden, you could ride on over to nearby Promontory Point, where the famous golden spike connected the nation by transcontinental railway on May 10, 1869. If you were “feeling the need for speed” you could take your Road Star Warrior and blast over to Hill Air Force Base and snap some shots of your bike alongside the likes of a B-52 or even a full-size replica of the first A-bomb. Inside the cavernous hangers were aviation exotica from the Wright Brothers Kitty Hawk special to an F-16 fighter.
Fans of Jurassic Park could cruise over to the Ogden Eccles Dinosaur Park on East Park Boulevard and take a stroll through the six-acre display of more than 100 life-sized dinosaurs. While inside the museum you could get up close and personal with an Allosaur, a huge T. Rex and even a super-rare Ultrasaur, one of only two found in the country.
Back in town, you could also step back in time and explore Ogden’s historic 25th Street, complete with late 1800s storefronts, many of them now occupied by pubs, clubs, coffee bars, fine restaurants and antique shops. Try the Chinese cuisine at the Star Noodle restaurant—go at night to experience its classic dragon neon sign. For a tasty spectrum of micro brews step into Roosters Brewing Co. (and if Ogden looks a little familiar it may be because it’s the filming location for the Everwood Warner Bros. TV series.)
After a food and rest break, rally riders could take a half-hour cruise to Antelope Island, a monolith that looms up right from the middle of a massive salt lake. Once across the 7.2-mile causeway over the lake you could camp, swim, water ski or even run with the sizable buffalo herd that shares the area with its namesake antelope. After communing with the fauna and flora, STAR ralliers could gravitate back to Ogden and check out the landmark Union Station. Once a major railway hub, the building now houses a Natural History Museum, train and vintage-car exhibits and the John M. Browning Museum, where you’ll find the very first 1911 Colt and BAR and every other pistol, shotgun, rifle and machine gun ever designed by Browning.
Back at the fairgrounds, after the tasty Star-be-que, STAR members gazed at a bounty of items to be auctioned off, including a 2004 Royal Star. But the focal point was an American flag flown in battle in Baghdad, and along with it a pack of “Most Wanted” playing cards and five Iraqi dinars. You could hear a pin drop as the letter accompanying the flag was read to the audience.
A number of vendors gravitated tothe rally, including California’s Baron Custom Accessories (www.baronscustom.com), builders of radical custom Yamahas and the parts to make themso. The Missouri-based Cycle Care Products (www.cyclecare.com) helped keep bikes spiffy and clean while ProMetrix company out of Phoenix displayed their trick footboards, pulley and rotor covers (www.prometrix.biz).
On the last day of the event Ogden’s historic 25th Street looked like Main Street at Daytona or Sturgis, with parked Yamahas and STAR riders partying into the evening hours, until a sudden blustery rain storm cooled things off. Plans for the next rally at a to-be-announced location on the East Coast are already in the works. So hitch your bike to a STAR and mark your riding calendars.For more information contact:
STAR Touring and Riding Assoc.
1870 W. Prince Street
Ogden Convention & Visitor’s Bureau;
George S. Eccles Dinosaur Park & Elizabeth De Shaw Stewart Dinosaur Museum;
www.dinopark.org or www.museumsusa.org/data/museums/UT/79978.htm
Browning Firearms Museum; (801) 629-8535
Hill Air Force Base Aerospace Museum;
(This article Orbiting Around Ogden: STAR Days Rally 2003 was published in the December 2003 issue of Rider magazine.)