The 2004 Curve Cowboy Reunion Rally had to be the antithesis of the usual BMW motorcycle ride and rally, there being none of the usual tents or camping.
And yet, in its sixth year, this convocation of BMW aficionados has grown from an initial gathering of 60 to nearly 600, a growth rate enviable to anybody hawking anything from memberships to maps in the motorcycling world.
The rally spawned from an Internet group of Beemerphiles trading information about their BMW flagships, the K1200LT. Seeing themselves as cowboys riding heavyweight motorcycles (easily weighing as much as a monster rodeo bull) through highway curves, some of the Texas and Oklahoma Net riders decided to have a ride-in meeting. According to Greg Griffin, 2004 reunion chair, “At our first gathering we enjoyed such camaraderie we decided to have a reunion the following year. Soon our small group sprouted into an annual assembly of the faithful, lacking only the passing of the hat. While the event has never been closed to other models of motorcycles, it’s obviously our high ground for any debates that take place about what touring motorcycle is best.”
The group’s base can be tied to its Internet roots, now numbering close to 5,500, according to Board Member Randy Prade. Says Prade, “It’s our bikes and the Internet that got us together, but it’s the people who keep us together. We love our bikes and riding, and we make up a group of similar thinkers of a similar lifestyle.”
The 2004 reunion was promoted with key luxo-phrases like, do you find yourself and your spouse “tired of riding thousands of miles only to find yourselves camping on the ground and in the rain, longing for the luxuries of a first-class hotel—room service, spa or a heavenly bed?” As the riders registered at their base camp, the Beaver Run Resort in Breckenridge, Colorado, it was clear this was no mom-and-pop motel with camping in the back. The parking lot was overflowing with $25,000 motorcycles, a valet hustled baggage at the entrance and magnetic card keys were handed out at the front desk.
The parking lot and several indoor conference rooms were used for vendor displays selling a wide range of products and services targeted at the luxo-tourer BMW owners. If they needed any touring gizmos ranging from a GPS to earplugs tied into their communication/sound system, all could be installed on the spot. As
Roadgear owner Mansoor Shafi said of his customers, “This is a group of motorcyclists with an appreciation for quality, from their choice of motorcycle to their choice of riding apparel.”
If not wandering through the vendor area, participants could spend the day riding some of the best mountain roads and curves in North America or attend a number of seminars tailored to their motorcycles and lifestyles. If they lusted for a safari adventure there was a seminar on high-end riding in Africa. If they were motorheads wanting to explore the depths of their motorcycle engines, there were technical seminars, with LTs being disassembled by BMW LT experts. Another option was parking the motorcycle for a few hours and riding a chair lift to the top of the Rocky Mountains.
One of the more well-attended seminars was that offered by 1999 Iron Butt Rally winner George Barnes, an LT rider himself. His audience was kept attentive by his slides and stories of how he and his LT managed to best a field of nearly 100 riders, logging over 1,000 miles per day. While he was like a minister preaching to the choir, the attendees marveled at the insight he offered on long-distance riding.
One of the busier places during the three days of tire-kicking was the bike wash for a local charity. While it was no bikini bike wash, the fully clad ladies soaping bikes were clearly making the owners happy.
Each evening there was a sponsored dinner with a band for entertainment and dancing. These events were held in venues far from the usual beer tent of other BMW rallies, reflecting the upscale lifestyles of the Curve Cowboys. Waiters in pressed shirts and black ties served drinks, while some LT cowboys sipped bourbon and compared the quality of their cigars.
For the four-day event the riders had perfect riding weather, four-star accommodations and meals, and enough time to socialize, make new friends and kick tires. Unlike other rallies or collections of motorcyclists, this was an “early to bed, early to rise” group. As the clock moved toward midnight each night the movement in the parking areas slowed to a halt, motorcycles were lovingly covered and what little noise could be heard was wind blowing through the fir and golden aspen trees surrounding the lodge.
As riders bid farewell on the last day and rode toward the far corners of the map, they really were not saying “good-bye,” but rather “I’ll IM (instant message) you later.”
In 2005 the LT cowboys will carve curves out of their base at the Jackson Lake Lodge in Grand Teton National Park, August 30-September 2. In the meantime they will stay in contact through the Net. Interested? www.curvecowboyreunion.com is where to look, and to keep in touch in between, try the K1200.net Rider Community at www.k1200lt.net.
(This Rallies & Clubs article was published in the July 2005 issue of Rider magazine.)