Come rain or come shine, members of the BMW Motorcycle Club of Colorado ride over to Paonia for a beautiful stay in the town park every July. The Top O' The Rockies is for many the best rally in the nation.
Even so, the numbers were down this year, due in part to the national BMW rally happening in Salem, Oregon the weekend before. A little under 500 attended this year's rally in Paonia.
Next year the national rally will not be out west. "It will be east, which makes a huge difference. We won't be competing with that timewise and distancewise," Sharon Via, rally master, said.
Bob Bushta, local coordinator for the board at the Ellen Hansen-Smith Center added,"This builds from year to year either positively or negatively. And there were a number of things last year that were not as good as we would have liked. And because of that perhaps the numbers were down this year. I believe the experience from this year will have
the opposite effect. That the word will get out how great things were."
It was the first year for both Via and Bushta to coordinate the entire rally. However, their previous experiences at the rally, eight years for Via and seven for Bushta, prepared them for their new roles.
"Fortunately, I love doing this and I had the time," Via said after the rainy final ceremony on Saturday, July 27. The preparation began months ago with countless hours being put in by the many volunteers with the club and from Paonia to make it happen.
Locally, among those helping the rally to be a success were members of the Ellen Hansen-Smith Center board. Working with Bushta were president Kathy Linnell, secretary Tracy Sturgis, treasurer Michelle Cumpston and Debbie Arterburn filling in for Jenny Kendall.
Among the changes negotiated for this year's rally centered around dinner Saturday night. The club hired The Cowboy and The Rose Catering from Grand Junction. Via said the food was great and dinner was served quickly and efficiently. The club members appreciated that there were no long lines.
Bushta worked out with the club how the local service organizations would be compensated for all of their work. In previous years, proceeds from the Saturday night dinner benefited the service organizations.
"Bob and the board at the teen center were fabulous at helping me to understand all the work that they do at the teen center, and to work out a way to show our appreciation to them," Via said.
Adding to the musical entertainment was a first-ever movie night, which The Beemers seemed to really enjoy.
Via said they asked registrants why they came to the rally.
The replies, Via said, expressed their love for the Town of Paonia, the beauty of Paonia Town Park and the riding experience. "When you're a motorcyclist, riding is everything to you. And the most beautiful roads are here in Colorado and some of those that are the most beautiful are in this area. We come for that, the peace of the park, the people in Paonia, and just the whole atmosphere and environment. We love it," Via said.
Bushta spoke of the number of people who stopped and complimented the rally. "I had someone shake my hand from New York and he said he goes to rallies all over, but he always comes to this one because it is incredible," Bushta said. "The best compliment I had was, 'Ellen [Smith] would be proud.'"
Bob Essner rode his Honda from Joplin, Mo. He and two riding buddies were here five years ago. "My legs are too short for a BMW," Essner said. His friends ride BMWs though and the trio has been going to BMW rallies all over the country for about 10 or 11 years. They rode over two days to arrive in Paonia. Essner began riding trail bikes in 1974 and in 1995 got into road bikes.
Sylvia Liles on her BMW and Jeff Holeman on his Ducati have attended the rally in Paonia for eight years. The couple is from Fairplay and said they love Paonia. "We pretty much sit around and eat. We like the restaurants. There are good restaurants in town," they said. They did take a hike on BLM land and took the Black Bridge Winery Tour. They're also fans of Revolution Brewing, visiting the local establishment three days in a row.
During the final ceremony Saturday evening, prizes were awarded to some noteworthy Beemers.
Ian Cox of Littleton born in 1995 was the youngest male rider. Brenda Smith of Aurora, born in 1979, was the youngest female rider.
Bob Smith of Buena Vista, born in 1929, was the oldest male rider, while Muriel Farrington of White River Junction, Vt. was the oldest female rider. She was born in 1941.
Farrington was also the female who rode the longest distance from home to the rally. She traveled 2,156 miles. Her male counterpart was John Lang of Titusville, Fla. who rode 2,117 miles to attend the rally.
Via's overall impression of the rally in Paonia was, "Fantabulous!"
During the final ceremony she said, "We can't say enough about the City of Paonia — the way they open up and welcome us and help us ... On behalf of all of us, we love you. We love Paonia."blog comments powered by Disqus