Hearing ZZ Top’s “Sharp Dressed Man” come over the radio miles outside La Grange, Texas, seemed most appropriate. Who better to listen to than the bearded boys from Tejas while trying to outrun an approaching thunderstorm when you’re rumbling down Highway 71 on your way to the Lone Star Rally in Galveston? I thumbed the volume switch with my left hand, twisted the throttle of Victory’s Cross Country Tour a little more with my right and enjoyed the twilight ride down to the Gulf of Mexico.
Whether the 2015 Lone Star Rally would be boom or bust, we still didn’t know. Hurricane Patricia didn’t help. The Category 5 storm that put el temor de Dios into Mexico had dumped rain by the foot a week before as it swept through Texas. Riding over small washes, tangles of broken branches and debris wedged into guard rails left evidence of how little creeks had turned into rushing rivers. It had rained the morning we landed in Austin where we hopped on the Victory, but luckily we got in and out of town during a break in the storm. Hell or high water, we were headed to the coast to take part in the last big biker bash of the year.
There were plenty of biker fun and games going on at The Seawall Friday afternoon.
Friday morning greeted us with a pleasant surprise. Sun. And heat. I even had to slather sunscreen on. Being situated directly across the street from the beach, the Seawall was buzzing with activity. Rally-goers checked out the latest goodies for the V-Twin crowd underneath the awnings of industry heavyweights J&P Cycles and Kuryakyn or stopped by small independent booths like Grizzly’s Patches to add the latest rally patch to their vests. Cycle Source’s Chris Callen was stirring things up as host of the biker games like the slow race and ring toss. The weenie bite competition was easy fodder for Callen’s punchy one-liners.
The Full Throttle Saloon banner flew over the heart of the Seawall as the FTS crew made its first appearance since the Sturgis fire in Galveston. Full Throttle business partners Michael Ballard and Jesse James Dupree were busy signing autographs and posing with fans Friday while scantily clad FTS girls walked the grounds slinging shots of S’loonshine. Tables of t-shirts and merchandise were spread about rows of tables in front of their black big rig and its Full Throttle-skinned trailer. People packed in under the awnings of makeshift bars while Cold Hard Cash sang crowd favorites like “A Boy Named Sue.” That night, Jackyl frontman Dupree and the band played a decibel-breaking set to a packed house, sawdust flying as Dupree destroyed a wooden stool with a chainsaw during their signature “The Lumberjack” finale.
Jackyl ripped it up on the Beach Stage Friday night during the 2015 Lone Star Rally.
“We had a good time there at the rally In Sturgis, South Dakota. And then we had a damn fire burnt 30 acres and about ten million dollars’ worth of a good time down to the ground. But we’re keeping our heads up high, nobody got hurt, and we brought the Full Throttle down to Galveston, Texas, to celebrate,” said Dupree during the show.
The FTS owners also used the Lone Star Rally as a springboard to announce that the Full Throttle will soon be airing a new show on a new network, switching from truTV to Destination America. It is a short four-episode series, with footage from before the 75th, during the Sturgis Rally, and the aftermath of the fire. On the last episode, Dupree and Ballard said they will reveal whether or not they will rebuild the Full Throttle Saloon in Sturgis.
Saturday morning, the weather that has plagued the region recently returned as wind and rain tried to put a damper on things. It certainly cut into turnout at the bike shows and shut down demo rides altogether. There were only a handful of motorcycles in the Cycle Source bike show when we stopped by. Luckily, Jason Ochoa wasn’t afraid of a little rain on his killer Panhead called “Purple Haze.” The kick-starting rigid with a girder front and throwback king and queen saddle earned Ochoa $500 from KD Sunglasses and a feature spread in Cycle Source as winner of the show.
While we know there were plenty of boomin’ big-wheeled baggers in town after seeing them all over the place the day before, the Baddest Bagger contest got postponed until Sunday. Luckily, plenty of bagger owners hung out for an extra day to show their bikes at the Seawall Sunday. Nick Morale from Dallas’ All Star Baggers took home the trophy for Baddest Bagger in Galveston with his 2012 Harley Road King.
By the time the clouds broke Saturday evening, the party was full-tilt again at The Strand, a constant parade of characters cruising the street and the sound of riders revving their engines filling the air long into the night. Posting up streetside to people and bike watch was a popular pastime at the rally. Pimpin’ your ride with LEDs is popular in these parts, from spinning wheels to glowing engines, making the nighttime parade an even bigger spectacle. Mixed in with the motorcycles were plenty of Polaris Slingshots, the sporty three-wheeler surprisingly popular in both Sturgis and Galveston. Of course, the Slingshots cruising The Strand had the Texas spin on them, LEDs lighting up the wheels, bass pumping out of thumpin’ sound systems, eye-poppin’ paint covering their bodywork.
There was music a-plenty at the 2015 Lone Star Rally, from the boys of Cold Hard Cash channeling Johnny to ZZ-3 doing their long-bearded tribute to the boys from Texas. Spandex-wearing Hairball always gets the crowd going with their repertoire of ‘80s rock while one of the biggest draws was the legendary “Longhaired Redneck” himself, David Allan Coe.
While the weather definitely kept attendance down this year, we didn’t mind being able to walk up The Strand Saturday night without bumping shoulders for blocks. Even though there were plenty of patch-wearing club members walking Galveston’s streets, it was a fairly peaceful affair, Houston’s Chron.com reporting only eight arrests. Unfortunately, one motorcycle fatality was reported on the first day of the rally, and we witnessed the aftermath of a few motorcycle accidents ourselves, with the common culprits of excessive speed a factor in one and alcohol a factor in the other. Next year marks the 15th anniversary of the Lone Star Rally, and anniversary years tend to be big. From its beaches on the shores of the Gulf of Mexico to its nautical history to its Victorian architecture, the Lone Star Rally has its own signature flair, a touch of Mardi Gras joie de vivre done Texas-style.
- One day he was red, the next day the Robust Energy man turned blue.
- The Purrfect Angelz were mixing and mingling with the Lone Star crowd.
- We saw plenty of horn-wearing riders at the Lone Star Rally, but this guy had the biggest longhorns of them all.
- Riders started returning to The Strand Saturday evening after a blustery, rainy day.
Baddest Bagger Galveston 2015 Awards:
Baddest Bagger 2015 Galveston:
2012 Road King by Nick Morale
Klock Werks Pick:
2009 Street Glide, Tony J
Azzkikr Custom Baggers Pick:
2014 Street Glide, Rafa Ruiz
Best Finish by Wizards Products:
2011 Street Glide, Scottie Samford
Urban Bagger Magazine Editor’s Choice:
2013 Road Glide by Art Steele
American Bagger Magazine Editor’s Choice:
2014 Street Glide by Lee White
1st Place: 1999 Road King, Sterling Bourgeis
2nd Place: 2009 Street Glide, Justin Bell
3rd Place: 2007 Yamaha Road Star, Manuel Jones
1st Place: 2009 Road Glide, Brad Maddalozzo
2nd Place: 2009 Road King, Jose Buenrostro
3rd Place: 2010 Street Glide, Shayne Morton
1st Place: 2008 Road King, John Conner
2nd Place: 2009 Road King, Carlos Cordova
3rd Place: 2014 Street Glide, Joe Kopcak
1st Place: 2013 Road Glide, Art Steele
2nd Place: 2012 Road King, Kelly Hedgepeth
3rd Place: All Star, Art Steele