It ain't Bikeweek.
It's the Honda Hoot
What the future holds for all of us. Triked-out Goldwings with trailers would be on display at the 12th Annual Honda Hoot.
This was my first year at this event so I had no idea what to expect. Although it has that brand name at the forefront of its appellation, it's not just for Honda riders. You need to remember, the nicest people ride those things and so those nice people welcome all bikers to this yearly event no matter what brand they ride.
That said, the event has a tone of touring. Sure, the touring is encompassed by everything from triked-out Goldwings with trailers to Gixxers with soft bags, but it's still all touring. And so being there requires putting on your touring glasses and experiencing life through laidback, unhurried eyes. And it's a relatively quiet event. Meaning, open pipes are scarce. I think the Tuono I was riding with "For Racing Only" stamped on its canister was the loudest bike there. Although everyone is welcome, most of the American V-twin crowd stays away. Probably because they see that leading "H" as anathema to their "H" brand. Or maybe it's that second "H" and they're just not hooting folk?
Now that I think of it, what is a hoot? Does one visit a hoot or have a hoot? And do any of us give a hoot?
We're all attracted to alliterations, and I personally have a preposterous propensity for peppering my prose with such, but I have to wonder, since the event is in the South, why not the Honda Hullabaloo? Honda Hoedown? Honda Hee Haw? Y'all come back now.
Here's a Honda Valkyrie with triple, open pipes and triple, open velocity stacks. This beast was loud!
Anyway, here's the history of the Hoot. Now in its 12th year, the Hoot used to be held in Asheville, North Carolina, until that city's mayor encouraged Honda to take its $15,000,000.00-plus generating event somewhere else. So five years ago the Hoot moved two-hours west to Knoxville. And Knoxville loves the Hoot. The event even made the front page of its News Sentinel, right between Pet Crematory Workers Charged and Frist Says Gambling on Cockfighting is 'Wrong.' The town appears to be bike friendly but animal angry. Beats me.
Over 10,000 bikers show up each year for the Hoot and the locals show real Southern hospitality. Some of the events support area fire and police departments and the Knoxville Blue Hawks usually perform stunts on their police bikes. Because the event returns to the same community each year, the Hoot has been able to establish an especially friendly relationship with the local authorities, which is good for every biker there. You feel wanted, welcome and unhassled.
Downtown Knoxville opens it doors to the event and each year the "old town" district provides bike-only parking for a casual street party. The city also offers many distractions if you want to break away from the scheduled activities. There are the old World's Fair Park, Knoxville Museum of Art, a river walk, Blount Mansion, Confederate Memorial Hall - which is the headquarters of General Longstreet. I mean was. There are also 16,000 Baptist churches, and a good number of non-franchise eatin' places. You know, restaurants. Like in the entire South be warned, if you don't particularly like brown gravy, speak up when you order.
Unlike Bikeweek, the Honda Hoot has some structured activities scheduled including a sportbike ride through the Deals Gap, the North Carolina side of which is seen here.
The Hoot has many industry sponsors for its various events. The event itself is sponsored by the Honda Riders Club and Presented by Progressive Insurance. There are rides sponsored by the likes of Cycle World, Rider, Road Runner, Motorcycle Cruiser, Cobra, the AMA, the MIC, and so on. The event also features a giant midway of bike-stuff vendors at Chilhowee Park, and dinners, concerts and fireworks. Some non-Honda manufactures even have demo rides, but for some reason this year didn't include any of the other Pacific brands.
At a Bikeweek, there's usually little to do that's structured. Those events are all about hanging out and looking cool and then riding nowhere special and hanging out there and trying to look cool all over again, and so on. The Hoot though, offers piles of entertaining options day and night and the rides are all to actual places worth being, such as the Wheels Through Time motorcycle museum, Dollywood, Cumberland Gap, Cherohala Scenic Skyway, Tennessee Museum of Aviation, some damn-big dam, and so on. There was even a sportbike ride to a secret destination, which turned out to be Deals Gap.
Sportbike riders like secrets; the rebellious warrior life is better lived in mystery and intrigue. So all and all, the required event registration is well worth the tiny bother. It also gets you into neat doings such as the Down Home Party - an excellent event because of its free food.
Corbin showed up with the Road Star-powered Yamaha MT-01. Is this a cool looking bike or what?
Knoxville's central location makes it well suited for a multi-day bike event because there is something to do and some place to go in every direction. Nashville is a mere three hours down the pike to the west, Bristol is less than two in the opposite direction. An easy ride to the southwest is Chattanooga, choo choo and all, and the Great Smokies are just over yonder ridge from Pigeon Forge, which is a sight in itself.
The Honda Hoot takes place every June and can be anticipated through the helpful website at Honda Hoot.com
. Reservations for particular rides and events are recommended because some of them have limited availability. It truly is a nice time at a nice place with nice people.
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