The shell of an abandoned hotel on a remote point of the seawall stands as a stark reminder that this area is still on the mend from Hurricane Ike. But for one weekend in November, respite comes in the form of a marauding army of two-wheeled invaders on thunderous machines who fill the bars, restaurants and hotels on Galveston Island. They come
Motorcycle USA traveled to Galveston to take in the fun and festivities at one of the biggest motorcyle events in Texas, the 2010 Lone Star Rally, where cruising the seawall or riding down The Strand were just as popular as the bike shows and meeting the stars of the Celebrity Bike Builder Lot.
from all walks of life, from weekend warriors to one percenters, all congregating on The Strand for four days of friendship and fun, bar hoppin’ and boozin.’ They participate in benefit rides for our troops or wear the patch of the Christian Motorcycle Association offering fellowship. By most accounts, the ninth annual Lone Star Rally
(LSR) appears to be a success based on a turnout Galveston’s Daily News puts at 400,000, few incidents and no fatalities.
Ten accidents have been reported, one minor mishap we saw the aftermath of on 61st Street where a rider hit a curb, went down and suffered minor injuries. On Saturday, a helmetless rider suffered head injuries when he clipped another motorcycle, got rutted in the trolley tracks and went down. The tracks in the roads here are treacherous for bikers, a lesson this particular rider learned the hard way. But considering the amount of traffic along the seawall and in the downtown district, to have only ten motorcycle accidents reported is just short of miraculous. For the most part, it has been a peaceful assembly with Lt. Joel Caldwell
Miss Ratsmate 2010 poses on the 'Best of Show' during the first Rat's Hole Custom Bike Show held in Texas during the 2010 Lone Star Rally.
of Galveston PD reporting only a handful of public intoxication arrests and a few scraps. Considering the various patch-wearing clubs that were in town, this lack of confrontation attests to the high spirits of most bikers in attendance. One person did have their 2009 Suzuki Hayabusa stolen, so not everybody will be going home happy.
Big RVs and trailers lined the seawall for miles as riders set up camp with the waters of the Gulf of Mexico serving as their front yard. You can’t get much closer to the Gulf, and what a treat it is to watch the sun rise over the foamy green waters. Mother Nature cooperated with sunny skies and temps around 70 degrees every day, making it ideal riding weather.
The favorable conditions contributed to the good turnout for Friday’s Follow the Flag – Ride for Heroes along Seawall Boulevard. With sirens from the police escort wailing, a procession of motorcyclists, many flying black and white POW or American flags fixed to their motorcycle, made their way around the island as they followed a Galveston fire engine carrying two patriotic symbols. One was a flag that flew over Ground Zero and the second was an American flag that has flown over the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan. Sponsored by the Post 911 Foundation, the tribute ride ended with an emotional ceremony at Pier 21 in honor of public safety workers.
A swing by the Celebrity Bike Builder Lot in a corner of Pier 21 let us catch up with Michael Ballard and Angie Clarkson of Full Throttle Saloon fame. Ballard said that FTS had a phenomenal year, which was all captured on film for the upcoming season of the hit truTV series called appropriately Full Throttle Saloon
. Season 2
airs next Wednesday on truTV and FTS merchandise was flying off the tables.
The Lone Star Rally had a Mardi Gras spirit about it, including beads being thrown from the balconies. Cruising The Strand was a
popular attraction and bands like The Hectic playing on the outdoor Budweiser stage kept energy levels high.
“Anniversary years are always good,” said Ballard, this year being the 70th anniversary of the Sturgis Rally. After the LSR, the Full Throttle Saloon rig is packing up for the trip up to Louisville, Kentucky where they will set up shop at the Easyriders Bike Show Tour. Ballard doesn’t plan on attending the West Coast shows but said he was going to be at most of Easyriders' East Coast swing.
We also had a chance to chat with Bagger Nation’s Paul Yaffe who recently completed the Copper Chopper in honor of his home state of Arizona’s 100th anniversary celebration. Unlike most people in the industry, Bagger Nation has been enjoying record sales. Read more about the conversation with the mind behind Bagger Nation in our Yakking with Paul Yaffe at the Lone Star Rally
Colorful custom builder Rick Fairless meets some of his youngest fans at the Lone Star Rally.
A true Texas longhorn is all smiles as he makes his way down The Strand during the Biker Promenade.
The Celebrity Bike Builder Lot also featured Stroker’s Rick Fairless. His Dallas shop/bar/tattoo parlor has been a popular haunt for bikers for quite some time. Fairless also actively promotes the motorcycle lifestyle by frequently holding bike nights and special events at his establishment. He’s also a host of the radio program, Texas Hardtails Scooter Show. If all that didn’t keep him busy enough, he’s currently starring in truTV’s popular new show, Ma’s Roadhouse
, which features his spitfire 71-year-old mother who likes her booze and cigarettes and has a vocabulary that’d make a sailor blush. Fairless’ psychedelic motorcycles Pam and the Beatles bike were on display and garnered plenty of attention as testaments to his mastery of paint. His new show is doing well apparently because he had the longest line of fans with pens and cameras in hand eager to meet him and his crew.
Lastly, we caught up with Two Wheel Thunder’s host Jay Barbieri who was hanging out with his buds at the Strip Club Choppers booth. Barbieri’s a long-time veteran of the rally scene from his tenure as host of American Thunder. He’s also penned a book based on his experiences titled the Biker’s Handbook
. We had a spirited discussion about the demise of print mags in the time of instant information but both agreed that there will always be a market for it. There’s nothing like the feel of the pages, the color in print and their value as collectibles. We then laughed about the girls Strip Club Choppers hired being late to work.
“Strippers are always late,” Barbieri said with a smile.
Big Daddy Rat lives!
From the Celebrity Bike Builder Lot you could see the 20-foot-tall inflatable green rat that serves as the mascot of the Rat’s Hole Bike Show. It was the first time the Rat’s Hole, a staple of Daytona Beach’s Bike Week scene, had made the trip over to Texas to hold its world-class show. Rat’s Hole didn’t disappoint, as almost 80 custom motorcycles lined the harbor at Pier 21 to vie for “Best of Show” honors. That title went to All Things Chrome out of Hendersonville, Tennessee for a slick 2009 Suzuki Hayabusa. It was cool to see a sportbike take top honors, a rarity at most custom bike shows I’ve attended. Another of All Things Chrome’s custom motorcycles was the hit of the show, though, a 2007 Hayabusa with the biggest back tire you’ll find on a sportbike. It easily was the most talked about and photographed bike at the event. Read more about the show in our Rat’s Hole Bike Show at Lone Star Rally
One of the most popular things to do at the rally was watching the constant procession of motorcycles riding down The Strand. This reached its apex on Saturday evening when the Biker Promenade commenced. A modest turnout of bikers dressed in costumes riding decorated motorcycles congregated at the Heaven’s Saints Moto Ministry booth for judging before setting out for a promenade down the center of town. With so many riders wearing neoprene skull face masks in general, it was hard to tell who was in the parade and who wasn’t from the constant tide of riders parading down The Strand. An ominous looking biker with muscular arms in a Predator mask on a slammed sportbike played the Predator role well with an occasional blast from his exhaust as he rode by. A Pee Wee Herman look-alike on a pseudo Schwinn rolled by, eliciting big laughs from the crowd. Another favorite was a vet flying several flags on the trailer of his bike and wearing a true Texas longhorn helmet, the massive spread of the steer horns matching the broad smile on his face.
One of the best things about rallies is the people you meet and the new friends you make. I was sharing a spot at the counter of the Awful Waffle (aka the Waffle House) when I met one of the founders of RigRiders Houston, an Oilfield Riders Group. Oil is the lifeblood of this region and the men and women who pull crude out of the ground are a breed apart. Roughnecks didn’t acquire their name by chance. A lot of oil workers are motorcyclists and RigRiders gives them a place to get together to share their common bond. Besides going on rides, they also do a lot of charitable work. The Houston Chapter of RigRiders recently presented a $7500 check to Oil Field Helping Hands to benefit “those in need in the Houston area.” Philanthropic efforts are a staple of the motorcycling community, proving that despite being rough around the edges, bikers have big hearts.
A few final random observations about the 2010 Lone Star Rally. There was a higher turnout of sportbike riders than any other rally in recent memory as quite a few sportbike clubs from Houston made the ride down. They like LEDs in Texas. Watching bikes all lit up at night cruising along the seawall
The sun sets over Galveston Bay and the Lone Star Rally - until next year.
was fun to watch. If I was a company that specialized in equipping motorcycles with LEDs, I’d hit every Texas rally I could. There ain’t no noise regulations being enforced in Texas, that’s for sure. California, eat your heart out. They still adhere to the creed that “Loud pipes save lives” around here. Revving engines and blasting pipes is still a primeval form of chest-thumping in these parts. Finally, just kicking back with a cold beer in hand watching bikes cruise down The Strand was a popular pastime. From the architecture of the historic buildings downtown to the people dangling beads off balconies, the 2010 Lone Star Rally had a scaled-down New Orleans look and a Mardi Gras feel. Maybe that’s why people at the rally exhibited a “Laissez Le Bon Temps Rouler” attitude.