2009 National Rally
Custer Rally Video
The following is taken from Trip's rally report.
Minor changes have been made for use on this site.
Trip's full report can be found here.
When: June 16-18, 2009
Rally Headquarters: Bavarian Inn
Rally Leader: Robert "Trip" Hilliard
I was traveling with a group including Jeff, Mitch and Darlene, Gene, Larry, Scott, Brad, Ells, Tom, Daryl, Bob and a few others.
We arrived in Custer at the Bavarian Inn at about 3:30pm. Many KawaNOW members had already arrived at the Bavarian and many more were yet to arrive. It was amazing to see so many Kawasaki Nomads in one place...every type and color, with the unique look and soul of every owner. After checking into the Bavarian, I walked around and met as many as I could.
Some KawaNOW members were people that I had met online two years before and had kept in communication with only over the KawaNOW forum. It was great getting to meet everyone. There were times when I would tear up seeing all of the Nomads and KawaNOW members greeting and talking about various accessories they installed on their Nomads. It made me feel like a Father watching his son hit a home run at a baseball game. I was not only proud...but humbled. After registering, (yes, even the CEO and Founder has to register), Jeff and I settled into our room that would be our home for the next three days and nights. After settling in, many of us met at the Frontier Bar in Custer, SD for a drink and conversation. Tomorrow officially begins the rally with two day-long rides. Riders could choose a ride through the Badlands or riding to Devil's Tower.
We would all meet at 9:00 am tomorrow morning.
Tuesday, June 16: Weather, Skies were clear, chance of rain in the afternoon, cool temps.
Jeff and I got up and ate breakfast at the Bavarian's continental. Then about 9:00am, I called everyone together in the main parking lot of the Bavarian to organize the planned two rides for the day. This was a monumental occasion. Almost everyone that was attending the rally was there. The parking lot was full of KawaNOW members and Nomads! Over 75 people and 55 Nomads.
It was such a sight, that many people were watching from hotel balconies taking pictures. After introducing myself and quickly going over the planned rides for the day, Jim "Oldbikers" spoke up and thanked me for starting KawaNOW. That started a chain reaction of clapping from everyone. I can't tell you how proud I was looking over the crowd and seeing the Nomads in the parking lot. Although KawaNOW may be a blessing to them, many of the members don't really know how KawaNOW is a blessing to me. I'm a better person having gotten to know every one of them. After getting my composure, I went over both rides and who their leaders would be. We then split into two groups and left for our designated rides.
Tuesday, June 16th - All Day Rides
A. Devil's Tower Ride - Leader=Waterman / Tailgunner=glwilson
B. Badlands Ride - Leader=Kioti / Tailgunner= 01Nomad
Kioti led the Badlands Ride, Waterman led the Devil's Tower Ride. I chose to ride the Devil's Tower Ride today because I had always wanted to see Devil's Tower. It was a sight to behold watching over 40 Nomads snake their way through hills and canyons making their way from Custer to Devil's Tower and back. We made it back to Custer at about 5:30pm. The Badlands Ride got back about the same time we did and went very well for those that attended.
Below are some pictures of the day's ride to Devil's Tower and back:
Wednesday, June 17: Weather, Skies were clear, chance of rain in the afternoon, cool temps.
Afternoon rides were planned for today leaving free time in the morning.
I got a good night's sleep and got up early to shower and eat breakfast. The continental breakfast at the Bavarian was excellent every morning. It also gave me a chance to talk to many of the KawaNOW members every morning who were there eating. Today's planned rides allowed for free time in morning and some short rides in the afternoon. We planned it this way because many of the members wanted some time to ride to Sturgis and buy t-shirts and whatever else they wanted. After lunch, those that wanted to attend rides for the day assembled in the main parking lot of the Bavarian. Today, Mark was going to lead a group of riders through Needles Highway, Iron Mountain Road and the Custer Wildlife Loop. I was to lead a group to see Mt. Rushmore and route our way through Iron Mountain Road back to Custer. Both rides were short and took only about 3-4 hours to complete.
The Mt. Rushmore Memorial is a spectacular facility to visit.
Wednesday, June 17th - Afternoon Rides Only
Bavarian parking lot - Meet at 1:00pm - KSU 1:30pm
KawaNOW Keystone & Mt. Rushmore Ride Itinerary
Thursday, June 18, 2009: Weather, Skies were clear, chance of rain in the afternoon, cool temps.
Today was our last day of the Rally. In planning the rides, I decided to offer the same rides that we offered on Tuesday, but swap leaders. So, today offered the Badlands Ride and Devil's Tower Ride for those that couldn't ride them on Tuesday.
Thursday, June 16th - All Day Rides
A. Badlands Ride - Leader=Waterman / Tailgunner=glwilson
Bavarian parking lot - Meet at 8:45am - KSU 9:30am
B. Devils Tower Ride - Leader=Kioti / Tailgunner= 01Nomad
Bavarian parking lot - Meet at 8:45am - KSU 9:30am
After organizing and sending everyone off on their respective rides at 9:00am, I called Custer State Park and arranged an appointment
to come out and see the facility we were to use for our Finale Dinner tonight at 6:30pm.
So, at about 10:00am, Jeff, Todd, Amy, Mark and myself made our way to the main lodge of Custer State Park.
After meeting with our contact there and verifying that everything would be ready for the dinner, we decided to take a short ride down Needles Highway and come back to Custer by way of Iron Mountain Road.
Although Needles is an excellent road to ride, I really liked Iron Mountain road because of it's 360 degree switchbacks.
Iron Mountain sports three of these switchbacks that I thoroughly enjoyed riding.
That evening at 6:30pm, 71 KawaNOW members, their friends and spouses gathered for the KawaNOW Finale Meal at the lodge at Custer State Park.
This would be a time for all of us to eat and visit before leaving for home the next day.
I asked Bud "Idaho" to say a prayer for the meal and we observed a moment of silence in remembrance of Chuck Burt, one of our members who was killed in a motorcycle accident last year.
The meal turned out to be great for everyone and afterwards door prizes were given away to those that obtained a ticket at registration.
After the meal, we all gathered outside the lodge for a group picture.
Friday everyone said their good-byes and headed for home.
Many worked to make it happen, KawaNOW's first National rally was a big success.
To see more pictures of the rally click here.