Friday, June 03, 2005


I'm down in Austin, Texas at the moment to attend the R.O.T. Biker Rally. For the uninitiated, R.O.T. stands for Republic Of Texas - which refers to Texas' heritage, not the fringe political group of some years back that claimed that Texas was never officially made a part of the United States and therefore had no legitimate government in place. Most of that group is currently enjoying the hospitality of the illegitimate gubmint's prison system.

No ... the ROT rally is about bikers and all the stuff that bikers like - namely loud motorcycles, alcohol, nekked wimmens, and um ... alcohol-soaked nekkid wimmens on loud motorcycles.

Personally, I consider myself to be here in an advisory and observational role, since I'm the only married guy in my group, and I know all pictures and stories from my friends will get back to my wife... eventually. Somebody has to be the designated milquetoast, after all.

Day 1 was yesterday, and there were pretty healthy crowds to be found, but the tone and atmosphere of the place was a bit muted, overall. Not many of today's weekend warrior motorcycle crowd are willing to take too many days off from work to go stand around in the heat at biker rallies. Consequently, the wildness-factor was on the low end of the scale. I met and had my picture taken with Jerry Covington and Johnny Chop, who looked like they were really suffering in the heat yesterday. I didn't have the heart to tell them that this is the coolest it's been at the rally in the past 4 years.

Once again, our friends Dan and Becky with Qwik Shade had a booth at the rally and we were welcomed to park our bikes to serve as product models and have a comfortable place to hang out when not wandering the site. Since they have a large, shaded booth this year, we made sure to take advantage of their hospitality as often as possible.

We left a bit early last night, to rest up for the late nights we anticipate tonight and Saturday at the rally, and caught dinner at a local Taco Cabana, before coming home and hitting the showers.

Day 2
The weather had turned very overcast and was downright threatening in the morning. The occasionally stray drop found its way to my windshield on the way out from Craig's house. C.J. had ranged out to go meet some friends who live north of Austin and spent the night with them. He'd planned to meet us later at the Qwik Shade booth.

Beer at the rally is 4.75 per can, and water is 2.00 per smallish bottle. Ouch! We got wise yesterday and stopped by the local super-Wal•Mart to buy our own drinks to import into the rally. If you're not too particular, there are some brands of beer that can still be had for less than 4.00 per six-pack- and those are the big cans. Consequently, we weren't feeling too picky...

The motorcycle traffic on the way to the Travis County Exposition Center had greatly increased. There were dozens of bikes in every side road and convenience store parking lot along the way. As we got closer to the rally site, the concentration of bikes intensified, until cars made only an occasional interruption in the flow of trafffic. We parked our bikes at the Qwik Shade booth and we set about finding some ice and a place to put all our stuff. The majority of the day, we sat at the booth and helped answer questions for passers-by. Not far from us was a booth hawking "girls gone wild" type videos, complete with some of the featured girls. For $20 you'd get both DVDs and the girls would strip down and pose with you for a souvenier. As you might expect, that booth had a fair amount of traffic throughout the day. The kid running that show, looks like he's just out of high school (assuming he finished) and took great pleasure in driving around the fairgrounds in his shiny red Ferrari... sigh.

People like to dress up (or down) for biker rallies, and the crushing sea of humanity presented a wide spectrum to sit and view from the shaded comfort of the booth. It's like watching an endless parade of escapees from the circus side-show. The real freak-show parade waits until dark to get started though. Around 4:00 in the afternoon several vendors start selling cheap mardi-gras-type beads for the on-the-ground biker parade. Most of the women who participate in the parade will flash the bystanders for a string of plastic beads, and this year it seemed like there were more willing participants than usual. The noise of the straight pipes competes with the acrid smell of burning tires, as bikers show off for the massive crowds of gawkers lining up on either side of the parade route, hoping to catch a glimpse of skin in trade for beads. There was at least one injury when a topless woman was thrown off the back of a chopper, dislocating her wrist. Craig helped out by calling out the EMS crew to haul her off to the hospital.

We dragged ourselves back to collect our bikes and head home for the night, exhausted from the long day.

More to come...


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