Lake of the Ozarks BikeFest includes 1,200 miles of scenic shoreline, hundreds of miles of twisty, hilly, motorcycle-friendly roads, 200 bars and restaurants, 50 live music and entertainment shows, 27 official Full Throttle Passport Run stops, at least five vendor villages and a custom Harley-Davidson Road King to be given away at the end of the weekend. And, if you could fit it in, there were opportunities for great boating, fishing, golfing and shopping, in addition to the exceptional motorcycling environment.
Missouri’s Lake of the Ozarks lends itself to a good time no matter what time of the year it is; however, when you have the occasion to journey to “The Lake” with thousands of other motorcycle enthusiasts, it makes it even more fun. And a touch of world travel could be included on your journey to the Ozarks by roaming through such exotic locales as Paris, Florence, Mexico, Warsaw or Versailles on your way to The Lake. Of course in these instances, they are all small towns in Missouri.
South of Versailles, the first stop was Sunrise Beach for four Passport Run stops. One of the locations was Captain Ron’s, a full-service, biker-friendly lake resort offering a beach, boats, bikinis, beer, beds and more. It’s also one of the best places for a “pain in the ass”—or at least the alcoholic version made up of rum, fruit juice and liqueur (and then more rum, fruit juice and liqueur), topped off with a Bacardi 151 rum “floater.” After only a single “pain in the ass,” I was off and running again.
Did I happen to mention that it was raining? Not a toad-choker or anything like that—just enough of a late-summer shower to get your clean motorcycle dirty and make you put on your rain suit to keep from getting thoroughly soaked. However, we really needed the rain, since this past summer was the worst drought we’ve experienced in the last 50 years.
Lake of the Ozarks Harley-Davidson in Osage Beach was another Passport Run stop, and they were also hosting one of the vendor villages and plenty of live entertainment. Lake of the Ozarks H-D donated the motorcycle that was being given away to the winner from the Passport Run. As long as you got stamps from all the stops and turned your entry in before the deadline, you would be eligible for the drawing. I had already passed about four stops between Sunrise Beach and Osage Beach, so I was not going to be in the running for the free Harley this year.
Working with the Lake of the Ozarks Convention and Visitors Bureau afforded me the chance to check into Tan-Tar-A, a favorite high-class resort for over 50 years, covering more than 400 acres in the Ozarks. It was a relaxing afternoon break to dry off and grab a bite and a drink in their lounge overlooking The Lake.
Dog Days Bar & Grill, another of the passport stops, was the site of the Full Throttle compound and the Full Throttle Midwest Army, along with another vendor village. FTM Army team members Trish, Ashley, Jerrica, Kristina and Candice were busy setting up riders with official Full Throttle Passports, so riders could begin their journeys to get their passports stamped and be in the running for the free Harley on Sunday. The FTM girls also provided some brightness that was lacking in the dreary, overcast sky hanging around during BikeFest.
Heading east on U.S. Highway 54, crossing the Grand Glaize Bridge and following the route as it heads north, you take a sharp turn to the west on State Highway HH and follow it to the end of Horseshoe Bend to Camden on the Lake Resort, Spa, & Yacht Club at Toad Cove (better known as the Toad compound—previously known as Horny Toad, now simply H. Toad’s to appeal to the their upscale clientele) and you ride into a hell of a biker party. I had to head in to Toad’s for a sautéed crab cake snack, and of course a $2 beer is almost mandatory—you’re at a biker fest, remember? Toad’s vendor village incorporated live music, a fully-stocked bar, Strip Club Choppers (pole included), assorted motorcycles, T-shirts, apparel, art and Cowboy Chris twirling his lariat between his barbeque sauce sales.
Hot Summer Nights at Bagnell Dam Strip in Lake of the Ozarks is a monthly series of bike nights one Friday night per month every summer, and BikeFest Friday night was no exception—except that it was even better than usual. “During the entire four-day event, we decided to close the center lane of the Bagnell Dam Boulevard strip for free motorcycle parking,” said Tim Jacobsen, Lake of the Ozarks Convention and Visitor Bureau executive director. “This is just a way for us to give back to the motorcycle community and say thanks for coming to the Lake of the Ozarks.” It was like Main Street at Sturgis, Daytona or Laconia; however, it was in the middle of Missouri.
DJ Leo Case, the voice behind pirate radio KPUD (Pounder), was keeping the party atmosphere lively with strategically-placed speakers on the Bagnell Dam Strip during BikeFest, while bikers were doing their impromptu profiling parade. Friday night there was also a tribute parade for Wounded Warriors from the area. Rallygoers lined the street waving American flags and cheering as the Warriors rolled by riding with members of the local Corvette club. It was quite a festive weekend, to say the least.
The $19,500 2011 Police Edition Road King from Lake of the Ozarks Harley-Davidson, sporting custom Inferno Red paint applied by Danny Farris of Farris Customs, was won by Stacey Satterwhite in the Sunday afternoon drawing. Hers was the lucky entry out of all the bikers that got their passports stamped at all 27 Passport Run stops.
“Despite the rainy weather again this year, Lake of the Ozarks BikeFest was a success,” summarized Jenna Eidson, marketing manager of Lake of the Ozarks Harley-Davidson. “Lots of friendly new and familiar faces returned for the 6th annual event. We were very happy with the turnout at our dealership; every day of the rally was busy for us both inside the dealership, and outside with our vendors and other scheduled events. We look forward to sunny skies for the 7th annual rally.”
It was a fast-paced weekend in the Lake of the Ozarks—more than enough to keep you occupied for a weekend of riding fun and games. Before you start out next year, check out www.lakeoftheozarksbikefest.com for an up-to-date list of vendors and live entertainment schedules. There is no way you can catch all the action, but you can definitely have fun trying.
The Lake of the Ozarks is the Midwest’s premier lake resort destination. Maybe I’m biased, but check out the southern central area of a Missouri road map. The Lake looks like a multi-headed serpent, and you will see all of the squiggly highway lines hinting at the outstanding riding opportunities in the area. Combine that with the wonderfully wooded, hilly landscapes, dramatic lake views and the hundreds of biker-friendly establishments, and you end up with a really grand rally destination any time of the year.