SAN DIEGO, CALIF., SEPT 12-15–This year’s California State H.O.G. rally was held in San Diego with five area dealerships joining forces to make the rally a huge success. The dealerships included San Diego, Quaid Temecula, El Cajon, Sweetwater and Biggs Harley-Davidson, though the main hub of the event was located at Party Pals, a unique 50,000-square-foot venue and the perfect place for a H.O.G. rally. The location included a 6,600-square-foot canopied hospitality tent with a dance floor, professional audio/video and lighting systems, a full arcade, casino action and catered meals by Bekkers catering. There were also many exciting outdoor elements such as a high adventure course complete with tandem zip lines and a 50-foot tandem swing drop.
I dropped by early on Thursday to get the lay of the land and ran into site coordinator Heather Gollyhorn. “We had 834 participants preregistered, and we’re expecting about 1,000 people total, with walk-up registrants included,” said Heather. “It’s going to be really great to meet all of the riders from not only California, but also from around the country and other countries too.”
The event launched Thursday afternoon with the Taste of San Diego, an opportunity for attendees to sample unlimited food tastings from local gourmet food trucks. At 6:00 p.m. the first ride departed for Mount Soledad, a war memorial and prominent landmark in San Diego offering the most beautiful views of San Diego’s skyline, bays and coastline. It was there that a blessing of the bikes ceremony was conducted by the Black Sheep MC, kicking off the action-packed four-day event. The escorted rides left each day at 9:00 a.m. with a choice of two scenic rides through San Diego, both making stops at local dealerships along the way before winding back around to the rally.
The Friday morning ride was a southern tour that made a stop at San Diego Harley-Davidson before proceeding south through Point Loma’s Cabrillo National Park, around Harbor Island (a great ride along the bay with the San Diego skyline as a backdrop), over the Coronado Bay Bridge, down the Pacific coast and then continuing on to a backcountry tour. The ride then made stops at both Sweetwater and El Cajon Haley-Davidson before arriving back at Party Pals for a catered dinner and live music by Sharon and the Chevelles.
On Saturday morning the northern ride took riders up the coast and into the northern San Diego backcountry with stops at Biggs and Quaid Temecula Harley-Davidson. The ride ended back at the rally point where dinner was enjoyed while taking in the many entertainment options including a burlesque show by the Drop Dead Dames. While attending the closing ceremonies, I ran into JT Hasley, H.O.G. event manager for Harley-Davidson. I asked JT how this rally stacked up to others, and he replied, “They’re all unique in their own way; we had a really good turnout this year, and there were so many different added elements that took place. San Diego’s pretty fortunate that you can go to the east and be in the mountains or west and you’re on the coast. We’ve got people from 17 states and five countries here, so everybody that’s not from California, and even attendees who are from California but have never been on the roads we took this weekend, had a great time. Harley-Davidson riders have great camaraderie anyway, and the H.O.G. state rallies give them the opportunity to meet each other and swap stories… and get their bikes dusted off by girls in bikinis.”
After dinner was served, rally coordinator Keith “Coffee” Kaufman took the stage to present a number of prizes and awards. There were awards presented for everything from the dirtiest bike to best paint and best in show, which was awarded to David from El Cajon.
After the presentation, I approached Coffee and asked his take on how things went. “We put in a bid for this rally and I gathered my committee together, all volunteers, and what I got was a group of people who knew absolutely nothing about putting on a rally, including myself. Nothing. That’s why I think it was successful, because when you don’t know what you can’t do, you try. So we went in with great ideas, crazy ideas. I mean, I’ve never been to a state rally were there was a zip line going over people’s heads. We were just doing different things. So that’s what I put out to anyone trying to do anything; whether it’s putting on a rally or learning how to ride a motorcycle; Don’t let someone tell you can’t do it; try it instead. Have some fun with it. You never know how successful you can be unless you just try. In the very beginning we said we want to put on the biggest, and then we quickly changed our focus to being the best; and if it was the best then we knew it would be bigger. I think we hit on both targets; we were the biggest and we had the best, and so I’m extremely thankful to my committee, to my volunteers, to all the participants who came out and all the support. And thanks to JT from Harley-Davidson, who never did tell me I couldn’t.”