MR2 – Michigan Renegade Mountain Ride


By Ian Orr

The third annual weeklong MR2 event just wrapped up this past weekend and in short it was nigh on perfect, with glorious weather, fabulous roads and a blend of the truly unique people who belong to the Michigan chapter of the MSTA. Glorious weather is simply good timing with Mother Nature. Fabulous roads are just plate tectonics and some inspiration from the local department of transportation. Unique people are what truly matters and we had 45 unique personalities all coming together with a common mantra; ride, eat, sleep, repeat! Technophiles melded with technophobes, extroverts mixed with introverts and teetotalers had absolutely no effect on drinkers – when the bikes were parked liquid lubricants flowed freely. 45 people riding up to 250 miles per day for 4 to 5 days on some of the best and most technical roads in the U.S. would seem like an insurance company’s worst nightmare – surefire mayhem. But in spite of a large range of skill levels and a total riding distance exceeding 45,000 miles the two minor incidents that occurred came down to just being at the wrong place at the wrong time. Despite of our best efforts only two high-performance riding awards were handed out and a single verbal warning for passing on the double yellows. Several riders burned through rear tires, requiring a last minute visit to a local bike shop for an expensive replacement tire.

Bike and Prom
Bike and Prom

Joe and Reid Arozarena caught of glimpse of who we are at a recent 500 mile ride and took a chance by first joining the MSTA and then by joining us at MR2. Under the practiced tutelage of Steve Gross, Dave O’ and Kent Neiderhofer they learned how to ride in a group, where they needed to increase their skills and are currently investigating improving their riding craft by attending track days. Steve’s group visited Bridal Veil Falls near Highlands, NC and let their bikes be props for a high school prom group photo – you just can’t buy better public relations for motorcyclists than that.

Sonia Ramos made MR2 her first sojourn onto the Smoky Mountain area roads with her new BMW. Without fail she arrived back at the Inn each afternoon with an ear-to-ear grin and, thanks to her riding partner, TroyWollenslegel, and his camera mounted ST1300, video-proof of her rides.

Florida MSTA member, Kostas Sfakiotakis, rode up from the Florida panhandle, successfully loaded all ten MR2 gpx files onto his iPhone, and didn’t miss a single turn while riding with his father-in-law, Pete Beightol. Maybe it’s time to take a lesson from Kostas and check into smart phone gps apps? As the MR2 routemeister I really wouldn’t be all that disappointed if my own GPS fell off its mount and created a thousand little shimmering waypoints all over a North Carolina back road.

White Oak Mountain Overlook
White Oak Mountain Overlook

A new route was available which riders discovered included a section with almost two dozen steep, uphill 180° turns, each turn separated by less than 20 yards. A second steep section, rising 2,000 feet within 4 miles was topped by an incredible view from White Oak Mountain. The adventure bike crowd, sitting high in the saddle with tillers for handlebars, loved it, while the sport bikers, straddling a high performance, overheating nuclear reactor with no ground clearance, not so much.

Personal schedules and commitments required early and late arrivals and departures so riding groups were always in flux but the nightly pre-riding had a common theme – sharing the memories of that day’s ride, planning the next day’s ride and sharing the fellowship of each other’s company. The mid-week group dinner had 100% attendance, as we took over the restaurant’s entire banquet area. Set your calendars for May 8th, 2016 when we get do it all again.

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