While the old adage, "it's the ride, not the destination, that's most important," is gospel to many; it's not always possible for everyone to ride. I'd bet that just as many riders look forward to the destination more than the ride itself. Sometimes weather or other issues cause some to even drive to the rally or bike show. We've been to many rallies where it was freezing cold and raining for a week and there was no riding to be had by anyone. There's not much worse than plunking down a few grand of hard earned cash to have to sit inside while your bike is wet outside. You don't need to be a badass biker or act like one to be a part of the community.
Speaking of community-that is what it's really all about. We like to be around like-minded people who share a common bond. For as much as we all like to ride it's the people who ride that make it just as special. Look around any rally or bike night to see what I'm saying here. We're a close-knit tribe and like to mingle with our own. While I'm sure a square dancing weekend is a great time for many, there's not many riders that would feel comfortable rolling up in their Sturgis t-shirt with grizzled road-weary skin and sidle up to the bar with a bunch of dancers in their frilly tablecloth outfits. Nothing against that crew, but it's just not ours. Riders share a special bond that's hard to find in many other hobbies or activities. Even when we're not talking about bikes or riding we know when we're with another rider that they get "it."
That's some of the reason Debbie and Dean Anderson started the High Seas Rally (HSR); avoiding bad weather but maintaining the camaraderie of the biking lifestyle. Imagine a rally without any ego, price gouging, or cops to harass you. The HSR I recently attended cruised throughout the Caribbean on the second largest ship in the world stopping at warm and tropical destinations including Jamaica, the Cayman Islands, and Cozumel all the while fulfilling rider's needs with private themed parties, giveaways, bike vendors, and contests. Comedian Roy Riley kept the laughs coming for the adult-only event. During the nightly giveaways and raffles there was over $344,000 in cash and prizes given away to rally goers. It broke down like this: 50/50 cash giveaway, 6 people split $35,665; poker walk cash winners, 6 people split $9,670; pirate biker bingo, 5 cash winners split $15,070; largest groups in attendance, 3 groups split $6,000 cash; tattoo contest payout, $2,375 cash; a cabin giveaway, $2,500 cabin credit; cabin raffle winners, $2,500 to each of 33 winners $82,500; 391 vendor prize giveaways, valued at $122,412; Lehman trike raffle winner, $30,000; and the grand prize HSR RoadGlide $38,000.
All of this activity plus the amazing ship's amenities was enjoyed by the 1,700 people in attendance for the rally. While it's all about fun, we riders give back to the community too. Dean and Debbie invite kidney dialysis patients on board every year using monies raised by previous HSR attendees. This year $183,000 was raised from the generous folks in attendance and used for future patients to receive treatment at sea and realize a dream come true of being able to leave home while still receiving top notch healthcare.
It's all about the people though. This was my second trip with the High Seas crew and many of the friends I met last year came back again. It was an amazing reunion with people from all over the US and Canada and it felt like we had never been apart for a whole year. The continuing relationships I've established have truly changed my life, much like an epic Sturgis or Laconia trip can. I didn't ride a bike for a week, but that's not always the most important thing in life. The HSR breaks down the ego of whose bike is bigger, prettier, or faster. We were all on the ship to have a great time, swap stories, develop and rekindle friendships. It's not any different than my dozens of road trips except it's the only time all year I'll be wearing shorts (as well as many other white-legged participants). I'm in the process of making plans for this upcoming Sturgis with the awesome people I've met on the cruise. We're all sure to be on our bikes for that one. Hopefully the hail, lightning, and rain gods will be on our side.
For more information visit highseasrally.com. The website answers just about any question imaginable. The next HSR Alaska Adventure Rally Cruise is June 18-25, 2011. The 9th Annual Western Caribbean Rally Cruise, October 30-November 6, 2011. Be there, you will have the time of your life. Note: the photos here are just a glimpse of the fun and HIGHLY edited for family viewing.