It has been requested that we give future UnRally planners more time and some basic guidelines, so that they can start scouting areas, contacting hotels, seeing about a place for the group meal on the last day, etc., well ahead of the proposal due dates.
The "UnRally" is a non-commercial (no vendors, seminars, etc.) gathering of members from this board. Non-member friends are welcome to register for an Un as well, doesn't matter what they ride. The Un's purpose is to help us all put faces to the names we communicate with on the board, and to "share the love" we all have for riding. As such, it is a simple event. A beautiful location with good roads and great friends, both old and new. Maybe a T-shirt. And definitely a group meal on the last day to wrap things up and help solidify our camaraderie and sense of community. Those are the basics and, as we like to say, we want to Keep It Simple.
First, we encourage you to take a look around during your motorcycle/car travels. If you come across an area that fits the description below, please add it to the other thread(s) in this forum. While the discussion below addresses the 2015 UnRally, we have one every year, alternating from the western half to the eastern half. And yes, Canada is included. So if you think you've got a great spot, let us know.
The 2014 UnRally will be in the West, specifically in the Palouse region of Eastern WA and Northern ID. Therefore, the 2015 UnRally will be held in the eastern half of the North American continent. “Eastern” means to the right of Lebanon, KS, the geographic center of the continental U.S. So eastern Dakotas, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas, all the way to the Atlantic Ocean. Austin, TX probably qualifies for the east, San Antonio would be borderline, but we can talk. Anyway, you get the picture.
Here are some of the basics we look for in a proposal:
• A location with good, challenging and picturesque roads, loops and destinations. And off-road riding suitable for novice to mid-level GS riders. Single-track is good if not so technical as to defy passage on a GS, but can also be iffy, especially if rainfall is likely to alter it between your scouting runs and the actual event. And we want moderate weather (example: Atlanta in August is probably not a good idea)
• A location where a single hotel is capable of housing all of us. Figure on 80-120 registrants, although that number can vary depending on location. We’ve had nearly 200 at some events, although that’s rare. If you figure 80-120, that's relatively safe, and with couple and friends doubling up, 80-90 rooms should be the max we'll need. The Admin Team can offer suggestions based on previous attendances at similar sites.
• The Un is a mid-week event, typically Mon-Wed or Tues-Thurs. This gives participants the bookend weekends for travel to/from.
• We try to keep hotel rates below $100/night, although below $90 is even better. Still, we want you to HQ the event at a clean place that's kept up. Keep in mind that we’re a fairly good-size group, and group rates can be substantially below the normal room rate. Don’t be afraid to ask. And if you have a GREAT location, but the rates are higher, submit it anyway. We may poll the members and see if they want to pay a bit more for an extra-good location.
• Said hotel should have a common area for après-ride gathering, story embellishment, and the occasional outright fabrication. Generally, the parking lot does not fulfill this need (there have been exceptions). A grassy area, someplace outdoors with tables/chairs, or a hotel courtyard is preferred.
• Hotel should have a couple of lunch locations and some decent dinner restaurants within walking distance.
• Camping allowed on the premises would be perfect (about 10-20 tents), although admittedly hard to coordinate. Camping next door would be the next best thing, and within walking distance is acceptable (across the street or about 50-75 yards away will work). Do your best to secure it. Not everyone can afford hotels. Nearby camping is a factor in the selection process, but its unavailability will not automatically exclude a proposal.
• For the group meal on the last day, we will need a room large enough to seat/feed up to 100 people, including room for the buffet/food to be set up. Sometimes such a room comes with a caterer. Sometimes you contract with each separately. Try to keep catered costs to around $20-$25/head (including the room, if booked/paid separately). Some hotels have banquet rooms they'll throw into the deal, if we get the food from their restaurant. Other times, a nearby restaurant will have a banquet room we can have in exchange for eating there. Just be sure of the source/quality of the food. No one wants a bellyache all the way home. FYI, some caterers can provide a large tent and tables, so perhaps a community park will serve your needs (check for required permits, please).
• An event T-shirt is not required, although we’ve always had one. We have people on this board who will help with this. It is NOT necessary to provide printed cups, drink cozies, medallions, stickers or commemorative underwear. Keep It Simple. Your Un will be the best one there’s ever been, even without these tchotchkes. At least until the next Un. And then until the one after that.
• The UnRally is held in June, July or August. Much depends on the weather at the specific location. But also keep in mind the weather across the U.S. at that time of year, as participants will usually travel 2, sometimes 3 days to get there, and just as long to get home. A miserable ride to/from can make the joy of an Un unappealing and cut down on attendance. We suggest earlier in the season, such as just prior to, or immediately following the 4th of July week. Also, hotel rates are a lot lower earlier in the season. Still, your geographic location will determine much of this.
• Putting on an UnRally is done from the heart, FOR the BMWST.com community. When it’s complete, we want the organizers to be able to enjoy a really good dinner with their S.O. as a Thank You for all their hard work. If any funds remain beyond that we ask that they be submitted to the Board to help cover the annual hosting/operating costs of BMWST.com.
If you are interested in preparing a proposal for an Eastern Un for 2015, please go ahead and begin the process at any time. However, please do not submit it to the Admin Team until Un submissions are requested, which will be about a year in advance (somewhere around the time that the 2014 Un takes place). During your research and prep, we’re always available for Q&A if needed (just PM any Admin). By posting the above, we hope to be able to announce the following year’s UnRally as much as 12 months ahead of time. This will give the maximum number of people enough time to book their vacation slots with their employers, and to begin planning to attend.
The suggestions above are subject to modification as we fine-tune the Un’s guidelines in an ongoing effort to provide the clearest possible parameters.