JOHN DAY – The sun shone as more than 500 BMW motorcyclists hummed into town for the 2012 Chief Joseph Rally.

Riders from across Oregon, Canada, Illinois and as far away as Florida enjoyed a kickstart to the event with a cowboy breakfast at the Oliver Ranch east of Seneca.

Sponsored by BMW Riders of Oregon, the rally featured tours of the countryside for both street bike and off-road.

Rides included jaunts to sites such as the John Day Fossil Beds and museums in John Day, Canyon City and Prairie City; a GPS mystery tour; and a ladies-only ride to an undisclosed location.

Presenting seminars on bike safety was David Hough, author of “Mastering the Ride: More Proficient Motorcycling” as well as other books and magazine columns.

When asked what he enjoys about BMW motorcycles, Chris Henry of Eugene, secretary of BMWRO, noted that for him, it’s the precision and performance the bikes offer.

“It’s a superbly engineered machine,” he said. “When I rode one for the first time I said, ‘That’s going to be my next bike.”

“I had to wait 15 years,” he added, noting the bikes come at a considerable cost.

Steve Barnett of Portland, treasurer, said the safety features are a positive quality about the bikes adding that BMW was the first motorcycle to have anti-lock brakes.

Rally master and club president Clarence Story of Eugene said it’s the people that draw the bikers to the event.

Chris Henry agreed the people – and especially the rides – are what he and others enjoy most.

Story noted that the good relationship the club has with the fairgrounds staff and the Grant County Chamber of Commerce helps the rally run smoothly.

“They have been so receptive to us – we couldn’t do it without the help,” he said, giving particular thanks to fairgrounds manager Mary Weaver and office manager Vickie Mullin.

In return the club gives back to the community each year with donations to local nonprofit organizations. Last year, $5,000 was given away to organizations including the Grant County Food Bank, Humbolt Elementary PTA and Families First Resource Center.

“We do it because of the relationship we have with Grant County,” he said.


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