The first Touratech rally on the east coast!
Or, “The weekend of joy and pain.”
Piggybacking on the second annual Mid-Atlantic Overland Festival, Touratech finally brought their adventure rally to the east coast. Based in McAlvey’s Fort, PA – between State College and Huntingdon – the rally promised some of the best public dirt roads in Pennsylvania’s state parks and forests. Todd and I signed up several months early and waited patiently for what would be our first camping trip of 2015.
Baron the Dachshund does my final walk-around inspection.
I sorted through my camping gear and packed the Super Tenere a few days before departure. Thursday morning, I hit the PA Turnpike west, and met Todd at the Family Diner in Harrisburg, for a late breakfast. This being our first overnight trip of the year, the loaded weight of the big Tenere was unusually apparent as I leaned it onto the kickstand in the diner’s parking lot. After a hearty breakfast and a scenic highway run west on Rt 322, we hit the nicely-paved 2-lane roads leading to the McAlvey’s Fort area.
The entrance to the rally was not where I had put it in my GPS, based on the coordinates given on the rally’s website. I began to turn around at one point while searching, but then I spotted the two large Touratech flags looming over the access road, just another 1/4-mile down Route 26. We rolled down the dirt-and-gravel driveway to the check-in desk around the first turn, where we received our wristbands (one for the rider, one for the bike) and our rally packs (stickers, a plastic beer mug, some literature on Touratech and the Mid-Atlantic Overland Festival, and a carabiner with a nylon loop whose function would be revealed to us later). Implicit instructions were given on navigating the rest of the driveway to the camp/rally site – the “road” was just wide enough for one passenger car, so rally volunteers were serious about traffic control. Nobody rolls down the driveway until they get the “all clear” from the volunteers.
Once we were allowed to proceed, we followed the road to the camp site, where our friend Anthony was directing traffic into the two camp sites – motorcycles in the Touratech area, and four-wheelers in the Overland area. The camping area was a flat, wide-open field, with the Touratech tents at the far end, and the Overland vendors beyond that, up on top of the hill. We were among the early arrivals, so we had almost the entire field to choose from. We chose the lower tree-line to our left, near the exit path, and set up our tents. There is still something about camping – setting up my own shelter, with basic comforts – that makes me feel as liberated as riding the bike does. Maybe it’s as simple as a change of scenery and pace, but it felt good to have our campsite up early. Getting the extra weight off the bikes was a relief as well. Read more