By Norm Kern
If I had to come up with one word to describe this year’s MSTA FlyBy Week, it would be uncertainty.
With Covid19 hanging over our heads, no one knew in advance how risky it would be to host or attend the rally.
All but a few of our Motorcycle Sport Touring Association events have been cancelled this year, so it was especially important to have FlyBy Week if at all possible so our members can salvage at least a part of the riding season. That said, we needed to make attending as safe as possible, not only for our attendees, but for the community as well.
We told attendees to wear masks and social distance before coming to Marietta, Ohio, and not attend unless they felt 100% well.
People come to FlyBy Week to ride the fun roads of SE Ohio and N West Virginia. Riding outdoors in small groups is one of the best ways to enjoy time with friends and stay safe from COVID. 2020 was the best year ever for FlyBy Week routes- we had 25 to choose from, including five Adventure routes.
Social distancing at the hotel was our greatest challenge. Fortunately, our trademark “Outdoor Lounge” with lots of chairs and flexible outdoor seating enabled attendees to socialize while maintaining social distancing. The only other gathering place was the large registration room, which has a capacity of over 80 people but never had more than about 20 present.
We had to eliminate the evening “dinner tours” where we normally provide transportation for dining downtown at the many nice bars and restaurants Marietta has to offer. Individuals with cars, trucks etc. filled in the gap on their own.
Likewise we had to eliminate the Friday and Saturday buffet dinners and just provide bottled water and packaged snacks. Fortunately a nearby grill & pub, Wings Etc, had a huge menu selection and fast delivery service to the hotel. Everyone who ordered was very happy with the food.
Breakfast at the Baymont Inn was officially closed, but for FlyBy Week attendees they provided breakfast burritos that could be heated in your room, waffles, cereal, milk and juice.
So how did it all go?
As usual, attendance was light early in the week, but more people arrived each day, with most arriving Thursday and Friday. The initial weather forecast was for nice weather for the entire week, but that changed due to the remnants of hurricane Laura coming ashore in the Texas Gulf. Thunderstorms were forecast for Marietta, Thursday through Saturday. This kept about 20% of the people away. The rest came anyway. Rob Bowling of Dayton, Ohio, had the typical reaction. “I’ve already got the time off from work and have missed most events this year due to COVID, so I’m coming and riding anyway!”
Predictions of thunderstorms are common in late August and their scattered nature means that if you pay attention to radar and local conditions, you can choose a time and direction for your ride that will keep you dry.
For example, our Thursday riding group did the lunch ride to Beallsville Diner in Beallsville, Ohio. We had partly cloudy skies and perfect conditions through lunch, but a thunderstorm moved in when we were ready to leave. We waited about ten minutes until it became a light sprinkle. The afternoon route took us west, quickly into dry conditions, and by the time the route turned South back toward Marietta, the storms had moved out.
Friday was much the same- most riders stayed dry but a few got soaked. The forecast for Saturday was the worst, but by 10AM, the sun came out with cool dry air and dried off the roads in half an hour, making it the most beautiful day of the week.
In spite of COVID and the weather forecast, we had 79 attendees, a good turnout for a really strange year. In addition to great riding and needed socializing with friends, people went home with lots of goodies too. Iron Pony provided lots of SWAG, and we had nice Windy 9/ Two- Wheel Power Hour T-shirts to give away. A big Tip of the Helmet goes to Larry Ward, who provided the shirts and does his weekly motorcycle show on WKBN radio in Akron, Ohio. This was a particularly nice touch since we had to cancel the FlyBy Week shirts due to COVID uncertainty.
Saturday evening’s closing festivities at the outdoor lounge featured door prizes from Lemon & Barret’s Powersports, of Parkersburg, West Virginia. Most attendees got one of the prizes which included five helmets, lots of chain lube and plastic polish.
Another highlight was the drawing of the winning ticket for the annual MSTA bike raffle which was for a 2019 Suzuki V-Strom adventure bike.
FlyBy Week event proceeds raised $1250 for the Dan Clark fund, which is a MSTA benefit to reimburse members for safety related expenses such as riding gear and advanced rider education courses. Here’s a big Tip of the Helmet to everyone who attended and helped out.
FlyBy week will return to Marietta at a new venue next year. Mark your calendar for August 23-29, 2021. Hope to see you there. The 2021 web site will be online January 1st at https://flybyweek.com/
Connect with local Ohio Motorcycle Sport Touring Association riders at these monthly breakfasts:
Southwest Ohio Breakfast, 9AM October 17
Village Family Restaurant
144 S. Main St.
Waynesville, OH 45068
Central Ohio Breakfast, 8AM, November 1
6515 S High St
Lockbourne, OH 43137