By Pastor Z
Panama City’s Fall Thunder Beach Rally is always one of my favorites. The weather is just about perfect as everywhere else it’s really cooling down around the end of October, but Panama City is in the mid 80’s to low 90’s. Absolutely perfect weather for a bike rally.
Thousands pour in from all over the East Coast, and other parts of the country to come to this beautiful peninsula. Our Bikers for Christ SE Regional Rally is also held there every year – so we actually bring our own party of 65-70 members to this place that offers great roads to ride, beautiful beaches, and multiple destinations and attractions. So it’s always a special time of great fellowship, and re-connecting with members from all over the south and other states as well. Every morning we started with a Bible study / devotionals led by a SE BFC leader, at our condos on the beach – it was a beautiful way to start each day. The beach is breath-taking, and not cluttered with thousands of people – so it felt like we had a private resort that weekend.
And of course there were custom bikes everywhere, rat bikes, space-ship type bikes, and my favorites – the “Old School Cool” bikes !
Both Harley Davidson and Indian / Polaris had some great demo rides going on. On Thursday morning a few of our couples decided to try out the new 2018 Polaris Slingshots. Although getting into the two side by side seaters was a challenge, once they got rolling they all said the same thing: While the ride of course feels different than a conventional two-wheel motorcycle, the Slingshots are “Total Screamers”.
The acceleration is really quick, and cornering is an absolute blast as they handle incredibly well. With the price-friendly packages you can get into one for about the same price as a
Large Two Wheeled Touring Bike. While most Die-hard Bikers say “Two wheels until I die”, the Slingshots seem to be a great options for many different types of riders… Some just like the comfort, great cornering abilities and of course the amazing acceleration. These vehicles could also be really helpful for handicapped riders, and others who are no longer able to “hold-up” large touring bikes that weigh 800-1,000+ lb.’s. The Slingshots also seemed more fun to our test pilots than the Can Am Spyders – who have tried both brands. The Slingshot is best described as a cross between a High Performance Motorcycle, and a Sport’s Car.
Thursday night we headed down to our favorite steak house in town – “Angelos”. They’ve been in business since the early days, and their beef rivals any that I’ve had anywhere in the U.S.A. With our 50+ BFC members rolling in – we took over 1/3 of the restaurant. The service was great, the food was off the chain, and the fellowship with everyone was really sweet.
On Friday we hit some vendors, and took in some beautiful rides through the city, as well as hitting some great roads with forests on both sides. Again some beautiful country there. Special thanks to my buddy “Smokin’ Joe” who loaned me his custom Dyna Street Bob. It handled great and made lots of noise. Just the way I like them. Some of the gals went shopping, and we of course went in search of cool biker goodies. We went by every vendor at Frank Brown’s Park – and there were all types of businesses represented there.
We checked out some of the amazing bikes at the bike show, and we also took in a few of the free concerts that took place that weekend. Thunder Beach was indeed a Rockin’ Event !
On Friday night we had a special treat. We attended the “Confederate Railroad / Kentucky Headhunters” concert at the Thunder Beach Main Stage at Frank Brown Park. It was a great venue with an awesome stage, and lots of folks. Because I’ve been a friend of the Kentucky Headhunters since the 90’s – a dozen of us got to go backstage with the band. That was such a blessing re-connecting with my old friends in the band. They are one of the most hard-working Southern Rock, Blues, Country Bands out there. Greg and the boys travel to play many dates all year long, and are a crowd pleasing- must see band. They are also really laid back, friendly country boys who have not let world-wide fame go to their heads. Just some good old Southern Boys making an honest living playing the tunes that they love, and hanging out with their fans (who are more like friends with these guys).
One of our BFC gals: Linda took a picture with Richard who sings and plays guitar with the band 25 years ago, and they both got together again to update their Kodak moment (and she had the original picture with her). It was a special moment for both Linda and Richard to grab another pic together 25 years later. I also had a pic of me and the guys from my old band “Broken Vessel” from the Early 90’s, with the K.H.’s. So it was neat to get new pics with their crew again.
On Saturday we once again hit the vendors at the local Harley shop, Lucky 13, and at Pier Park. And once again another awesome day with the BFC crew looking for that cool item that you just can’t live without. We ended our day with dinner at “The Back Porch” restaurant which puts out some of the best sea food in P.C.B. Again we took over ½ of the restaurant for their dinner hour.. And we had some hearty meals and some great conversation !
The next morning many of our members were packing up for their rides home which varied from 50-100 miles away to 700 miles away. And as they say – the saddest part of a great weekend is saying goodbye to all of your sweet friends.
We’ll all look forward to hitting Thunder Beach together again in 2018. As the Terminator said “I’ll Be Back” !