Apple Mountain’s East Coast Motorcycle Rally
By Tracey “Gypsy” Kohman
Pictures & Video by Pat & Tracey Kohman
There isn’t a biker anywhere who hasn’t heard of Sturgis… and there isn’t a biker anywhere who doesn’t have it on their “bucket list.” I spoke about it several times to my husband, Pat, then he told me we don’t have to go that far to have the same amazing experience! He had stumbled onto an ad for a motorcycle event touted as the “East Coast Sturgis.”
Apple Mountain’s East Coast Motorcycle Rally… how was it that no one I knew had heard of this gem of an event? We immediately ordered our tickets, $40 each, which included onsite camping! Pat spoke to Kenny Appel, of Apple Mountain Productions LLC., the man behind it all, and he assured us that Sturgis had nothing on them, people came in droves every year. He said we would have to see the “demolition,” it was unique, because nowhere else would we see one. He told us no children, and what happens on Apple Mountain, stays on Apple Mountain. It was however still about six weeks away, and as avid campers we looked forward to the experience and waited impatiently for the day to come.
A couple weeks before the event we happened to be staying at a campground just a short way down the road from where the event would take place and we took the opportunity to take a ride by and see what we could see.
Up the mountain we went… it was a beautiful ride thru Little Orleans (population estimated at 50). Trees filled in the side of the winding road climbing up Apple Mountain. Only one other vehicle passed us by on our way there. When we arrived at the location, we saw that it was empty…. nothing around for miles, and there was a locked gate blocking entrance to the event grounds. From the gate all we could see was a dirt road that led up to meet the sky. We couldn’t see anything of the event grounds. Both bummed and excited, we were even more anxious to see what was up there!
Over the next two weeks we carefully packed and planned arrangements for my little goblins to stay with family in anticipation for the few days that we would be away. When the day came, we were more than ready and got on the road as early as we could, we didn’t want to miss anything!
As we once again entered Little Orleans, we could hear the loud roar of groups of bikes coming and going waking up this once sleeping mountain town. We followed it right to the gates that had been locked, now wide open and full of activity. We handed the gatekeeper our tickets and pulled the camper to the top of the road and beyond where it seemed to end. Once at the top we could see that it was a huge open area surrounded by trees and mountains… and there were many other campers already parked. It was somewhat cramped and getting filled quickly. Our neighbors were friendly so the close proximity wasn’t an issue. There were no camper amenities available, but they did have someone who would come out and supply water, and drain campers. They also had porta potties plentiful. I am generally not a porta potty gal…but I didn’t have a whole lot of choice. I wasn’t looking forward to the experience. Each stall was marked men/women accordingly. They were all extremely clean… as if I had been using a restroom in a home.
After we unpacked, I ventured out to meet some neighbors. One camper had some entertaining signs out in front of their camper, “Drunk People Crossing” and “Drunk Zone” to name a couple. I don’t think they were drunk… yet… but definitely ready to party! “Barbara” told me how they had been coming to this event for years, she mentioned all the events they go to regularly, but this one is their overall favorite.
Pat and I were both ready to explore. We walked through a field full of campers, bikes, cars and people. Found our way to the vendors… always my favorite stop! There were sunglasses, cowboy hats, leather coats/pants/shirts and other equipment. There weren’t a lot of vendors, but the vendors that were there had some nice variety, and of course there is the official event vendor, where I picked up a t-shirt for my souvenir t-shirt collection.
There wasn’t much going on yet, it was early in the day and people were still arriving. We wandered around past food vendors, and a beer stand… from there we could see the large stage… where the three bands that were billed would be playing. Kashmir, a Led Zep tribute band, was getting set up and doing sound checks at that very moment. There was still plenty of room on the grass in front of the stage although people were beginning to gather. We took a spot close to the stage and enjoyed listening to the music and seeing everyone having a great time!
That is where our first night ended…we took our time going back to our camper and walked around a bit more once we realized that there were different sections where campers and tents were set up… there were thousands! we enjoyed the mountains and fresh air while hiking back to our camper… we had actually gone quite a ways without even realizing it. We spent a quiet evening outside in front of our camper listening to the music, chatter and roar of the bikes til I couldn’t keep my eyes open anymore! Tomorrow was going to be a busy day!
When tomorrow arrived, we headed out pretty quickly so as not to miss a thing! We headed up the dirt path between the campers, which had increased in numbers since the night before. The path ended at that driveway that we came in on, and across from it a table was set up with signs directing those interested on how to sign up for the poker run that was being sponsored by ABATE of Western Maryland LNC. It was the only event that was not included in the admission. The registration fee was only $10, and it would go back into the community to help those in need. They sponsor several poker runs each year.
The first stop of six was of course the gas station…. Belle Grove Exxon. The second, Briar Patch Bar. The third, Roadkill Café. The fourth, Town Hill B&B. The fifth, Oak Barrel Pub, then finally, the last stop, Bill’s Place.
Bill’s Place is a log cabin style building that includes a bar, diner, and general store. It’s a very popular stop for campers, hunters, hikers and of course, bikers. It sits above fifteen-mile creek access to the Potomac River and the C&O Canal tow path. A beautiful scenic ride.
When we arrived, the party was already in full swing… people in the streets, people on the outside porch. Bikes lined the streets, people were coming and going and rocking out to the female vocalist who was currently singing a Melissa Etheridge song. They had their own line-up of entertainment…. on Friday was Marv Ashby & High Octane and 4 Against All… Saturday was Jagstone and Sean & Perry Kamp… followed by the blessing of the bikes. We stayed there for part of the afternoon absorbing the scenery, the music, and of course the relaxing atmosphere.
After enjoying the music for awhile we headed on back because we didn’t want to miss any of the games. They had the common games; Weenie bite, slow race, keg roll, jousting, helmet toss, thong pull… ball grab… burn out pit… They were all fun to watch, and the crowd was excited for each contestant in each game. Then came the applesauce wrestling…all in good fun…I was impressed…I know it wouldn’t be something for me…
The final event was the demolition derby. Never have I ever seen a motorcycle demolition… so I did look forward to this one. It had been explained to us that the motorcycles were old retired “Secret Service Bikes” ….and each year after the derby they would fix them up and make them run again for the next year
All the bikes that were getting demolished were sent to different parts of the arena that was set up… then they would all come out at the same time… running into each bike, riding around in circles till coming in contact with another… sometimes getting bikes tangled and having to stop and untangle them. There was dirt flying everywhere which at times made it difficult to see… but the crowd was going wild!
Without a doubt it was one of the best events I have attended this year…a huge mountain, with nothing but space to roam… winding roads thru beautiful scenery… rarely a car in sight… the sound of the engines roaring… an old school good time with very few rules… no colors… no roping off areas… no ATV’s… no fireworks… no kids…no dogs… no attitudes… no firearms…then the big one posted at the exit gate… “No nudity beyond this point.”