THIS MUST BE my lucky year, because Dealernews handed me the assignment of covering the Drag Specialties Lone Star Run held the first week of November. Base camp was at the expansive Hyatt Regency Hill Country Resort in San Antonio, Texas, and the weather was unseasonably warm to accommodate.
The Lone Star Run provided a great finish to a generally "up" year in the V-Twin motorcycle business. Some of the best dealers and aftermarket accessory manufacturers were at the Run to do a little business and enjoy two days of riding through Texas Hill Country. Tough work, but someone had to do it.
Kick-starting the event was the Performance Alley, where a couple-dozen Drag suppliers set up tents to meet their best customers (dealers) face to face. Without consumers milling about, suppliers had an excellent opportunity to talk shop, expert to expert. Some showed future product to obtain feedback from the dealers who soon will be selling it at the retail level.
Although it was hot and humid in the outdoor display area, everyone enjoyed themselves, and excitement was in the air with the expectation of two thrilling days of riding in the very near future.
Our first day consisted of 300 miles of motoring all over the Texas Hill Country northwest of San Antonio. My partners in crime on this two-wheeled adventure: a merry band of Black Hills bikers that consisted of Terry Rymer, owner of Black Hills Harley-Davidson in Rapid City, S.D., and his service manager, Jeff; parts manager, Brian; and master technician, Chris. Accompanying us were Jesse Jurrens, owner of Legend Suspension, and Jeff Zielinski, president of Namz Custom Cycle Products.
We started the ride around 9 a.m. and headed west, following a map provided by Drag Specialties. Rolling hills, curves both tight and wide, and dozens of ranches created the premier scenery on this sunny day. The combination made every wheel rotation a pleasure.
First stop was lunch at the Bent Rim Grill (see image, above right) in the little town of Leakey. Bent Rim is a Texas-style ice house with open-air seating and some pretty cool motorcycle memorabilia on display. It's a popular stop for local riders of all brands. (I highly recommend ordering the Ultra Burger.)
After lunch we continued the ride by doing a counter-clockwise loop, going north on Texas 336 per the advice of Bob, Bent Rim's proprietor. Bob told us this direction would be much more dramatic as we'd be riding down a bunch of twisties into a canyon. He was right. Throughout the day our merry band of bikers managed the winding narrow roads nicely while pushing the posted speed limits just a little to keep it interesting. Traffic was light.
(I have to compliment the cagers in Texas: They are the most considerate I've encountered in a long time. As cars and trucks approached, most would move further over to their right to give us as much room as possible. That's in stark contrast to drivers in my home state of Arizona who, more often than not, hug and even cross the center line into oncoming traffic.)
We rolled back to the hotel with ample time to get ready for the Drag Specialties reception and dinner. By visual guesstimate there seemed to be a little more than 150 dealers, manufacturers, customizers and Drag employees assembled. I thought there might be a lot of propaganda-type speeches and Drag Specialties cheers, but there was little of that.
Indeed, the Lone Star Run was designed to be a casual event to show gratitude for a job well done -- it's not business-focused as much as it is relationship-focused. As a Drag Specialties dealer, you must earn admission to the weekend by the purchases you make during the year. If you're a supplier, you ante up a few grand to contribute to the event costs. But once the party starts, it's all about the sport, the camaraderie of your peers, the machinery, and the ride.
And ride we did, on rental bikes like my Road Glide to fully modified motorcycles built for show-and-go, like the naked RSD custom ridden by a Roland Sands Design employee named Cameron Brewer. Then there was Piston Pete's Road Glide (see image, above right), adorned with $100 bills, and Jerry Covington's gorgeously engraved Road Glide (left). Topping it off was the eye-popping "Looney Tunes" Victory bagger designed with cartoon characters covering the real state from nose to toe, courtesy fellow Dealernews columnist and motorcycle custom builder and dealer Rick Fairless (see first image at top of article). (continued)