Treasured Memories at the1903 Rally

Chapter Organiser: 

  • National Rally

When William S. Harley and the Davidson’s decided to build their own motorcycle in 1903, they could never have thought that more than a century later that idea would become an aspiration for millions of motorcycle riders. Thus the 1903 legend was born; in celebration the Gold Rand Chapter included this significant date as their Rally identity.  Earlier this year, Clarens in the Free State came alive to the roar of Harley-Davidson® motorcycles as riders streamed in to attend the 1903 Rally.

1903 had it all - good food, good music great roads and exciting biking adventures combined with the tradition of charity run made this rally exceptional.  There was glamour and glitz for the ladies, the company of old friends and new, a concourse with prizes and a treasure hunt!

The Harley® biking brotherhood gets together at rallies to share their passion for our amazing machines and to tell hair-raising riding stories.  Several Harley Owners Group® Chapters gathered as one at the event, enjoying nostalgic tales of challenges met, sights seen and roads travelled.

The Ride...

Less travelled roads are discovered by riders with every rally.  The route via Heilbron taken by the Gold Rand pack riders were much more scenic with a lot less potholes than the well known Frankfort route.  Getting lost was fun too when the sign board indicated Kroonstad ahead, Road Captain and Marshals had to put heads together and figure what nameless turnoff was missed.  These back roads are so unknown that the GPS does not even pick them up!

After a few good-humoured U-turns, we eventually arrived at OJ’s in Heilbron, who offered a fantastic brunch to riders who were so hungry even the road-kill decided to crawl off to safety.

The Rally...

Gold Rand Chapter opted to host a smaller intimate Rally, they most certainly underestimated the interest their 1903 Rally would raise after their well presented Rally press release.  Registrations was limited at 180 guests in the luxurious Protea Hotel in Clarens, not surprising, enquiries exceeded the amount by far. H.O.G.® members not wanting to be left out of the fun of the rally made plans of their own and booked into surrounding accommodations, even though they were not able to frequent the Gala Dinner they took part in the organised activities and charity hand over. 

A well scheduled Rally program left ample time in between the start of each event for attendees to spend time in town and with friends without feeling pressured.  As Clarens has a handful of restaurants, patrons could choose where they wanted to dine on Friday evening after their welcome at the Hotel.  A lot of hard work and thought went into the rally décor, huge banners in the reception hall made it clear to the very few private bookings that Harley-Davidson enthusiasts were in attendance for the weekend.  The magnificent replica of a 1903 Harley-Davidson® motorcycle was a touch of nostalgic class against the back drop of the Gold Rand Chapter flag.  On show was the much sought after polished trophies enticing the gents in particular to participate in the various competition categories, heated discussions took place around the trophy table as to who already envisioned their names on the shiny plaques.  Upon registration, filled rally tote bags were handed out, in appropriate brilliance to who ever came up with the idea; a gold plated One Rand coin (Gold Rand) adorned the zipper. 

Gold [Rand] Rush!

If there was one outstanding item on the programme to be complimented it was the “Gold Rush”, a special prize in the car category ensured that families could partake in the fun of the treasure hunt.  Entries per person turned out into great teamwork and shared answers (or stolen with a beady eye from a neighbours form), for those who do not read instructions, the wording “on the way to Fouriesburg there is a tree 8km down the road”, does not mean explore every tree by the side of the road on route to Golden Gate in the total opposite direction.  However it was these misinterpretations that was part of great fun, making new friends while standing under a tree squinting up into the branches trying to figure out what on earth you are supposed to see up there, guessing the answers, missing the mark and looking for key rings in every available hiding spot at the all famous and interesting Jen Lee’s Country Shop.  

Hearts of Gold

“The Young Tigers Football Club” is popular with young adults in the area making their mark in football - unfortunately with hardly any kit to show off their pride in their team.  Gold Rand members collected for new shirts, shorts and caps, but were flabbergasted by an unexpected contribution cheque of R10 000 handed over to them at their Rally “Geesvang” by NG Church Kempton Park North.  Jenny Eve Chapter Manager for Gold Rand, explained that the Gold Rand Chapter had assisted the Church with its 500 year centenary celebration where Chapter members arrived with their Harley-Davidson® motorcycles and chatted to the congregation.  

At the Rally's charity handover, the team's young faces were elated with joy over both the kit and the generous cheque.

Helpful Hands

After a lazy lunch at Fouriesburg Country Inn where the Charity hand over was conducted, Sue Nagel Customer Experience Manager for Harley-Davidson® assisted with “a clearly no pre-ride inspection" flat DELUXE whitewall tyre.  Working with a valve extender from our well-prepared Head Road Captain, Sue - the master of “Getting your team lost on a treasure hunt” - proved she is not just a pretty face!  In grateful thanks, the shameless owner took photos of your workshop skills while you slaved in hot leathers.

Concourse Entries and Winner

The heated Friday discussion as to who would win the Concourse set up at the Protea Hotel continued as owners soap sudded, spat and polished (Yes, there was a first account eye witness to the spit and polish technique) their motorcycles.  Sadly there was no loser prize for the dusty unwashed Softail® that by accident (Not! There was a legal open parking space available) landed in between the Concourse entrant cycles.  Great jubilation ensued at prize giving that evening when the winners were announced, puffed out chests and broad smiles on receipt of their awarded silver cups.

  • Best Overall winner: Ramiro Chadinha was over the moon with his massive trophy. 
  • Janine Tredger won the Weber braai and
  • Peter Scheepers a service voucher for his Harley-Davidson® motorcycle. 

Decked out in the finest H-D® apparel, seven year old Michelle Wagner from the attending Big Five Chapter was honourably introduced to the audience as an avid H.O.G. and Harley-Davidson supporter who insisted that her parents pay the full registration fee for her attendance.  One determined little girl, who we will most certainly see on her own Harley-Davidson® in a good few years time.

The hotel culinary department prepared a three course meal, impressively the desert plates were dusted with gold wings for added effect, however if there was a shortage of pumpkin fritters during the meal, blame could be laid to the far table who mistook those delectable golden brown, sweet cinnamon dusted dumplings as a dessert.  Awie Krog Director of H.O.G. Gold Rand made heart-warming speeches of welcome to attendees, and thanked his competent and hardworking team.  A well deserved feather in their cap as the team succeeded putting together a fantastic rally in a short period of four months.  The Dixie Hillbilly band provided some foot stomping music for the shaking of tail feathers with their live entertainment.

It was clear since arrival on Friday that all registrants felt comfortable in their surrounding; a pleasant and cheerful atmosphere was present throughout the Rally.  The type of rally that accentuates the bond between Harley riders from all walks of life as is evident on the memorable photographs.

1903 is not to be missed in 2019.

  • H.O.G. Editor & Photographer:  Angelique Dermit