How to get the most out of the Texas coast and the Lone Star Rally
Each year, in the first weekend of November, tens of thousands of motorcyclists roar into Galveston Island. All said, about 400,000 two-wheeled vehicles visit the island during the Lone Star Rally, a three-day celebration of motorcycle culture, said Mark Gray, a representative for the event’s organizer.
“And that doesn’t include trikes and trucks or the trailers that haul toys over,” Gray said.
The sheer number of motorcycles that travel here for the Lone Star Rally is impressive,” Texas City resident and motorcycle technician Stephen Gonzales said. “They’re parked four deep on The Strand. Old bikes, new bikes and unique rides are everywhere.”
So, how do you get the most out of the rally?
Balconies offer a bird’s-eye view of all the motorcycles downtown as well as the live bands at Saengerfest Park. VIP passes, which include all-weekend access to balcony parties, can be purchased in advance by visiting the Lone Star Rally website or by downloading the free phone app.
Most seasoned rally participants say balconies are the way to go.
“For the best picture-taking or people-watching, get up on a balcony — day or night,” Gray said.
Beside the views, balconies provide ways to beat the crowds, motorcycle enthusiast and Galveston resident Carre Olson said.
“Your best bet is a balcony party where you can beat the crowds,” Olson said. “You can see the bikes and hear the bands. There’s food, drink and clean bathrooms.”
Olson, who retired her 2005 Harley-Davidson Sportster, still likes to attend the rally yearly and encourages visitors to get off the beaten path.
“By all means, do The Strand,” said Olson, who met her husband, George, a Galveston resident and businessman, at a Lone Star Rally. “Check out the bikes up close and personal. Shop the vendors. But, at some point, take a ‘time out’ to go to the beach. Visit the antique shops. Take a tour of homes.’’
Rally visitors should use the event to get better acquainted with the island and the upper Texas coast, Olson said.
“Rent a beach house and make a mini-vacation out of your trip,” Olson said. “Travel west on Seawall onto FM 3005 and drive out over Blue Water Highway. It’s a beautiful ride.”
If shopping is your game, there’s plenty of places to play. Hundreds of vendors set up during the rally selling everything from hubcaps to diamond-studded jewelry.
“If it fits in a saddlebag, you’ll find it for sale,” Olson said.
A street-by-street walkabout is a good way to see what’s new in the industry, said Gonzales, a motorcycle technician at Team Mancuso Powersports South in La Marque.
Gonzales starts at the Galveston Railroad Museum, 2602 Santa Fe Place downtown, and makes his way down the main drag to the end, he said.
“I hit all the side-street vendors in between,” Gonzales said. “That’s where all the independent shop owners are selling what’s new in accessories and parts,” Gonzales said. “Go down to Harborside if you want to see wheels going up or new performance parts installed.”
If you’re looking to test drive the newest products on the market, have a current motorcycle license with you. Gonzales likes to go up to 25th Street and Seawall Boulevard, near Fish Tales restaurant, and check out the new Harley-Davidson and Indian motorcycles, he said.
“Show them your motorcycle license and they’ll let you test drive a brand-new bike,” he said.
Some rally participants go for the fun and games, including Cycle Source Magazine Old Time Motorcycle Rodeo Games. Two fan favorites are the whiskey barrel roll and the slow race, where the winner is the last to cross the finish line.
“It’s very difficult to maneuver a bike slowly,” Gray said.
“You need skills to compete,” Gonzales added.
The Miss Lone Star Rally Competition is growing in popularity and featured 50 or so contestants last year. Contestants pre-qualify at different Harley-Davidson dealerships around the Houston area and at Jackie’s Brickhouse, 1053 Marina Bay Drive in Kemah. The women compete for more than $6,000 in cash and prizes. The competition takes place at the main stage on Saturday night.
If you prefer your motorcycles made to order, check out one of the many custom shows throughout the weekend. Father-and-daughter duo Dave and Jody Perewitz, stars of the Discovery Channel reality series, “Biker Build-Off,” will judge the Perewitz Paint Show on Saturday at the Hotel Galvez courtyard, 2024 Seawall Blvd. The Ride-In Custom Bike Show is on Saturday at Beach Central, 2102 Seawall Blvd. And don’t miss the prized work of the country’s top motorcycle builders as they compete for a single prize of $10,000 at the In-Motion Invitational over the course of the weekend.
For an up-to-the-minute schedule of live bands, check the Lone Star Rally website or download the free Lone Star Rally App on your phone.
WHAT: Lone Star Rally
WHEN: Nov. 1-4
WHERE: Main Stage, Saengerfest Park, 2302 Strand; Beach Central, 2102 Seawall Blvd.