Text: Christian Neuhauser • Photography: Christian Neuhauser
RoadRUNNER Motorcycle Cruising & Touring in Knoxville, Tennessee, the new home of the Honda Hoot.
Presenting four days (June 19 - June 22) of pure motorcycle magic, the Eighth Annual Honda Hoot greeted more than 18,000 riders in Knoxville's Chilhowee Park where 167 vendors displayed everything from tires and new leathers to accessories and magazines.
The city of Knoxville is situated in a lush, green river valley and surrounded by mountains and rolling hills. Host of the World's Fair in 1982, nationally known as the home of the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame and the University of Tennessee Volunteers, Knoxville also boasts a wonderful downtown area with its Old City Historic District and the many scenic attractions along the Little Tennessee River. Honda certainly picked a great site and did an excellent job there.
Late in the afternoon, we arrived at the convention center at Chilhowee Park to set up our booth for the purposes of promoting RoadRUNNER Motorcycle Cruising & Touring and meeting as many riders and future readers as possible. With the booth all set to go, we ventured forth to discover Knoxville.
A heart for bikers
Our first impression: The people are very welcoming to bikers. There are parking lots reserved for bikers only, the waiters and waitresses are complimentary, and the locals asked if we were there for the Honda Hoot. The police were helpful, some of them being bikers, too, so it was easy to get information about good touring in the area. One officer asked if I knew about Deals Gap (a remarkable 318 curves on 11 miles), only one hour south of Knoxville. It's odd, a rare occasion, hearing a policeman speaking this way. However, during the weekend, every biker should take care here because the police are really very strict.
Early the next morning we left the hotel La Quinta for our booth. Christa, Gail, Gerry and I are curious about this event because it's our first experience as an exhibitor at an event like this. I'm here without my motorcycle, which makes me a little bit sad, especially when I see all the bikers on their way to the fair, but the good thing is I know most of the surrounding area and I can do any of those tours on other days. Time for that later - today we had to concentrate on business and talked with a lot bikers of all brands of motorcycles. Everyone likes the magazine. And by the end of the day, having stood for nine hours, I feel like I have flat feet. A good, long massage would have been just the thing.
That night we stayed up well past our bedtimes and socialized, meeting bikers and taking part in endless discussions and biker talks. New ideas were born for the magazine and my brain was working overtime. Still feeling a little foggy in the morning, I decided it wasn't the right day for me to man the booth, so I decided to walk around, take pictures, and get in touch with the motorcycle company people. They helped me out with strong coffee and new information about future products, which we plan to write about when the press releases are in. Sorry, we cannot do it earlier. One of the best features of the show is the demo riding. Putting the Italian bikes through their paces, I feel the passion; on the rice burners, the perfectionism; and on the Buell, oh my god, you really need a steel tush. But altogether it makes for a lot of fun. Each of these bikes has it's own character and that's the way it should be. After this day of new impressions, we hung out downtown for an open-air concert. And again we can see how well things go when the city fathers get behind an event like this. But around midnight, I had to say to my fellows, "That's enough of the open air. Where's my bed?"
The last days
Friday and Saturday are really busy and we are struggling to keep up both days. The bikers are very interested in our magazine and we chat about many tours, experiences and adventures. The magazine's "biker beauties," Christa and Gail, are even asked at times to autograph the first issue, and I'm not the least bit jealous! On the way home, we all agreed that this year's Honda Hoot was a resounding success for the biker world. Once again, Honda did a fabulous job. If you missed this year's fun, plan to visit Knoxville, TN, for Honda Hoot 2002 next June 19 - 22.
See you next year in Tennessee or somewhere else along the road!