March Moto Madness: Tennessee’s ‘Mother Rally’

Sep 17, 2019 View Comments by

March Moto Madness: Tennessee’s ‘Mother Rally’

Every March, hundreds of cabin-fever-ridden motorcyclists load up their bikes for the trek to Tellico Plains, TN, and the world-famous March Moto Madness. The adventure rally is a family reunion of sort.

It all started back in 2006 when six friends, led by Kevin Shrader (the MMM-meister), decided to venture to East Tennessee. After being cooped up all winter, they needed to stretch their legs, and there’s hardly a better place to do that than the Great Smoky Mountains, which straddle the Tennessee–North Carolina border. Despite the cold weather, they decided to make it an annual get-together, having no idea how quickly the event would grow. In 2012 adventure/dual sport riding club GS Giants got on board to help spread the word. Since then, March Moto Madness has become a worldwide event, with groups participating in simultaneous rallies in countries across the globe. This year, “The Mother Rally” in Tennessee, held March 28-31, welcomed 767 riders.

March Moto Madness has become notorious for its gloomy, wet, and bitterly cold weather. However, every few years participants are gifted with beautiful spring sunshine that warms the bones and induces moto-euphoria. This was one of those years. As the campground filled, so did the nearby trails. By Friday morning, the majority of the preregistered riders had already arrived and gathered into groups of similar style and skill level. Friday also marked the start of the bike games, with the mud barrel races, slow race, and moto-limbo. As riders trickled back to camp in mid-afternoon, they began to gather around the games field to see what all the commotion was about. The games are fun for competitors and spectators alike, evoking cheers and laughter from the crowd and wide grins beneath the rider’s helmets.

A late night of catching up with friends and sharing campfire stories gave way to an early Saturday morning. The day’s bike games began with the trials course. Riders took turns following the course through obstacles built to test skill and control, accumulating as few points as possible. After the trials course, everyone dispursed to ride for a few hours, before circling back to camp for the hill climb, arguably the most popular event of the weekend. Riders lined up for their shot at the hill, only getting one attempt to see how far they could make it. Wranglers and spectators lined the hill to watch the carnage unfold, and one by one competitors gave it their all. Saturday evening concluded with an awards ceremony, raffle, and music.

Many attend this rally for the riding, but most come for the nightly festivities. Wandering through camp each evening you’ll overhear fun tales of the day’s ride plus shop talk, and at every gathering there always seems to be “local delicacies” passing around. This year camp banter continued well into the night, until a sudden crack echoed through the campground. A thunderstorm had crept up the valley and everyone barely had time to scramble to a dry place before it was upon the camp. It wouldn’t be March Moto Madness without at least a little inclement weather! If you are interested in attending the next March Moto Madness “Mother Rally” in Tennessee, visit

Text and Photography: Marisa McInturff



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