WeSTOC on the Rock: 2013 Western Rally of the ST Owners Club
“Go Ride!” is the credo of the ST Owners Club (STOC), and members who ride a Honda ST1100 or ST1300 motorcycle think little of riding hundreds or thousands of miles to attend a rally. WeSTOC—the western rally of the ST Owners Club—is held annually in one of the 11 western states of the continental U.S. or two western provinces of Canada.
WeSTOC has its roots in the days before internet forums, back when organizing ST riders was accomplished via “The liST,” an email list operated by Don Feyma. The liST enabled people to share technical information and routes and farkles. People connecting in this electronic manner found themselves wanting to get together, so they began planning ride events where they could put faces to names.
The first WeSTOC was held in Park City, Utah in August 1996. A group of 36 people attended and an annual tradition was born. In June 2013, more than 200 people rode nearly 160,000 combined miles, coming from as far as Texas, Pennsylvania and the United Kingdom to arrive at WeSTOC XVIII in Sooke, British Columbia, a seaside location on Vancouver Island (“the Rock”).
WeSTOC remains popular year after year in large part because of the dedication of STOC members who commit to organizing the event. In STOC circles, these members are referred to as Disorganizers. Go ahead and snicker, but being a WeSTOC Disorganizer involves much more than arranging a block of rooms or campsites. For WeSTOC XVIII, Disorganizer Tim Graham of Calgary, Alberta, secured major corporate sponsors, booked a gorgeous waterfront resort at a group rate, arranged vendor seminars and new motorcycle test rides, built several downloadable routes for rides around the Rock, coordinated a final banquet nicer than some wedding receptions I’ve attended, convinced local businesses to donate door prizes, and lots more.
Tim didn’t seek the spotlight, nor did his wife, Diana, who worked diligently behind the scenes. They didn’t go it alone, either. Disorganizers who successfully host a WeSTOC event are invited to join the Emeritus Council, which assists new Disorganizers with their event and also votes on future site selections. Their combined efforts over the years have elevated WeSTOC to the point where the term “rally” doesn’t do justice to the experience.
In 2013, your humble scribe experienced WeSTOC for the first time. I checked into a hotel fancy as any I’ve been to when arriving on two wheels. In my room was a welcome bag containing a schedule of events, sponsor and vendor discounts, maps and touring information, pre-printed cards for prize drawings, and a name tag which provided admission to meals and seminars and helped members connect names and faces. It was like arriving at a convention.
At a welcome cook-out, riders queuing up for a burger were surprised when three motor officers from the Victoria Police Department rode onto the patio on newly acquired Victory Cross Country police bikes. Victoria was the first police department in North America to adopt the Honda ST1300 police edition, in 2004. With those bikes finally up for replacement and Honda not currently supporting new sales of police STs, Victoria selected the Victory Cross Country Police Edition. These are BIG motorcycles—10 inches longer than a Smart Car—and the officers tossed them around with impressive skill. They came on their own time to do the demonstration, talk to the assembled riders and take questions. Sargent Glen Shiels grinned as he told us, “Yeah, we get paid to ride motorcycles.”
While many attendees were at their first WeSTOC, Rod Sydenham, a retired large animal veterinarian from Calgary, Alberta, was at his second. Terry Bartlett, a seismic analyst at the University of Washington, was at number 12. John Parker of Grants Pass, Oregon, has been to all 18.
John Oosterhuis of Bettendorf, Iowa, U.S. Army retired, was at his 11th. “I remember my first WeSTOC in 2001,” Oosterhuis said. “I met seven guys I never knew before and then rode with them to Alaska. Talk about a leap of faith! These are guys I still know well, guys who still come to WeSTOC.”
Carroll Walker of Lake Forest, California, a retired designer of electrical test equipment, rode through all 48 contiguous U.S. states on his way to WeSTOC. “I made the route for someone else about 10 years ago and figured I needed to do it myself,” Walker explained. “I started in Needles, California, and crossed into Nevada, then into Arizona, then up to the four corners where Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado and Utah come together, then east through Texas and so on. The idea was to do all 48 states as efficiently as I could. I rode all of 100 yards into Florida, then turned right around.”
Jeff Bertrand, a medical device designer from Ventura, California, has been to 15 WeSTOC events. “WeSTOC is kind of the ‘elite’ event for the ST Owners Club,” said Bertrand, “but it’s also one of the best attended events, year after year.”
Bruce Powell of Calgary, Alberta, concurred. “WeSTOC is more of a destination event than the others. Riding is a big part of it, obviously, but this one is really about people getting together.”
It’s become tradition to keep the location of the next WeSTOC under wraps until the closing banquet. Time to start making plans for WeSTOC 2014 in Fortuna, California.
For more information, visit westoc.org.