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The Horse Magazine's 2nd Annual Smokey Mountain Smoke Out

By Crazyhorse
1/1/2000


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They came like thundering hordes over the mountains from Iowa, New York, Kentucky, Illinois, Michigan, New England, Georgia, Tennessee, Wisconsin, and even New Jersey. The majority of them rode hard tail choppers. They were dressed in black, wearing grim expressions. The local populace stood back in horror as they watched the picturesque Cherokee Reservation in North Carolina, taken over.

 

Well not really, but they had ridden a long way to party with others of their kind. The Smokey Mountain Smoke Out is not your average motorcycle event. It's a down-to-earth, hard assed good time. It attracts an unpretentious crowd, riding a variety of hand built, totally unique scoots.

No billet barges here. No fancy $10,000 paint jobs. No miles of gleaming chrome. But there was no shortage of clean, sharp rides either. Bikes in the show stretched from one end of the spectrum to the other. It was almost impossible to pick a winner.

 

What you will find is plenty of black primer. I saw countless uses of the stuff. If there is a way to be creative with black primer, I saw it there. Then there was the imaginative use of objects one doesn't see at the usual bike shows.

 

It was as if someone said, "Hey, let's see if we can find a way to use this faucet handle on the bike." These are interesting bikes, but they built to be ridden and ridden hard. Which is the main theme of this event.

 

Hammer, editor of The Horse, says he wanted this to be an event that people ride their bikes to. There's even an arrangement up with the local Mailboxes Etc. So that attendees can ship their camping gear or other needed items ahead of time. They can ride their bikes and pick up their gear once they arrive. From the looks of things, it didn't appear that many folks did trailer duty. Hammer rode his evil black primer hardtail down from Michigan.

About 700 bikes showed up for the event.

 

There were those like Steve and Trish from Connecticut, who built a week long vacation around the Smoke Out. Steve rides a '67 XLHC.

 

A sleek, turquoise kickstart rigid '76 sporty is Trish's ride.

 

Hammer wants to encourage folks to build bikes just to ride to this event. Steve from Clover, SC had just finished doing the top end of his '78 Shovel chopper. His ride out to Cherokee was the shakedown ride. Nothing like seeing a radical 46-degree raked scoot cruising down the road. And there was plenty of that. This event is a throw back to the old days. Before you could go into a bike shop and buy just about everything for your ride imaginable.

Many of the bikes found here were built with parts found at a swap meet, in the dusty mess of someone's garage or made simply with a hammer, hacksaw, and vice. Downhome engineering at it's best.

 

Meeting members of The Horse's staff was great. Edge, a radical writer, rode his bike up from South Carolina. It's the only bike I have ever seen with a taillight off a '66 Mustang.

 

Mr. Wild does many tech articles for The Horse. I have known Mr. Wild for a few years through emails. It was the first time I have met him in person. He's a bit deaf, so we typed out most of our conversation on his laptop computer. It gave my typing skills quite the test, but it sure was a fun way to talk. He rode down from Wisconsin with his dog.

 

Some folks camped at the KOA. For those who prefer not roughing it, the motels along Cherokee's trout stream offered a peaceful retreat. I spent a night at The Bennett Hill House Bed and Breakfast. Perched on the side of a mountain, hosts Dennis and Barbara provided an elegant escape in their incredible Victorian home.

For those who aren't familiar with The Horse magazine, it's not your average bike rag. Hammer says they are trying tone down the dark, cynical attitude they have displayed in the past. Yet, The Horse is still far from tame. They want it to be reader-friendly, catering to the backyard builder, the working guy who builds his own ride. They even have a dialogue going with the Motor Company. The latest issue of The Horse features two pages on HD's new V-Rod. More mainstream builders are checking out this magazine.

 

As for my Smoke Out experience, I had been checking out the bikes. The Iron Maiden Contest was just starting up, when I noticed the smell of tar and spotted a bag of feathers. I saw the glint of sharp axes and heard whispers.

Seems a rumor was circulating that I was a spy for an enemy camp. As Bandit was loafing on a sailboat in the tropics, I needed a bodyguard. Out of the corner of my eye I spotted a great replacement. He was tall, handsome, and sitting on a savage rigid. We quickly made our escape down the road to Bryson City for alcoholic beverages and some much needed Mexican food.

 

I have been attending m/c events for over 20 years. I have never had a weekend quite like my experience at the Smoke Out. I will definitely be back next year. Just about everyone I talked to, plans on returning for the 3rd Smoke Out next July. The event is being lengthened to 3 days. Hammer is expecting upwards of 5,000 bikes. For more information on the 2002 Smoke Out or The Horse Magazine, click on the link below or go to http://www.ironcross.net

-Crazyhorse

 


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