2011 BMW Finger Lakes Rally

This weekend was the 37th annual BMW Finger Lakes Rally at the Hidden Valley campground in Watkins Glen, New York. The weather was calling for showers and thunderstorms all weekend. But I decided it was worth going.

Last year’s Finger Lakes Rally was the first rally I attended. This year I would be travelling two-up with Erica riding pillion. We packed our gear into the two system cases, tank bag, and a U-Pac. Photos of this setup can be found on this previous post.

Breakfast done, time to hit the road.

Friday morning we met up with my friend Jon and his friend Doug and Chris at the Summerdale Diner for breakfast. After breakfast we hit the road and headed north on route 15 towards the New York border. We arrived at the Hidden Valley Campground in Watkins Glen, NY in the early afternoon in time to find a good camping spot and set up the tent.

After setting up camp and unloading the bike, we headed to the Village Marina Bar and Grill for dinner. I chose the fish and chips and we ate our dinner overlooking Seneca Lake which was quite beautiful as the sun was setting. After dinner we retreated back to camp with a bottle of local wine to enjoy while hanging out with friends.

Beer battered fish fry

Sunset on Seneca Lake

Saturday morning we woke up to more warm and humid weather. My friend RJ asked if we were coming with him. He mentioned something about the world’s largest pancake griddle, the letters “USA” mowed into a field, and a trip to Monica’s Pies. We decided to join him and some others and head off to see what RJ had planned.



The group stopped to have breakfast at Angel’s Family Restaurant in Penn Yan, NY.


While waiting for the group to have breakfast (we had breakfast back at camp), we enjoyed socializing the local vendors who were selling goods on the sidewalks of Penn Yan.


After breakfast we headed to the next block to see the world’s largest pancake griddle hanging on the side of a building. Note Erica standing at the bottom for scale of this thing.


Following the pancake griddle photo opp, we rounded the corner to check out the Penn Yan Diner. The diner was closed but it was interesting to see how low the ceiling was on this diner. It looked like it was designed for fun-size people!

Penn Yan Diner II

We left Penn Yan and headed out in search for the letters “USA” which were supposedly mowed into a field nearby. A few miles out of town we found it.


Finally, we headed to Naples, NY to visit Monica’s Pies for a blueberry pie. I had made a trip to Monica’s last year with Elsie and a few others. Now I think it has become a tradition. I bought a blueberry pie which was brought out by Monica herself. We grabbed some forks and headed outside to enjoy the pie before heading home. RJ bought an apple pie which we enjoyed for dessert after dinner Saturday night.


A thunderstorm blew through Saturday evening drenching everything. Luckily we were already at camp. By morning all seemed fine but at breakfast Sunday morning people were discussing the weather in the area. It looked like some storms were heading in from the north and west. We were originally going to stay until Monday. But with the forecast I had decided it was probably best if we headed out Sunday morning for the best possibility of making it home and avoiding the rain.

We packed up the tent and gear and started loading up the bike. We were being slowed down by some fellow rally participants who wanted to chat about the R1100S and our gear. This may have been a blessing in disguise. Heading out on our way south we travelled through Horsehead, NY, then to Towanda, PA. Many times the sky looked like it would open up and rain at any moment. Some of the roads were wet from a recent rain. Pushing forward we wound our way to Williamsport, then Sunbury where we stopped for fuel and a late lunch. The sky to the west looked almost black and it is my guess that the storm had recently passed through the area and was heading east. We made it back to Harrisburg, PA safely and without a drop of rain which in my mind was a successful trip.



  1. Reply
    opie October 1, 2011

    How was the R1100S for two-up touring? By the way, I grew up near Watkins Glen. May have to visit for the 2012 Finger Lakes Rally.

    • Reply
      Jonathan October 1, 2011

      The R1100S actually did pretty well 2-up. That was my biggest concern. The bike had plenty of power for the two of us and all of our gear. An added bonus is the full-size system cases since the exhaust comes out below the seat. Most BMW cases have one side that is molded to fit around the exhaust for the bike.

      The down side was that the R1100S doesn’t have a top case option. My remedy was to borrow a U-PAC from a friend. That bag wrapped around the back rest of the Corbin seat and rested on top of the system cases. This allowed us to pack our sleeping bags, tent, sleeping pads, and camp pillows into the U-PAC.

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