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Knoxville club ROKs ON for 35 years

Wednesday, May 10, 2017   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Bill (#138536) & Nancy (#178600) Van Voorhis
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In April 1982, the BMW Riders of Knoxville (ROK) had their first club meeting in the back yard of a psychologist’s office - one of the few times you’d see motorcycles in that parking lot! Founding member Greg Bell, on his R 80/7, had this habit of following other BMW riders home. In early spring 1982 he followed Rich Gardner, and when he saw an R 60/2 and an R 50/5 in the garage, he knew he hit the jackpot. Not long after making their acquaintance, the two arranged the first meeting the BMW Riders of Knoxville at Alden Bell’s (Rich’s brother) office on April 18, 1982.

Amazingly, there are still 13 current club members who are original charter members: Greg and Deb Bell, Rich Gardner, Alden Gardner, Gene and Nancy Forbes, Chad and Deb Burns, Dian Nabors, Lee and Kae Wrinkle, and Mike and Brenda Wilkerson.


Founding President Rich Gardner and charter member Gene Forbes with the 1983 R 80 ST.

To celebrate 35 years as a club, we hosted two events: a celebratory meeting and a club picnic where we recognized our charter members as well as past presidents and current officers. Between the two events we had six charter members present and eight past/current presidents in attendance.


1985 BMW Riders of Knoxville vintage club shirt.

At our April 3 monthly dinner meeting, we celebrated by recognizing our charter members and past presidents with a delicious cake with our club logo on it. On Saturday, April 8, members headed out to the beautiful campground privately owned by members Jerry and Cindy Dobrianski, aptly named T.W.O. Creeks and home to our club’s annual ROK ON Rally. Members enjoyed a weekend of riding, campfires, food, and fellowship. Several even braved the 34-degree nighttime temps and camped, while others were toasty in their trailers. Founding President Rich Gardner was able to stop by briefly on his red 1983 BMW R 80 ST. (Additional bike info from Rich when asked the model: bought in 1986 and upgraded several times with the tank, frame and swing arm about the only original parts left. Motor is a long-rod 1050.) He was also sporting a vintage club shirt from 1985.


Riders prepare to leave from T.W.O. Creeks for the mountain ride.

Late Saturday morning current president Bill Van Voorhis led nine bikes out for a lunch ride destination to Carvers Orchard and Applehouse Restaurant near Cosby, Tennessee. Carvers was established in 1942 and currently has a restaurant, farmers market and candy store; they are well known for their fried apple pies. Four additional members joined the group for lunch. We continued the ride, stopping for a photo op at a beautiful overlook on the Foothills Parkway with a scenic vista of the Smoky Mountains. The group traveled over 100 miles in the mountains and valleys before hitting our first stoplight. As usual, our mountain ride included a close encounter with a local bird of prey. As Bill came over a rise, a hawk with his roadkill lunch still in his talons lifted off the road. Heavier than usual, his wings barely cleared Bill’s helmet. Those riding behind him thought for sure he’d have some souvenir feathers.


Bikes and apple blossoms at Carvers.

Upon returning to T.W.O. Creeks, several other members joined in the evening picnic and bonfire. Prior to dinner, Jerry Dobrianski took several members out for a quick off road ride to a mountain top fire tower. Members enjoyed a picnic dinner along a second celebratory cake emblazoned with our club logo. A highlight of the bonfire was roasting marshmallow peeps and even making s’mores from them. Conversation, friendship and reminiscing continued well into the evening. May the BMW Riders of Knoxville ROK ON for years to come!


Lunch at Carvers.

BMW Riders of Knoxville Facts:

  • First Meeting: April 18, 1983 with 33 members the first year
  • Currently 190 individual members
  • MOA Charter Club #156 since 1985
  • Meet first Monday of the month in various locations
  • 2016 Mileage Challenge: 64 members reported 529,550 miles on 129 bikes
  • 2017 Mileage Challenge for members to ride at least 567,890 miles
  • Host of the popular ROK ON Rally over Memorial Day Weekend


Overlook on the Foothills Parkway in the Great Smoky Mountains.

For more information about T.W.O. Creeks Campground, visit their website. Don't confuse the T.W.O. Creeks in Tennessee with the clothing-optional Two Creeks in Minnesota!


Bike talk after the ride.


Jerry Dobrianski and Bill Zahrt enjoy the view from the fire tower on the off-road ride.


Picnic time!


Six presidents: Jim Hurley, Bill Van Voorhis (current), Steve Lange, Cindy Dobrianski, Bobby Winter.


The celebration cake.


Bill Van Voorhis and his Peeps s'more.


Members enjoying the evening campfire.


ROK Secretary Nancy Van Voorhis (left) and President Bill Van Voorhis.


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