Buzz in the Valley – Johnstown, PA

Nearly 40 scooter riders showed up for the first annual Buzz in the Valley Rally at Lorain Borough Park in Johnstown, Pennsylvania this September. The rally’s proceeds were to be given to a local horse rescue non-profit known as Brightstar Horse Haven and Rescue.

On Friday afternoon a good-sized group rolled into town representing the Three Mile Island Scooter Club from Harrisburg. Scooter enthusiasts traveled from areas all over Pennsylvania, Washington DC, Baltimore, but the farthest traveled came from Ithaca, New York, a 275 mile trek.

Riders gathered at a local’s feed and watering hole, Big Dogz Grill riders filled up burgers, wings, tacos and salads before taking off for the inaugural rally ride to the light show on the historic Stone Bridge.

The Stone Bridge is a railway bridge made up of stone arches with a very colorful history. It was built in 1887, and it played an important role in the great flood of 1889. The flood began as the Earthen Dam broke, 14 miles up valley from downtown. The Stone Bridge acted as a dam when all the debris collected as it was washed down into the valley. It caused the floodwaters to back up thru the downtown area, then caught fire and burned for three days. Within the last year the Johnstown Area Heritage Assoc. has refurbished the bridge and fitted it with numerous L.E.D. lights. They light the bridge up every night, beginning with a 30-minute light show.

Hanging out by the bridge for the show gave all the riders a bit of time to meet new people, and catch up with old friends. The ride finished by heading back to the campground, just in time to take shelter from a passing rainstorm.

Saturday kicked off with doughnuts and coffee before the 80-mile ride. The ride’s notable stops started at the South Fork Hunting and Fishing Club’s Clubhouse in St. Michael, PA. The Clubhouse has been around since the 1880’s and was a getaway for the well to do from Pittsburgh, such as the Carnegies and the Mellons. It was also the location of the earthen dam that gave way and flooded the town. We were lucky to have a member of the Nation Park Service with us on the ride, so we were able to go inside the Clubhouse, where most folks are not allowed. We were also treated to a 25-minute talk that gave some of the folks there more history of the area and of the flood.

The second stop on the ride was to visit Brightstar Horse Haven and Rescue where we would all have lunch provided by Tony’s Subs. Watching the rescued horses and foals was a sweet uplifting experience before heading off to the location of the Flight 93 Memorial. It was a somber experience for those who had never been there before.

The ride returned just after five o’clock and just in time for Taco dinner and awards. Awards were given to the Three Mile Island Club for bringing the most members to the rally. Mike Hojnowski, was awarded with the furthest ridden award for his 8-hour jaunt from Ithaca, NY, and the favorite bike award went to Adam Hockenberry.

Throughout the night Mike Varavek provided rally-goers with a great mix of music to enjoy, but when the music died it was time for the rally’s AWESOME raffle. Thanks to sponsors like Corazzo, we ended up raising about $1000 for Brightstar Horse Haven and Rescue, and closed the night by warming up by the fire pit and reliving moments from the day with fellow riders.

For a first rally we had a great turnout. The weather was good, a bit chilly camping at night, but that made the campfire that much more welcoming. The rides and scenery were spectacular. Everyone we talked to enjoyed themselves and promised they would be back again next year.