Thunder in the Valley is one of the largest motorcycle rallies on the east coast. The rally is held in Johnstown, PA, the fourth weekend each June. The first Thunder in the Valley rally was held in 1998 and attracted about 5,000 bikers. The rally doubled in size in its second year. Thunder in the Valley now attracts an estimated 200,000+ bikers.
Late Thursday night (June 25th) I learned that motorcyclist friends who live in the Pittsburgh area were riding to Johnstown on Saturday morning to attend Thunder in the Valley. Bob had mentioned earlier in the evening that he might ride to Johnstown on Saturday and back home that same day. After learning that our friends would be attending Thunder in the Valley, I asked Bob if he would like to ride with them to Johnstown. Bob’s answer was “yes”, so I was up late Thursday night looking for (and found) a hotel in the Monroeville, PA area.
We left home (Warren, PA) around 2:30PM on Friday, June 26th. I drove the car; Bob rode the motorcycle. We arrived at our hotel at 5:45PM. Our ride to Monroeville was good, with the exception of running into some rain between New Bethlehem and Kittanning. Bob’s pant legs, up to his knees, got wet but dried before we reached the hotel.
We were quite pleased with our hotel choice. The Comfort Suites in Monroeville is a relatively new hotel, having been open only since July 2008. Our hotel room, a king suite, was spacious and beautifully decorated.
Friday evening, at 7:00PM we met our motorcyclist friends — George and Theresa; Steve, Jean and their two children, Steven and Jill; and John, Rose and Rose’s sister — at King’s Restaurant, which was located less than 1/2 mile from our hotel. Dinner was okay; spending the evening with our friends was great.
On Saturday morning there were 12 of us who traveled together from Murrysville (only 4 miles from our hotel) to Johnstown, six people in two cars and six people on five motorcycles. We arrived in Johnstown a little after 10:00AM.
While in Johnstown we wandered through the Biker Mall, watched the Grand Thunder parade, and listened to Fat Girl Slim while eating lunch.
Fat Girl Slim was excellent! The band was billed as a “five part kick your butt country band with a rock band sound that sounds like Gretchen Wilson/Leann Rimes/Sugarland/Miranda Lambert/Garth Brooks and many more”. Lunch was okay but was outrageously priced. Our lunch, which consisted of an Italian hot sausage sandwich, cheeseburger, two orders of fries, and a soft drink, cost $25.00!
We knew of three other friends who planned to attend Thunder in the Valley. We had hoped to meet up with these three friends.
Dave and Susan had been at Thunder in the Valley since Friday. We didn’t meet up with Susan and Dave, as they were in another part of the city hanging out with Jesse James, Sandra Bullock, and the Machine Gun Preacher. I bet they have great pictures. I can’t wait to see them!
We did meet up with my friend, Greg. I sent Greg an email on Thursday evening, after Bob and I decided to go to Thunder in the Valley. I told Greg our plans to attend Thunder in the Valley and asked if he planned to attend the event as well. I gave Greg my cell phone number. Greg telephoned me Friday evening and said he was going to Thunder in the Valley on Saturday and would call me when he arrived. Greg is a friend whom I met on the Internet (on IRC) more than 11 years ago. We’ve kept in touch over the years via email, meeting in person only two times I believe — the last time at least 11 years ago. Greg rode with friends to Thunder in the Valley. Greg introduced me to his friends. I, then, introduced Greg and his friends to Bob and our friends. Greg accompanied us while we walked through the Biker Mall. Greg and his friends watched the parade with us. We went our separate ways after the parade. It was great to see Greg again after all these years. I didn’t even think to get a picture of Greg; however, I did ask Greg to take a picture of the twelve of us while we were waiting for the parade to start.
Or maybe this one?