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Gateway Riders club ride to Ruma and a sausage dinner.
Gateway Riders’ club ride to Ruma.

Summary of the 2016 Gateway Riders Events and Event Points

Compiled by Jeff Ackerman, Events Director

While the emphasis of the club is obviously riding motorcycles, there has been a lot of hard work done by many of our members to make the wide variety of club events held this year possible. As usual, we had a number of traditional recurring events, like the rides to St. John Gildehaus and St. Patrick’s in Ruma for their church dinners.

We have also tried to expand the season a little by scheduling a December ride the last three years. We also added a club lunch on the second and fourth Wednesdays of the month late in the year and will try a bi-monthly breakfast over the winter.

While these are like impromptu rides and aren’t point events, they do allow the club members to socialize when the weather may not be suitable for riding. I want to thank Dave Mattis for organizing both the lunch and breakfast get-togethers.

This article briefly summarizes the club activities for the last year. The 2016 season started with last year’s Christmas party (Dec. 2015) and ended with Phil’s “I’m sick of turkey ride,” a brisk last ride of the season to the Forever Endeavor Holiday Open House on November 26. It is good to see the club has a number of newer members that are going on many of the rides.

We had 38 club rides this year, counting the two tech sessions, that someone went on and I got an attendance roster for while we had 40 last year. There were 45 scheduled rides but 5 were canceled due to weather and I didn’t get rosters for 2 more. However, I typically give credit to the ride leader or to anyone that may have showed up at the start of a canceled ride. Several of the canceled rides were later rescheduled. The number of cancellations was up slightly this year to 5 while there had been 3 in the previous 2 years.

Ride leaders showed some flexibility again this year. Phil Sulfstede turned the rider’s choice to the Washington County Fair in Potosi (where we hold the rally), into a “bring out your airhead ride” with Phil, Marilyn Roberts, and Doug Schneider all riding their classic airhead BMWs, and Phil’s “I’m sick of turkey ride” ended at Forever Endeavor’s open house where they had lots of goodies, but no turkey.

Gateway Riders taking a break during a club ride.
Gateway Riders taking a break during a club ride.

I listed 13 rallies this year, vs. 16 last year. However, we attended more of the rallies with 10 of the 13 attended this year vs. only 8 out of 16 last year. Last year was a bad year for conflicts between rallies with the Iowa and Missouri; the Dink’s and Trail of Tears; and the Hoosier and RAMS rallies conflicting with each other on the same weekends. While we went to more rallies this year, the average attendance at each rally fell about 25% from 8.1 last year to 6.1 this year.

I may drop a couple of rallies, like the Georgia rally and “Chicken rally” which haven’t had any attendance for a couple years. Interestingly enough, the member attendance at the MOA National was 23 both this year and last year (also the previous year) even though Billings was much farther away than Hamburg.

I also give credit for rallies that aren’t specifically listed and we had a few members attend some of these other rallies. However, it is my observation that rally attendance in general appears to be declining at many of the Midwest rallies (your Event’s Director has attended 9 rallies each of the last 3 years and 7 rallies each of the previous 3 years ). The long term linear trend for Gateway Rider attendance at other club’s listed rallies has fallen from slightly over 10 in 2006 to just fewer than 7 in 2016. Also, consider that even with good weather for the last two years at the Falling Leaf, we have probably had a couple hundred fewer attendees than we would have had a decade ago. Age is catching up with a number of rally goers, camping is looking less appealing, and the rally at Barber’s certainly conflicts with the Falling Leaf.

In addition to scheduled events, we had a number of impromptu rides this year with Phil or others often sending out a “let’s go riding” note or several different members posting on Facebook for nice days. Since Phil retired last year he isn’t restricted to weekends anymore but was out of town quite a bit more this year than last year.

I did have fairly good success getting attendance rosters this year but it still takes more coaxing than it should for events that I don’t attend. Remember, if you go to a rally, lead a ride, etc. please jot down the names and get them to me. Email works great and a number of members like C. Kerckhoff have done that.

Phil does a good job carrying blank signup sheets in his saddlebags while several members email me a list. There were several events, like some of the rallies or Rider’s Choice, where I believe that some members attended but for which I never got a roster or only a partial roster. I would love to give people credit for all the events they attend, however, clairvoyance doesn’t work. If you don’t tell me, I don’t know, so please get me those attendance rosters.

The average attendance at rides was down this year while the attendance at parties was up again this year. We had 5 club sponsored parties again this year, with the Christmas party and the (empty) pool party. The St. Patrick’s Day party has replaced the Valentine’s party as a regular party. In addition, we also had the hot dog roast the week after the rally and Ron Bier had a BBQ at his house in September. I want to thank all the members who served as hosts for the parties.

The Christmas party at the Ameristar Casino in 2015 was a huge success other than a couple members getting food poisoning at the banquet. The attendance was up from the previous year with 72 members and 17 guests. This is the largest attendance that I can remember. The pool party had the same attendance with 31 members and 1 guest vs. 29 members and 3 guests last year. This was good considering the pool was empty for the party, having developed a bad leak right before the party.

Gateway Riders Progressive Dinner salad stop.
Salad stop at Ron Bier’s house on the Progressive Dinner Ride.

Again this year, we had the hot dog roast after the rally at Phil’s house and didn’t have the hay ride. I have considered the hot dog roast, along with the Progressive Dinner and Ron Bier’s BBQ as “eating events” rather than as parties.

We also had 10 general meetings (excluding the Pool Party meeting), and the 41st Falling Leaf rally this year. Having a December general meeting separate from the Holiday party was something new we did this year.

The weather for the rally was good again this year and 486 attended, down some from the 612 who attended our 40th, with the raffle bike last year. Only 50 Gateway Riders attended the Falling Leaf this year, down from the 63 last year. A summary of attendance at the various types of events is given below along with the best attended (maximum attendance) for each type of event: meetings, rides, and parties.

The Progressive Dinner and Christmas party remained the most popular ride and party, as they have been for more than the last ten years. The Christmas party was the most attended event in at least the last several years with 72 members and 17 guests. The best attended meeting this year was April with 43 members followed by May with 40. The best meeting attendance last year was August with 53 members (the best meeting attendance I have recorded).

Three sets of average attendance numbers are shown below; the first set is calculated on the 38 local club rides including the two technical sessions but doesn’t include rallies. The second set includes the 38 rides plus 9 rallies I listed. The third set shows the attendance average for just the 9 rallies I listed (w/o the Falling Leaf, which would distort the numbers).

All these averages don’t include the canceled rides or for rallies and rides for which I didn’t get a roster. They are based on members only, and don’t include guests. We typically have one to several guests at each event, so total attendance is even higher than shown here.

Attendance Summary

Event Type 2016
Rides (w/o rallies)
(with rallies)
9.2 – down 6%
8.6 – down 10%
47 45 Ride: Progressive
Listed Rallies (w/o
Falling Leaf)
6.1 – down 25% 8.1 23 23 MOA National
Parties 36.4 – up 10% 33 72 + 17
56 + 7
largest event
Meetings 34.0 – down 11% 38.2 43 53 April in ’16
August in ’15
Falling Leaf Rally     50 63  

The weather canceled 5 rides this year compared to 3 in 2015. Attendance was down slightly in 2016, after being up significantly last year but was still slightly above 2014 levels. Newer members make up a significant portion of the local ride attendance. The big drop was the average attendance at the rallies. While we went to more rallies (10 vs. 8), the attendance at each dropped ~25%, from 8.1 to 6.1 and are also lower than the 2014 numbers (7.2).

Gateway Riders suiting up to go to another stop on the Progressive Dinner ride.
Larry and Jay suiting up to go to another stop on the Progressive Dinner ride.

Surprisingly, the Gateway Riders won the “Largest Club in Attendance” at two rallies this year, Kansas Land of Oz and the RAMS rally. This is partially due to Craig Pelletier making sure that the club was signed up for largest attendance rather than perhaps having the largest attendance. The attendance at the MOA National was 23 both last year and this year (and at St. Paul in 2014).

I guess the allure of riding out west last year was enough to overcome the much longer distance to Billings over Hamburg this year. We often only had 2 members attend some nearby rallies where the club used to have a group of 5 – 10 or more attending. However, the club did have large groups (5 or more) at the Kansas rally, the Hoosier rally, and the RAMS rally this year.

I encourage everyone to think about attending more rallies next year; they are always a good time. It does appear that we are getting lots of new members and a wider mix of members on the club rides, which is good for the future of the club.

Attendance at meetings was down 11% this year and is at the lowest level in several years. However, the attendance at the club parties was up another 10% this year to 36.4 (after being up 11% last year). The club sponsors the parties, so it’s good to see more people taking advantage of most of the parties.

At year end, I showed 118 members. About 88% of the members (104 out of 118) attended at least one event this year as compared to about 86% of the members (97 out of 113) last year. However, the median number of events attended was 4 this year, down from 6 last year and 7 the previous year. It looks like we are getting more members that only attend a few events a year plus the number of new members at the end of the year both reduced the median attendance (new members could only go to a few events before year end). Overall membership appears to be up both of the last two years (118 vs. 113 vs. 107).

Ride Leaders: These are the people who spend their time and effort to arrange, organize, facilitate, and lead rides or events. Only 10 members (roughly 1 in 12) were ride leaders this year, down from 13 last year and 16 the year before. This is disappointing and the club can’t have rides if no one is willing to lead them. It is time for more members to step up and lead just one ride a year. If a few more members would lead just one ride it would make it easy to fill out the ride schedule every time and provide a wider variety of rides.

If you don’t like the pace of the club rides or the destinations, you can solve this by leading a ride to where you want to go, at the pace you want to ride. Without the hard work of the ride leaders, we wouldn’t have the wide variety of events that we have, which is the main reason to have the club.

Ride leadership includes items like the Floyds and Al Schroer organizing the Christmas party or Phil often taking his grill to events. While some rides may be a simple, straight from memory ride, like leading the group to St. John’s Gildehaus, others take hours of planning and preparation to organize and execute like the camp out events or GS rides.

I would like to thank Phil Sulfstede for really stepping up to leading rides (both scheduled and impromptu) as usual this year. He always finds some of the best scenic routes to lead the group on. Jeff Ackerman also led a large number of rides including a GS ride and some back-road rides this year.

Chris Kerckhoff, Jim Shaw, Ron Bier, and Mary Ackerman all continue to lead a number of rides. I also want to thank all the others who led a ride or otherwise helped make an event happen this last year.
Ride Leaders (people who led a ride or helped make an event happen):

Ride Leaders

Member Number of Rides Led ’16 2016
Member Number of Rides Led ’15 2015
Sulfstede, Phil 11 1 Sulfstede, Phil 8 1
Ackerman, Jeff 6 2 Ackerman, Jeff 7 2
Bier, Ron 4 3 Floyd, Larry 4 3
Kerckhoff, Chris 4 3 Kerckhoff, Chris 4 3
Shaw, Jim 4 3 Bier, Ron 3 5
Ackerman, Mary 3 6 Ackerman, Mary 2 6
Floyd, Larry 1 7 Bissell, Cathy 2 6
Floyd, Sharon 1 7 Bissell, Dave 2 6
Green, Jay 1 7 Shaw, Jim 2 6
Williams, Jim 1 7 Floyd, Sharon 1 10
      Green, Jay 1 10
      Halbert, Mike 1 10
      Williams, Jim 1 10

Hosts: Being an event host garners the most points per event, 5, because it requires the most work. I really want to thank everyone that took the extra effort to serve as a host for our various club events this year. Phil Sulfstede hosted 3 events this year. Phil had two at his house, with Mary Baker graciously helping plus he brought his grill and helped BBQ at the pool party. Mary Baker, Dave Leligdon, Ron Bier, and Tammy Hatchard were all hosts twice. Other hosts for parties and the Progressive Dinner included the Ackerman’s, Dave and Tracy Anderson, the Bissells, the Diazs, the Robertses, and the Schroers.

Event Points Ranking: The table below has the top ten event point rankings for 2016 as well as statistics from last year. Most of the names are similar, accounting for the fact that some just below the top ten last year climbed into the top ten this year while others just fell out. The points were more spread out this year than last year, where several positions were determined by the final ride of the season.

However, there were still only 11 points between the 6th and 10th places this year. The points are a combination of the number of events attended (see the second table below) along with the credit given per event (e.g. being a host at 5 points is worth 2 ½ rides at 2 points). Again this year we awarded two points to anyone writing an article for the Gazette to encourage submitting. This really helps Marilyn fill out the Gazette and added to the points count for a number of members.

However, it would be nice for a few more members to write some articles so Marilyn isn’t compelled to keep writing articles to fill out the newsletter (she wrote 6 this year). Jeff Ackerman held on to first this year and earned 2 more points than last year by attending 1 more event. Jim Shaw moved into second place by earning significantly more points (83 vs. 59) while Phil Sulfstede fell to 3rd place. Phil is spending more time traveling and to New Orleans after retiring and didn’t make near as many events this year (but did keep up his great work as a ride leader and host).

Event Points Ranking

Member: Rank 2016 Points 2016 Member: Rank 2015 Points 2015
Ackerman, Jeff 1 94 Ackerman, Jeff 1 92
Shaw, Jim 2 83 Sulfstede, Phil 2 91
Sulfstede, Phil 3 73 Kerckhoff, Chris 3 61
Anderson, Dave 4 67 Shaw, Jim 4 59
Leligdon, Dave 5 59 Anderson, Dave 5 57
Green, Jay 6 54 Floyd, Larry 6 55
Ackerman, Mary 7 48 Green, Jay 6 55
Kerckhoff, Chris 8 47 Bissell, Dave 8 51
Roberts, Marilyn 9 47 Leligdon, Dave 8 51
Leslie, Rich 10 43 Bissell, Cathy 10 50
Schroer, Al 10 43      

Events Attended Ranking: Number of club events (including rallies) attended by the member.
The events attended rankings were mostly similar to last year, with some moving up slightly and some moving down slightly. Jeff Ackerman was first again this year by attending 41 events. Jim Shaw swapped places with Phil Sulfstede, with Jim coming in second by attending 10 more events while Phil fell to fourth by attending 10 fewer.

Dave Anderson took over third place by attending 5 more events. Rich Leslie just made the top ten in events attended while Mary Ackerman and the Bissells just missed out. The differences between points and number of events attended shows the impact of Gazette articles plus being a host and ride leader on the final point count. Phil went to fewer events than Dave Anderson (28 vs. 33) but had 6 more points by being first in leading rides and being host.

Events Attended Ranking

Member 2016 Number of Events 2016 2016 Rank Member 2015 Number of Events in 2015 2015 Rank
Ackerman, Jeff 41 1 Ackerman, Jeff 40 1
Shaw, Jim 38 2 Sulfstede, Phil 38 2
Anderson, Dave 33 3 Murray, Ron 28 3
Sulfstede, Phil 28 4 Shaw, Jim 28 3
Green, Jay 27 5 Anderson, Dave 27 5
Leligdon, Dave 27 6 Bissell, Dave 27 5
Schroer, Al 25 7 Green, Jay 27 5
Murray, Ron 24 8 Bissell, Cathy 26 8
Kerckhoff, Chris 23 9 Kerckhoff, Chris 26 8
Leslie, Rich 23 9 Schroer, AI 25 10

Overall, the club did well this year with the number of events and the fact that ride attendance is only down slightly (6%) after significant growth last year (up 15%). Phil and Jeff have held the top two spots for points earned, rides led, and number of events attended for a number of years with Phil just falling to third in event points this year while Jim Shaw has consistently been in the top five for years. His recent retirement has allowed Jeff to earn more points by attending more events.

Phil, on the other hand, has used his recent retirement to take a number of long trips and thus his points and attendance have decreased slightly due to his travels. However, Phil is still number one in leading rides, which is probably the most important attribute for the club.

Jim has been retired longer and has climbed into second place for points and events attended while being third in leading rides. After Jim, Phil, and Jeff, the names and the values for the points and events attended are similar with some moving up slightly and some moving down slightly for most of the top ten.

To make Marilyn’s life easier, more people need to step up and write more articles for the Gazette like Jeff (4), Dave Anderson (3), plus Tracy Anderson, Larry Floyd, and Dave Leligdon all writing 2 articles. Certainly a fun ride or rally should be worth an article or two a year out of every member.

A bright spot for the club is that we continue to have an influx of new members. Many of them are attending a number of events including rides. Hopefully, we will see the newer members on the leader list in the near future and can get them to organize and lead some new rides.

I look forward to seeing all of you on a number of the club rides in 2017, and remember, I am always looking for the next ride and/or event idea. Please let me know and I will get you on the ride schedule.