ALGONA - On any given section of road in Iowa, chances are that motorcycles make up a small percentage of the vehicles traveling there.
As a visitors approaches the A Brotherhood Aimed Toward Education (ABATE) Freedom Park northeast of Algona, the opposite very quickly becomes the case as some of the thousands gathered there for the 28th annual ABATE of Iowa Inc. Freedom Rally roar toward town or back to their campsite with freshly purchased bags of ice slung over the passenger seat.
Denny Plohocky, of Grantsberg, Wis., owns an insurance and marketing business. He was sitting under the shade of a canopy Saturday keeping up with work on his laptop. A power adaptor runs it off the battery in his Harley-Davidson motorcycle.
-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Denny Plohocky, of Grantsberg, Wis., keeps up with his insurance/marketing business Saturday morning while relaxing in the shade at the 2012 ABATE of Iowa Inc. Freedom Rally, north of Algona. It was also his fifth wedding anniversary.
"I can also charge everybody's cell phone," he said.
He insists the computer is just for work.
"I don't mess with email during vacation," he said.
Plohocky said he's been riding bikes since he was 13.
Saturday was also his wedding anniversary. Fortunately, his bride, Dawn, also loves bikes.
The pair have been camping in the same area for many years and have met and cultivated a group of friends there.
The annual event is almost like a reunion.
"We get to meet our biker family," Dawn Plohocky said.
Also from Grantsberg, Jeff Kindus is part of that extended group of friends.
"It's like a little neighborhood here, " he said as he pointed to the tents and bikes nearby.
Enjoying the shade is only one of many things to do at the rally; there is plenty of music, along with food, drink and bike rodeo events to enjoy.
One of those, the paintball drive-by shooting competition, drew plenty of entries - including Dave Keskey, of Cokato, Minn.
He said he didn't practice at home; he just went ahead and did it.
"If you're a good bike rider and a good marksman, you'll hit the target," he said.
His skills in both areas paid off. He hit many targets and didn't spill his bike.
"I hit better than 75 percent," he said. "Then I had two rounds left."
Among the many food, clothing and tattoo vendors at the rally, Steven and Miraka Nunnikhoven, of Mediapolis, stand out as sellers of cast concrete benches, seats, V-twin engines, skulls and even a giant eagle -all with a bike theme.
"We are artisan moldmakers," he said.
While the benches and bike seats serve the practical purpose of being, well, seats. The V-twin engine has a purpose, too. One side holds up business cards, the other will cradle a phone.
"Guys like to put them on their desk," he said.
While they may not offer anything practical except a way to start a conversation, another item they have sells well too.
"The skulls are really popular," he said.
When the pair leave at the end of the rally, a bench they donated to the group will remain behind to serve as place for those walking the grounds to rest.
"It's for a good cause," he said.
Kent Clemons, public relations director for ABATE of Iowa Inc., said that about 5,500 riders attended this year's rally. He was all smiles as he watched one of the bike rodeo events.
"The sun's shining, it's cooler," he said, "You can't beat that."
He also said that proceeds from the event are used to help riders.
"It's our fundraiser to support our rider education program," he said. "While we do get involved politically, education is our No. 1 priority."
That includes efforts to education drivers to watch for bikes and for riders to learn safe techniques.
"If you're not safe," he said. "Then nobody is safe."
For some participants - like Krista Johnson, of Mankato, Minn. - the rally is the highlight of the year.
"As soon as I leave, I start looking forward to next year, " she said.
She has a simple reason.
"It's the freedom," Johnson said.