Saturday, May 02, 2009

THMMC Bullfrog Run

Gathering point.

Back at the beginning of April, the Tar Heel MINI Motoring Club held the Second Annual Bullfrog Run.  The Bullfrog Run was created in honor of one of the early members of the THMMC who went by the screen name Bullfrog.  By all accounts, he was one of those individuals that you find who is always helping people and that help make things grow through their enthusiasm for life.  Anyway, I understand he passed away some time prior to my getting a Mini or joining the THMMC.

The route itself follows Hwy. 66 up and around the Hanging Rock State Park area, kind of northwest of Winston-Salem.  There are some excellent roads in that area and the route was a favorite of Bullfrog to lead a run on.  As you'll note later (if you read far enough), I didn't really get aggressive this year.  But I remember from last year that it is one of the more technical roads I've been on in my Mini, with a good number of switchbacks, s-curves, etc.  So, I'm going to go ahead and give it 4 out of 5 howls.  May have to re-run it sometime on my own and see if it might be worthy of a 4.5.

Bullfrog Run

The run also marked a milestone for me.  In 2008, the First Annual Bullfrog Run was the first Mini event I attended with the THMMC (or anyone else for that matter).  I had the Mini for about a month and a half at that point.  So, it marked my one year anniversary of actually motoring with the THMMC.

More twisty roads

Arriving at the Lowe's for our gathering was quite impressive.  We had about 28 Minis in attendance (you know I never get an official count).  For me, that's probably the second biggest group I've seen at one time, second only to the THMMC Club Blast picnic we had last summer.  I saw (what I can now refer to as) some old friends as well as new friends who have only recently joined the club.

After our drivers' meeting, we set out heading out of town.  It was interesting to see how this long line of Minis would make it as a group given the relative congestion and development of the area, even kind of early on a Sunday morning.  One of our first challenges was a truck that got in the convoy of Minis, but he didn't do too bad in not separating the line.

A line of Minis in the country

The route was a little different this year as it was planned to go on up to Hanging Rock State Park.  This caused things to get interesting as apparently a small group missed the turn, a fact we (well, at least me) would find out later when we got to the top.  Once up there, we did a quick lap around the parking lot (maybe someone's GPS was going "Left. Left. Left" like in the commercial).  Then we parked in a long row and enjoyed some fellowship while we waited...and waited...and waited for the rest of our group to catch up/show up.

Leaving the park

Eventually the stragglers showed up and we gave them a few minutes to catch their breath and enjoy the fresh air.  As we prepared to leave, I took the opportunity to get out in front of the group and find a place to take some photos.  This turned out to not be too far away as there was a nice curve with a lake in the background.  I figured that would make a nice backdrop for the photos.  And it did (I think) as you may be able to see in the photo gallery.

After the end of the line passed, it was time to jump back in the MINI WUF and catch up.  This required some creative driving coming down through the park.  As I was exiting, I spotted the last couple Minis up ahead of me and caught up with them fairly quickly.

My Chili Red brethren

As it turned out, we had four Chili Reds at the end of the line.  Unfortunately, I understand one of us was having a little trouble with passenger's reaction to the twisties.  This slowed things down a bit and our little group of 4 CRs lost contact with the main contingent.  Fortunately, one of the group was Twister, who helped lay out the route and knew where he was going and was able to radio instructions to me at the end.

About halfway along this part of the run, we shuffled around and I ended up third in line with our challenged Mini bringing up the rear.  This freed up the first two Minis to tackle the run back down 66 at a rate they felt comfortable with.  I probably could have sped up as well, but decided to hang back to make sure our final Mini had a "wingman" available to help them get back to town.  Gotta look out for our fellow Minis, right?

Near the bottom we found the other two Minis waiting for us at a pull-off.  That enabled us to regroup for the last few miles and turns until we got to O'Dairios for lunch.

So it was another great motoring run with the THMMC.  And I am now ready for my next year of motoring events.

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