Chili Cook-offs

…and other ways to keep your moto-self busy in the winter

Riding a motorcycle in the dead of winter isn’t for everybody, but it’s still a great time to gather with friends and have a good time.

At right:  Jeff Reiner puts on an excellent chili cookoff at South Sound Honda each winter.

Dealers, clubs and otherwise have come up with a number of ways to keep riders together and active during the winter months when the roads are uninviting to most two wheel riding. Sure there’s a few of us (myself included) who think nothing of mounting the bike at 40 degrees and taking an all day ride around the Olympic Penninsula, but for the rest here’s a number of ideas of how to keep your group active in the winter months.

The Chili Cook-off

Chili cook-offs have proven to be a great way to get riders together in the ‘off’ season. A number of dealers do these in Puget Sound. While we have yet to hear of a club putting such an event on, we figure it’s only a matter of time.

In case you’ve never been to one here’s how it works: A group of chili aficionados whip up their prize winning batch of chili a day or two before the event and then bring it in for all to sample on the cook-off day. Everyone in attendance samples and votes and may the best chili win!

Two of my favorites are the cook-offs held at Skagit Harley-Davidson/Buell and South Sound Honda every January. For dates consult the Sound RIDER! calendar @

Most memorable chili I ever tasted was the V-Rod chili at Skagit HD/B in January 2003. The chili have about four different meats, red and white wines blended together and lots of other tasty flavors too secret for the creators (4) to reveal. The team spent 2 days making the chili.


There are a number of Karting tracks around Puget Sound where you can go and rent time on the track in a track-provided kart. This has proven to be a fun event for many clubs in the winter months and is a favorite with the sportbike crowd.

Movie/Slideshow Night

Ride West BMW has been doing slideshows in the winter months for a number of years. This year they will present three travel logs from three different riders. Visit their website at for more details.

Does your group take a lot of photos when you’re out on rides? Put them together and put on a slideshow to share with everyone. Nowadays a slideshow can be created using PowerPoint, so it’s easy to have various members of your group email in what they have and assemble the show on your computer. You can even burn CD-ROM for everyone who comes of the show, so they can take it with them when it’s over.

Does someone in your group have a great surround sound system at their home? Go purchase or rent a copy of ‘On Any Sunday,’ a Crusty’s video, Easy Rider or whatever gets your groups ya-yas fired up. Might be good to make some chili for this event too. If so, you can wind the afternoon or evening out with a showing of Blazing Saddles.

Have a Dinner Party and/or Awards Night

It may be a while before the highs reach 60 degrees or more again, so as long as you’re stuck inside how about gathering your group together for a dinner party and maybe some awards? You can do the cooking, or make it a pot luck, throw in a wine tasting or just order out. A few awards from the previous year may be in order such as ‘dumbest move,’ ‘best crash,’ ‘best restoration,’ or ‘most miles ridden.’

Go Shopping

January is a great time to shop for deals. Dealers are stuck with overstock and want to move it out. It could be late model year bikes, or clothing and accessories. It’s a good time to get deals and to go bargain hunting. In fact, if you and a group are going shopping together call around to dealers and ask the general managers if they’ll pass on a group discount to you if you all walk into the store at the same time. Many will, some won’t. SR! 

TM/Winter 04