Motorcycles, BBQ, camping, live music, free beer. All five are great on their own, but when you combine them into a weekend long event, you've got one hell of a party. Taking place on the banks of the Trent River down in Eastern, NC, Luke and Ronnie Woolard pulled out all the stops to make this second edition of the Backroad BBQ Run an awesome time for everyone, including that famous Southern hospitality and miles of country roads.
I literally grew up half an hour away from the Trent River Campground, but I have to admit I’ve never heard of the place and apparently neither had my GPS, so I made a couple wrong turns before finally pulling onto the long dirt road that lead to the campground. Built on a 30 acre tract of land that was once part of a family farm, the campground had plenty of room, whether you showed up with just a couple of hammocks, or a full on RV with trailer in tow. Rolling through the campground, the first people I spotted were Luke and Ronnie sitting under a Pabst Blue Ribbon tent, signing people in. They were literally surrounded by beer, with a massive cooler (must have been about 6’ long) filled with ice cold PBR on one side, a kiddie pool filled with PBR out front, smaller coolers behind and a stack of cases waiting to be unpacked. Turns out Pabst Blue Ribbon had taken their sponsorship duties seriously and had dropped off 720 cans of beer to make sure everyone had a good weekend.
Just down from the check-in tent were the guys from Tush Pig. Now, I’ve been to plenty of pig pickin’s in my life, and I can tell you that most of them usually have a single cooker and maybe a folding table for potato salad and baked beans. These guys looked like they had come to feed a small army, with multiple full size cookers, smokers, burn barrels, pop-up tents, tables, and even a Lazy Boy recliner. Not a single propane tank in sight either, everything was slow cooked on oak and hickory wood the old-fashioned way.
Past the pig cookers, the wooded area spread out along a wide bend in the river. There weren’t any “designated” camping spots, so you basically could just pitch your tent anywhere that looked good, which meant you could be grouped up with your buddies to spend the nights telling lies around the fire or off on your own if you wanted some peace and “semi” quiet. Friday night was fairly laid back, with people showing up well past dark to grab some tent space and a few PBRs. I had the great idea of climbing a giant oak tree spread out over the road to capture some photos of people riding in. After numerous scrapes, a few puncture wounds, and some choice words, I shimmied my way down a good sized branch and got positioned right over the center of the road. Then I proceeded to watch the sun go down with only a handful of motorcycles passing under me. In a last ditch effort to get some good photos, I tried calling some friends already at camp, but with spotty cell service I just had to give up and climb back down.
I was up bright and early on Saturday morning, grabbed a hot shower over at the campground’s “headquarters”, and made it back just in time to watch the Maris Hellafat food truck roll into camp. As soon as the open sign was up, we descended on that truck like a swarm of locusts, downing breakfast sandwiches and coffee as fast as they could be pushed out the window. For those that slept late and missed breakfast or who just like food and plenty of it, Tush Pig grilled up some pre-ride smoked burgers around lunchtime so that everyone had at least eaten one meal by the time we rolled out.
With Luke in the lead, we hit some great backroads, passing between fields of newly sprouted corn and stands of giant pine trees with the occasional farmhouse or barn to break things up. Eventually we made it to the town of Kinston and pulled into Hollands Super Cycle. The folks at Hollands rolled out the welcome mat for us with plenty of cold drinks, spare parts, and sage advice. Some of the motorcycles on Saturday’s run wouldn’t have made it without some help from Hollands and probably would have ended up being trailered home. I could have hung out for a couple hours, or at least until the free drinks ran out, but Luke kept us on schedule and before long we were rolling back to the campground.
Back at camp, we all got together for the raffle and the bike games. There was a large field that bordered the wooded section of the campground where the events were held. This gave all the spectators a place in the shade while the contestants got to sweat it out in the sun and dirt. Things started out with the slow race and from there moved to the board race, the keg roll and a kickstart contest. The big winner for the day was Wes Slayton (@customdestruction) who dominated the field in every event. After such a one sided victory, I’m starting to wonder if Wes has been practicing in between lining helmets…
Once the bike games finished up, it was on to the raffle. PBR wasn’t the only company to throw their support behind this event, and the array of raffle prizes from the other sponsors was top notch. Everything from framed artwork from Anthony Hicks, to hats, shirts, sissybars, handlebars and even a custom-painted helmet from Rusty Nash (@paintsbyrusty). Proceeds from the raffle went to help Kyle Ford and his family after his recent motorcycle accident and more than one winner turned their prizes back in to be auctioned for additional money for Kyle. Check out http://www.gofundme.com/KyleFord if you want to help out.
As usual, I didn’t win anything (probably should have bought more than one ticket), but when Tush Pig rang the dinner bell, I forgot all about my lack of prizes and jumped in line for some choice eats. I must have looked hungry, because the guys with Tush Pig loaded up my plate with a little bit of everything, including pulled pork, bbq ribs, bbq chicken and all the fixings. It didn’t take me long to turn 12 hours of slow cooking into a pile of bones and a few patches of bbq sauce.
As the sun started to set, the bonfire was lit and we were treated to live music from the Old Grey Suits. These guys put on a great show, playing bluegrass music for the entire campground. What a great way to end the day.
Sunday morning literally started with a bang as thunderstorms started rolling in first thing in the morning. As the rain moved in, everyone was frantically packing up their gear and trying to get on the road. Everyone that is except my buddy Sean and his wife Kimmy, who were just snoozing away in their tent occasionally eyeing the rest of us as we worked through the downpour. I did my best to try to get them moving, but apparently they had actually looked at the weather and knew the storm was going to be short lived. Sure enough, half an hour later, the rain was gone, but it was too late for pretty much everyone else as they had all gotten soaked to the bone while packing up and were now dripping their way down the highway heading for home. On the plus side, everyone got home a little earlier than expected, including Luke and Ronnie, who were probably just a little exhausted from putting on a great event. Like everyone else I talked to, I am already looking forward to the Backroad BBQ Run III. Give them at a follow on IG (@backroad_bbq_run) and stay tuned for announcements for next year’s run. I guarantee you won’t want to miss it.
Article and photos by Panhead Jim