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Sept Florida Events 2017

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All Roads Lead To A Run To The Heartlands

By Metric and Phoenix

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From Tallahassee to the Keys, from Bradenton to Ft. Pierce all roads lead to “The Run to the Heartland”. Highlands County is home to the one of the fastest growing premier motorcycling events in Florida. The Heartland Riders Association was conceived in 2003 by a group of motorcycle enthusiast that decided that Historic Downtown Sebring, Florida would be an excellent place to hold a family friendly motorcycle rally and boy were they right.

In years past, Sebring was best known for the 12HRS of Sebring races, which is one the premier endurance auto races in the world. Today, the Run to the Heartland is being recognized as one of the greatest events in the motorcycling community in Florida. What makes Highlands County so unique is the history behind their sleepy little towns and the surrounding areas. During WWII the Sebring airport was used to train fighter pilots. Today, Avon Park is still the home of the Avon Park Bombing Range where military training is still conducted.

In 1980 when I first came to Sebring I thought I was starring in the latest remake of “Back to the Future”. As you walk around the circle, you expected to see Sherriff Taylor going fishing with Opie or Deputy Barney Fife fighting crime in small town Mayberry. I do believe they actually had a barber named “Floyd”. But, once a year the quite circle gives way to thousands of roaring motorcycles who line the streets and bring historical downtown Sebring to life.

This year the Run to the Heartland featured a “Salute to Our Veteran”, and the historical downtown Sebring circle is the perfect place to hold such an event. At the heart of the circle is a Memorial wall that honors the hometown “Heroes” from Highlands County that have given the ultimate sacrifice in service to this country. In honor of “Salute to Our Veterans”, Sebring mayor George Hensley laid a wreath at the base of the memorial, the Avon High School ROTC Color Guard presented the “COLORS” and our own “Highlanders” United States Military Veterans Motorcycle Club conducted a heart-wrenching POW/MIA ceremony.

Saturday ABATE held its’ “Frisco’s Famous” Poker Run which travels through some the most beautiful countryside Florida has to offer. While the bikers were enjoying their ride through the countryside, the activities on the circle were mounting. Lynn from TJ Leathers was hosting a fashion show for the men. You women really don’t believe the fashions shows are for you, do you? The Central Florida Drill Team was showing skill and precision techniques, while Xtreme Fury Stunterz and American Motodrome “Wall of Death” showed the wilder side of precision riding. There was something for every level of rider. Phoenix had one of these “OH SHIT” moments when she got her first taste of actually driving a motorcycle thanks to George from HD of Lakeland for bringing their dyno trailer.

Sebring has its own famous bike builder in Joe from Thunder Chopper Works, but this weekend bike builders from all over brought some of the most exotic motorcycles ever made. Check out this month’s Bull’s Eye on Reverend Jim of Florida’s Church of the Ape Hangers and Preachers Cycle Promotions just to name a few.

To cap off a wonderful weekend the Christian Motorcycle Association held bike blessings and church services on Sunday followed by a great praise and worship band. Music, demos and activities continued till late afternoon to bring the 8th Annual Run to the Heartland to a close. The only way to experience such a great event is to be here. The Annual “Run to the Heartland” is scheduled for first Friday, Saturday and Sunday of October each year, so mark your calendar and make plans to be here. Stop by the Thunder Roads booth and say “HI”.

One final note if you ever want somewhere to ride, take a ride out this way. Stop at the Wild Turkey Tavern to get the coldest beer and the greatest GATOR TAIL in town. Tell them “METRIC” told you to stop and they will treat you right. See you down the road!!!

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