The spark did not ignite the fuel in Puerto Sherry

Going to the 24th European HOG Rally in Puerto Sherry was a 13 day 3,676 mile adventure with 4 friends. Down and up again through France and Spain, climbing 4 cols in the Pyrenees, the Picos de Europe in the North of Spain, visiting Oradour sur Glane, it was a trip people of my age can only remember when browsing through all the photos made during the fortnight.

Great roads, great company, good food and drinks, a really enjoyable holiday. But that will be another post on photo galleries.

More urgently, I want to add my views on the growing criticism of the HOG event in Puerto Sherry spreading in social media comments, from visitors and traders.

I had about 1,400 mile ride home where I could think of a title for this post. I visited many HD Rallies, Lugano 2010, Biograd 2011, St Tropez 2012, Cascais 2012, Rome 2013, St Tropez again in 2014, to mentions just the big ones, with SofER and Magic Bike a good 8 times.

I ended up with a very diplomatic title: “The spark did not ignite the fuel in Puerto Sherry”.

Thursday evening, Santana tribute band Tattwan playing at 21:20

Prime time Friday, Main Music Stage “Soul Mates” at 22:10

And so it was every evening. Good enjoyable bands, but no listeners, I had pity with the musicians, and it was worse on the smaller 2nd stage.

The awkward thing on Puerto Sherry was that on the one hand nearly nobody showed up on Ground Zero for the Rally, but great numbers of Harley’s showed up for the very well organised Parade on Saturday, thousands of Harley’s from all over Europe.

Thursday 18:45, outside lane for pre-paid ticket holders, inside 2 lanes for guests….

One reason among others must be the unnecessary entrance fee that had to be paid for the huge restricted area, with it 2 large live stages, traders village and custom bike show. OK, you pay for St Tropez too, and for Magic Bike, but you get something, a great atmosphere of party, food and drinks among unknown friends. But the spark did not ignite the fuel in Puerto Sherry, and riders stayed away.

One must understand, Puerto Sherry is not so much a town, its a posh marina at the outskirts of El Puerto de Santa María, and it is this marina’s car park HD owned for 4 days. Security was too tight, the only thing missing was barbed wire. No locals allowed, no bikes allowed inside, you had to park outside and walk yourself till you have blisters on your feet.

Very good first aid station

Being a marina, there are no need for hotels, Doh! Every “usual” guest comes in his yacht with its own beds, toilet, dining rooms and butlers. So there was no place for us to sleep, except 10-20 miles away in Jerez or Cadiz. OK, there was one local hotel, but this was block-booked by HD for its “Staff” and “Event Team”, you had to own a black T-Shirt with big white letters to get in. HD staff was everywhere, friendly and funny as always, and not very busy, they had a good time.


My strong advise: only hold Rallies where there are at least 2,000 customer hotel beds within 20 minutes walking distance (drunken) from the main music stage, which only then can become ground zero for thousands for the 3 nights. Otherwise the good bands will play again to a rather empty parking lot and 3 vans with a dozen of riot police standing outside not knowing why on earth they were send here to help the onsite Eulen security guards.


I like local food, but where was the food? To keep thousands of people interested, entertained, partying and happy for hours, they need good local food, drinks and seating.


All there was in the restricted zone where a dozen wobbly garden chairs near 2 stands selling stale Hot Dogs preheated 3 days ago. Not the environment to attract thousands, clearly the spark did not ignite the fuel here neither.


But not all is lost, we have St Tropez, Faaker See, SoFER (now at a new location), Magic Bike, Thunder and many more local rallies sponsored by HOG and HD, but I strongly hope the one and only annual “HOG European Rally” can quickly recover its reputation and status of being a huge party among friends, a third stale performance after Biograd and Puerto Sherry would be very bad.

The locals had to remain outside, we became the odd attraction in a cage…

In 2016 it should become again a invitation by HOG and Harley-Davidson to thank us loyal customers from their heart. Involve and invite the locals, they may well be the next new customer, and invest in those following you thousands of miles, by inviting traders at favourable conditions and bands of reputation. Do not try to squeeze the last cent out of it, sorry, but it was too obvious in Puerto Sherry.

Let the spark ignite the fuel again, I am sure they can manage that after a U-turn…



6 Responses to “The spark did not ignite the fuel in Puerto Sherry”

  1. I hope Portoroz will be better. You going Axel?

    • Looking at birdseye view of location, its promising, similar to Cascais. Not sure yet if I can make it, have a bed booked, but also LIND TOURS customers for UK trip. Lets see how it evolves.

  2. Ian Fenwick Says:

    I totally agree with Axel’s review of the Puerto Sherry Rally. It was sterile and totally lacking atmosphere.
    Cascais was the perfect location. The rally was woven into the town, locals were welcomed and in return made all bikers very welcome.
    Let’s hope the lessons from the last two rallies have been learned.

  3. Chris Doody Says:

    I attended the Puerto Sherry rally and was very disappointed.
    I agree with Axel 100% and would like to add that the trade area and main stage was full of people but only after the barriers were taken down and the locals came in
    surely these are the ones that need to be encouraged as they are potential new buyers. the Harley stand with all the bikes on was packed all day!!!

    come on HOG get your act together

    • It is very good to hear that Harley did that, must have been Sunday. I left with my group Sunday morning as scheduled since month, to enjoy the 4th part of each Rally, the 6 day journey back home.

  4. ken stirling Says:

    Hi Axel, totally agree with you, Puerto Sherry was a total wash out!
    no atmosphere, no people, a real damp squid. we also did not appreciate the HOG members only terrace. my wife is not a HOG member and would have had to stay downstairs whilst I went upstairs! as it was there were hardly anyone there.
    We have just come back from a rallye at Montalivet organised by the Outcasts MC and it was fantastic! 15,000 bikes came and it was just great! It cost 30 euros for the 3 days event with a teeshirt and patch thrown in. There also was an free aperitif Saturday night and sunday lunch time. There were at least 40 trade stands and probably 20 food stands of very good quality. there was a motorcycle stunt team and of course live music, and fireworks!!
    And guess what not one policeman in sight!
    HOG must definitely take a leaf from their book and have a very good think of what they are going to do next.
    Thanks for the photo!

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