The Eye of a Storm – MB Fall Bike Week by Everette “EZ” Short
True to its name, The Hurricane Alley Fall Bike Rally came in bringing a storm with it. High winds, record rains and a state of emergency were declared in the surrounding areas of both North and South Carolina. Still, tens of thousands of riders poured into the beach area for a week of celebration and relaxation. On Wednesday, September 29th, I was at Myrtle Beach Harley Davidson, not expecting many to show up, but I was there to greet anyone brave enough to come. Was I ever surprised to see well over a 1000 rain clad riders rolling into the parking lot with big, wide smiles and rain soaked, dirty yellow slickers on. The Wilmington area, north of the rally, experienced more rain than ever recorded and yet here they were – riders that couldn’t care less. They just rode on. That’s just how we are: when we want to get somewhere; there are no excuses or obstacles that we can’t get over, under, through or past.
The next day, with the rain lifting and the Helmet Laws becoming a dot in our historic rear view mirror, the beach area roared to life around sunup and the crowds in the southern ends started looking like “The Good Old Days” by the time the sun hit the noon sky mark. SBB, The Beaver Bar, Cooters and the surrounding hot spots were filled to near capacity by night fall on Murrell’s Inlet. Thousands tested the waters of Myrtle Beach proper early by venturing north to fill up The Swingbridge Saloon, Captain Poos, Harley’s Roadhouse, HB Spokes and all the surrounding venues that were featured on The Fall Rally Treasure Map in US Rider News.
By Friday, the party was on full swing mode when the city announced it would close all North and Southbound access to both the #17 bypass and Hwy #31, effectively forcing people to ride into Myrtle Beach through Kings Hwy. The sudden closure of lifelines between the two ends was made to accommodate less than 2000 athletes that had come for a triathlon. Like giant dinosaurs, the crowds ignored the mess, the politics and the city decrees. They just wound their ways around it and went on about the business of finding one another in a celebration of communion on two wheels. Meanwhile, on the North side of the Carolina border, in Little River, bikes roared through local bars like Rickey’s Dockside, invaded the waterway to gather at places like The Pilot House and slammed shots at Key West Crazy with no cares about what the city of Myrtle Beach had to say. “There are two ends of this rally and we’re staying out of the middle,” said Tim Sauer who rides a 2005 Fat Boy. “We’re professionals, not teenagers, and we intend to ACT like professionals,” said Karen Coats, who rides and works as a Hospice nurse, as she sat smiling at a picnic table on the waterway at Captain Poos with her friends. “If we did see a problem, we just went around it,” she added loudly over the noise of a full capacity crowd that stayed that way for the whole event. Apparently, Captain Poos is no longer the best kept secret as there was hardly room to park a bike on the entire property, but everyone got along just fine, none the less.
By Saturday, massive amounts of motorcycles covered the entire beach area and while the city is not releasing any numbers or estimates, it appears that over 60,000 motorcycles showed up to prove that we are still here and we’re not going away. “We’ve had a great time and we’re staying on though next week,” said Jana Thorton who rides with Rusty on a 2009 Big Dog motorcycle. They were part of a group of almost 20 friends that had ridden in from the middle of North Carolina. I heard them yelling “We’re in it ‘til the end,” when I left and I’m sure they are. In a side note of what it’s all about, George “Catfish” Wertheimer told me that he had a problem with his chain while riding in Myrtle Beach proper. Catfish took a chance and pulled into “Scooters” on Kings Hwy since he had no tools with him. He said that they immediately took him into the shop and fixed the problem with no waiting and gave him a good price to boot. When George paid him, the mechanic looked him straight in the eye, shook his hand and said, “Welcome back to Myrtle Beach and thank you for your business.”
On Sunday, most people had jobs to return to, but the feeling was good. Two days before the event, Denise Triece from MBHD told me that suddenly vendors were ringing the phone off to get spaces, but it was too late. The few vendors that came took in large rewards, but one rider said it best when he told me “The vendors follow us. We don’t follow the vendors. We come to be with each other, celebrate life and the freedoms that make this country great. We didn’t come to buy beads and trinkets.” By the time you read this, a group of us will be gathering to plan for the Spring Rally. A lot of innocent businesses didn’t make it through the storm, but to those of you who did, we take our hats off in gratitude. Remember that you can help make a difference when you stop by any area merchant you see in this magazine and tell them “Thanks for wanting my business.” I told you we’d be back and if you made it out for the rally, then I’m sure you are glad you did. We all look forward to next Spring so we can make it happen again, but feel free to come by anytime. The beach is always here and it’s waiting just for you.