Eastern Shore, Md./Del./Va., Sept. 17–20—It was the Wednesday after Labor Day, and the day started bright and sunny, with the temperature forecasted to reach the mid-80s—perfect weather for the 15th annual Delmarva Bike Week and 5th annual OC BikeFest motorcycle rallies. We arrived at the Fenwick Inn in Ocean City, Maryland, by mid afternoon, and the friendly and professional staff made check-in a breeze. The Fenwick Inn is a sponsoring hotel for the rallies and has undergone renovations in the past couple of years, adding to our pleasant experience there.
Due to the great weather, we were enthusiastic about getting back out on the road, so we pointed the bike south onto the Coastal Highway past OC BikeFest’s main venues: Seacrets, the Ocean City Convention Center, and the Ocean City Inlet. all were bustling with activity, with vendor vehicles coming and going, and tents and displays being set up, turning once-empty parking lots into havens of entertainment, food, drinks, bikes, accessories, clothing and more. Wednesday was the day before the start of the rallies but the roadways were already getting busy because bikers were already rolling into town.
We continued down the Coastal Highway to US-50, over the bridge to Hooper’s Crab House where the lot and vendor areas were busy with early arrivals. We continued on US-50 west to US-113 north to DE-26 east, which brought us to Bethany Beach, Delaware, and then south on the Coastal Highway to the Fenwick Inn; a great loop ride to end our first awesome day in Ocean City.
Awakening to a spectacular sunrise and a quick breakfast, we made our way to the Inlet, the only rally location that charges admission. Four-day passes were $40 per person and included an event wristband that gave you access to all music, entertainment and parking at the Inlet, $5 off the cover at Seacrets, discounts at sponsoring restaurants and hotels, and free unlimited use of Ocean City’s 24-hour bus service. OC BikeFest is growing and parking is at a premium, so free use of the bus service is well worth the cost. Plus, if you like to participate in the taste testing at the Jack Daniel’s and Budweiser pub stands or want to enjoy any of the local watering holes, the bus can really save you the trouble and money of getting pulled over.
The Inlet venue was filling up fast with people who came for the entertainment (Kashmir, a Led Zeppelin tribute band, was getting ready at the Boardwalk Stage) or to spend some time with the many vendors on site. On display were some of the bikes that were entered into the Customization in America Invitational Bike Show, a Nascar simulator, and a fashion show featuring the International Bikini Team.
New this year were a poker run, and also a custom bike giveaway to benefit Halifax Urban Ministries Charities LLC and sponsored by OC BikeFest, GEICO and Covington Customs. We took a chance and bought a couple of poker hand cards, picked our cards, got stamped and headed to the next stop, the Convention Center.
There were close to 70 vendors on site at the Convention Center. Rommel Harley-Davidson had one of the largest display tents with over 150 new and used Harley-Davidsons in stock, MotorClothes, full bike service and the JumpStart Experience. The area was extremely busy with people walking around looking for that something special, or just walking around enjoying sights and the fantastic weather, and just having a grand ol’ time. Here was another stop for the poker run, so we picked our cards and got stamped, and went on to the next location, Seacrets, a short ride north on the Coastal Highway.
We made our way through the Seacrets packed parking lot, across the vendor area and into the nightclub where everyone was eating, drinking and having an outstanding time. It was around 5:30 p.m. and people were still enjoying the tables that are strategically set up in the Isle of Wight Bay. The water was warm and drinks were cold, but it was time to do some more riding.
On Friday we rode about 25 miles on US-50 west to Perdue Stadium, which was our third stop on the poker run. At the stadium were demo rides, vendors, food concessions and IllConduct stunt shows throughout the day. Then we were off to our next adventure at Winterplace Park, just across US-50. Since parking is tight, the organizers arranged a free shuttle service between the two locations. Although we decided to ride over, the shuttle is a good alternative.
The great summer weather, along with the low gas prices, must have encouraged everyone to come out for the rallies. The Winterplace Park parking lot as well as the venue itself was jam-packed, with everyone socializing, eating, drinking, listening to the music and of course spending time with the vendors. Our next poker run stop took us north on US-13 to Rommel Harley-Davidson of Seaford (Delaware). The parking lot was packed here too, and the dealership was busy with MotorClothes sales, new bike sales, and parts and accessories. On the outdoor stage was a local band belting out some Pink Floyd. We found our last poker run stop, did our “pick and stamp” thing, and now was the hard part—putting the stamped cards in a safe place where they would not get lost till it was time for the drawing of the winner. We had lots of fun with the poker run but we do miss the now-defunct “Cruising the Coast.” The good thing, though, is that the poker run proceeds go to a charitable cause.
After a quick stop at the Fenwick Inn, we headed back down to the Inlet venue to watch REO Speedwagon perform on the Ocean Stage. “Ridin’ the Storm Out” and “Can’t Fight this Feeling” were just a couple of the songs that were performed to a packed house. It was a wonderful end to another awesome day.
Saturday was a repeat of the past three days, with gorgeous weather. After breakfast at Peaky’s Rooftop Restaurant at the Fenwick Inn, I met with Kathy Micheal, president of Delmarva Bike Week and OC BikeFest along with her son Chase Micheal, director of marketing for the rallies. Kathy’s vision for the future is to continually grow the rallies, expand into new and bigger venues that can support the parking concerns, and possibly blend the two rallies into one. It will be a slow process, with small improvements each year, and from what I have seen over the past 11 years, this is a process that has worked, and hopefully will continue to work.
Adding themes to the different venues was a new concept being implemented this year. This was my interpretation of the new themes for the venues as explained by Kathy: The Inlet was “entertainment” with refreshments and vendors, the Convention Center “all business,” also with vendors and refreshments, Winterplace Park was a “combo in a relaxed setting” with entertainment, vendors, refreshments and food, and Perdue Stadium focused on “demos” with free demo rides from manufacturers, stunt shows, vendors and refreshments. The main focus is to enhance the experience of being part of Delmarva Bike Week and OC BikeFest each year.
By now it was time to head over to the Ocean Stage for the drawing of the poker run winner. Emcee Roy Riley, a new addition to the Inlet entertainment theme, along with Kenny Detig, fundraising coordinator for Halifax Urban Ministries Charities, presented Melia Barrett, the winner of the poker run, with $2,000 cash. A woman named Kat won the “mystery hand” earning her a nice prize of $500. Congratulations to both.
Finally, the grand prize drawing took place. Halifax Urban Ministries Charities had traveled across the U.S. to various bike rallies to promote this special anniversary promotion in honor of Delmarva Bike Week’s 15th anniversary and OC BikeFest’s 5th anniversary. The prize was a custom Harley-Davidson Road Glide built by Covington Customs and valued at approximately $68,000. The Road Glide was brought on stage in front of an extremely excited crowd. Emcee Roy Riley introduced Pat Simmons of the Doobie Brothers, who selected the grand prize-winning ticket and then, live on stage, called the winner, Mike Walton from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to inform him that he had won the H-D Custom Road Glide. Mike was disbelieving of his winnings until the bike was started for him to hear along with the crowd roaring and cheering in the background.
Mike had purchased the winning ticket during his attendance at Myrtle Beach Bike Week. The custom Road Glide will be delivered to the Harley-Davidson dealer closest to where he lives in Pittsburg. Then the bike was removed from the stage to make way for the Doobie Brothers to take the stage. Their performance lasted about an hour and a half, included several of their top hits and they closed the night with “Listen to the Music”, one of my favorite Doobie Brother hit songs. The night came to an end, and we headed back to the Fenwick Inn for some much-needed rest.
Sunday morning, the last day of the rally, saw exactly the same perfect weather as the four previous days. After a quick breakfast, we made one more stop on the Coastal Highway before heading home: Fish Tales, a rally-sponsoring restaurant and bar. The atmosphere at Fish Tales was not that of the final day of a rally; bikers packed the restaurant enjoying a great meal before heading home, vendors were still busy, and of course it was another awesome day for riding. We finished our lunch, said our goodbyes to the extremely friendly staff and headed north for home, already thinking about next year’s event.