Outer Banks, N.c., Apr. 22–30—This year marked the 15th anniversary of Outer Banks Bike Week and the eighth year we have attended this event. The nine-day rally is packed full of entertainment, great food, and special attractions such as bike shows, poker runs, guided tours, parties, tattoo and bikini contests, vendors, and live music. But if you attended OBX bike week in the past and came to this one expecting the same old, same old, you were in for a surprise. This year the schedule of events was shuffled around, not all vendor locations were the same and there were huge outdoor concerts scheduled for the final weekend.
On Saturday, the rally’s opening day, the Harley-Davidson demo truck was present and open for business. Due to scheduling conflicts, the truck that arrived was one that almost exclusively worked H.O.G. events. This was a bonus for the test riders as the fleet was heavy on the Touring line, including some with Stage 1 and Stage 2 performance upgrades and others with appearance and comfort enhancements, all of which can be purchased from Harley’s Parts and Accessories catalog. It was very exciting getting to test ride bikes with performance upgrades and compare them with base-model bikes.
Also, moved from the last weekend to the first weekend was the ride-in bike show. However, the change in weekends seem to affect the number of entries for each of the categories. The winners in each class included Antique: Steve Baker with a 1954 Panhead rigid-frame bike, Cruiser: Monk Peacock with his very well-kept ’05 FLSTSC Springer Softail, Touring: Richard Quidley with his very clean 2016 Street Glide Special, Sport: Richard Mitchel and his XL883N Sportster, and finally, Custom and People’s Choice: Coleen Rowlett with a 2016 FLRTXS Road Glide Special fresh out of the customer’s shop. Colleen bought the bike in November 2015 but never took delivery until just the week before Bike Week. Colleen had her dealer do all the work except for the paint.
While the demo rides and bike show were taking place at the Nags Head Harley-Davidson location, the poker run and bikini contest happening at the Outer Banks Harley-Davidson store location in Harbinger. The poker run kicked off at 9:00 a.m. and had riders on their bikes heading out to the Corolla area to pick up their cards. At the request of the vendors, the stops were all in Duck and Corolla to try to get more visitors to visit that area of the island.
Normally, the bikini contest is highly anticipated and well attended, but this year it didn’t seem to get much attention. With the cooler weather and the contest being held inside the store, the crowd was sparse but very enthusiastic just the same. For the third year in a row, Brooke Murray was voted as the winner.
Sunday evening’s damp and dreary weather moved in and stuck around to wash out both Monday’s and Tuesday’s guided rides. However, by late Tuesday afternoon the weather cleared enough for us to take a 4×4 ride on Carova Beach to see the wild horses, the descendants of survivors of colonial-time shipwrecks. We also got a bit of the history of the 1,000-plus house community built entirely on sand. There are no paved roads, no street signs, no traffic lights, not even any street lights. All in all, it is a very interesting place and a tour would be something I’d recommend to anyone planning a visit to the Outer Banks.
Wednesday dawned with clearing skies and the guided ride was on. As has become the tradition over the past several years, Wednesday’s guided tour was the Fallen Riders Memorial Ride. It was started by the Outer Banks H.O.G. to honor the memory of riders who have passed—not just those who lost their lives while riding but all riders who left us a little too soon. This year was more poignant because of the loss last June of a well-loved H.O.G. member while the group was on the return leg of an extended ride that included tours of the Harley factory in York, Pennsylvania, the Harley-Davidson Museum in Milwaukee, and the John Deere harvester plant in Indiana.
The ride on Thursday took us to the Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum in Hatteras. Monday’s canceled ride, rescheduled to Friday, was the Carolina Explorers tour that treated us to some curvy roads that most visitors wouldn’t get the chance to ride, unless of course, they have gotten lost on the mainland. All three of the guided rides were well attended with well over 25 bikes participating in each.
One of the bigger changes this year was to the vendor sites. Longboards and BK Shuckers hosted vendors from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. daily, and both location had live music and/or DJs performing daily. The third vendor location was the OBX Harley-Davidson dealership, where a new twist was added—a bar! They opened the bar at the same time the other venders opened and were serving both beer and mixed drinks, all day, every day! Missing from the vendor sites was the Port O’ Call Restaurant; it appears that one of the partners has passed away and the fate of the popular restaurant/night spot/vendor location is currently in limbo.
Friday came and with it the whole reason the normal second-weekend events were held early, the inaugural Outer Banks Music Fest. Concerts were scheduled to take place in the parking lot of the OBX Harley-Davidson dealership Friday and Saturday nights. At 4:00 p.m. on Friday the parking lot was closed and gradually cleared of all patrons. With the help of the local OBX H.O.G. chapter members the ticket area was opened up and the “concert area” was open.
Slaughter and Great White shared the bill on Friday, with Slaughter was slated to take the stage first. Just before show time the promoter came out with an autographed guitar signed by all four members of the band to be auctioned off with the proceeds going to the Albemarle Food Bank. Bidding started with several people vying for the instrument but it soon came down to two folks and one was determined not to be outbid. The winning bid, made by Kimberly Buehler, was $1,600. A second guitar was signed, and the runner-up, Tyler Burte, agreed to match the winning bid. The same scene repeated before Great White performed, with the same result of Kimberly and Tyler winning with a bid of $1,500, raising a total of $6,200 for the food bank.
Slaughter took the stage and rocked out like it was 1992 all over again, bringing all their hits with the energy that made them a must-see act in the heyday of hair metal. Great White came out second and although the songs were well performed the stage presence seemed forced and choreographed.
Saturday’s show was opened by Christopher Shayne, a newcomer who absolutely tore it up with some good hard-rocking originals and covers. This is a band to watch for in the future. The headliner was Molly Hatchet, with their brand of classic southern rock, kicking ass and taking names. They played past their allotted hour and a half, unlike any of the other bands. And they came back out for an encore. By all accounts, the event was a huge success and plans are already in the works for next year. Rumor has it that it will be bigger than this year!