Delmarva, Md., Sept. 14–17—It’s the middle of September, and after the past few weeks, with Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Jose, and Maria making the weather so unpredictable during a wild and crazy hurricane season, it finally feels like better days are coming. I’m enjoying this bright, sunny day with the forecast of temperatures in the mid-80s, perfect for another journey down New Jersey’s Garden State Parkway, across the Cape May Ferry to Delaware, and down the Delmarva Peninsula for Ocean City BikeFest and Delmarva Bike Week.
As we docked in Lewes, Delaware, the concern and threat of Hurricane Jose causing devastation and chaos seemed to fade. The ride down Coastal Highway to Ocean City, Maryland, was just awesome, with blue skies and a very slight breeze accompanying us. Arriving late afternoon at the Fenwick Inn, check in went smoothly; the staff, as always, was very professional and friendly. The Fenwick Inn is a sponsoring hotel for the rally and is a great place to stay
After unpacking my gear, I jumped back on my bike and rode further down Coastal Highway in search of food, cold refreshments, and bikes, passing rally venues Seacrets, Ocean City Convention Center, Fish Tales and the Ocean City Inlet, all bustling with activity with vendors setting up tents and displays. Once-empty parking lots were now filled with entertainment, food, drinks, bikes, clothing and accessories, and this was still the night before the official start of the rally. Heading west across the Route 50 bridge, I made my way to Ocean Downs Casino, where I met up with some of my friends from Florida. Over dinner we discussed the impact of Hurricanes Irma and Jose had on Florida and their homes. They were also concerned about what kind of impact, if any, the hurricanes would have on the rally. The night drew on and the casino luck wore out so it was time to head back to the Fenwick Inn via some backroads. I was within a mile of the Fenwick Inn when my lights started fading and flickering. I was able to make it back to the hotel and in no mood to mess with an electrical issue at night, so I parked the bike and went for a drink.
The next morning, Mother Nature was extremely kind, bringing bright blue skies and warm weather. After q quick breakfast, I rode down to the Inlet and found my friend Cody with Fastlights LEDS Inc., a family-owned and -operated business, I explained the situation, and he assured me he would fix the problem. So being grounded, I browsed the Inlet’s vendor area, checking out the entries for the Kustom Kulture Artisan Bike Show and the Nascar simulator. For those interested in some bling, there was jewelry by Michele Smith, and the Jack Daniel’s Experience, which was, in fact, a refreshing experience.
Approaching the Boardwalk Stage, Kashmir, a Led Zeppelin tribute band, was playing to an excited crowd. This band is a must-see if you are a Led Zeppelin follower. After Kashmir’s set, Jasmine Cain took the stage, and although it was still early in the rally and attendance was light, the small crowd was rocking. Upon my return to Fastlights LEDS, I found everything was corrected and completed, a new Daymaker headlamp, LED turn signals front and back, and a strobing taillight installed. Cody assured me that I would definitely be seen at night and the roadway would be much brighter. He was correct.
Next I rode up to the Convention Center, where there were approximately 80 vendor displays of which the largest was Rommel Harley-Davidson offering new and used bikes, MotorClothes, full bike service, and the JumpStart Experience for newbies to experience what it is like to ride on two wheels. A little further north on Coastal Highway was Seacrets, another rally sponsor. I made my way through the vendor area and into the restaurant/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 bay, the water was warm and the drinks were cold, but it was time to do some more riding, and test out the new lights.
I was pleased to hear that the “Cruzin the Coast” tradition was back, where participants try to make it to sponsor locations to be eligible for cash prizes. I rode out to Rommel Harley-Davidson in Seaford, Delaware, to register, but it was too late in the evening, so I rode to rally sponsor Pickles Pub for some good food and cold drinks, discounted if visitors were wearing an Inlet wristband.
Friday morning was just as nice and after an early breakfast I set off to Rommel, again taking some amazing backroads. Rommel had a good crowd, with riders checking out the new 2018 Harley line of bikes, the vendors’ merchandise, and the new Tiki bar. Gideon Groove was playing on stage in the picnic grove while riders were relaxing to the music, enjoying hot food and cold drinks. It is amazing how quickly time passes with great weather, the sound of motorcycles rolling down the highway, and an abundance of excitement filling the air.
It was time to head out again, this time south to Perdue Shorebirds Stadium, a rally venue in Salisbury, where the parking lot was bustling with bikes and riders coming and going. The vendor area was crowded, a line was forming for the next show of the Wall of Death, and Rebel Soul was performing on the main stage. There’s so much to see, and places to visit, the rally needs to add more days. In late afternoon, I finally headed back to Ocean City, stopping at Fish Tales for some dinner and of course a cold refreshment.
Saturday morning was slightly overcast with some patchy fog, so I decided to take my time with breakfast. My plan of attack was to revisit Seacrets, the 45th Street vendor area, the Convention Center, and then make my way over to the Inlet. Molly Hatchet and Lynyrd Skynyrd were scheduled to perform on the Ocean Stage, and judging by the way the Inlet parking lot was filling up it was going to be extremely crowded. I made my way to the ticket sales building where staffers Jo Ann, Liza, and Kat informed me that the Inlet was sold out as of Friday for that evening’s concert. Luckily, I picked up my passes early Thursday morning.
Kashmir prepped the crowd, setting the mood with their performance. Molly Hatchet got the crowd rocking farther, and when Skynyrd took the stage it was outrageous. Everyone was rocking to their favorite classic tunes, and they did not disappoint, closing, of course, with “Free Bird.” When the night was over the crowd filed out still dancing and singing—a great way to bring the day’s festivities to a close. It was time to head back to the Fenwick Inn, however, I did make a stop at my favorite eatery, Fish Tales, for a late-night snack and a nightcap.
Sunday morning, which was the closing day for both OC BikeFest and Delmarva Bike Week, I loaded up my gear to head north. I was scheduled for the 5:15 p.m. ferry back to New Jersey, so I had plenty of time to kill. After a good breakfast, I rode back to all the venues for a final look around before arriving at the ferry terminal in Lewes. I expected to be one of just a few bikers heading to New Jersey, however, I was wrong; close to 80 bikes were waiting to board. The ride across Delaware Bay was amazing, with everyone talking about what an awesome time they had, and making of plans to come back again next year. I agree wholeheartedly; I will be back.