ERIE, PA., JULY 18-20–”How much fun can you stand for three days?” is really the question for this year’s Roar on the Shore rally. This seventh-year event began on Thursday with the conversion of downtown Erie’s Perry Square to “The Hub” of the rally. A main stage on the west end, the new Jagermeister Mobile Stage on the east end and over 80 vendors in between set the stage for the conversion. An estimated 5,000 riders, led by the Bringin’ the Roar Parade Marshal Kyle Petty, completed the transformation to full-blown rally.
Riders began to assemble around 2:00 Thursday afternoon at the Presque Isle Downs & Casino parking lot, a Roar tradition for the pre-party. A $20 donation benefitted the Boys & Girls Club of Erie and included the music of the M-80s and a spot in the parade lineup led by Kyle Petty, this year’s parade Grand Marshal. Petty seemed to thoroughly enjoy his Roar experience as he alternately waved, flashed peace signs and fist-pumped the crowd lining the route, approximately five miles long from start to finish. Upon his arrival at The Hub, Petty signed autographs in the Triumph of Erie-Precision Bikeworks vendor tent for over an hour.
About the time KP finished signing autographs, Danny “The Count” Koker and Count’s Kustoms’ general manager Kevin Mack were ready to begin in the nearby Off-Road Express Tent. The duo from the popular TV show Counting Cars was besieged with fans and items to sign. The scenario would repeat itself for Koker multiple times over the next two days, ending with a main stage appearance Friday night.
Also occupying the west end of Perry Square was Team No Limits featuring stunt riders Jason Britton and Eric Hoenshell. The duo, along with Britton’s wife and audience volunteers, performed Friday and Saturday and when they weren’t thrilling the crowds with stunt riding, they were busy signing autographs in the Off-Road Express tent.
All of this was backed up by continuous free live music on the dueling Hub stages featuring local, regional and national talents. From the Erie-based band Hammersmith to the hard-charging Bastard Bearded Irishmen hailing from the South Hills of Pittsburgh to headliners Firehouse, Jackyl and Queensrÿche, and everything in between, this rally really had all of the bases covered. The bands were all great and provided a variety of free, live music that you are not likely to see at any other rally. Many of Erie’s citizens also joined in the fun, recognizing a good thing when they see—or hear—it.
Gannon University recognized an opportunity when they saw it. Since most, if not all, of the area’s hotel and motel rooms sell out, they offered dorm room rentals. Gannon’s proximity to The Hub could be described as walking distance for even the most slothful, and it helped relieve the pressure.
The weather was hot—as in 91 degrees—and humid Thursday and Friday, with intermittent showers on Saturday. The lake breeze did offer some relief in that regard. Still, there were several organized rides in which to participate. Thursday morning started off with the Roar Through History Ride and Raffle. A $10-per-player donation included a scenic ride to six historical sites located throughout Erie County. It was essentially a poker run paying back three spots: $200 for first, $150 for second and $100 for third. The second new ride, Roar to the Microbrews Dice Run, pulled out Friday morning at 11:00 a.m. and featured an 80-mile ride with four microbrewery stops and a similar payout.
The Mayor’s Ride was a 20-mile run around Presque Isle State Park on Friday. Erie’s Mayor Joe Sinott really gets behind the rally, and leading this ride is just one of the ways he supports the event. Presque Isle is a beautiful place to ride, and once again citizens supported the riders by cheering them on from curbside.
Three rides took place on Saturday: Roar to the Vineyards winery ride touring five area wineries, the Lake Escape West/Beer for the Deer Ride—a 90-mile ride to Geneva on the Lake and the Ladies Only Ride and Raffle. Of the three, the Beer for the Deer Ride has the most interesting title and history. During last year’s ride a participant hit a deer. The deer went down; the rider did not. At the next bar, the StarLite Lounge in Geneva, Ohio, the rider bought a beer and toasted the deer. This year, StarLite Lounge was the official destination of the ride, which departed from the Elk Creek Inn.
The Cruisin’ the Coast Ride and Raffle featured six area businesses as stops with cash prizes for first, second and third places. Throw in the Bringin’ in the Roar Parade and that makes six organized rides.
The Miss Roar on the Shore winner was announced Saturday night. From a field of six finalists, Natalie Coleman took home the Miss Roar on the Shore 2013-2014 crown. Another big winner Saturday night was Steve Tork. Steve was the winner of the Harley-Davidson of Erie bike drawing and was given the keys to a 2013 Dyna Street Bob.
What time is enough, enough? Sometime after midnight. At the high-water mark each night, bikes are parked for six city blocks down each side and two rows down the center. My hotel happened to be at 10th and State, the end of the officially cordoned-off bike-only parking area of State Street, and each night revelers would gather, as in plop down on lawn chairs, to watch as riders depart. With little encouragement most riders would pin it to the rev limiter. Others would perform modest burnouts. (Crotch-rocket riders make V-twin riders look like lightweights when it comes to this.) Maybe we’re just getting old, or maybe we just know better. Either way, eventually the quiet returned and the next morning the streets were cleared and cleaned like it never even happened.
The rally wrapped up on Sunday morning with a bike blessing and a $4.95 biker’s breakfast at Presque Isle Downs & Casino.
The 2014 Roar on the Shore was once again presented by the Manufacturer & Business Association, and is scheduled for July 17, 18 and 19 next year. In the event’s seven-year history, it has raised $585,000 for area charities in addition to pumping an estimated $20 million into the local economy. For follow-up details of this year’s event and to stay in touch with what’s happening next year, visit www.roarontheshore.com.