Eastern Shore, Md., Sept. 15–18—The overcast skies finally gave way to the sun as it peeked its way through the clouds, giving a warm welcome to the 11th annual Delmarva Bike Week. I pulled into the parking lot at Harley-Davidson of Seaford, one of the four official rally locations, settled in at one of the picnic tables to enjoy a barbecued chicken sandwich and some warm apple cobbler and listened to the Mari Hills Band rock the dealership’s Enchanted Forest.
H-D of Seaford is the northernmost Bike Week venue, and it’s become a tradition of sorts to make it my first stop on the Delmarva Peninsula. After a 200-mile, four-hour ride, the tree-lined acreage of the Enchanted Forest was the ideal spot to grab some lunch, peruse the vendors and relax for a while. Other riders must have agreed because the place was a lot busier than last year.
By the time I left Seaford, it was late in the afternoon and I wanted to check into my hotel and figure out my plan for the rest of the rally. I chose a series of scenic secondary roads to get to Ocean City, heading southeast through rural towns such as Georgetown, Millsboro, Frankford and Selbyville before reaching Route 90, the Ocean City Expressway.
While en route, the wind suddenly picked up, the sky darkened and it began to rain, but the showers continued for only a few minutes. As I rode past the Isle of Wight and onto the Assawoman Bay Bridge, the sun came out and revealed a rainbow that spanned all of Fenwick Island and Ocean City. It was a magnificent and wondrous sight, and I later learned that the multicolored arc had appeared at the tail end of a tornado that started in Assawoman Bay and touched down briefly in Ocean City before heading out to the Atlantic Ocean. Fortunately, no injuries were reported, and damage was limited to a few vehicles and buildings near 75th Street.
Expanding the empire
I reached the Princess Bayside Hotel without any further drama, parked my bike in the covered motorcycle-only lot, checked in, did some quick rally planning and headed out again, this time on foot. The hotel is just one block away from Seacrets, another Delmarva Bike Week location. Seacrets is a vacation entertainment complex featuring a hotel, several restaurants and a 7,000 sq. ft. nightclub, not to mention the beach bars and water sports on the bay. Bike Week vendors displayed their wares in a section of the huge parking lot, and when rally-goers were finished shopping, the music and laughter emanating from inside the club proved irresistible. In fact, when the rally closed at 7:00 every evening, we were encouraged to head to Seacrets for our nighttime entertainment. With 18 bars, DJs and live music on multiple stages, it’s considered the hottest club on the Eastern shore, and in the opinion of some folks I met who seemed to be on the frequent party plan, the best night spot in the entire Mid-Atlantic region.
An early start on Friday morning got me over the Ocean Gateway Bridge and on a westerly route toward Salisbury without getting bogged down in Route 50 traffic. Ever since Delmarva Bike Week was reconfigured to include multiple locations a few years ago, Winterplace Park had been the largest rally venue, and this year it had grown even more, due in part to the redistribution of Bike Week vendors after the consolidation of H-D of Ocean City with the Seaford dealership late last year.
During the four days of the rally, Winterplace Park was home to scores of food and merchandise vendors as well as custom bike builders. Once again this year, Truck’n America gave away a free custom-built enclosed motorcycle trailer, and BC Cycles gave away a Custom Cruzin’ Cooler. Both prizes were on display all weekend, and all you had to do to qualify was to sign up.
Bands played at the park every day from 11:00 a.m. until closing, and the trick riders from American MotorDrome performed their extreme motorcycle show at the Wall of Death. I never tire of the thrill of watching Charlie Ransom, Wahl E. Walker, Jay Lightnin’ and Sparky J. Lightnin’ ride ‘round the vertical boards on their antique Harleys, Indians and go-karts, just inches from the crowd and each other.
Arthur W. Perdue Stadium was just across Route 50, but during peak rally hours heavy traffic could make the mile-long jaunt from the park take forever. Rather than sitting in that congestion, many of us opted to take the free shuttle bus between the two locations. Sitting in an air-conditioned vehicle sure beats worrying about your engine overheating and where you might find a place to park—and I highly recommend this method of transport for anyone planning to go back and forth between the park and the stadium.
In its second year as a rally location, Perdue Stadium featured a number of new attractions along with a huge increase in the number of vendors and attendees. Victory Motorcycles and Yamaha conducted demo rides, Indian Motorcycle of Northern New Jersey had its new models on display and H-D of Seaford brought nearly its entire inventory of bikes to sell. Top-notch aftermarket companies such as Zipper’s Performance, Küryakyn and Progressive Suspension were doing product installs, and air brushers and pin stripers were creating customized paint schemes onsite. FERE Inc. performed trial ride demos and Xtreme Wheelie Ride provided a safe setup for those who wanted to try their own stunts.
Another traditional rally activity was the annual Mister Whippy Ice Cream Run presented by Maryland Chapter 3 Red Knights MC; a Saturday morning ride that left the Showell Volunteer Fire Department and followed the scenic back roads of Worcester County, ending at the Mister Whippy ice cream stand on Chincoteague Island, Virginia. Some of the other Bike Week locations had their own mini rallies, such as the Party Block, a complex of three nightclubs and a pool bar in Ocean City. The Party Block featured live entertainment, a bikini contest, lingerie shows and Playboy models.
Cruzin’ the coast
As if the rally locations weren’t enough to keep everyone occupied for all four days, Delmarva Bike Week offered yet another activity—its 9th annual Cruzin’ the Coast run. Sign-ins took place at H-D of Seaford, Winterplace Park and Perdue Stadium, and for $20, you received a T-shirt, event pin and a stamp booklet. Registrants needed to have at least eight out of the 11 location stamps to be entered into a cash drawing.
With careful planning, I figured I could make it to all 11 spots over the course of the rally, thereby earning me an extra chance in the drawing. I mapped out each location and discovered that some of the businesses were grouped rather closely together, making my quest a little easier than I’d first envisioned. The night before, I’d already visited the 28th Street Pit & Pub in Ocean City, a homey little place that served up an excellent meal. On Friday morning, I set out for Teasers Dockside Bar & Grill in West Ocean City. Teasers is located in a beautiful setting, overlooking Sunset Marina on Sinepuxent Bay. By the time I was ready to leave, the Caribbean Pool Bar & Grill in Ocean City was open, but instead of backtracking I continued west. That would be a decision I’d regret later, as I never made it back to the Caribbean. Ah, well—there’s always next year.
All the Cruzin’ the Coast locations were on the Delmarva Peninsula that encompasses most of Delaware and the Eastern Shore of Maryland and Virginia. My quest for cash led me along beaches and waterways and through inland towns and farmlands. The Red Roost in Whitehaven and Boonies Chop House & Pub in Tyaskin were both friendly places off the beaten path on the western side of the Maryland’s Eastern Shore, and although I was tempted to sit a spell, I had more stamps to seek out.
The next two stops, the Casino at Ocean Downs and the Steer Inn Tavern in Berlin, Maryland, were only three-quarters of a mile apart. Ocean Downs, known for its thoroughbred and harness racing, was the sole venue for Delmarva Bike Week from 2003 to 2007. Since that time, the racetrack had undergone a series of major changes, opening a beautiful new casino at the beginning of 2011. I pulled myself away from the hypnotic whirring and clicking of the casino’s 750 slot machines and shot up the road to the Steer Inn. When I arrived, the tavern was already rockin’ and rollin’ to the tunes of the popular party band Whisky Train.
Saturday morning, I embarked on a 65-mile ride to another Cruzin’ the Coast location—the Olde Crisfield Crab Steakhouse & Tiki Bar. I’d ridden down to Crisfield last year, and it was well worth the time spent getting there, not only for the food—Crisfield is an old fishing village known for its Maryland blue crab—but for the chance to ride Maryland’s Blue Crab Scenic Byway.
About a half hour into the ride it started to drizzle, eventually settling into a steady rain. The incessant shower didn’t stop us intrepid travelers from Cruzin’ the Coast. By the time I arrived in Crisfield, I was slightly damp and thoroughly chilled. I peeled off my layers of leather and ordered a hot meal. I warmed up quickly in the cozy Olde Crisfield Crab Steakhouse (the Tiki Bar is a lot more fun when the sun is shining), and the Maryland crab soup and coconut shrimp were delicious. There was no sense waiting for the rain to stop—it never let up that day—so I got back on the bike and headed north again.
Winning at Winterplace
Had I planned my Cruzin’ the Coast ride a little better, I would have hit the Delaware locations, Harrington Raceway & Casino in Harrington and R&R Grill N Bar in Laurel, as soon as I picked up my stamp booklet at H-D of Seaford. Since it was raining all day Saturday, I opted to skip the two Delaware spots—my Crisfield stop earned me the minimum requirement of eight stamps—and hand in my booklet at Winterplace Park.
Despite the rain, a surprisingly large number of people were hanging out in the park. It was business as usual—albeit with much of it being conducted underneath tents or overhangs—with the Wall of Death still performing, people still shopping, and lots of eating and drinking. Those vendors selling rain gear, leathers and long-sleeved shirts were doing a brisk business.
Sunday, the last day of the rally, was cloudy with the threat of rain that didn’t materialize until I started my ride north. Back at Winterplace Park, the crowd waited for the winners of the various contests to be announced. The Truck’n America trailer was won by PJ Dennis of Salisbury and the Custom Cruzin’ Cooler was claimed by Ken Holt of Elkton, Maryland. Angela McDowell of Glen Burnie, Maryland, won a $500 credit for slots play at the Casino at Ocean Downs and the big Cruzin’ the Coast cash prize of $1,810. A matching check for $1,810 was given to the Spuck & Lib Bennett Scholarship Fund. Spuck Bennett is the owner of Harley-Davidson of Seaford, and he and his wife, the late Libby Bennett, were also schoolteachers, so the fund was started to help students entering the education field.
With over 200 vendors, eight bands and a ton of other free entertainment, free parking for bikes, free admission for everyone and free chances at winning a trailer and a motorized cooler—not to mention all the great riding along the Eastern Shore—Delmarva Bike Week offers a rolling rally experience that’s hard to beat. Next year’s 12th annual rally is scheduled for September 13–16.