OCEAN CITY, MD., APRIL 26-29—My timing was impeccable. By the time I rolled into Ocean City late in the afternoon, the rain had rolled out, leaving the air crisp and clean. The weatherman promised clear skies through the evening—a fortuitous forecast for the kickoff of the second annual Ocean City Bikes to the Beach spring rally. Hooper’s Crab House, one of the hosting locations, had a party planned and I didn’t want to miss it just because of a little bit of rain.
My hotel, the Quality Inn Beachfront, was just two miles away from Hooper’s, situated on the west side of Ocean City just over the Route 50 Ocean Gateway Bridge. Hooper’s had set up a huge circus-style tent with a stage, full bar and plenty of seating. Liquid refreshments were flowing as Freshly Squeezed, a female-fronted party band, began their first set. The highlight of my evening was a fabulous seafood feast at Hooper’s, where I met up with General Manager Ryan Intrieri, Restaurant Manager Patrick Brady and Brian Holt of Official Gear Promotions. They were the culprits responsible for the crab-house-turned-biker-bash that weekend.
Sun and wind welcomed us to the first full day of the rally. Muskrat Sally, an American Roots band, hit the stage at 10:00 a.m., helping to put early-rising rally goers into the party mood. No, wait; maybe that was the full-service bar. A lot of folks also showed up to greet the lovely and charming Michele Smith, who had a table set up under the big tent. Michele, smiling and gracious as always, posed for photos with adoring fans, signed posters and promoted her line of apparel jewelry and other goodies. The down-to-earth, easily approachable star of Two Wheel Thunder appeared there both Friday and Saturday.
Before moving on to the next rally location, I plunked down a couple of bucks and picked up the “Interactive Ride Checklist” for the Treasure Key Run. This was a competition designed to get you out and about on your bike, and required you to visit as many of the participating locations as you could to win cash, gift certificates and merchandise. With proper planning, you could ride to all 16 locations in a single 90-mile loop around the Maryland/Delaware Eastern Shore. Sounds easy, right? Not so fast. Before you picked up a treasure chest key, each location required you to participate in games like Hooper’s “Where’s the Dummy?” and “Farthest from Home” at Fish Tales. I didn’t make it to all the locations, but some of the games sounded like a regular riot, such as “Pin the Smoke on the Hog” at Smoker’s BBQ and “Bob for a Pickle” at… of course… Pickles Pub.
After lunch at the Decatur Diner (10 percent off meals during Bike Week!), I headed out to the second major rally location, Oasis Bar ‘N’ Grill in
Whaleyville. It was only a 15-minute ride west from Hooper’s along US-50. Being somewhat familiar with the area, I opted for a more scenic route, turning off US-50 and onto Route 346, a state road that led me directly to the Oasis. Owner Bobby Riccio has created a biker’s wonderland in this rural area. The large property hosted a number of vendors, such as Barb’s H-D and Death Row Motorcycles, as well as high-quality leathers, jewelry, T-shirts and other merchandise. Girls were pole dancing at the Strip Club Choppers setup—apparently there were a few pole dancing competitions that weekend. The ’80s metal band Sir Psycho was playing, but the big draw was the motorcycle rodeo.
Evel Speed Custom Machine & Motor Sick’l Shop brought their crew from Inwood, West Virginia, to set up the rodeo games. Qualifying rounds took place on Saturday, and while I was there I watched riders try to earn points by competing in the keg roll, slow race, wienie bite, grabbing tennis balls from construction cones, and a ridiculous contest involving toilet paper and a plunger. That game must have a name but I sure can’t think of what it might be.
Several rally sponsors set up their own venues. Dead Freddies Island Grill featured Iron Angel Customs, a Hanover, Maryland, custom shop that focuses on female riders, and the Steel Sirens—gals in bikinis. When the sun went down, Dead Freddies drew in the crowds with live music and all sorts of contests. A few miles south along Ocean City’s Coastal Highway, Fish Tales Bar & Grill had all sorts of rally doings, offering beer specials and beach dining on the bay. There were so many party spots that it was impossible to hit them all, but being the trooper I am, I tried my best.
It was back to Hooper’s on Friday night for another seafood dinner. This time our table had a nice view of the microbrewery on the eatery’s second-floor balcony. The custom five-barrel brewing system produces beers under the Fin City Brewing Company label, and appeared to be quite a hit with people dining at the restaurant.
A custom motorcycle show was scheduled for Saturday at Hooper’s and, in spite of a chill in the air, about a dozen bikes had been entered. While we waited for the judges to complete their assessment, a couple of girls braved the cold to offer bikini bike washes. The band Sweetwater was playing Southern rock under the tent, and every few hours two members of the Daytona Harley-Davidson Drill Team put on riding skills and safety demonstrations. Roger White, drill team coordinator, founded the team in 1994 in support of Bruce Rossmeyer’s Harley-Davidson dealership in Daytona Beach and since then, the team has performed all over the U.S. Longtime team member John DeVito co-conducted the demos, and I learned something that has proven quite useful in day-to-day riding. During one of the demos, John asked if anyone had more trouble with right turns than left. No one raised their hands—except me. He explained that when you turn right, you don’t have nearly as much control over the clutch as you have for left turns. One of his suggestions was, while turning right, to straighten your posture and lean forward to bring your body closer to your clutch hand. It works! Not only are these guys skilled at what they do, but they also have great stories to tell of their time on the road.
Between riding demos and band sets, the winners of the bike show were announced. Rob Bochanski from Bethany Beach won third place with
his custom Sportster bobber, Whaleyville’s Chuck Bradford took second with his customized bagger, and the Show Stopper Grand Champion award went to Ben Fernon from Annapolis, Maryland, for his handcrafted Yamaha.
Next was the Miss OC Bikes to the Beach competition. By popular vote, Tori Abell from Ocean City took first place and Tex McPherson from Washington, D.C. came in second.
The motorcycle rodeo finals were taking place at the Oasis, so I made a mad dash to Whaleyville and arrived just in time for the keg toss. The amount of women who entered far exceeded the number of guys in the game, and the women were a lot more fun to watch. More than one hapless gal went flying after letting the keg loose, landing on the ground in a crumpled heap, or splayed out face down in the grass. It was all in fun, though, as no females were hurt in the competition.
Later in the afternoon, the Scarred and Dangerous Thrill Show took the stage. The duo, made up of Dangerous D and Christopher Scarborough, was a combination comedy act/freak show, and they performed stunts such as fire eating and sword swallowing. The most “Eewwww”-producing stunts involved heavy iron balls, earlobes, light bulbs, a staple gun and a bed of nails. After the show, the metal band Silvertung began their performance, but it had started to rain and most of us sought shelter—in the Oasis bar, of course.
The rally wrapped up on Sunday with folks heading to the Oasis to find out who won the big rally prizes. A Receipt Run, ongoing throughout the weekend, involved turning in dinner receipts from sponsor locations with the highest receipt over $50 to be awarded the grand prize of $300 cash. As of Saturday night, the highest amount I saw on the board at Hooper’s was $207.19, but you had to be present on Sunday to win, so several names were called before the $300 was awarded. Beth McNeal from Reading, Pennsylvania, was the lucky finder of the key that unlocked the treasure chest. Beth and three of her friends somehow made it to all 16 locations. She was ecstatic to claim her $500 cash prize, hotel room vouchers, gift certificates, Harley-Davidson jacket, Bikes to the Beach apparel and a Jack Daniel’s Zippo lighter. Two runners-up were just as happy to win Ocean City getaway packages. The festivities didn’t stop with the announcement of the winners, though. True to form, the Oasis had plans to keep partying well into the evening. After all, the Oasis wasn’t named Best Biker Bar in Maryland four years running for nothing.
According to the promoters, attendance this year was better than last year, although the bad weather forecast most likely kept a lot of folks from riding in. That said, folks came from all over Maryland, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Virginia, Pennsylvania and New Jersey, and I spotted a few license plates from states even further away. Thanks to Hooper’s and the Oasis, as well as all the sponsors who came on board, the rally has grown from its first year and expects to steadily expand in future years.