EASTERN SHORE, DEL./MD., SEPT. 13-16— The last vestiges of summer brought four days of perfect weather to bless the 12th annual Delmarva Bike Week. Riders came from all over the Eastern Seaboard and beyond to enjoy the sunshine and scenery, and the mild temperatures made for a wonderful weekend to explore those roads less traveled.
My lodgings for the weekend were at the Princess Bayside Hotel in Ocean City, Maryland. The hotel is ideally located, as it’s situated right next to Seacrets, one of the four major Bike Week venues. Seacrets is the only one of the four Bike Week locations that has activities going on both day and night. Vendors were spread across the front parking lot until about 7:00 every evening, offering everything from cigars to LED lights.
Nighttime is when Seacrets really shines. It’s the largest nightclub on the Eastern Shore (and quite possibly the entire Mid-Atlantic coast), with a hotel, restaurant, and 18 bars including several on the beach. There are also multiple stages featuring live music and DJs, and in a nod to Bike Week, three nights of bands with biker appeal. Wednesday evening Green River, a Creedence Clearwater Revival tribute band, played; Thursday was the Artimus Pyle Band that paid tribute to Lynyrd Skynyrd and on Friday the AC/DC tribute band Livewire rocked the stage.
And before the Friday evening show I had a delicious seafood dinner in the beachside restaurant and watched the setting sun paint the sky in lovely pastels as it sank below the horizon.
Another hot spot for the evening crowds is the Party Block, an Ocean City institution. The Party Block is actually a compound comprised of three clubs and a pool bar, and there’s no cover if you arrive before 10:00 p.m., which is about when the live music starts. There were special Bike Week activities every night, with a bikini contest on Thursday and a Leather & Lace Ball on Saturday. I arrived about 9:30 Friday night and learned that a Hot Cougar Contest was in store for that evening. I figured that I’d already aged out of the cougar category, but I’ve been told that you’re never too old to be a cougar. As tempting as the cash prizes were, I split before the gals took the stage. Maybe next year.
The layout of Delmarva Bike Week is ideal for touring, with its four major venues taking riders around a 100-mile scenic loop. So after checking out everything Seacrets had to offer, it was time to hit the next rally venue on my list—the Arthur W. Perdue Stadium in Salisbury. There are several ways to get there, depending on whether you want to avoid the Ocean City traffic. Either way, it’s about 27 miles west to the stadium, with the two main routes converging on US-50, designated as part of the Maryland Blue Crab Scenic Byway. Of course you could always detour on one of the secondary roads that take you through the more rural areas.
I reached Purdue Stadium late Friday morning, in time for the 3rd annual St. Jude’s Ride put on by radio station Cat Country 97.5. Riders were directed to the far side of the parking lot, behind the big Küryakyn rig, with the departure time set for 12:30 p.m. The escorted ride headed for the Irish Eyes Pub & Restaurant in Lewes, Delaware. Irish Eyes was one of the ride sponsors, and the waterside eatery put on quite a lunch spread. The ride continued to the Casino at Ocean Downs in Berlin. About 100 riders participated and over $3,900 was raised to benefit St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
This was the third year that the stadium saw use as a Bike Week venue, and the setup there has been undergoing progressive improvements. This year considerably more paved parking was available, with the exhibits arranged in a modified semi-circle that surrounded many of the bikes. A number of vendors had their big rigs set up, with some offering free installation of their products onsite. Küryakyn, Diamond Heads, Progressive Suspension, Performance Machine, Mustang, Condor, Zipper’s Performance and Indian Motorcycle of Northern New Jersey were just a few of the motorcycle industry mainstays at the stadium. Dean Anderson from the High Seas Rally displayed the cruising rally’s giveaway bike, and enticed people to enter a drawing for a free HSR cruise. The FERE (Florida Extreme Riding Exhibition) Show drew big crowds to watch Adam Holbrook perform entertaining—and almost unbelievable—trials exhibitions. And for those who wanted to do some trick riding on their own, Xtreme Wheelie Rides had set up a stationary sport bike so beginners could safely pull wheelies.
From Perdue Stadium, it was back to US-50 west for a quick minute and then a 20-mile straight shot up US-13 to another major rally venue, Harley-Davidson of Seaford in Seaford, Delaware. As was the case with all the rally locations, there were several more scenic alternate routes, but I was starting to feel the pressure of too many places to visit and too many things to do over the four-day rally weekend. But once I arrived and strolled into the dealership’s Enchanted Forest, I began to unwind. The wooded grove had plenty of picnic tables where you could enjoy food and beverages, listen to the bands and just relax. Vendors were set up around the perimeter, and it was the perfect place to while away the afternoon. Letterfly Pinstriping set up shop in front of the dealership, and Fast Eddie’s Cycle Dyno was on hand to tune your bike or just give you the proof you needed for bragging rights.
The fourth major rally location was Winterplace Park, just a mile from Perdue Stadium on the north side of the highway. This was the area where traffic had the potential to back up during peak rally hours, so the rally promoters offered air-conditioned shuttle buses to take you between the two venues. Each year the shuttle system proves to be a big hit with riders who aren’t interested in sitting in traffic for a half-hour just to cross US-50 and then find another place to park.
Winterplace Park was the favorite rally venue for a good many attendees, offering scores of premium vendors, good food and lots of entertainment spread out over the huge, grassy property. Probably a dozen bands played throughout the four days of the rally; some tribute bands and others featuring original music. Due to crowd demand, the guys from the American Motordrome did their daring and dangerous trick riding in the Wall of Death every hour. Jay Lightnin’, Charlie Ransom, Wahl E. Walker and Sparky J. Lightnin’ ride vintage Indians, Harleys and go-carts, and the talented daredevils do not rest on their laurels. They had a few new stunts up their collective sleeves for the rally, and I never tire of their thrilling performances.
Biking for bucks
Although one could stay at each of the rally vendors all day—or all four days, for that matter—there were plenty of other places to visit, and lots of great roads to ride. This year was the 10th annual Cruzin’ the Coast, where for a $20 sign-up fee, riders get a T-shirt, Cruzin’ the Coast pin and a chance to win cash. Riders could register at one of four locations—Winterplace Park, Perdue Stadium, Harley-Davidson of Seaford and the parking lot of the former Harley-Davidson of Ocean City.
I tried the scientific method and mapped out the routes between each of the Cruzin’ the Coast locations. I figured if I planned it out well, I could probably hit all nine Cruzin’ the Coast stops in a single day. But where’s the fun in that? Stamps from only seven of the nine stops were required to qualify for the prize, but I believe just as many folks entered for the touring opportunities, which I learned are best experienced over the course of several days.
Once you familiarized yourself with the layout of the Delmarva region, you’d notice that some of the stops were clumped rather closely together. My map had me starting at the parking lot of the former H-D dealer in Berlin to pick up my ride booklet and riding just a mile and a half to the Casino at Ocean Downs for my first stamp. It turned out that the casino was hosting a car show presented by the Wheels That Heal Car Club. There were about 30 vintage cars, ranging from hot rod cars and trucks to ’60s- and ’70s-era muscle cars.
The next stop I’d mapped was the 28th Street Pit & Pub in Ocean City, followed by a ride up to Bethany Beach, and then northwest through rural areas to Harrington Raceway & Casino in Harrington, Delaware. Then the map pointed south to R&R Grill N Bar in Laurel, Delaware. Next was the marshy area of the western part of Maryland’s Eastern Shore, way out in the boonies. Actually, Boonies Restaurant in Tyaskin was one of the stops, while the Red Roost just a few miles away in Whitehaven was another.
The Cruzin’ the Coast location at Renegade Classics on Chincoteague Island, Virginia, was an excellent excuse to ramble through the beauty of this resort island. Chincoteague offered spectacular views of the coast, the beaches and, if you were lucky, the wild ponies that make the island their home. The final stop was the Public House in Salisbury, not far from Winterplace Park where completed booklets had to be returned by noon the last day of the rally.
Sunday afternoon, winners of the various prizes were announced. Once again, BC Cycles gave away a mini chopper, and this year the winner was William McIntyre from Willards, Maryland. Truck N America also did their annual giveaway for an enclosed motorcycle trailer that was claimed by Debbie Wanbold of Dover, Delaware. The High Seas Rally Cruise was awarded to a very happy John Riggs from eastern Pennsylvania. Finally, Vince Zardus from White Haven, Pennsylvania, rode away with $1,630 after scoring the Cruzin’ the Coast win. And as in other years, Delmarva Bike Week matched the $1,630 for a donation to the Spuck & Lib Bennett Scholarship Fund. Spuck is the owner of Harley-Davidson of Seaford, and he and his late wife were teachers, so the money goes towards helping students who want to be educators.
Success in spades
Promoter Bruce Bennett was quite pleased with this year’s rally, saying, “Delmarva Bike Week was about as perfect as it could be. We were blessed with great weather and a great forecast so people could plan ahead to come. All four locations enjoyed overflow crowds and the people really appreciated the free admission and free concerts.”
He went on to say, “We had vendors who did almost as well in four days than they had done in 11 days at Sturgis. From the vendor standpoint it was one if the best Bike Weeks ever, rivaling our best years in 2007 and 2008 before the economy tanked. And everyone seemed to be in a great mood.” Well, who wouldn’t be, with hundreds of vendors, tons of entertainment, many miles of scenic touring and the chance to win some great prizes? Next year’s rally will be September 12-15, and it’s never too early to plan ahead!
CLICK HERE for a full photo gallery from the 12th annual Delmarva Bike Week