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Fall Bike Week in Myrtle Beach

As a teenager I was a “gear-head” and a street racer on the highways and byways of North Jersey having ran a ’66 GTO built to the hilt and later-on an SS-396 Chevelle. Next it was piloting a 4200-ton Attack submarine beneath the waves, and later pleasure boats upon the waves. So, ever since I was 17 years old, I’ve been somewhat of an adrenalin junky and have driven a “machine” up to just a few years ago when I parted with my Z-28 Camaro. And, although I’ve been very happy and content to be retired here in beautiful Myrtle Beach, after four years of corn-hole tournaments and walking the beach collecting sea shells I began to feel like something was missing. And that something was speed.

So, since I’m pretty much finished with the boating thing and although I’ve long admired Corvettes both of old and new vintages, cars are just a means of getting between point A and B to me now. So, I wanted a new and exciting experience. I’d considered taking flying lessons but small planes are too slow for my liking. However, I would relish in being a USN fighter jet jock and being catapulted off the flight deck of an aircraft-carrier then hitting the after burners and disappearing into the wild blue yonder. But alas at 71 years old that’s a far-gone fantasy in my case. Too, whenever I saw a guy riding a Harley on the road, I fantasized that maybe someday I too would own a HOG as they are so adoringly referred to by diehard “bikers,” who by the way now-a-days are mostly paunchy middle aged to senior professionals and retirees like myself. And although the term has a long and illustrious history related to motorcycle racing back to the 1920s today it also refers to members of HOG, the Harley Owners Group who are mostly guys going through their mid-life crisis’. However, my own seems to have arrived a tad late.
The city of Myrtle Beach is the site for Spring and Fall bike week rallies that are hosted by the local area business proprietors as a means to raising pre-Memorial Day and post-Labor Day revenues and to kick off the Spring and Fall tourism seasons with events presented not only in MB but the surrounding municipalities also and are sponsored by the Myrtle Beach Harley Davidson dealership, of which there are two locations with the other being in North Myrtle Beach. Much of the proceeds from raffles and fees from events are donated to local charities. And, for more than 75 years bikers have been converging here from around the country to hit the beaches and enjoy all the area has to offer including top-notch entertainment, an astounding weather and some of the best biker bars this side of the Mississippi. During the rally all the hotels and motels have no-vacancy signs posted on their marquees and their parking lots are jam packed with motorcycles of every make, model, and configuration including Choppers, Bobbers, trikes, some with side-cars, and highly modified and customized versions as well. Events taking place during the rally include charity rides, auctions and dinner celebrations at bars and businesses all around the area. And according to Trip Advisor, Myrtle Beach ranks number four of the top 10 destinations Americans will be visiting this fall. And why not; it’s absolutely gorgeous here anytime of the year.
Well, after witnessing the extensive array of bikes and bikers rumbling around town during this year’s past spring Bike Week my adrenaline was running high because just the sound of a high-performance engine of any kind gets my blood pumping. Consequently, I decided to mosey down to the Harley shop just to take a peek at their pre-owned inventory of which they had about 50 or so polished up to a gleam and sitting outside in their parking lot available for customer scrutiny. As I exited my Jeep and walked up to the dealership one bike in particular sprung out and caught my eye as it glistened under the South Carolina sun. It was a brownish-red metallic color with plenty of chrome, and was low-slung, with a chrome head light and dual fog lamps and its overall styling was reminiscent of the vintage 50s and 60s police motorcycles that I saw around town as a kid, except minus the red light and siren. It just spoke to me, that’s the one I thought. So, I went inside the dealership and was approached by Todd, a friendly sales rep who asked if he could help me then we went outside where he informed me that it was a 2018 Harley Davidson HDLE Deluxe. I sat on the bike and it fit me perfectly and seemed comfortable to ride. Well, the rest is history, I bought he bike on the spot without even looking at another. Myrtle Beach Harley Davidson made the whole experience easy and the transaction was pleasurable and seamless from initial deposit through financing and state registration to delivery of the motorcycle at my location. They even assisted me in state licensing.
Included in the deal was a two-day Basic Riders Course administered by the Harley Davidson Riding Academy and it’s turned out to be an invaluable experience where besides class work, students rode demo bikes on the range setup behind the dealership and learned everything necessary to ride a bike with confidence from starting it up to clutching, turning and shifting. And we ran various obstacle courses at slow speeds that involved cornering, swerving and maximum braking too. Of course, safe and defensive riding was emphasized throughout the course also. It was both physically and mentally demanding and a real hoot too with more than a couple of their bikes that we used being “dumped.” But, no problem because… they’re Harley TOUGH.
So, with owning my first Harley, and having been trained and licensed I was prepared to take part in some of the fun when the bikers began rolling in for the fall event that ran from September 27th to October 3rd. Myrtle Beach Harley-Davidson was the headquarters for the rally so many bikers hung out there as well as the vast assortment of popular biker bars and restaurants having captivating names and themes such as the Beaver Bar, Wild Horse Saloon, Dead Dog Saloon, Harley Shop at the Beach, Jamin’ Leather, Suck, Bang, Blow, the Rat Hole, House of Blues, the Bowery, Spokes and Bones and others mostly situated in Myrtle Beach, Murrells Inlet and Surfside Beach; and of course Harleys Road House in Little River where I attended the “Biker Olympics” which has little in common with the Summer and Winter Olympic games that we’re all familiar with. Rather than sporting events such as track and field and skiing contests some of the events at this Olympics included a slow motorcycle race where contestants vie to see who can ride a cycle the slowest without tipping over, a beer keg toss, strongest man competition and more, as well as multiple raffles of Harley Davidson related biker gear, a blue grass band, assorted vendors, and an outdoor grill serving burgers and dogs too. And of course, plenty of brewskis to go around, although I don’t partake. Too, some popular organized cruising “daycations” offered rides from Murrells Inlet to Charleston and up to Wilmington, N.C. and there was a biker river cruise too.
My Harley is powered by a Milwaukee-Eight 107, 1750cc engine and the speedometer tops out at 130 mph, but I think she’ll do 150. And although I doubt that I’ll ever test either of those limits, I’d had her up to 90 in the past. So, on the way back home from the event on the highway I had my cruise control set on 70 in a 65 and decided to throttle her up a little higher this time to 100 mph just for a short time as I blew past a tractor-trailer and left him in the distance. Yep, an adrenalin junkie and like the quote from the movie Top Gun “…not happy unless I’m going Mach 2 with my hair on fire.” I guess riding my Harley is as close as I’ll come to flying a fighter jet. But, gee it’s great to be 71 going on 17 again and living in sunny Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.