Myrtle Beach Spring Rally

Text: Christian Neuhauser • Photography: Christian Neuhauser

On Saturday, May 16, we traveled south to participate in our first Myrtle Beach Bike Week. This annual gathering begun as a modest event 60 years ago is now considered the third-largest motorcycle rally, after Daytona and Sturgis, held in the United States, and the promoters estimated 150,000 people showed up for this one.

The vast majority of bikes rumbling night and day through this seaside town are Harleys and be forewarned, the shine and sparkle of the May sun can be blinding on all those chrome parts, the pride of every owner. Of course you'll bring along your shades and camera, but it's a good idea to have a pair of earplugs handy too. You won't find many brands other than Harleys in action here, but that shouldn't matter when your only concerns are to ride and have a blast, right? Riders from all walks of life virtually take over the main drag and the spectators on the sidewalks, the balconies and the bar and restaurant patios whistle and yell approvingly whenever they see a great customized bike or a pretty woman rolling by.

Everything you need to know about Myrtle Beach Bike Week (events, vendors, competitions, shows, entertainment and dining) is amply reported and widely available along the strip in the Myrtle Beach Bike Week News. You can also tune into "Pirate 100 - the Beaches Rock Station" for Bike Week news, traffic updates, and great music.

The riding ritual here is to circle the area on highway 17. If you're here on a motorcycle you have to do the loop. And although it feels a bit like what I imagine NASCAR drivers experience when the yellow flag comes out, we enjoyed the excursion. And as one of the Triumph anomalies in the pack, Christa's eye-catching, apple green Speed Triple, a proven conversation starter, worked its magic once again.

"Oh, I didn't know these old, leaking Triumphs were back," one of the Harley riders remarked.

"You're just jealous because Harleys aren't the only bikes known to leak now," I joked.

Soon we're laughing and talking about the new Harleys and Triumphs and what a great job these companies are doing building quality motorcycles. Mike, the Harley rider, has an almost encyclopedic knowledge of bikes and their history and knows of many good tours. We wound up swapping tales of the road for hours.

Wanting to investigate the latest offers and news from the vendors, we parted company and took off for Murells Inlet and the five-acre site set aside for the "Super Swap-Meet." It's somewhat hard to find - more signage would have been helpful - but we make it finally. The customized bikes, especially the one by Arlen Ness, attract most of our attention. The airbrush work and chrome are simply beautiful, so creative. Real artists at work here. Obviously, they know no limits when customizing a bike.

The Myrtle Beach region is the perfect setting for an event like this. Thirteen million vacationers migrate here annually. Over 60,000 guestrooms in all price ranges are available and more than 1600 restaurants to address every culinary need. The white-sand beach and the Atlantic waves are the principle draw, but with hundreds of golf courses, numerous night spots, water parks, miniature golf, tennis courts, amusement parks, shops, and a vibrant street scene, there are more than enough seaside attractions to satisfy the discerning traveler.

An added bonus: Christa and I had expected much higher prices during Bike Week, but to the contrary we were very pleasantly surprised. We had a lot of fun and met so many nice companions we hope to stay in touch with and as we prepared to head for home, Christa read my mind and said, "Let's come back next year." Next May, we certainly will "If the creek don't rise and the mule don't die."