Americade welcomes all kinds...
Americade welcomes all kinds of bikesexcept loud ones. The rally and the community actively discourage loud pipes.
When you think of upstate New York it's easy to envision a splendorous escape. The Adirondacks come to mind. The misty mountains and crystalline waters provide an image worthy of meditation. Breathe deeply now. Listen to a loon cry in the distance. Feel the cooling breeze caress your face. Now repeat your mantra: "I'm going to Americade...I'm going to Americade..."
The Adirondack National Park is New York's glory. The park was the country's first preserved wilderness and covers an unfathomable six million acres (that is an area larger than Yosemite and Yellowstone combined) claiming a full fifth of the state. Aptly known as the High Peaks Region, the park boasts 2000 peaks𤸼 that reach higher than 3000 feet. It's the playground of hikers, boaters and birdwatchers...and for one week every year it's bustling with bikers.
Each June, the tiny tourist village of Lake George, with a population of less than 1000, plays host to approximately 50,000 motorcycle enthusiasts who partake in Americade, the largest organized rally in the country. Lake George, also known as the Queen of American Lakes, is the largest body of water within the park covering some 44 square miles. It was one of Georgia O'Keeffe's favorite getaways, and Thomas Jefferson once commented that Lake George was the most beautiful body of water he'd ever laid eyes on. This still mostly pristine deep-blue lake is dappled with 365 natural islands among which sightseeing boats busily play connect-the-dots.
Lake George, named for King George of England, played a strategic role in the French and Indian War. It's a lake brimming with history, and the sea of motorcycles that touches its shores each June brims with enthusiasm. Americade, formerly known as Aspencade East, began in 1983 as an optimistic extension of Aspencade West held in Ruidoso, New Mexico. Three thousand riders attended. In 1986, the rally was consolidated into a single all-brand festival and has since grown into the stately large-scale celebration we know as Americade. It's a week packed with parties, tours and contests, padded with educational opportunities and consumer markets.
The festivities usually begin with a block party that includes live music and dancing at the Roaring Brook Ranch Lodge (the rally's headquarters) and a pre-party newcomer's seminar for the uninitiated. Tours and the formal trade show get underway on Tuesday.
Aprilia, BMW, Buell, Honda,...
Aprilia, BMW, Buell, Honda, Harley-Davidson, Kawasaki, Moto Guzzi, Triumph, Victory, and Yamaha are scheduled to provide demo rides during Americade 2004. You'd be hard-pressed to find a prettier place to ride.
The Rally's MiniTours should be called ManyTours. There are five guided, four unguided and seven self-guided tours held each day of the event. The guided tours are scenic adventures that include a catered lunch, door prizes, pins, and scheduled gas and rest stops. There's also CB commentary from your guide and a detailed map of your route. The tour destinations vary wildly. You can ride the area's covered bridges or end up at an 1800s ranch and experience a wild west show. (Imagine that...in New York.) You can purchase tickets for these ultraorganized rides at the Roaring Brook Ranch Lodge, then meet your group at the assigned time and location. Unguided group tours also include a group lunch, pin and door prizes. (But you're sent off with a map and without a mediator, so don't fight over the prizes.) This is a nice setup, actually, because it allows you to go at your own pace and partake in camaraderie on your own terms.
One scenic ride from the lake you shouldn't miss is the amble east to Brant Lake and Hague on Route 8. Take exit 25 from I-87 and ride east on Route 8 to the lakecontinue through the Pharaoh Wilderness and Dixon Forest. Outside of Graphite you'll sample a few twists and turns before reaching Hague. From this area you will encounter some of the best views of Lake George and the Adirondack High Peaks. For a longer ride, take exit 30 from I-87 and ride west on Route 73 into the Adirondack High Peaks and over Cascade Pass into Lake Placid, home of the 1932 and 1980 Winter Olympics.
Unlike some of the other famous motorcycle events, Americade encourages riding. In every direction there are wondrous sights to behold and beautifully maintained roads to take you there. But even around town you'll find some riding opportunities that should not be missed.
All of the major manufacturers will be offering demo rides at the TourExpo. Rides are first-come-first-served and fill up early each morning. The last time we counted, there were over 200 vendors at the rally selling everything from custom valve-stem caps to camp trailers, and there are probably more now. For a continually updated list of vendors and events at the expo check out the virtual trade show at www.tourexpo.com.
In addition to all of the products available for consumption, there's an astounding amount of information to digest. Ninety seminars are scheduled for Americade 2004 and they will cover 40 different topics. There will also be fashion shows showcasing the latest in functional motorcycle apparel. And contests? Americade loves its trophies; typically over 100 are handed out. Some of the judged events include the longest distance traveled to reach the rally, oldest and youngest participants, best ornamental stuffed animal and looniest license plate. You could even be the Americade King or Queen...you never know. Past years have also seen Experienced Rider Courses offered.
Americade is not just a Gold Wing rally anymore. It's a rider's rally, and cruisers are more a part of it than ever before. It's an event that doesn't care what you ride, just as long as you do ride. In 1998, for the first time ever, a cruiser won the Best of Show award. It was Kevin Gerioux's 1998 Vulcan Classic (read more about that cool custom in our February '99 issue); the runner-up was a 1934 Harley. Americade offers more organized enthusiast-oriented activities than any other rally in the world.
There are a couple of ways to enjoy Americade, which in 2004 happens June 7 to 12.
The Americade Rally is one...
The Americade Rally is one of the area's largest tourist events.
The first way is to purchase a full-week package, which is $59 for riders and $49 for passengers if you preregister by May 1. These prices include the wristband, pin, patch and decal, plus an option of partaking in a formal dinner, a scenic boat cruise or a day at the Great Escape theme park. For $10 more, you get three meals included. The other way is a la carte... pay only for what you want. You can get further information about the event straight from the source, which in the case of Americade would be founder and director Bill Dutcher. You can add your name to the mailing list and receive registration information and The Americade Times. This magazine offers detailed information on the event and includes a helpful accommodations guide that lists all of the area's hotels and campgrounds along with their current rates. You can also order a 60-minute Americade Video ($30) to see what you missed last year.