2006 Summer Riding Season

It's high time. That time of year when we dust off the seat and hang 10 on the pegs. Life is sweet in spring. But it's ripe in summer, because that's when the motorcycle world comes to life-full throttle.

Myrtle Beach Bike Week May 12-21, 2006
Why? Because it's not Daytona or Sturgis Bike Week. Myrtle Beach has its own thing going-and it's been going on for 66 years. Over a quarter of a million people amble down to the "Grand Strand" of South Carolina each May to partake in the weeklong bike fest, so you won't be alone. And the area is better than Daytona Beach for nice side trips and rides.

There are five acres of vending, so when you're not seeing the sites or sucking down southern food, you can be buying bling and baubles for your bike. And bike watching is what this show is all about, so it helps that the main area has 20 acres of paved parking. There are the usual demo rides, custom shows and poker runs so check out the rally schedule before you plan your trip. But plan your visit soon, because just like Sturgis and Daytona Beach, this bike week attracts more people than the town can handle, making prices ridiculously high for very so-so situations.

So, maybe it won't be first on your list, but Myrtle Beach Bike Week is a big bit of living biker history. And if you're going for one of those hot, overcrowded, flesh-showing, pipe-blowing biker rallies this summer, it might as well be one that's not so ordinary. For details check out www.myrtle beachbikeweek.com or one of the 5000 other sites dedicated to turning Myrtle Beach into biker heaven each spring.

Americade June 5-10, 2006
The Adirondack National Park is New York's glory. The park was the country's first preserved wilderness and covers an unfathomable 6 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 summits 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 4000, 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'Keefe'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 under way on Tuesday.

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. To find out more visit www.tourexpo.com.

Attend the National Event for Your Bike Model or BrandSome of you go to these rallies every year, and what fun they are. But many of you haven't hooked up with your brand brethren and might want to give it a whirl. The regional rides and get-togethers are great as well, but it's the annual national rallies that really kick ass. Even if you don't attend a rally or even a ride, your same-brand-owning club mates will always be a mouse-click away if you have a question about your bike or what aftermarket products or improvements work best. There's a club for just about every kind of bike, for example, the Super Magna Owners Group, which celebrates the original Honda Magna of vintage 1978 and '88. Later model Magna owners have their own club, the Magna Owner's Group. Here are some of our favorite events:

Vulcan Owner's and Rider's Club: This is a fun, fun group and we've been to its annual rally in Eureka Springs, Arkansas, before. These guys love to ride and party. This year the popular event will be held on the weekend of September 20. Get to know the VROCers at www.vroc.org.

Valkyrie Cruisers Club: The national events for owners of the slick-six Honda are called Inzane Ride Ins. It's all bodacious bikes and smoky burnouts. Don't miss this year's event in crazy-beautiful Frisco, Colorado, July 12-16. Event and club information at www.valkyrieriders.com.

Star Touring and Rider's Association: Star Days is actually backed by Yamaha, kind of like the Honda Hoot, but not as watered down. It's more intimate, for sure, with a lot of cool organized events and support. This year the event will be in Longmont, Colorado, July 27-30. That's the gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park and some of the best riding in the United States. Visit www.stardays.org.

MIG Riders (Marauder Intruder Group): This infamously passionate group is holding its shindig in beautiful Maggie Valley, North Carolina, for the entire week of July 18-26. That coincides with the Hoot, just down the mountain in Knoxville, so you can hit both. See www.migcruisers.com.

Let us know about your favorite brand-specific events and we'll publish them in the next upcoming issue. E-mail andy.cherney@primedia.com.

Honda Hoot June 20-24, 2006
Let us tell you why the Honda Hoot is our favorite motorcycle event-the rally we never miss. We love getting together with bikers of all kinds and owners of all brands, but more than anything we love to ride.

Folks that show up for the all-brands welcome Hoot are there to ride, not to kick tires (much) or stare at booties and chrome (much). We do shop though, and the Hoot has one of the best vendor areas and demo setups of any rally geared toward serious motorcyclists...meaning there's not a lot of crap. Plus the Hoot is staged in Knoxville, Tennessee, on the edge of some of the best roads and scenery in the United States. There are organized rides aplenty, or just point your bike out of town and explore on your own. It's all good, even when it's hot, even when it rains, and everyone has a good time.

We can thank Honda for that, and Charlie Keller, the event's daddy and doer-of-all-things, who is the most passionate event organizer ever born, and the Hoot's extreme success is a result of his enthusiasm and charm. There's something to do every day: Fun stuff like street parties and fireworks displays, custom shows and riverboat cruises. But more than anything, there are these cool organized rides each day, for which you need to register in advance. Our magazine has been sponsoring the Best Dam Ride and Fish Fry for years, but this summer we're leading a new one, the Ride to Roan Mountain. Even just the name is cool, right? The views are supposed to be amazing, and lunch will be terrific. So join us in Tennessee!

Honda Hoot information and registration is found at www.hondahoot.com.

Route 66 AMA Organized Tour
Riding Route 66 is one of the must-dos of motorcycling, and if you have the time and the money, taking it all in during an organized tour is ideal. (We know because we've done it on our own and spent twice as much time as necessary just trying to follow the tracks of the original route and thumbing through our books trying not to miss the landmark sites and stops.) We're fascinated by the idea of participating in one of the AMA's rides along the famous highway. Two tours will depart from Chicago this summer for the 14-day quest within a day of each other. Tour start dates are May 13 and 14. The tour package includes lodging, breakfast and all but one dinner, plus the daily maps, suggested routing and guide. Solo riders with their own bikes are being charged $2785 if they share a room with another guest. For a single room it's $3415 and for couples on one bike the total is $4915.

The AMA is willing to help you with any planning details including bike rental, shipping and air travel, which is helpful because many work-bound riders will want to ship their mount back home or rent for the simplicity. For details on this cool ride or any of the AMA's organized rides check out www.ama-cycle.org or call the director Frank Covucci at (800) AMA-JOIN.

Try an Iron Butt Challenge
Here's a cool way to get your groove on. We're not talking about the flagship Iron Butt event, an 11,000-mile/11-day endurathon, but some of the more doable challenges. The Iron Butt Association recommends starting with a SaddleSore 1000, where you ride-you guessed it-1000 miles in 24 hours. There's also the BunBurner 1500 if you think you can cover 1500 miles in 36 hours. These rides are completely realistic if you plan them out with an overnight and rest stops, and they're fun because if you follow the easy documentation process you'll get a pin and certificate to prove you're hardcore. There are dozens of rides to choose from. Think you can ride from coast to coast in under 100 hours? You want the 1000cc. Do it in less than 50 hours (yikes) and you qualify for a 500cc. Want to loop Lake Michigan? Ride it in 24 hours and you're a Lake Michigan 1000 vet. A Great Lakes Gold requires you to ride around all the lakes in 50 hours. We are excited to try the National Parks Challenge, where riders visit at least 50 official parks or monuments in at least 25 states over a one-year period. That sounds like a reason to live! Or you can get exotic and ride an official ride in a country like South Africa or Finland. There is something for everyone. And hey, even if your version of a bun burner is a ride to the next county, it's worth visiting the IBA Web site for the skills and tips section alone. It's all at www.ironbutt.com.

Hit some Tiny Rally in a Far-Flung Town
Like, what if we all showed up at the Oyster Run in Anacortes, Washington, on September 24? Wouldn't that be a gas? We'd eat 'em out of house and home. There are thousands of runs and small-town events around the country each season, and sometimes they are way more special than the mega events. If you're planning a ride, see what's happening in the towns you'll cross on your way, or plan your trip around some crazy event, like the Judy Garland festival or a backwoods chili cook-off. Try searching www.motorcycleevents.com for actual riding events, or search a town's web site for cool-sounding festivals, like the Craw Dad Festival in Isleton, California. It's not an organized biker event but hundreds of riders make it a destination.

Street Vibrations September 20-24, 2006
We've been meaning to attend this event in Reno, Nevada, for years. It's a biker bash in the cool-climate high country, so tens of thousands of lowlanders head for the Sierra to see what's hot. We'd go to see the customs and vendors, maybe play some slots on the strip, but mostly we'd end up at Street Vibrations because the local riding is so sweet. On the California side of the Sierras you have endless pine-edged twisties and on the Nevada side you have nostalgic curiosities, like the Victorian mining town of Virginia City, site of the famous Comstock Lode. The area is worth a summer trip, with or without the rally. For event news check out www.road-shows.com/street_vibrations. If you want to know more about great riding in the surrounding California Gold Country, pick up our spring issue of Motorcycle Escape magazine, on newsstands now.

Ride South America with Us October 13-28, 2006
It's a crazy idea, sure, but good crazy, right? We're tagging along with endurance riding champion Ron Ayres, who started his own adventure motorcycle touring company, Ayres Adventures. They ride to amazing destinations all over the world. We liked the idea of South America because it's so unscathed. Our ride begins with Iguazu Falls in Brazil as a highlight before it traverses the mountains and rainforest of Bolivia, ending 10 days later at the ancient Inca site of Machu Picchu in Peru. Ride of a lifetime is right! We won't be on cruisers, we'll be on enduro-style bikes, but that doesn't mean the ride will be difficult. Ayres assures us that riders with good street skills can handle anything on the route. This high-end tour is a little pricey though, about $7000, but then you're getting the best accommodations, the coolest stops, the most knowledgeable guides....and US!

Ride for Kids Events
We don't need to explain why it's so great to attend one of these rides to help fund the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation. It's one of the best feelings a biking event can bring on, knowing that you've made a difference. Don't miss the ride in your area:

April 23: Albuquerque, NM
April 30: Houston, TX
May 7: Triangle Area, NC
May 7: Los Angeles, CA
June 4: Atlanta, GA
June 4: Richmond, VA
June 11: Cleveland, OH
June 11: San Bernardino, CA
June 18: Pittsburgh, PA
June 24: Knoxville, TN
June 25: San Francisco, CA
June 25: Golden, CO
July 9: South Bend, IN
July 16: Chicagoland, IL
July 16 Utica, NY
July 23: Kansas City, MO
July 23 White Bear Lake, MN
July 29: Marysville, OH
August 6: Madison, WI
August 6: Hudson Valley, NY
August 20: Salt Lake City, UT
August 20: Oxford, MA
August 27: Ann Arbor, MI
August 27: Asheville, NC
September 10: Puget Sound, WA
September 17: Philadelphia, PA
September 17: St. Louis, MO
September 17: Birmingham, AL
September 24: Baltimore, MD
October 1: Sacramento, CA
October 1: Las Vegas, NV
October 8: Dallas, TX
October 15: San Diego, CA
October 15: Phoenix, AZ
October 22: Lafayette, Louisiana
November 5: Sarasota, FL