Myrtle Beach Bike Week....or.....
CLICK HERE for this trip's route map.
At the risk of pissing off all you 'real' biker's who maintain that (fill in the blank) Rally is the pinnacle of the true biker's experience, I'm gonna take the stance that for the most part...The major Rally's suck.
OK, there is a valid argument that where else but at a rally can ya find near-naked hardbodies being groped and googled and gummed by strangers in the midst of a virtual flood of Budweiser and Bloody Mary's? And for any of us who've been riding for over a quarter century - where else can ya plan on meeting your bro's from around the country. Sure, Rally is the place to be to see and be seen, as evidenced by the regurgitation of neon and chrome and ....hell, where else can ya EVER plan on seeing a glass-walled bike trailer? (Philly knows what I mean!) ... Whaddaphuque is up with that? Put your custom beauty in a glass trailer... for what? So not only can ya spend $50,000 on your new ticket to bikerdom, but, hey!, ya don't even have to take it out of your trailer! Damned sure don't ride it anywhere but off the trailer and down Main Street anyway!
Nope... Rally can only be summed up by two words.... Price Gouging! Last year in Sturgis, (Name Obscured to prevent a lawsuit) Motel was asking $310 per night, 4 day minimum....call 'em today and ya know what they get? $59.95 and that includes a free donut in the morning! Y'all have heard me whining about Rally's for over two years now and I'll be damned if I'm gonna do it again. I've decided that if you ever see me at Rally again, just shoot me. Cause obviously I've lost my mind and need to be put to rest. So this trip to Myrtle, I've dedicated my journal to all the reasons why you SHOULDN'T go to a bike Rally. Agree with me in principle or not, you gotta admit some of this stuff makes ya at least see some of my reasoning.
This trip to Myrtle I found $3.50 Budweisers...this one alone should make you think twice about attending rally's! And I can see the need to trailer your bike to a rally....just barely, but I can see it... but now the greedy bastards are selling trailer space at Malls! Next they'll be charging admission at Swap Meets! It took me 1 hour and 15 minutes to go from the Arcade on Ocean Drive to the dealership.....all of maybe 5 miles.....and while waiting in the friggin traffic I see signs that tell me it is illegal to ride past the same point on Ocean Blvd more than twice in a 2 hour period. Man this is a fun place to be!
And before you get yer nose bent outta shape...hey - going to rally for the first couple years of your riding experience is something that you SHOULD do I think. Get your gear, get all that helmet sticker nonsense out of your system and buy the baggy pants with the skeletons all over them early on in your experience and get that crap over with...ya just GOTTA do it! Everybody does. I even have a picture of me at my first Rally wearing one of those silly horn helmets. Have ya ever worn one of those going 50 mph? Makes ya think twice about the argument FOR wearing any kind of helmet... but lets not go there.
Maybe after 15yrs of going to rally's (I never went back in my Honda days!) I've just gotten sick of 'em. Trips from this point on (except maybe next year I'll do Laconia just to say I went) will involve mindless wanderings around the country with little or no reservations. Last year was a bit overboard with planning out the trip to the last detail before I ever left. While I was able to get to all the places I wanted to go to, with rooms waiting for me when I got there, the sense of adventure was missing. So allow me to take a final dig at the world of Harley Rallies.
I'll allow that just as there are all kinds of motorcycles, there are all kinds of motorcycle riders. I don't propose that my way is the only way by any means... but obviously I have come to the conclusion that the good doesn't outweigh the bad when it comes to major rally events. I know a lot of ya have a great time there, and y'all just keep on enjoying it....me...I'm gonna be in the wind in the woods and in my kind of motorcycle heaven.THE RIDE:
Having said that, I'll get into a little bit of how this years' ride to Myrtle went... we started off early on Tuesday morning and traveled a blistering, ohhhh, maybe 3 miles and stopped for breakfast at Honey's Restaurant on I-85 in Durham, NC... the weather was ok...cloudy and a bit on the chilly side, but great riding weather. I had figured that this trip, again, we would bypass the Interstate route, which would ordinarily have taken maybe 4 hours to get to Myrtle Beach, in favor of a suggestion a guy made to me a while back. We took Hwy 751 through Durham, a winding narrow 2 lane down past Jordan Lake (Pic#01) and past Hwy 64 to Olive Branch Road (Pics #02 and 03), over to Apex, NC and down Hwy 55 to Fuquay Varina where we had plans to meet an friend from on-line for coffee at 11:30. Thats her in pictures (#04 and 05) where she is helping Kim fix a pair of glasses with a screw she pirated off an old paid she had in her truck... always good to have a knife and an old pair of glasses around...I offered black duct tape but they declined, so I just watched.
We took hwy 42 out of Fuquay-Varina (yup, thats really the name of this town) over to Hwy 55 and took it south...still two laners with lots of scenery and very little traffic. At the town of Benson, we caught the suggested road someone gave me, Hwy 242. Turned out to be a great suggestion. 242 has very little stop signs or lights on it, and is fairly well-paved for a rural NC road. Damned few bikes on any of these roads so far - suppose many are on the Interstate making time to Myrtle. We travel through the quaint sleepy towns at a snails pace stopping for coffee or gas or stoplights. We're not in any rush, and don't have to be anyplace til this evening, so the slow pace is a welcome change. We pulled over for a pee break at Spivey's Corner (Pic#06)...the "Hollarin' Capital of the World" ... you'd have to be a local to know what that means.We found that Tuesday afternoon must be a local customary afternoon to close shop 'cause Roseville was damned near deserted with CLOSED signs all over the place...even the stop light was on flash! (Pic#07) With this slow pace, we were on the bike a long time... even with a lot of stops, Kim found herself resting during a gas stop. (Pic#08)
We stopped at the Front Porch Restaurant in Elizabethtown for lunch - nice place... great buffet... and kept on heading south. Didn't get to Sunset Beach til almost 6pm...9 hours on the road, but it was a lot of fun doing it with no schedule and no rush. Just before we cross over the bridge to Sunset Beach (It is a little one-lane pontoon bridge that regulates traffic with a stoplight on each end, and opens on the hour for boat traffic... we got caught on the hour so we pulled over at the little bar overlooking the sound and took pictures # 10, 11 and 12.) After a couple Amber Bocks on the outdoor deck, we climbed aboard for the last mile or so, and rolled into our friends beach house over looking the inlet and the sunset. (Pic #13).
An old friend from my old corporate (3-pc suit and tie) days, Annie and I hadn't seen each other in a couple years. I used to walk past her desk saying "Hey" each morning for maybe 9 yrs, and bumped into her and her husband Billy a while back and started keeping in touch via AOL. Recently retired (envy the bastards!) to the beach and only 45 minutes from Myrtle Beach, ya KNOW we had to stop in to visit. In this case for two nights. Pic# 14 and 15 are the next morning with Annie on her very first Harley ride...hell, it was her first motorcycle ride of any kind, too. We took in about an hours ride around the beach near Calabash, NC. After she got off and the grin started to wear off a little, Kim and I climbed aboard and did a little day-trip up Hwy 179 to Hwy 17 and 211 to Southport, the little seaport community south of Wilmington. Pic #16, 17 and 18 are some shots around the waterfront area.
Pic #19 and 21 are of the waterfront restaurant we ate at right at the end of Hwy 211 all the way through Southport. #20 is of the main streat a block off the waterfront where they have assorted restaurants and antique shops...typical quaint little town in southern NC. On our way back from Southport, after a half-hour ride in the drizzling rain - not enough to pull over or put on rain gear, but enough to wet the glasses thoroughly - we hit the sunshine right as we turned a bend in the road on 179 near a golf course, and came across this huge tree....damned if I know what kind, but I suspect a Spanish Oak. Very Majestic-looking tree overlooking a nice meadow and marsh of cattails in the background.
Once back at the beach house, we did a very un-bikery thing (yes, thats a word, just trust me)...we got into shorts and sandals and wandered out onto the dunes with a bottle of wine and a couple packs of Nabs. From the pier at Sunset beach, we turned south and walked about 2 miles outside the town limits and came across a lone mailbox stuck in the sand dunes with a bench nearby. You can see that over time, the beach has slowly filled in around the box to the point where it is barely above ground now. The red flag was up and seemed to beckon us to look inside. (OK, so that sounds a little corny, but thats what I was gonna tell the judge if we got caught sneaking a peak inside!) Neatly stacked inside the box, were about 10 journals of varying sizes and colors and a couple of pens. Kim and I each took one and sat on the bench for about a half bottle of wine reading some of the entries. Seems the local legend is that some unknown patron of the beach stocks this mailbox from time to time with blank journals and bid the passers-by to add their own passage to "the Kindred Spirits". Some of the entries were very poetic, some admisisons of love for someone who has yet to figure it out (hoping perhaps that they read it some day?), or simply best wishes for friends and long-past loved ones. I added my bit of prose to the collection and replaced the journals inside, just in time for the walk home in the light of the setting sun to our backs.
When we got back to our friends house they told us the story of the Kindred Spirit and how someone, unknown to the island's inhabitants, cares for the box and has written an anonymous book containing some of the passages in it...great idea and a pleasant way to pass the setting sun with a bottle of wine.
On Thursday morning, we woke up late, maybe 9am, did the coffee thing and said our goodbyes to Annie and Billy around 10am and headed south on 179 and went into Calabash for breakfast. Had a great pineapple-upside-down waffle and called some friends in North Myrtle Beach Bart and Toni. Bart is a member of the band "Sons of Blues" who often plays the Suck, Bang, Blow, (Thats the name of a bar, seen in pics #38-44) and had a gig set up for Friday night, but knowing we weren't gonna be in town, we decided to just stop in and say "Hey" instead. They had just brought home their baby a while back (used the cradle that we used for our kids and which has been used with about 11 babies now), and Kim wanted to see the lil' thing. I am always eager to let her stop off someplace to see babies so she keeps that meternal instinct of hers at bay....you know - play with 'em for a couple minutes and hand 'em back! Thats Kim and the baby (Anna) in Pic#30 and them in #31.
Once we got into North Myrtle Beach, the gpoing went easy til we hit the Ocean Drive around 22nd ... they closed off all northbound traffic on Ocean Drive and the congestion and confusion was a mess... before we got to the Amusement park at the heart of the strip, traffic was backed up to a standstill. Kim pointed out this No Cruising sign, prohibiting you from passing by that spot more than twice in a two hour period mid-morning....what a bunch of dicks. Another reason to avoid these big rallies all together. It took us 75 minutes to get to the dealership from there. We turned off the bike and waddled along at a snails pace for much of it. (Pic #33) Even back out on Hwy 17 was stop 'n go. We finally pulled into the dealership parking lot and told the bouncers that we were gonna go get some airbrushing done at one of the rear vendors, pulled it around back (instead of parking a half mile away) and walked around the vendor lot a bit, (Pic #34) checking in on our old friend the Colonel at Daytona Customs (Pic #35)
Pics #36 & 37 are some of the scenery inside the Harley-Davidson Dealership vendor lot over near the Colonel's place... pretty women just seemed to keep walking in front of the camera when I snapped these shots... bad timing I suppose.
After getting the obligatory pins and T's we pulled out heading south and found ourselves in heavy, but not stop-n-go traffic all the way to Murrells Inlet. The intersection in front of the Mall leading into the Suck, Bang, Blow was bad, waiting about 20 minutes to get across with all the congestion in front of that swap meet out front of that bar. Found a nice spot right out front and wandered around bumping into some friends and hanging out on the balcony consuming massive quantities of Budweiser.... yeah, well.... two of 'em anyway - still had some riding to do. Once again, these show-off ladies seemed to be running in front of my camera everytime I took a shot...something Kim noticed by the way. I handed the camera to her and told her to take a shot of someone she found you might be interested in (you ladies I mean)...and she handed it back with a disgusted look on her face about 5 minutes later saying she couldn't find any. Also said us guys have a better selection of women than she had of men... hmmmmm
When we pulled out of the SBB, we only had about a 1-1/2 mile ride south to my real destination, Bullfeathers Bar and Grill. We stopped in there about 2pm and had quite a few Buds...hell, even Kim started drinking out of her own bottle before too long. I immediately bumped into Carm, the legendary Barmaid of the joint, and Tom the owner. Always good to see them again, and this time we hardly had a chance to bullshit because it was so busy - glad to see that. Missed a couple of lady flashers in the parking lot 'cuz the camera was on the bike (didn't get too many shots at Bullfeathers cuz we were enjoying ourselves way too much) but after the girls drove off topless, I got the camera and was ready for the next one...., Kim got the camera instead and took a shot of the only "passable" guy in the joint. (Hey, her words not mine! - Pic #46)
By 6:00pm we were pleasantly buzzed, and got the dreaded cell phone call..... serious problems with business back home ... Hmmmm, well.... not exactly true.... kind of a moderate problem that gave me the excuse to get out of this rally while I still felt I had a good time. But a problem that had to be handled none-the-less. I grabbed a couple bottles of Water, rode to the nearest restaurant for coffee and took care of the immediate problem on the cell phone, but needed to think about an early departure. Hated to leave early as I had mentioned to some friends that I would hang around that evening to meet 'em.
In the end, we rode off into the setting sun on the two-lane, got as far as Fayetteville on the way back, snagged a motel and got up early the next morning for the 3-1/2 hour ride home. (could have been a 1-1/2 hour ride but we took the backroads as promised). Stopped in at JohnBoys Diner in Lillington again (remember the Near-Perfect Ride a while back? Best Grits in the world? Looking out the window through the silk flowers? Same place). Then after what was becoming a scary ride after some near-misses by a rash of bluehairs and goobers on the backroads, we finally made it home late morning of Friday. Problem at work solved and the bike unpacked, and now the journal of what may be the last Rally I go to for a while is done....time for an Absolut on the rocks, bag of microwave popcorn on the floor of the living room and a two-disk DVD of Lawrence of Arabia ... did ya know he was killed in Britain on a Motorcycle trying to avoid some bicyclists?
Ride safe....see ya on the road.