OUTER BANKS, N.C., APRIL 21-29—I could see an empty rocking chair in front of the dealership, enticing me to stop and relax and enjoy the late afternoon sunshine. It was opening day of Outer Banks Bike Week, and Outer Banks Harley-Davidson, the primary rally venue, was still packed. But I was road-weary—and hungry—after the all-day ride from New Jersey, so I continued on.
A dozen miles later I pulled into the parking lot of the Sea Ranch Resort in Kill Devil Hills, checked into my room and unpacked. I walked about a quarter-mile up Beach Road to the Jolly Roger Restaurant, a high-energy family-style eatery that serves abundant helpings of good food at reasonable prices. Tired as I was, I couldn’t help laughing at the antics of the wait staff, all of whom were garbed in pirate-themed clothing.
Sunday brought a free pig pickin’ (we call them pig roasts up North) at Lucky 12 Tavern, only 4.5 miles south of my hotel. Although it had been raining that morning, people began to arrive before the party even started. A couple of big tents had been set up in the backyard so partygoers didn’t have to stand in the rain, but by the time I arrived around 3:00 p.m., the rain had stopped and the parking lot, the bar and the backyard were crammed. Lucky 12 owner Mark Ballog’s friends Ryan White and Chip Reynolds were in charge of the food detail, laying out a buffet of pulled pork, coleslaw and baked beans. Thanks to Fun Times Cookin’ for the porcine feast, and to Mark for creating the tavern’s welcoming vibe that kept people coming back throughout the week.
Coastal Plains cruising
The rain started up again Sunday evening, but by the time I awoke on Monday, the storm seemed to have blown over. Good thing, too, because I’d
been looking forward to Around the Sound, a guided tour led by the Outer Banks H.O.G. chapter every year. Sign-up was 9:00 to 10:00 a.m. at Outer Banks H-D, and I was pleased to see some of my friends from past rallies, such as Abe and Sherry Loughin and Paul and Valerie Morlock. We compared our new bikes and gear and chatted until kickstands-up time.
The ride wound around Albemarle and Croatan Sounds, crossing the Alligator River Bridge and continuing to Columbia where we lunched at Mike’s Kitchen Asian Bistro. Curious name for a dining spot, but the place had two full menus—one American and one Chinese. After a hearty meal, we continued our ride along back roads, with Road Captains Richard and Cody leading us around Swan Bay and heading north through small inland towns, eventually returning to Outer Banks H-D. The latter part of the ride was a bit chilly, but the scenic surroundings were well worth the extra clothing we layered on. And later, when we heard that a Nor’easter had pummeled some of the northern states on Monday, we considered ourselves fortunate that all we’d experienced was a little nip in the air and a few drops of rain!
Outer Banks H.O.G. is a very active chapter, with rides scheduled all year round. The chapter volunteers to conduct rides every year during Outer Banks Bike Week at no cost to participants. The rides take participants through different areas of the Outer Banks and the inland coastal region known as the Inner Bank. These tours show that there’s much more to North Carolina’s Coastal Plains region than you’d probably be able to find on your own.
Around the Sound was Outer Banks H.O.G.’s first guided ride of the week, followed by a Knotts Island ride on Tuesday that I went on last year. Wednesday was the Fallen Rider Memorial Ride held in memory of Outer Banks H.O.G. member Ronnie Tillet who died a few years ago, as well as other fallen H.O.G. riders. The group met up with more riders at Kitty Hawk Post Office and made a stop at a cemetery in Kitty Hawk where Ronnie’s bike, paying silent tribute, was brought that day. The group continued to Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge and stopped for lunch at Martelle’s Feed House in Englehard to enjoy country-style cooking prepared by owners who love bikers, especially those who stop to eat at their restaurant.
Another H.O.G.-led ride was a poker run that began at Nags Head Harley-Davidson, sister dealership to Outer Banks H-D. Outer Banks Ladies
of H.O.G. also conducted a ride on the opening Saturday of the rally—a coin run to benefit Albemarle Hopeline, a nonprofit organization that helps victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, teen dating violence and elder abuse. And Thursday was a mystery ride, which truly was a mystery to me since I wasn’t able to make it that day. Well, there’s always next year… And that’s one of the great things about the rally—there’s too much to do in nine days, so riders return year after year to take part in the activities and visit the places they missed the year before.
After Monday’s ride, I headed back to the Sea Ranch Resort and enjoyed freshly caught and cooked seafood in the hotel’s newly opened Beachside Bistro. The well-prepared meals, ambiance and views of the sand dunes and the ocean drew me back several more times that week. The Outer Banks has no shortage of good restaurants, some of which served as rally venues during Bike Week. Port O’ Call had vendors in their parking lot, as well as the lot next door, and one day, some of the local gals volunteered for a bikini bike wash. The $10 I forked over resulted in a clean shiny Switchback and, more importantly, every dollar taken in went to the SPCA in honor of Trent Story, a Port O’ Call employee who was killed in a motorcycle accident last August. According to his roommate A.J. who does security there, Trent, an animal lover, owned two pit bulls and also worked at the SPCA.
Port O’ Call also had a full lineup of bands scheduled for the week, coupled with bikini and wet T-shirt contests. And Thursday night, the restaurant was designated as an official Bike Week party spot. Other restaurants that served as official party spots included Kelly’s Restaurant and Tavern, Lucky 12 and Jolly Roger, where the farewell breakfast was held the closing day of the rally.
Vendors were set up at Outer Banks H-D as well as Long Boards Island Grill. New York Pizza Pub had some fairly exotic merchants offering uniquely-styled jewelry, essential oils and fragrances, crystals, handmade leather goods, bling-decorated boots and clothing, as wells as other interesting wares. The Pub featured the Ted Riser Band, a rally favorite, Thursday through Saturday, and held its first-ever Nuclear Wing Eating Challenge. Early registrations for the competition were a little slow, but by the time Friday rolled around there was a decent turnout.
Lucky 12 Tavern had live music day and night, and featured a biker brunch Monday through Saturday. When I saw Mark, the owner, at the pig pickin’ on Sunday, he made me promise to come back on Tuesday night for biker karaoke. I kept my word and showed up as the Allan Ross Karaoke Roadshow was setting up. Some of the patrons at the three-deep bar were practicing their vocals and challenging each other to try some of the more complicated songs. I didn’t expect much in the way of talent, but apparently bikers are a talented lot and a few of those who performed sounded pretty damned professional. Others grabbed the mic just for kicks—great for giggles from those of us content to sit at the bar and critique everyone. It was probably the most fun I had all week.
It’s all in the game
If riding, partying, shopping and beachcombing didn’t take up all your time, you could always watch—or enter—any number of competitions. After last year’s success, bikini coleslaw wrestling made a return appearance at Pigman’s Bar-B-Que, and $1,200 was raised for the Get Pinked campaign to help eradicate breast cancer in Dare County. A series of tattoo contests were held at Outer Banks H-D, with prizes given in six categories: best male black and white, best female black and white, smallest male tattoo, smallest female tattoo, best male color tattoo and best female tattoo.
Bayside H.O.G. out of Bayside H-D in Portsmouth, Virginia, coordinated the ride-in bike show at Nags Head H-D. A ladies-only bike show
attracting 10 entries was held by Red Knights NC Chapter 5 at Outer Banks H-D, and was won by Sue Dinkler from Virginia with her 2007 Ultra Classic Trike. New this year were burnout contests, also held at Outer Banks H-D, with each winner receiving a new rear tire, installation included. The eagerly anticipated (at least by us gals) beer belly contest revealed a surprise this year. Two-time champion Mutt Carpenter was knocked out of the winner’s circle by a newcomer. It’s hard to imagine a belly bigger than Mutt’s size 5X. In stark contrast to the beer belly brouhaha was the Miss Outer Banks Bike Week Bikini Contest. The judges had their work cut out for them, as each of the nine beauties was lovelier than the next, but finally, top honors were awarded to Sarah Thomas from Florida.
There were two opportunities to win big during Bike Week. The Ride 2 Three contest required riders to visit each of the three dealerships under the MS Family Enterprises—Outer Banks H-D, Nags Head H-D and Bayside H-D—and have their game cards stamped at each location. A game card was selected at random on April 28, and Mary Jo and Glenn Hale of Havlock, North Carolina, won the grand prize of a $1,000 shopping spree at any of the participating dealerships.
For the second contest, riders got their “passport” stamped at nine locations to become eligible to win a one-week vacation rental from Elan Vacations for Outer Banks Bike Week 2013. The lucky winner was Jerry Pinkard. I wonder if she needs a roommate?
A decade of success
The first Saturday saw the biggest crowds of any opening day, and the closing Saturday was just as busy. The number of Harley-Davidson demo rides conducted from Nags Head H-D broke last year’s record. And although most riders come from North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania and New Jersey, people are coming from further away every year.
Maurice Slaughter, CEO of MS Family Enterprises and dealer principal of all three of the company’s dealerships, commented, “The rally is growing each year with more businesses starting to participate and welcome bikers, which is opening the door for more activities during Bike Week. We are excited to have more participation from the surrounding areas and the community’s involvement during Bike Week. The newest event to this year’s Bike Week was the Nuclear Wing Challenge held at New York Pizza in Nags Head. It is new events like this that spice Bike Week up and make it fun and interesting for all.” 4