WILDWOOD, N.J., SEPT 6-9–The remnants of Hurricane Isaac were just washing off the Jersey shore as the first day of the Roar to the Shore rally rolled into the Wildwoods. Many areas of the Mid-Atlantic Coast had been hammered by rain and flooding during the days prior, but on Thursday, the storm’s wrath had been reduced to a few rain showers. On Friday morning, however, blue skies and balmy weather greeted riders lining up for the official Roar to the Shore kickoff event—the guided ride to a pig roast at Kindle Ford. Every year the ride begins at the corner of Oak and Atlantic, just outside the Bolero Resort, the rally’s headquarters. According to rally sponsor Cape Classics MC, who also organizes the ride, this year’s may have been the largest yet, with approximately 230 bikes heading toward the Cape May car dealership. The ride and pig roast are free, which is the policy for the entire rally—no charge for the vendors and entertainment.
And there are vendors aplenty, with tents lined up along Oak Street, in the parking lot behind the Red Oak Buffet, in a lot across from the Bolero and another space across the street from Tucker’s Pub. The largest vendor presence, though, is in the parking lot of the Wildwoods Convention Center on Ocean Avenue, just off the boardwalk and about a half-mile south of the Bolero.
Live music is offered at a number of local watering holes, most of which do not have a cover charge. Once again this year, Bag Lady Sue had the crowds roaring as she performed her XXX Comedy Act at Club Casba. The Bag’s unique brand of raunchy humor is well worth the cost of admission.
Another rally mainstay is the walking poker run that, this year, took participants on a circular walking tour to eight clubs and restaurants. The free signup started at The Deck on Pacific Avenue around 1:00 p.m. on Saturday, and stamped sheets had to be returned to the poker run staff at The Deck by 6:00 p.m. that evening. Since it’s only about three-quarters of a mile for the entire walk, you’d think it would be easy to get to each place and draw all the cards. But if you’ve participated, you know what a challenge it is to quickly get in and out of the Bolero Bar, Stardust, Club Casba, Cattle ‘n Clover, Juan Pablo’s, Gioia, Shamrock and Hurricane without stopping for a drink or listening to a band, not to mention all the outside distractions between poker run stops. Well, Mike Cantion not only managed to finish the run, but won $1,000 in cash for his straight flush. Now that’s some show of dedication and discipline!
As if the shore hadn’t had enough of a pounding from Isaac, Hurricane Leslie was scheduled to pay a visit to the East Coast on Saturday night. The ever-popular Biker Babe Contest was scheduled to take place at 7:00 p.m., but huge, ugly black and gray storm clouds began to form and the contest started 15 minutes early. The competition was held on a stage in the Red Oak vendor lot, and the organizers—Cape Classics MC members—were concerned with the safety of the crowd, as well as the contestants. It was the quickest Biker Babe Contest I’ve ever witnessed, with eight lovely ladies competing for a total of $1,000 cash. Crowd favorite Sabrina won $500, with the second- and third-place winners taking home $300 and $200, respectively. The rain held off until a little later that evening and, by Sunday morning, Leslie had blown out to sea.
This year, Juli Musser, events coordinator for Roar to the Shore promoters, One Off Marketing, introduced two new events to the rally. The first was the Battle of the Biker Bands with 10 bands competing Friday evening and Saturday afternoon on the stage in the convention center parking lot. The performances were professionally judged by longtime club owner and musician Joe Palombaro, along with musicians Jamey Cafiero and Stu Musser. Crowd enthusiasm was a definite influence on the judges, who picked The Toonz as the Best Biker Band. The other finalists were Buckshot Reloaded, Mr. Echo Band and No Pressure.
The second new event was the first-ever Roar to the Shore Custom Bike Show held Saturday afternoon on the boardwalk. Winners of the 13 classes were Alex DeFeo—V-Rod, Scott Mohler—Sportster, Barbara Baynes—Sportster Custom, Michael Phillips—Softail Custom, Mike O’Connor—Tour Dresser, Joe Heim—Tour Road King, Herb Cowart—Road King Custom, Tommy Adornett—Metric Cruiser, Jay Berry—Metric Custom, Justin Reid—European, Vincent Ribaudo—European Custom, Doug Alexander—Custom Chopper, and Peter Nimmcrichter—Trike. Cash prizes awarded for the top three Best-in-Show categories were $200 each to Vincent Ribaudo for Best-in-Show Judged and Michael Phillipos for People’s Choice, with $500 awarded to Toney DiDonato for the Cape Classics MC Best-in-Show award.
For the third year, Roar to the Shore Wildwood Tattoo Beach Bash took place inside the Wildwoods Convention Center from Friday through Sunday of the rally weekend. Tattoo artist Mike Siderio of Rebel Image Tattoos in nearby Rio Grande, New Jersey, has been the show’s promoter since its inception, and this year for the first time, Mike partnered with tattoo artist and promoter Troy Timpel. Timpel also promotes five other tattoo conventions in Minneapolis, Philadelphia, Chicago, Baltimore and Louisville, and now owns Philadelphia Eddie’s Tattoos.
For $20 a day ($40 for the weekend), visitors had the opportunity to get inked by their choice of over 100 tattoo artists, many of whom are nationally known. In fact, the West Coast was nearly as well represented as the East Coast, with urban ink slingers plying their craft under the banner of Coast2Coast Ink magazine, Amy Nicoletto from L.A. Ink creating skin art, and several contestants from the SpikeTV tattoo competition series InkMasters laying ink. Syxx O’Brien, who works out of Tattoo Tony’s Under My Skin studio in Atlantic Highlands, New Jersey, inked a beautiful piece on my left arm a few months ago, and the Tattoo Beach Bash gave me a chance to show Syxx and his brother Seven the now-healed tattoo.
Tattoo-related merchandise, jewelry, apparel and supplies were available, as well. Once again, tattoo artists Mike and Mary Skiver exhibited some vintage tattoo equipment and paraphernalia from their tattoo museum in Somerset, Pennsylvania. Additionally, professionally judged tattoo contests emceed by Chris Longo, a.k.a. the Mayor of Tattooville, took place throughout the weekend. I just learned that Chris is opening a new tattoo shop in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania; just across the Susquehanna River from my birthplace. Maybe it’s time for a visit back home.
The weekend’s entertainment was provided by two sets of performers, the first known as the Olde City Sideshow featuring Danny Borneo and Martin Ling the Suicide King. Think Laurel and Hardy, but with swords, a hammer and nails, an electric fan, balloons, body hooks and an iron. And tattoo artists Syxx and Seven O’Brien perform as Inkllusionist, with their show best described as steampunk-influenced deception and illusion.
It was evident that Cape Classics MC and One Off Marketing, partners in producing Roar to the Shore, are all about charities. There were a number of fundraising booths for various charitable organizations at all the vendor locations. Part of the convention center lot was sectioned off for dog rescue organizations and other animal care groups. Some of those present were Sunray Pit Bull Rescue, Bella-Reed Pit Bull Network, Lilo’s Promise Animal Rescue, Brindle Brothers and Philly Paws, all of which brought dogs—mostly pit bulls and pit-bull mixes—that were available for adoption. These groups also have a mission of educating the public about the follies of breed-specific legislation and dispelling the myths surrounding certain breeds. Also present were the Pennsylvania SPCA, Animal Care and Control Team of Philly, Camden County Animal Shelter, Cape May County Animal Shelter and Animal Alliance of Cape May. For those of us who love dogs, it was very difficult to walk away from those happy, wiggly, friendly canines without wanting to take them home.
Sunday’s big Roar to the Shore event was the Rubber Duck Boardwalk Ride. For $15 (two for $25), you could buy a rubber duck keychain that allowed you to participate in the ride and got you a raffle ticket for a 2012 Sportster Custom provided by Atlantic County Harley-Davidson. Over 1,000 tickets were sold this year, and although not everyone rode the boardwalk, it was still the biggest ride in all the years it has taken place. The ride departed at 12:30 p.m. from the southern end of the boardwalk at Wildwood Crest, looped around Wildwood and continued up the boardwalk to the convention center. Seeing hundreds of bikers roar up the boards is a pretty awesome sight, and riders looked like they were having a blast.
While waiting for the riders to return, The Groove, made up of five young men aged 16 to 19, entertained the crowd. These young guys are quite talented; in fact, I learned that the drummer, 19-year-old Gordon Kubaska, is Bill Haley’s grandson!
Around 3:00 p.m., the winning raffle ticket was drawn, with Ruthann Panco of Southampton, New Jersey, declared the big winner. Ruthann had already left for home, so Ben Petrovic, owner of Atlantic County H-D, presented her with the bike later in the week.
Joe Murray Jr. of One Off Marketing stated, “Nearly $14,000 was raised from the Rubber Duck Boardwalk Ride alone, and all of the proceeds from the raffle and ride go to the United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey. It is very important to Cape Classics MC and One Off that the rally remain free to riders, although a few special venues do charge admission.”
Roar to the Shore started out 20 years ago with a H.O.G. rally in a field and only about 250 people and three vendors in attendance. It’s amazing to me that with those humble beginnings, this year’s rally attracted about 70,000 people, making it one of the largest four-day rallies on the East Coast. Roar to the Shore is always held the weekend after Labor Day, so mark your calendars for September 5–8, 2013.