EASTERN SHORE, DEL./MD., SEPT 11-15–There’s a welcome familiarity to some of the rallies I attend, and Delmarva Bike Week is exactly this type of event, where the anticipation and planning leading up to the event is part of the fun. But familiarity certainly doesn’t mean sameness, as demonstrated by the 13th iteration of this Eastern Shore favorite.
One significant change was the expansion of the rally from four days to five. All four major rally venues were open for business and ready to accept visitors on Wednesday, a day earlier than in years past. Another change is that Harley-Davidson of Seaford, one of the rally venues, was sold this past summer and is now part of the Rommel H-D family, with the dealership renamed to Rommel H-D Delmarva.
The first rally location I visited was Arthur W. Perdue Stadium in Salisbury, Maryland, a 25-mile straight shot west of Ocean City along Maryland State Route 50. By the time I arrived, the main parking lot was filled and an adjacent overflow lot was in use. A number of premium vendors had set up shop for the weekend, and my first stop was at Zipper’s Performance to discuss some recent performance product installs done on my FLD. Zipper’s had sales, install and tech tents and was a veritable one-stop shop for those seeking go-fast upgrades, as well as tuning and troubleshooting support.
Big rigs and big-top tents were also set up by Performance Machine, Küryakyn, Mustang Seats, Bell Helmets, Progressive Suspension, Vance & Hines, Scala Rider, K&N Engineering, Rivco Products, Drag Specialties, Condor Lifts, the High Seas Rally and other merchants selling a wide range of items such as bike covers, cleaning products, ear and eye protection, sound systems and more motorcycle accessories, riding apparel, jewelry and other goods. And several shops were doing product installs, pinstriping, light installations and the like.
New this year at Perdue Stadium was Saturday’s ride-in bike show to benefit the Walk to End Alzheimer’s. The entry fee was $20 per bike, and there was a nice assortment of nearly 40 customs. The winners of each of the 17 categories, plus Best in Show and People’s Choice, won trophies and prizes donated by numerous local businesses, and also earned the satisfaction of contributing to the Alzheimer’s Association.
Winter Place Park, just across Route 50, was another huge rally venue where there was so much going on that one could spend every day of the rally there and still not run out of things to do. To me, the biggest attraction was the Wall of Death where Wahl E. Walker, Charlie Ransom, Dallas Dan and Jay Lightnin’ thrill the crowds with their dips and dives, on bikes and go-carts, one and two at a time, sometimes side-saddle on the vintage Indians and Harleys they ride ’round the vertical walls of the wooden barrel.
The walkways that wind around the pond and throughout the grassy park took us past more than 100 vendors of all types. Some of the more well known manufacturers and retailers included Saddlemen, Hog Tunes, Hot Leathers, Pitbull Motorcycle Lifts and Rob Hassay’s Pro Tour. More builders and shops such as Eastern Performance Cycles, B&M Performance, Vicious Cycles, 5252 Performance Tuning, BC Cycles, Italian Choppers and others showed off their latest builds, while countless other merchants displayed their goods and services, and others performed product installs, lighting additions and more. A constant stream of people stopped at the Allstate Insurance booth to admire the Arlen Ness digger, the Dave Perewitz custom bagger and the O.N.E. bike built by Rick Fairless. The Allstate girls were encouraging folks to sign up for a sweepstakes for another bike on display, an Arlen Ness custom 2013 Victory Cross Country, which will be given away in February 2014.
That wasn’t the only giveaway… BC Cycles once again donated a custom scooter to be given out, Radiant Rides offered to provide a L.E.D. installation worth $500 and the High Seas Rally was giving a free cabin for their 2014 rally cruise. Classic rock band Poverty Ridge gave away a brand-new Fender electric guitar every day they played at the rally.
Bands like Poverty Ridge were yet another reason to spend some time at Winter Place Park. Live music added to the festive ambiance every day and evening, with performances provided by rock band Clean Getaway, classic rock and cover band Mid Life Crisis, rock band Shadrach, Allman Brothers tribute band Live at the Fillmore, Southern rockers Thunderfoot, AC/DC tribute band Live Wire, and the perennially-popular Led Zeppelin tribute band Kashmir.
Seacrets in Ocean City was the third main rally venue, and it’s where rallygoers were encouraged to end their day once the other rally venues closed down at 7:00 p.m. During the daytime, vendors set up shop on part of the huge parking lot. Hot Leathers had another tent here, several shops such as Death Row Motorcycles and Free Bird Custom Motorcycles displayed their custom builds, and other merchants offered accessories and apparel. Seacrets is the largest nightclub in the Mid-Atlantic region, and offers multiple bars inside and on the bayside beach, restaurants and a hotel.
The fourth major rally location was at Rommel H-D Delmarva in Seaford, Delaware. Adjoining the dealership is a large property known as the Enchanted Forest, where several food, drink and merchandise vendors were arranged around a field of picnic tables. Bands played from the balcony of the “barn,” which was situated between the Enchanted Forest and the dealership. Rommel H-D Delmarva is nearly 50 miles northwest of Ocean City, and takes about an hour to get there if you stick to State Highways 50 and 13. But where’s the fun in that? Although Route 50 is designated as part of the Blue Crab Scenic Byway, there are routes much less traveled and much more interesting. In fact, the helpful staff at Rommel handed out maps with scenic routes outlined, taking riders through farmlands and small, quaint towns such as Selbyville, Dagsboro, Millsboro and Frankford. The entire Delmarva Peninsula is filled with beautiful two-lanes that will take you to many of the lovely—and isolated—bays and inlets.
Another way to sightsee on the beautiful Eastern Shore is to participate in Cruzin the Coast, now in its 11th year. For a $20 entry fee, each participant received a Cruzin the Coast pin and T-shirt and an official event book with a list of 16 local businesses. The idea was to visit all nine “must-stop” locations and three or more optional stops; the more places that stamped your booklet, the more chances you had to win the cash drawing to be held on the last day of the rally. The locations were scattered all over the Delmarva Peninsula. Delaware businesses included R&R Grill Bar in Laurel, Crabby Dick’s in Rehoboth Beach and Rommel H-D Delmarva. Maryland spots were Pit & Boy in Ocean City, EVO Public House in Salisbury, Famous Dave’s also in Salisbury, the Red Roost in Whitehaven, 45th Street Taphouse in Ocean City, Tall Tales Brewing Company in Parsonsburg, Boonies in Tyaskin, Station 7 in Pittsville, and the Berlin businesses included Shooters, Casino Ocean Downs, Atlantic Hotel, The Globe, Si’Culi and Tex-Mex & Beyond. And Virginia’s spots were Mister Whippy and Renegade Classics, both on Chincoteague Island. It’s several hundred miles of some of the best riding on the Delmarva Peninsula, and the potential for winning big bucks is just the icing on the cake.
Winners of the giveaways were announced on Sunday afternoon at Winter Place Park. Terri Anzalone will be cruising the Caribbean with the 2014 High Seas Rally, and Robert Martinson of Laurel, Delaware, rode away on his BC Cycles custom scooter. Brian Martinson from Millersville, Maryland, will be sporting $500 worth of L.E.D. lights on his ride, and Michele Comly from Pennsylvania took home $1,650 as the winner of the Cruzin the Coast drawing.
After last year’s rally, Delmarva Bike Week was acquired by OC Jams, a management company that also produces Ocean City BikeFest, which runs concurrent to Delmarva Bike Week. Will the two rallies eventually combine? Regardless, we hope Delmarva Bike Week continues to offer free entry to all of its locations, as well as all the giveaway prizes, and that the laid-back, welcoming vibe of this Eastern Shore favorite continues well into the future.