From coast-to-coast, enjoy nine months of fun for motorbike lovers. Rev your engines and get ready to ride with FreightCenter on a cross-country road trip through the Motorcycle Rally Season and its signature events. Here are our top picks for biker bliss!
Kick off rally season in Florida at the world-famous Daytona Bike Week, which celebrated its 75th year in 2016. One of the largest and most popular rallies in the United States, it stretches over ten days with such events as motorcycle racing, concerts, parties, and street festivals.
As the temperatures begin to rise, so do your motorcycle event options. Since 1987, the Rolling Thunder “Ride for Freedom” has been held every Sunday before Memorial Day in Washington, D.C. The ride was founded to honor and support continued efforts to find United States Prisoners of War and those listed as Missing in Action. Members take a slow ride from the Pentagon to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall, dubbed the Ride for Freedom.
Another option over the holiday weekend is Black Bike Week in Myrtle Beach, SC. Also known as Black Fill-in-the-Blank Week for the large crowds of non-bikers it attracts, it’s the largest African-American motorcycle rally in the United States. Events include motorcycle racing, concerts, parties, and street festivals.
If you’re ready for the heat of summer, head to Austin for the Republic of Texas (ROT) Biker Rally. Motorcycle-centric events usually include flat track racing, stunt shows, and biker rodeo games, but in true Austin style, music plays a huge part at the ROT rally. Past musical guests have included Willie Nelson, Jerry Jeff Walker, Ted Nugent and many more. A motorcycle parade, hundreds of vendors and a well-appointed food court round out the four-day event.
If you prefer cooler climates and a rally steeped in history, head to New Hampshire for Laconia Motorcycle Week. Dubbed the “World’s Oldest Motorcycle Rally,” the Laconia tradition began in 1916 with its first Gypsy Tour. As a nod to its historic beginnings, there are daily scenic gypsy tours and vintage races during the first weekend.
The Hollister Independence Rally in California got its start in 1947 and has been coined the "Birthplace of the American Biker." The free event is open to the public and is the largest of its kind in California. There’s a vendor for every enthusiast and activities for all to enjoy, including headline entertainment, poker walks, and custom bike shows.
America’s largest motorcycle rally happens in August in Sturgis, South Dakota. The small population of Sturgis often swells to more than half a million people during the ten-day event. The Sturgis Motorcycle Rally is a family affair for many, with something for everybody. There are organized rides and shows, as well as eating, tattoo, and beard contests, surrounded by some of the best scenery in the USA.
As the summer winds down, head to the Ozarks for the Bikes Blues & BBQ “Motorcycle Rally with a Purpose” in Fayetteville, AR. Founded on the principle of giving back to the community, this family-friendly event has donated more than $1.5 million to local charities since the year 2000.
Sneak in one last blast before year-end at the very popular Lone Star Rally in Galveston, TX. An event for all ages, there’s entertainment for everyone, including the Motorcycle Rodeo, scavenger hunt and charity poker run, live music, and bike shows.
Now that your calendar is filled in for the year, and considering we’re taking you all over the map, FreightCenter asked a few rally regulars to offer their top tips for the ultimate rally experience.
Let’s face it: As much as we love our bikes, sometimes it’s just not practical to ride long distances.
Long-time, self-described “biker chick” and Lone Star Rally regular Rhonda Schneider tells us, “If you’re fairly new to riding or coming a long way, you don’t want to be too tired to have fun after hours in the saddle.” Nor do you want to arrive two days late with an aching back. Rhonda suggests having your bike delivered to the rally.
While some people haul their bikes in a trailer, it’s increasingly common to ship motorcycles to their destinations. This can provide a time- and cost-efficient way to get the most out of your vacation. Be sure to consider options such as ready-to-ride versus crated, and plan your drop-off spot and staging area.
Ride and pass in formation, and take plenty of breaks. Bo Bartley has been riding for 25+ years. Most recently, he made a nearly 3,000 mile round-trip tour from his home in West Virginia to Key West, FL, stopping at Daytona Bike Week along the way. “I belong to a club, and we ride together,” he says. “There’s nothing like that freedom, but on a ride like that, you have to stay alert and watch out for others.” While riding in a group is generally the safest way to be visible, decide your riding order ahead of time, with the most experienced biker in the lead.
The more popular the rally, the faster it’ll fill up. Hotels aren’t your only option; many events have camping nearby, but those slots are limited, too. In short, plan ahead so you have a soft place to land, dusk or dawn.
Some provide supply checklists and nearly all provide updates, lodging tips and events schedules.
Above all, make your trip safe and easy. With a little bit of planning and a lot of flexibility, every rally season is the best rally season.