Myrtle Beach Bike Week Spring Rally Draws Crowds and Reunions
NORTH MYRTLE BEACH
Astride his beloved Harley-Davidson, Chris Shaw let a grin escape from ear to ear as he picked up the sounds of revving engines and Southern rock pumping around him.
“Another day in paradise,” said the Virginia native. “Freedom.”
Shaw is one of tens of thousands of bikers who are rushing to the Grand Strand for the next eight days to take part in the 83rd annual Myrtle Beach Bike Week Spring Gathering – a signature event that taps deep into an age-old American subculture. nearly a century.
Shaw and dozens of others spent their Saturday morning at Barefoot Landing in North Myrtle Beach. The retail and outdoor entertainment village cedes its parking lot to vendors and outfitters for the duration of Bike Week, making it one of the most popular gathering places for cyclists.
Bike Week itself is back in full force after two years of pandemic-related disruption, though reminders of what COVID has taken from this large but tight-knit group of enthusiasts aren’t far from the surface.
“It’s nice to see all my old friends back,” said Larry Gonzalez, a national sales representative at Bugslide, a motorcycle detailing company that tours the United States with his services. “But I have lost friends. I can mention five friends from gatherings that I’ve lost to COVID, so it’s nice to see people coming back here and talking to them.
For many bikers, mingling with those unaffiliated with the motorcycle culture is a highlight of the trip.
“The most important thing we try to do is raise awareness,” Shaw said. “A lot of people see bikers and they run. Just because they have a patch on their back doesn’t mean they’re a bad person. They are some of the most wonderful people you will ever meet.
Half a mile from Barefoot Landing is the North Myrtle Beach Harley-Davidson store, where the chrome shone on the rows of bikes lined up outside on Saturday morning.
This is where Max and Tiley, 6-week-old vervet monkeys, were nestled in the arms of Margo and Ken Long of Bristol, Virginia. It was the first of what will be many weeks of cycling for the simians.
Dressed in custom diapers and vests, the monkeys ride in a backpack attached to the bikes.
“They don’t get hot, because they have to be 105 degrees all the time,” Margo Long said.