Gather 40,000 riders in one area for a week-long rally, riding and eating and attending events, and it’s tough to summarize the experience. However, I’m a tough guy and am going to give it a try.
Americade, the annual touring event held early each June around Lake George in upstate New York, has grown to become a major experience for riders. The town sits on the shores of Lake George, a generally placid blue expanse framed by mountains. It’s already a vacation spot—even for those poor souls who don’t ride motorcycles. From town, we riders enjoy those tree-lined roads that spill into the Adirondacks and Vermont. This year’s event kicked off with Monday’s Opening Ceremonies, sponsored by Rider magazine. Despite the evening’s frog-strangler storm, our own Clement Salvadori dutifully sailed into view and emceed the event.
What goes on at Americade? Putt on over to Roaring Brook Lodge and take free demo rides on a variety of new bikes including—what—Hummers!? All week there’s judging in numerous bike categories, as well as those for stuffed animals and “Looney License Plates.” At the evening seminars world travelers like Greg Frazier—and, well, there’s Salvadori again—tell of their experiences, along with such notables as Fred Rau and Pete Woodruff. Heck, I even got to speak one evening and take part with other editors in a roundtable discussion.
The events continued all week long. Tuesday night there was live music and dancing. Wednesday night we had a choice between attending the Fashion Show or the Championship Rodeo and Buffet sponsored by Harley-Davidson. Thursday evening was a little damp, but we were treated to the Light Parade, dressers tootling through the parking lot flashing and glowing with color. OK, what would Americade be without a little rain? Or without a little heat? Or without humidity fish could swim in?
Many daytime seminars and clinics were available to attend during the day. Stunt rider Tommi Ahvala made every guy in the crowd wince when he performed a stoppie between the spread legs of a nervous male volunteer. We took serene dinner cruises on the delightful, old tour boats. The star attraction, of course, was Tour Expo, the enormous vendor show that now requires two areas, the traditional one down by the beach and the new one in the hall up the hill. For a set of leathers, a helmet, cleaning products or any of a thousand other items, you knew where to go.
On any day, riders could take a variety of special tours, and I joined the new guided tour to historic Fort Ticonderoga. Completed in 1759, the fort figured prominently in the Revolutionary War. Our group’s interpretive guide this day was Red Hawk, a Native American in traditional dress who presented a stirring account of the fort’s rich history.
Over at the Double H Ranch, the Meet the Press Charity Poker Run kicked off on Thursday when a little dog, Goliath, put his paw print on each participant’s commemorative T-shirt. A number of us editors later added our signatures at various checkpoints—Goliath’s was the most readable. It was a pleasure meeting all you generous poker-run participants!
Friday evening involved the Dinner Spectacular at The Great Escape amusement park, where it was possible to take thrill rides and…what, you’re going to impress motorcyclists with thrill rides? But the chow was fine, the band rockin’, the weather perfect—and in one place we got to see all the major bike
category winners. Even hard-working rally promoter Bill Dutcher made a brief appearance, followed by fireworks through the trees.
The Dunlop Parade kicked off Saturday morning with thousands of yellow balloons floating over a vast sea of bikes. After a spin through town, the parade ascended Prospect Mountain for the BMW Barbecue and Closing Ceremonies.
What a week! It was a whirl of riding, eating, buying, riding, going, door prizes, polishing, parading, riding, eating. Did I mention riding and eating?
Next year, Americade will be June 5-10, 2006. Check out www.tourexpo.com for more information.
(This article was published in Rallies & Clubs in the November 2005 issue of Rider magazine.)