One of the many downsides of the pandemic was the cancellation of motorcycle rallies and other events. Americade, billed as the world’s largest touring rally, has been held in Lake George, New York, in late spring (typically the first week of June) every year since 1983.
The 2020 edition of Americade, which would have been touring guru Fred Rau’s 30th consecutive appearance at the event, had to be canceled. In January of this year, Americade announced that the event would be moved from early June to September 20-25.
“We want to make 100% sure that a 2021 Americade will happen,” said Christian Dutcher, Director of Americade. “Moving it to September gives us a very high likelihood of it happening. September is also a perfect time of year for riding, with mild temperatures, no rain, and fall foliage season beginning. It should be beautiful.”
Happen it did, and the event was a great success. Though, since it was Americade, of course there was some rain!
Rider has supported Americade since the early days, and as we do every year, we sponsored the Opening Celebration on Monday night, which is open to participants who preregister for the rally. Guests enjoyed dinner under the big tent on the lawn of the Fort William Henry Hotel & Conference Center, overlooking Lake George and the surrounding mountains. The Rick Bolton Trio and mentalist Dustin Dean provided entertainment, and we gave away door prizes.
The rally kicked off in earnest on Tuesday with guided and unguided rides, seminars, vendors and food at the Tour Expo, demo rides (BMW, Honda, Indian, KTM, Triumph, and Yamaha), boat rides, live entertainment, and many other activities. Since Lake George is on the eastern edge of Adirondack Park and not far from Vermont, there’s no shortage of fantastic roads within a 100-mile radius.
On Tuesday evening, as guests enjoyed the Medieval Feast under the big tent, I did an onstage interview for the Rider Magazine Insider Podcast with Bill, Gini, and Christian Dutcher, the family that founded and runs Americade. We talked about how the rally began and what has helped it become such a popular and unique event. (To listen to the episode, go to ridermagazine.com/insider.)
Onstage after the podcast interview was the Americade Knights of the Round Table. Fred Rau, Bill Dutcher, Momma D (Dee Jones), and I wore crowns and drank mead as we told humorous and embarrassing stories about our collective travels and experiences on two wheels. The crowd had plenty of laughs at our expense, and they especially enjoyed it when we took questions from the audience.
Wednesday morning began drizzly and gray. At 7 a.m. Fred Rau hosted his popular coffee club. At 7:30 a.m., with raingear on, I queued up on Beach Road for the Lake Placid Adventure, one of several guided rides that day. We were joined by a group from the Wounded Warrior Project, which Americade has supported for several years. The rain stopped after about an hour, and we enjoyed a scenic ride up to Whiteface Mountain, a delicious lunch at the Mirror Lake Inn in Lake Placid, and stops at the Olympic training facilities for the long jump and bobsled.
Under the big tent on Wednesday and Saturday nights, comedian Alonzo Bodden entertained large crowds. During his stand-up sets and “Heavy Lightweight” special on Amazon Prime Video, Bodden’s comedy is topical. But as a longtime motorcycle enthusiast with several bikes in his garage, when Bodden performs at Americade, he interacts with the audience and spins comedy gold from his on-the-spot moto-related dialogue. Bodden returns year after year, and every show is unique. (To listen to our interview with Alonzo Bodden on the Rider Magazine Insider Podcast, visit ridermagazine.com/insider.)
On Thursday, I had a chance to go on a ride with Bodden, The Moto Life columnist Peter Jones, Adam VanderVeen from Triumph America, and Isle of Man TT racer Dean Court. After the demo rides ended, we gassed up a Rocket 3 GT, Trident 660, Street Triple, and Speed Triple 1200 RS, and wound our way up Highway 9N along the western shore of Lake George. We made it back to town just before the rain began.
After a major storm blew through in the wee hours of Friday morning, the skies cleared and the next two days were sunny. Being only a few hours from the New York and Boston metro areas, Friday and Saturday are always the busiest days at Americade. The Expo was packed with folks shopping for new gear and having audio systems and accessories installed on their bikes.
Under the big tent was the Friday Night Spectacular, with a dinner, People’s Choice judging, Brown Liquor Social Club, Vintage Bike Roar, awards, and major door prizes. There was a boat cruise on the Minne-Ha-Ha and fireworks over the lake.
Saturday featured a Ride for Kids charity ride that raised more than $17,000 for the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation. From 1-10 p.m. was the Block Party & Music Festival. As with every night of the rally, there were bikes parked along Canada Street and others cruising up and down, many adorned with brightly colored lights.
Next year’s Americade will take place June 6-11, 2022, so start making plans now. For more information, visit americade.com.
Check out some of the bikes we saw at Americade: