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The Myrtle Beach Fall Bike Rally has long been known as the little sister event compared to the more popular Harley-Davidson Spring Rally. But, just as actual little sisters also eventually hit a growth spurt, the Fall Rally is closing the gap on big brother.
With the upcoming 2014 edition scheduled for Sept. 26 through Oct. 5, the Fall Rally still draws significantly smaller crowds than the more established, 75-year event in May. But while the Spring Rally has held steady in numbers over recent years, the Fall Rally has seen a gradual increase in attendance the last few years for several reasons.
Of course, the milder temperatures of autumn and the smaller tourist crowds of fall are key factors. The Spring Rally is usually features more rain, higher humidity, and is more crowded with non-bikers during the month of May, while late September and early October see a drop-off in precipitation, humidity and crowds, which also means lower hotel rates. Visiting bikers can generally stay for a full week in the fall for the cost of a few days in May, making the little sister event more attractive to many bikers.
But the calmer climate, smaller crowds and lower hotel rates have always been factors. The real reason for the growth of the Fall Rally is likely the result of an increased emphasis being placed on it by organizers and local businesses. Once overlooked by the area, local hotels, restaurants and retailers are now catering to the motorcycle crowds. Several new events have been added to the lineup to encourage better attendance.
The consolidation of smaller poker runs into larger, more organized events are one of the more popular events during the Fall Rally. For the uninitiated, a poker run involves bikers visiting pre-determined bars to collect a playing card, and the best poker hand at the end of the tour wins cash and prizes. Most are used a fund-raisers for local charities, such as the new Cruise the Loop Poker Run, which features stops along the 90-mile course that covers a great deal of the Grand Strand. It is among many scheduled for the Fall Rally. Check out the entire list by visiting http://www.myrtlebeachbikeweek.com.
Another new addition is drawing bikers who want to see exactly what their bikes will do in ideal racing conditions. Myrtle Beach Speedway on Highway 501 welcomes bikers to test drive their rides around the half-mile asphalt circuit. A clock reveals speeds and times of each lap as bikers try to hit their personal best or beat friends around the track. This event has provided bikers with a safe place to shake out their rides under a controlled setting, and they don't have to worry about being pulled over for speeding.
Other events are scheduled for Jamin' Leather just across Highway 501, including live entertainment, celebrity appearances, food and drink specials, giveaways, contests and bike runs. Offering trailer parking for the week, no-cover concerts and free beer and hot dogs, this leather shop serves as a sort of de facto headquarters for the fall festival. But there are many mini-headquarters up and down the Grand Strand from the Carolina border in Little River all the way down to the sleepy fishing village of Murrells Inlet, featuring burnout pits, live music and fellowship among bikers from all over the country and from all walks of life.
For a full schedule of activities and upcoming events for the 2014 Myrtle Beach Fall Bike Rally, visit the official web site at www.myrtlebeachbikeweek.com.
(Photo courtesy: MyrtleBeachOnline.com)