If you were anywhere near Lake George or Lake Champlain this weekend you saw (and heard) the motorcycles, motorcycles, motorcycles. This Americade in Essex, NY video clip reminds us of what a perfect weekend our two wheeled friends enjoyed despite the threats of rain and thunderstorms.
“I can’t understand why you like motorcycles,” my bride said to me on Sunday after yet another pack of growling Americade bikers thundered past our house.
According to the Americade website this thirty year old Lake George, New York event “is the world’s largest motorcycle touring rally.” How big?
Americade… draws about 50,000 people to the southeast Adirondacks, many of them using the I-87 corridor in the days leading up to events that peak over the weekend. (WSJ.com)
I’m yet to hear a consensus on how many people participated this year, but the organizer’s website boasts 50,000-100,000 participants annually. Although Essex experiences a fraction of those riders, our otherwise quiet town is transformed with the steady stream of motorcyclists streaming through. The Essex-Charlotte ferry is an important interstate artery for riders who stream in from all over the Northeast. And NYS Route 22 offers a scenic, winding alternative to highway travel which seems to appeal primarily to Canadian riders on their way to and from the Lake George motorcycle roundup.
Americade is a gathering of friendly, fun-loving folks, for whom motorcycling is a social hobby, but not some form of rebellion. It’s NOT the place for shows of speed, hostile attitudes, or illegally loud motorcycles. Americade supports the AMA position that “Loud Pipes Risk Rights.” (Americade website)
Despite this noble mission, hundreds of motorcycles rolling past inevitably trigger seismic responses. My bride’s reaction is far from unique, and yet many others enjoy the change in Essex visitors. The Old Dock Restaurant and the Essex Ice Cream Cafe were notable hotspots for the bikers this weekend, and despite my misgivings for bikers who rev their engines as they pull onto the ferry like juvenile lions jostling for pack leader, I have a soft spot for motorcycles and motorcyclists. I owned several bikes in my twenties, and if I hadn’t nearly killed myself on one, I’d probably still be riding. Many are the spring and fall days that I catch myself leaning into my steering wheel on an empty Champlain Valley road, swaying rhythmically side-to-side through the curves and reliving my two wheeled fantasies.
There are few more liberating experiences than meandering breathtaking countryside on a motorcycle. And I suspect that Americade’s touring bikers offer a welcome uptick for seasonal businesses.
“It’s the best week of the year,” said William Citarella, manager of Monte Cristo’s Restaurant. “Without Americade, all of us business operators would be lost. This is great for our region.. If we were to lose this, the percentages would go down so much, it would be impossible to cover our overhead and pay for our staff,” he said. (FOX23 News)
Although the impact may be less critical for Essex businesses, the increased traffic at some venues is clear. Nevertheless, throttle blasts and high RPM motorcycle screams aren’t the most direct path to a warm welcome.
Lake George resident Carol Longman, one of the organizers, said… “A lot of people object to the noise, but the people who come here are nice. They stay here and shop here and eat here…” (PostStar.com)
Noise, especially of the thunderous variety, is a predictably tough sell, but beautiful bikes (and bikers) purring under bluebird skies along the shores of our Adirondack lakes? Well, that’s another matter altogether!
Though I haven’t succeeded in convincing my bride of these motorcycle aesthetics, I do remind her that the environmental impact of producing and operating a motorcycle is a fraction of its four wheeled cousin. And in a region which struggles with the limitations of a seasonal economy, Americade may prove more friend than foe even to those who lament testosterone-fueled decibel infractions. What’s your opinion on Americade?
Beth Lawrence says
How wonderfully exciting! My Dad, Bill Lawrence Sr., was an avid Harley traveler, and would have LOVED this. In fact, had he not lost his life himself, at 72 – unfortunately while on his motorcycle coming back from a group ride to Nova Scotia, he would have participated!
Dad’s funeral was like a Viking farewell – with dozens of his fellow riders honoring him by riding down Lakeshore Road from Essex to the cemetery. He was smiling from Heaven as we all heard those Harleys roar!
Dad loved riding his bike through the back roads of Essex; and knew every one of them. Thanks for posting this interesting article.
Beth, thanks for sharing this moving story about your father. Sorry never to have met him, but it sounds like his legacy lives on. (BTW, great pic!)