You may be hazy on the details of an East Coast biker event called “Cruisin’ the Coast Jack Daniel’s Presents the Pilgrimage.”
You are supposed to be confused. The Pilgrimage used to be Myrtle Beach Bike Week. And, understandably, Festival Promotions and the Myrtle Beach Harley-Davidson dealership hope y’all come on down despite the fact that you are obviously not wanted. The Pilgrimage runs from May 8th to May 17th. Just like “Horry County Bike Week (everywhere but Myrtle Beach)” which is what the event was being called for awhile.
Both Sides Now
Both Festival Promotions and Myrtle-Beach Harley have been trying to paint a pretty face on this pig for months. Zillions of emails have been bouncing around the internet with the happy propaganda that, “the popular event is still on….The majority of the events for Bike Week will take place in Horry County, outside of the Myrtle Beach City limits. Newly-passed Myrtle Beach rules and regulations WILL NOT affect bikers who visit or impact any of those activities and events.”
Right. And, here is what the Carolina Morning News said late last month. “…government bodies along the Grand Strand are making it known on behalf of the people they serve that bikers aren’t welcome. If they come for the rallies anyway, they will make the experience as unpleasant as possible and discourage them from returning in the future.”
Bikers Stay Out
Last year, the Myrtle Beach City Council responded to citizen complaints about “traffic, trash, indecent behavior and noise that typifies” bike week. The Council passed fifteen ordinances that are designed to harass bikers out of town. The ordinances include draconian noise restrictions on motorcycle exhausts and a Myrtle Beach only helmet law. If you ride a Harley into Myrtle Beach with a typical exhaust system your bike will be seized.
Don’t get the idea these good citizens are just playing. Last year the city of Myrtle Beach actually raised property taxes by $3 million to pay for the campaign to chase you away. That is how much they hate you.
Horry County, has also been passing laws to “take action against the noise, congestion and rowdy behavior” that accompanies Bike Week.
The county has passed a set of regulations that will significantly limit the number of vendors at the rally, the places where they can set up their booths and has significantly increased the cost of vendor permits and hawkers licenses. The duration of vendor permits has also been shortened.
On top of that, Myrtle Beach and Horry County are both negotiating payments to the city of Atlantic Beach, the site of Black Bike Week, so that city will agree to chase you away, too.
Last Thursday, February 19th, Mike Shank, a partner in Festival Promotions told a Myrtle Beach newspaper, that the rally was still on. “It has gone on for 69 years and we hope despite the bump in the road this year that there’s 69 more years of it.”
And, last Saturday, February 21st, Myrtle Beach started installing signs at eight entrances to the city that warn bikers about the Myrtle Beach helmet law and the city’s new limits on motorcycle exhausts.
If you live in South Carolina and feel like fighting city hall, there will be a “Myrtle Beach Helmet Freedom Ride” this Saturday, February 28th. Riders will meet at the Beaver Bar on Highway 17.
A press release announcing the ride warns, “All participants in this Helmet Freedom Ride do so as common adventurers. Local bikers may coordinate this ride but no one is considered a leader of this ride. All participants take responsibility for making their own decisions including, but not limited to, whether to participate and what equipment they choose to use or not such as safety equipment (helmets) or vehicle equipment (mufflers).”
You can adventure on or you can move on. Myrtle Beach Bike Week may return some day. It sure looks like it is dead this year.
Fortunately, you do have some options. There will be a pretty major run in Laughlin, Nevada in April. There is another run in Laconia, New Hampshire in June. If you still have money to burn, there is a nice little rally in Branson, Missouri in May.
Don’t say you weren’t warned.