Since 1940 bikers from all over the country have converged every May (but one) for the cities famed bike week. The event draws over 200,000 bike enthusiast for a week of biker fun. The event is held the week before Memorial Day week.
In 1980, black bikers began what is now known as Black Bike week. It usually starts the week before Memorial Day. It was created as a backlash to the discrimination that black bikers often felt during the regular bike week. It is the largest African American biker rally in the country. More than 400,000 bikers converge on the city during the week long celebration. In 2006, the NAACP sued the city for discrimination but the city settled without the city paying damages. But only under the understanding that the traffic rules would apply to both rallies. Though you generally will find bikers of both races at both events.
It should be noted that one of the attractions to bike week is the belief that bikers over 21 are not required to wear helmet. South Carolina does not require IT’S citizens over 21 to wear helmets. But technically you are supposed to follow the rules of your state. So if your state requires helmets (like we do in NC) then you are supposed wear a helmet. But this rule generally is not enforced. But anyone under 21, no matter where you are from, is required to wear helmets.
In 2009 the Myrtle Beach government enacted 15 sanctions aimed at preventing bike rallies. In 2010 the mayor canceled bike week using the new laws set in place sitting that the rally caused problems to the city including accidents, vandalism, noise problems, and lude acts. In June of that year the SC Supreme Court overturned the laws including the one to require all bikers to wear helmets. Bike groups and business owners gathered together to bring the rally back into town and it has been going strong ever since. Bike weeks provide millions of dollars in tourism dollars every year.
Unfortunately bike accidents are a part of bike week. Every year there are several bike deaths and dozens more of bikers injured. But the problem is generally from the car driving population, and not the bikers. Most often bikes are hit by people turning or changing lanes and not looking. You would think in a city frequented by bikes any time of the year, but especially during bike week, that drivers might be more alert to bikes on the road. Our first night of our trip was spent in the hospital with 2 friends who were injured when a car turned right in front of them without even looking. While waiting in the hospital with our friends, there were others coming in waiting for their friends/family that had been injured all who seemed to have been involved when someone in the car was paying attention.
Bike week brings a number of events to this beach paradise. Everything from concerts, bike runs (generally for charity), contests, BBQs, fashion shows, and this year included Throttle Fest (I have a separate review). Yes there are other things such as wet t-shirt and tattoo contests often associated with the biker lifestyle. But for an ever increasing portion of the biking community, the event is a family affair with families and children in tow. So there are family friendly events throughout. And there are all types of bikers out there so there are events aimed at particular groups such as professional (meaning primarily white collar workers) and Christian bikers. There are of course plenty of vendors sat up at of course bike shops as well as many restaurants and bars with sales on everything from T-shirts to leather to accessories for your bike.
There is a newspaper disturbed throughout Myrtle and North Myrtle Beach as well as surrounding areas with all the events going on as well as on the Myrtle Beach visitor’s website. You can find the newsletter at hotels, bars, restaurants, stores, and visitor’s centers.
If you are thinking about coming in for bike week there are a few things you should know:
• Advanced reservations are highly suggested. Especially on the weekend. And if you are planning on Black Bike weekend, then you will defiantly want to make reservations as Black Bike weekend is over Memorial Day.
• Most of the major restaurants such as HOB, Hooters, and many of the theme restaurants are busy. When dining look for smaller restaurants. These are also often the places biker families visit.
• You don’t need to have a bike to participate. There are plenty of people (like us) who come in cars.
• If you would like to be a biker for the week/weekend, the bike shops will gladly rent one to you. Just note that you do have to have a motorcycle license in order to rent a bike.
• Just about every place in the city carries Bike Week souvenirs. So look around before you buy them at the events or bike shops.
• Stores, restaurants, and bars welcome bikers.
If you have the antaquainted idea of outlaw bikers, well then enjoy them on the FX show…Sons of Anarchy (like I do). But "bikers" are generally friendly people who are glad to talk to you about their bikes. While we were here, I never saw anything ever get out of hand. So come on out and enjoy this beautiful southern paradise and stay for the biking fun!