Dan Buczek, sitting on his blue Honda Goldwing with his friend Joanne Mcintosh perched on the passenger seat, said he’s made the trip to Lake George for the annual Americade motorcycle rally six times and he still enjoys it.
“I like the bikes, the camaraderie, watching people, oh yeah, watching people,” he said with a wide grin. He rode in from Maples, N.Y.
Buczek and Mcintosh were just two of tens of thousands of motorcycle enthusiasts who flooded the village of Lake George over the past week for the 26th Americade motorcycle rally.
“There’s a whole bunch of new ‘handlebar and non-handlebar’ events this year,” stated event founder Bill Dutcher in a news release.
Some new events included whitewater rafting, horseback riding, a “bowling thunder” night, a country music line dancing night, a Mardi Gras boat cruise and even a fuel economy contest.
Stephanie Julien, a manager at the Old Post Grille, said Americade boosts the local village economy and helps set the tone for the tourism season for Lake George. She said her restaurant opened up each morning last week at 7 a.m. to serve breakfast for the many vendors who travel to the village for Americade.
“This week’s been great. Very steady, pretty much just in line with last year. We didn’t see any decrease in sales,” she said. “We love the Americade. I wish it lasted all year long. They’re just great people and they’re friendly and there’s such a great camaraderie.”
Debbie Vetti, co-owner of Boss Hoss Cycles located in Stamford, Conn., said her company has set up a tent at Americade each of the last four years, even though they don’t sell any motorcycles at the event. She said her dealership displays its V8 motorcycles and trikes, a three-wheeled vehicle, and sells T-shirts other paraphernalia.
“We meet people and some day down the road they’ll come and buy a Boss Hoss,” she said. “I think the weather was ordered to be perfect this week. We’ve been very busy, but we’ve never not been busy at the Americade.”
The influx of so many motorcycling tourists can pose some dangers.
Warren County Sheriff’s deputies reported Friday that Russell M. Gjeltema, 39, of Lowell Street in Leominster, Mass., died after an accident on his 2004 Suzuki 1300 Hayabusa motorcycle. Gjeltema was northbound on Route 9N on the north side of Tongue Mountain when he entered a sweeping left-hand curve. His motorcycle skidded into a box beam guard rail and he was thrown off. Gjeltema was pronounced dead at the scene. No other vehicles were involved and deputies said excessive speed is considered the cause. As of Saturday night the Warren County Sheriff’s Office had not reported any other serious accidents connected to the Americade rally.
Although a bright spot in a down economy, the influx of motorcyclists hasn’t been enough to save Scooters, a Route 9 ATV dealer. Scooters Manager Vance Cohen said his family’s business used to sell between 30 and 40 all-terrain vehicles per week, but the recession combined with new regulations banning ATV parts with paint containing lead from China has forced them to begin the process of closing.
“I’ve got almost $200,000 in parts that we’ve built up over seven years to support those banned Chinese machines. Maybe it’ll go up in value because you can’t get it anymore,” he said. “We’ll run this business until we can rent it or sell it to somebody else or come up with a better idea, but with the way people are spending money these days there don’t seem to be any better ideas coming.”
He said the Americade tourists have only been helpful in cleaning out inventory.
“Americade gives you a lot of traffic. We sold quite a few helmets and some body gear. It’s all 50 percent off,” Cohen said.
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