Riders arrived at Americade this week with motorcycles rumbling and classic rock blasting from their stereos. Hundreds of bikes lined Canada Street while their owners packed into the bars on the main drag.
It was in stark contrast to the scene just a short walk away on the Lake George waterfront. The outdoor dining areas of the sit-in restaurants were at most half full, surprising considering the large number of potential patrons who were in the area.
Instead of sitting down for a meal, most appeared to either eat their food on the go or grab a quick bite from the local pizza shops and bars.
And despite a great turnout, many of the rally veterans still felt like there were fewer people in attendance this year.
“It’s looks like there are fewer bikes here so far,” said motorcycle enthusiast Earl Oakman, a regular at the Americade rally from Philadelphia, “but that’s a good thing for us because it’s easier to get around here. We usually stay at a
hotel right outside of town so we’re not right in the middle of all the commotion.”
Oakman also said that he felt like the mix between Harley Davidsons and imported bikes was split half-and-half, creating a good representation of motorcycles and riders of all manner.
Al Charpentier rode a bike of a much different kind to the rally. Along with his daughter and grandson, he rode his 1970 10-speed bicycle from Queensbury along a trail in the woods.
“We like to come up here, grab a slice of pizza and enjoy the atmosphere. There’s also a great jazz festival in September we go to every year,” said Charpentier, as he scooped his giggling grandson into his lap.
Year-round residents of Lake George appeared to have mixed feelings toward the weeklong Americade. While many businesses are happy to have an increase in revenue, townspeople can also feel overwhelmed by the crowds and noise.
John Beebee manages All in One Exchange, a buy-and-sell store just off Canada Street. He says Americade is very beneficial to his business, and he even sees some of the same customers in the store from year to year.
“For the most part, I think people see this as a positive because it brings revenue to the village; we sell more and buy more, which keeps our business in cycle. They’re only here for a week, so the residents who don’t want any part just try to avoid it,” Beebee said.
However, one Lake George resident expressed frustration about the rally. He felt some of the problems arose when a few of the bikers didn’t obey traffic laws, resulting in messy and dangerous situations.
While the majority of people didn’t appear to be walking around town with shopping bags, there was still quite a crowd at the TourExpo Tradeshow on the Million Dollar Beach, which boasts more than 200 vendors. Folks also gathered to see the “Wall of Death,” where a motorcyclist performed gravity-defying stunts along a vertical wall with only inches separating the bike from the cheering crowd.
Motorcyclists travel from near and far to tour Americade. This year, the bulk of out-of-state license plates hailed from Massachusetts, New Jersey and Connecticut, as well as the Canadian provinces of Quebec and Ontario.
Today is the last day of the rally. Events will include the TourExpo Tradeshow from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on the Million Dollar Beach, the bike parade at 10 a.m. and a high-wire act at noon and 2 p.m.