RALEIGH — Downtown’s Fayetteville Street became a four-block motorcycle parking lot Saturday, with Harleys rumbling past as leather-clad spectators with nicknames like “Red Dog” and “Scumbag” admired the chrome and wheels.
The Ray Price Capital City Bikefest is back this weekend for an eighth year of two-wheeled celebrations. The event wraps up Sunday at the Harley-Davidson dealership on South Saunders Street.
On Saturday, from City Plaza to the State Capitol building, bikers were eager to show off their rides, lined up down both sides of the street.
Larry Dean of Durham entered his Honda touring motorcycle in a “best bike” contest. Dean’s 16-year-old bike stood out because of its huge size.
He was eager to spend retirement traveling the country on two wheels, but his wife – who has multiple sclerosis – wasn’t sure it was a good idea.
“She said, ‘If it ain’t got a couch on the back, forget it,’ ” Dean said.
So he found a big one with wide, cushioned seats. “On this, she just sits back and relaxes,” he said.
Dean has made concessions to his own physical disabilities, too, adding small “trike wheels” that pop out to stabilize the bike when he stops.
“Being handicapped doesn’t mean I can’t ride,” he said, adding that his odometer shows 137,000 miles. “I guarantee I’ve got more mileage than any biker here. I’ve been all over the country, and I plan to keep going.”
A few blocks down the street from Dean, a motorcycle stunt group called 1 Wheel Revolution was popping wheelies, spinning in circles and leaving plenty of tire marks on Hargett Street. Vendors catered to bikers’ every need, from mechanical parts to clothing to accident attorneys. The Hells Angels had a table selling T-shirts.
Even restaurants were catering to a different crowd than the usual downtown scene. The Oxford, which typically features craft brews, set up an outside bar serving up $3 Budweisers.
Some came to Bikefest to steer their fellow motorcycle fans away from the stereotype of drinking and gangs. N.C. Bikers for Christ was one of several Christian motorcycle ministries with a table at the event.
“Most of these people won’t go inside a church,” said Terryl “Tap” Parry, a leader of the group, which holds Bible studies for bikers. “We want to spread the good news of Jesus Christ .... There’s a different way to enjoy this lifestyle.”
Other motorcycle clubs attending Bikefest also aim to help their communities. The Louisburg-based Buffalo Soldiers were painting faces and selling drinks to raise money for the club’s activities. Member Price D. Barden said they often escort funeral processions and hold charity rides.
Bikefest, he says, is a great chance for “comradery, fellowship and new ideas about motorcycles.”
This year’s Bikefest also marks a special occasion: The Ray Price dealership turns 30. Back in 1982, Price ditched a job in the electronics industry to focus on his passion for motorcycles and racing. The dealership on South Saunders Street has grown from two employees to 60; it now features a drag racing museum and motorcycle safety classrooms.