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Hear Martinsburg roar

Bike Night brought in 3,000 motorcycles last year, and organizers are ready for more

Bike Night brought in 3,000 motorcycles last year, and organizers are ready for more

August 18, 2005|by JULIE E. GREENE

julieg@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Five and a half miles.

That's how far the almost 3,000 motorcycles stretched last year during the procession that kicked off Martinsburg Bike Night, said Jeff Curtis, executive director of Main Street Martinsburg.

And rainy weather earlier in the day kept some bikers from showing up, Curtis said.

Chris McCulley, president of the nonprofit West Virginia Blue Knights Chapter V, is hoping at least that many riders participate this Saturday, if the weather is good.

Following a 20-mile, police-escorted parade of motorcycles through Berkeley and Jefferson counties, riders will park their bikes in downtown Martinsburg for the evening so bike enthusiasts can check out each other's wheels, visit motorcycle-related vendors, listen to live music and take advantage of restaurants and shops staying open late, Curtis said. Red Wolf Grill, The Market House Grill and Station Grill will be open late with food and beverage specials.

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Downtown was filled with about 8,000 people during last year's Bike Night, Curtis said.

"If people can imagine 3,000 to 4,000 motorcycles in a downtown area. It's a beautiful thing. It's a noisy thing, but it's beautiful," Curtis said.

The event raises money for Main Street Martinsburg, Hospice of the Panhandle and other charities, and brings tourism to the downtown Martinsburg area, organizers said.

Main Street Martinsburg works to restore the economic vitality of downtown by bringing events to the area, getting people to shop there, recruiting new businesses, beautifying the city and sponsoring business networking events, Curtis said.

In 2004, Bike Night raised more than $4,600 for hospice, McCulley said.

Bike Night also is about camaraderie among people who share an interest in motorcycles, he said.

The Blue Knights are police officers who own or ride motorcycles, said McCulley, a corporal with the Berkeley County Sheriff's Department. They are not necessarily bike cops.

Bike Night is a chance to show the public that police don't match the stereotypes they see depicted on television or in the media, McCulley said.

"We're human as much as anyone else," he said.

McCulley, who grew up around motorcycles, thinks of Bike Night as a family event and encourages people to bring their siblings and children.

"You can walk around. You can meet people. It's nice to see everybody's motorcycle. Everyone's got their own style, their own taste," he said.

McCulley's taste keeps changing.

Last year he rode a 2002 Harley Davidson Fat Boy. Now his ride is a 2005 Ultra Classic, still a Harley, but a touring bike built for longer rides.

"I started with Harleys when I was 19 years old," said McCulley, 36, who lives in the Martinsburg area.

The first time he remembers riding a motorcycle was when he was 2 or 3 years old and he rode on the fuel tank of his dad's 1972 Yamaha 360, which was half street bike, half dirt bike.

McCulley was 5 years old the first time he took the handlebars of a motorcycle - a 60 cc minibike called a Chibi.

"I rode that around the yard in Berkeley County," said McCulley, who learned how to ride a motorcycle before riding a bicycle.

He is no longer confined to the yard. His longest trip so far has been 535 miles to Louisville, Ky.

Motorcyclists who want to participate in the 20-mile parade Saturday are asked to meet at the former Lowe's parking lot along W.Va. 9 next to Kmart (Exit 12 off Interstate 81). Registration, which costs $5, begins at noon.

They will depart at 5 p.m. for the hour-long ride to downtown Martinsburg. The parade route goes down Queen Street to W.Va. 45 into downtown Shepherdstown, W.Va., to W.Va. 480 and then W.Va. 51 to U.S. 11 to Martinsburg.

The route might get shortened, depending on weather, although McCulley thinks that is unlikely.

Much of downtown will be closed to vehicular traffic for the event.

Queen Street will be closed from Race Street to Stephen Street. The first blocks of Martin, Burke, King and John streets, east and west of Queen Street, will be closed.

From 6 to 11 p.m. there will be live rock 'n' roll and blues music from the bands J Factor Band and Funny Money.

Bike Night is being sponsored by WQCM 94.3 and Jefferson Distributing/Budweiser.




If you go ...


WHAT: Third annual Martinsburg Bike Night

WHEN: 6 to 11 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 20

WHERE: Downtown Martinsburg, W.Va.

COST: Admission is free. Motorcyclists participating in the parade are asked to donate $5 at registration.

MORE: For more information, call 1-304-262-4200 or e-mail bikes@mainstreetmartinsburg.com.

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