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Downtown Bike Night draws more than cyclists

August 17, 2008|By JOSHUA BOWMAN

MARTINSBURG, W.VA. - From the rumble of Fat Boys to the whine of sport bikes, the streets of Martinsburg were filled Saturday night with the sound of motorcycle engines.

Hundreds of bikes roared through downtown at 6 p.m. to kick off the sixth annual Bike Night, a downtown street party with food, drinks and live music that was scheduled to last until 11 p.m.

The event is organized by Main Street Martinsburg Inc. and a local chapter of the Blue Knights, a group of active and retired law enforcement officers who ride motorcycles.

A portion of the proceeds from Bike Night is given to Hospice of the Panhandle, said Randy Lewis, executive director of Main Street Martinsburg, a nonprofit group that works to revitalize downtown Martinsburg.

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Last year, the event raised about $40,000. Of that, $10,000 was given to Hospice of the Panhandle, Lewis said.

"It's something we do to get people downtown, but obviously it is a good thing for Hospice, too," said Lewis, who estimated that this year's event drew about 6,000 people.

Several downtown blocks were closed to vehicles - aside from the occasional motorcycle - so people could walk through the streets, where dozens of vendors sold food, drinks and merchandise.

John Williams of Ranson, W.Va., said the event was great for motorcyclists and nonmotorcyclists alike.

"There's a lot of us (motorcyclists) here, but lots of people who don't ride are here, too," Williams said. "Everybody's just hanging out, having a good time."

Doug Barron of Martinsburg took part in the ride that kicked off the event, one of the few large rides he said he participates in every year.

"Being out on the back roads with a few hundred bikes. There's nothing like it," Barron said.

He said he likes to ride the back roads of West Virginia, but normally does so alone.

"There is a sense of quiet and freedom about it," Barron said. "At the same time, it's cool to ride into town with so many others."

Tara Morar of Berkeley Springs, W.Va., said she doesn't drive a motorcycle, but she rides with her husband, Evan Morar, when he does. The couple has attended Bike Night for the last three years.

"It's a good time," she said. "He likes it because he can see all the bikes, and we both like to listen to the music and hang out."

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