It may not be as well known as Sturgis or Daytona Bike Week, but since 1983, Americade has become the largest bike rally in the Northeast. Taking place the first week of June every year, Americade pretty much takes over Lake George, NY. Although it may have started out as an event for Honda Goldwing riders, it has developed into an all-inclusive event that now boasts the most factory demo rides at a event in the U.S. Everyone from Harley-Davidson to Ducati, Yamaha to Polaris, Indian to BMW is there with nearly every model of bike and three-wheeler available to be taken out. For someone shopping for a new bike, this could be reason enough alone to visit.
However, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Americade also has the largest concentration of motorcycle vendors in a single location. I’ve been to several bike rallies and they aren’t kidding. It can easily take the better part of an entire day just to walk through the entire vendor area; it’s just that big. If you are looking for something bike related, chances are, you will find it at Americade. If you are like most of us, you will probably visit the vendor area multiple times throughout the week and discover something you hadn’t seen before on nearly every trip. On the other hand, it is so huge that you can easily forget where you saw something earlier that you’ve decided to go back for, which just leads to more wandering around. They provide a map, so it pays to note the location of anything you are seriously interested in.
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Now at many bike rallies that I’ve been to, the vendor area was the highlight of the event. That’s not really the case with Americade. Every day there are numerous group rides that take you out on some spectacular routes through the Adirondacks, some even venturing over into neighboring Vermont. The routes are all on nice meandering roads with little traffic and tons of scenery. I have to say that all the ones I’ve done were some of the best rides I’ve ever been on. You’ll visit lakes, covered bridges, small New England towns, and even Amish country. All the rides end with a great buffet tyle meal and door prize drawings. If you have a CB, you will be able to listen to the ride leader’s nearly continuous monologue of the sights you are seeing. I’ve been on tour bus style guided tours that weren’t as informative. For those of you that are more into doing your own thing, there are several unguided rides including a Poker Run and a Scavenger Hunt. In addition, there are several nice routes mapped out that are available for the taking at the information area.
In the evenings, there are numerous options for entertainment. There are several sponsored dinner cruises on Lake George every evening with great food and generous door prizes. I’ve been on a couple over the years and I never saw so much stuff given away. We’re not talking about just key chains or T shirts, but leather jackets, helmets, tank bags, and other quality merchandise. There are several seminars through the week for those looking to enhance their motorcycle related education as well. There are other events such as the beach party, concerts with nationally renowned acts, and the rodeo, which I was surprised to find out, is the oldest continuously operating rodeo in the country. It’s not just a staged show, but an actual rodeo competition with the riders, ropers, et al competing for cash prizes. The comedy club hosts big name comedians who come in specifically for the event as well.
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Beyond all this there are some onetime events such as the parade, fireworks show over Lake George, and of course, bike judging where you can see some of the most fantastic custom bikes. Another recent addition is a half day advanced rider’s course. Unlike the other events, this can’t be registered for online ahead of time; you have to sign up during check in and it fills up quickly, so you will want to get there early if you are interested in doing this.
In addition to the door prize drawings at the individual events, there are ongoing door prize drawings throughout the week with new winners posted in the vendor and information areas every couple of hours, but the biggest drawings are at the closing event at the end of the week. Several sets of tires, wheels, and full riding gear are among the items that range all the way up to several trailers and even motorcycles. Tens of thousands of dollars in merchandise are given away at the final drawing alone.
There is so much to do at Americade that you literally can’t do it all in one trip. I’ve done it more than once and I’ve met many people who make it an annual event. From experience I can tell you that for your first time, your first tendency is going to be to pack in as many activities in as you can. However, you will wear yourself out before the week is out if you are constantly going to something. Be sure to build some downtime into your schedule. Remember, there’s always next year.