One of the best aspects of Shark Week is meeting the newbies. Even better is when a newbie comes back the next year. Even better than that is when they come back the next year with friends. That said, we have a great deal of newbies registered for SWIX and/or who have joined the Roadglide.org
National Rally Facebook group page. Carol and I will soon start posting regular updates with details for the week including rides, routes, events, and instructions on how to blame Tracy B for anything that might go wrong.
In advance of those upcoming posts, I thought Iíd describe how things typically flow for those who might be curious about what to expect. This is by no means a comprehensive document. There are may activities and plans still being finalized, the details of which will be announced as appropriate. Comments are always welcomed.
Shark week was originally planned as a Tuesday through Thursday event to allow us working slobs the weekends before and after to travel to/from the host location and only take one weekís vacation. I missed Shark Week I because of my Alaska trip, but itís been my experience starting with Shark Week II that most attendees arrive on Monday. Arrival day is always great. My favorite arrival was at SWIII in St. George, UT. I hit Vegas the weekend before and posted on the RoadGlide.org
forums that I would be riding to StG on Monday in case anyone wanted to join in. By the time we hit StG, we had 30+ bikes from all over the west coast and a few from western Canada. We rode into the hotel registration overhang with bikes blasting Wagnerís Flight of the Valkyries from our stereos and parked among the others who had already arrived who knew when we were due in. Welcoming the annually-increasing number of Gypsy Tour riders is always a highlight too.
If you arrive at Shark Week as a newbie, youíre warmly welcomed by us old timers. The hair will stand on your neck when you ride up to the hotel, see Shark Week on the marquee, and see all the Road Glides and riders gathered and embracing old friends. Unlike rallies, this crowd is genuinely glad to see you and to be a part of your SW experience.
In recent years, more and more riders have been arriving on Sunday and even Saturday. Those who scooped up the few reduced rate host hotel nights during the rally at Sturgis for will arrive at SWIX on Thursday before. I canít speak for how many attendees stick around after Friday because I always say my goodbyes on Thursday night and am on the road well before sunrise on Friday. This year might be different since Iím a host.
If you arrive with your bike on a trailer, you will get some shit. Expect it, embrace it, and own it knowing itís all in good fun. Nobody will bust your balls if they donít like you and every rider who does, does so with the knowledge that YOU made the trip and that there are many more who - despite their chest-beating bravado and number of posts about their awesome bike and their riding prowess Ė did NOT make it and likely never will. There are legitimate reasons to trailer, but if you hang around this crowd long enough, you will see that we will find plenty of reasons (legitimately or otherwise) to give each other shit. One of our group favorites who trailered to SWVIII turned out to be the Angel of Durango after assisting riders who broke down. Enough about trailers.
Depending on when you arrive, you can check-in to the hotel or if itís early, you can mingle among the others. There are three hotels under one roof at Cadillac Jackís Casino and Resort. All three will offer the same guest amenities and riders will have access to all the official SWIX functions regardless of which hotel brand youíre registered. We will have designated/reserved motorcycle parking areas in both open and covered spaces. We are well aware of the reputation this geographic area has for storms and hail. Covered parking will give all of us peace of mind.
We will have a designated and hours area for SWIX registration and there will be signs about the properties pointing the way. I suspect there will be a bar nearby. At registration, attendees will pick up their goodie bags, buy shirts and other swag, get ride/route sheets, etc. Registration will be open for specified hours and days and staffed by volunteers who have already been determined. Emergency contact numbers will be posted for those who need after hours assistance.
As mentioned before, Monday is a great day to greet the other arrivals, gawk at the bikes, explore Deadwood, and clean your bike at the designated wash area. Itís highly unlikely that you will see my bike in the wash area at Shark Week. We are planning some activities for Monday evening that have not been done at Shark Weeks prior to SWIX. If youíve seen some of what goes down at Shark Week, this might frighten you. Fear not. Ití all good. Details will follow.
On Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday mornings, riders will gather in groups and line up for the routes they plan to ride each day. If you donít know anyone in a particular group, introduce yourself and join up. This is a very inclusive group of people and nobody wants anybody left behind. Itís also wise to have others know who you are so the group will be aware of who should be present when leaving rest stops, gas stations, etc. We will have a schedule of activities posted about the property throughout the week as well as a printed agenda at registration. These are mere suggestions as anyone can attend or skip whatever they please.
A highlight of every Shark Week is the raffle, which seems to get larger and boast higher value donations from our sponsors each year. Proceeds from the raffle are used as seed funding for the following year's Shark Week and for a donation to the local charity selected each year. Details will follow on this year's recipient. Tracy and Frankie Basham and those who assist them outdo themselves every year. Details for those who want to pitch to host will be posted soon. The bottom line is the raffle must be experienced to be appreciated, so Iíll stop here and just say that if you havenít been to Shark Week, DO NOT miss the raffle.
The location for SWX had been predestined since SWI. There wonít be a SWX pitch after the raffle as Hutmo has it under control, but I suspect Chris will have some details to share with us after which we will have pitches for SWXI. The successful bidder will have a full two years to plan their event.
All events will be detailed in subsequent posts between now and August and will be listed on the agenda sheets handed out at registration. Carol and I are working to make the schedule as inclusive and logically flowing as possible without being intrusive or cramming your vacation week. We know that above all, Shark Week attendees really need only two things; places to ride during the day and a place to hang out and talk about them at night. Weíre planning to deliver on that and then some.
Stay tuned for more posts.