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Americade bikers get ready to ride through the Adirondacks on Tuesday morning. Photo: Zach Hirsch
Americade bikers get ready to ride through the Adirondacks on Tuesday morning. Photo: Zach Hirsch

Harleys to Hondas: bikers take over Lake George

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Lake George is one of those North Country towns that's calm and quiet in the winter, but explodes with tourism in the summer. Right at the top of tourism season is a motorcycle rally called Americade.

Every year, thousands of bikers from all over the northeast gather in tiny Lake George. Riders tour the Adirondacks, peruse new gear, watch stunt shows, and meet one another. Zach Hirsch spent a day at the bike festival earlier this week, and produced this audio postcard.

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Reported by

Zach Hirsch
Reporter and Producer

Voices from Americade

Tom McTague: "My name is Tom McTague. I'm riding a brand new Can-Am three-wheeler."

"You name a manufacturer, and you'll probably see that bike here."

"Right now, it's about 75 degrees. It's beautiful out. It's sunny, bright. And I think that we have to move, or we're going to get run over."

Bikes on display in downtown Lake George. Photo: Zach Hirsch
Bikes on display in downtown Lake George. Photo: Zach Hirsch

David Spry: "I never was a sport biker, I was a cruiser 'cause that speed never impressed me. I like sitting on a bike going long distances, enjoying the scenes and the view. My name is David Spry and my bike's name is Triple X."

Zach: How'd you get that name?

DS: "My size."

"I'm out of Charlotte, North Carolina. I rode up to Lake George. It was an 850-mile trip. To be a real biker, you proud that you rode eight, nine, ten, 1,100 miles. That's a biker's personal thing. Can't nobody take that away from you. But every time you get on a bike, you an inch within your life, you know what I'm saying', but it's the risk we take."

Zach: Why is it worth it to take that risk?

"Because you feel free on a bike."

Patch McGillicutty rides the Wall of Death. Photo: Zach Hirsch
Patch McGillicutty rides the Wall of Death. Photo: Zach Hirsch

I'm gonna race, ride, slip, slide, dip, dive hyped up, high powered motorcycles, all on the side of that 15-foot high wooden barrel wall.


Patch is just a blur on the wall.

Patch McGillicutty (Wall of Death guy): "I'm going to race, ride, slip, slide, dip, dive hyped up, high powered motorcycles, all on the side of that 15-foot high wooden barrel wall."

Marlene Bellevue sewing a patch on a rider. Photo: Zach Hirsch
Marlene Bellevue sewing a patch on a rider. Photo: Zach Hirsch
Marlene Belliveau: "I'm Marlene Belliveau. I own Marlene's Custom Leather and I've been doing these shows for 31 years."

Zach: You're sewing patches onto people's jackets?

MB: "Right. I do custom work, too. I also make jackets and do all kinds of things— repairs, alterations."

Zach: Why are patches so important for bikers?

MB: Well, it's almost like a scrapbook. It kind of shows where they're going and where they been. That's what it does; it tells a tale.

Ralph Barnes: "My name is Ralph Barnes. I'm from Dunnville, Ontario Canada and I'm old geezer biker."

Zach: What are these patches you're getting here today?

RB: "'Southern Cruisers,' Canadian flag."

Zach: And what are these other ones you got here?

RB: "Oh - 'Sorry, but my give a damn is broken. Busted.' 'Proud member of PETA, people who eat tasty animals.'"

Bonnie McClain: "I'm Bonnie McClain. I'm 'the wife.' I live in Dunnville, Ontario, too."

Zach: Did you bike down or drive?

BM: "Oh, we trailered. We use to bike down, but, yeah, we'd like to stay alive but continue to ride."

Carole Abate: "They really do this rally nice. My name is Carole Abate and I'm from Chesterfield, Virginia."

Joe Abate: "And I'm Joe Abate from Chesterfield, Virginia."

CA: "We ride on a Gold Wing and it's a very comfortable bike."

JA: "Some people call it a couch. Shows you how comfortable it is."

Zach: You're a Honda person. Are you different from a Harley person?

JA: "Yeah, we in the Gold Wing like to stop at Dairy Queen and people who ride Harleys like to stop at bars. Of course, that's generalizing, but, you know, that's the difference."

Peg Martin: "When you come to Americade, you're just a rider. No one looks up or down at you for what you ride. My name is Peg Martin. I'm from Massachusetts, so it's about a four hour ride from here, it's not that far.

I ride a 2008 Softtail Deluxe that's pink and white and it's a breast cancer theme bike. Sometimes a get just a little mocking-kind of look, but then when they get closer and see what I've actually done to the bike, I get respect. So, it's fun, it's a lot of fun. I'm going to keep coming back every year I can."

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