Gettysburg Bike Week 2011

gettysburg copper cannon

150 years ago our country was ripped apart by civil war. Two years into a horrible bloody war where Americans fought each other the Union soldier’s morale was at an all time low. General Robert E. Lee of the Confederate Army took 75,000 of his men and attacked the 97,000-strong Army of the Potomac in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania hoping to conquer and move on northern occupied strongholds such as Washington, DC and Philadelphia, PA. It was a grueling bloody battle fought both in the city and in the fields but despite the effort of the Confederate’s the battle was won by the North! The South never won another battle throughout the remaining two years of the war. Gettysburg was the turning point and an important historic milestone in the shaping our young country. The Union’s victory over the south defined the importance and sincerity of our belief as Americans in the right to freedom!

burnout competition winners

burnout compettion picture

drink a beer and do a burnout

I’m no history buff and I have to credit Rebecca L. Rhoads of AAA World magazine July/August 2011 issue for the information paraphrased above from her article Ghost Fields. Although 2011 is the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, as a Delmarva area biker I’m sorry to say I was more excited about the 10th Anniversary Gettysburg Bike Week than the milestone in our nation’s history! I mean come on! This is the 10th year of this fantastic bike week event! There are tattoo contests, bike games and a burnout competition followed by live bands and fireworks!

battlefield harley-davidson gettysburg bike week

For the past nine years Gettysburg Bike Week was centered on the Eisenhower Hotel and All-star Sports Complex. This campus provided the perfect location for the vendor village, bike games and live entertainment all within walking distance of a great hotel on the same property. Although the largish rooms are a little dated the Eisenhower features great amenities including an indoor pool under a retractable roof! The plumbing gets a huge A+ with strong water pressure and hot water always ready to shower off the road grime after a long day in the saddle. To get such good plumbing you can see PIC Plumbing Services address in San Diego. There is a restaurant and lounge on the premises. Last year was my first introduction to GBW even though I stayed at the Super 8 in Thurmont, Maryland. For the money the Super 8 was a great place to stay! I enthusiastically planned to return in 2011 for the anniversary event and I was excited about staying at the Eisenhower and being within walking distance of all the activity!

eisenhower indoor pool retractable roof

As you can tell I have an appreciation for a good hot shower, thus the idea of camping does not appeal to me. I’m sure the concept of a camping bike rally is a successful one as is demonstrated by the huge success of campgrounds at Sturgis. I for one felt it was a turn for the worse when I found out GBW had been relocated to the Granite Hill Campground. Although many hard core bikers may prefer the camping rally, I was not in the mood to ride all day in the July heat with sunscreen on and then apply bug spray on top of that in the evening without the creature comforts afforded by a clean largish hotel room with air conditioning and running water! So I stayed at the Eisenhower and rode over to the activities held at the campground.

tiger boob tattoo

You can’t rewrite history but you can reinvent your Gettysburg Bike Week experience every year! The event covers the entire town, not just the happenings at the GBW campus! Although you pay event admission to enter the event campus where the vendor village, games and entertainment take place the event itself includes off campus festivities at: Battlefield Harley-Davidson, Bay City Restaurant, Ventura’s Restaurant, The Pike and Sharpshooters. Vendors set themselves up in parking lots around town and all the local businesses are glad to open their doors to the visiting bikers. Last year I spent all my time checking out the vendors, watching the bands and the fireworks on Saturday and then enjoyed touring the historical battlefields on my Harley-Davidson motorcycle on Sunday. This year was totally different! We spent less time at the vendors and didn’t catch the evening entertainment at all. Instead we took in the sights on Steinwehr Avenue. We had dinner at The Avenue Restaurant on both evenings and felt right at home with the super friendly service and old fashioned country style diner food. We strolled along the brick sidewalks and visited the gift shops and civil war reenactment outfitters. The Regimental Quartermaster sells really cool period authentic guns and swords!

civil war period guns and swords

The weekend flew right by leaving dozens of things for us to do on our next visit to Gettysburg. Next year I will go on a ghost tour and check out some of the museums. I would like to see The Lincoln Train Museum and the American Civil War Wax Museum & Gift Center.  You don’t have to wait until next year’s bike week to plan a trip to Gettysburg, but as a biker it always feels a little more exciting when thousands of like minded two wheeled riders thunder into town knowing we are invited guests of the city.

the gbw vendor area

On Saturday we finished checking out the games, stunt show and vendor village at 4:00pm. We grabbed dinner at the vendor village and killed about an hour or so. The sun was blazing and shady spots were few and far between. I wasn’t going to claim a hay-bail and sit in the hot sweltering sun for two or more hours waiting for the bands to take stage. So I missed the live entertainment and the fireworks! Yes, I gave up and rode back to the comfort of my hotel room even though it was the allure of the bright explosions bursting in the sky that probably attracted me in the first place. Even though I was disappointed in the change of venue I would tell you ten times over that GBW is a great rally! I encourage you to visit Gettysburg during Gettysburg Bike Week. Ride the rolling back country roads through meandering hills and farmland. Explore museums, gift shops and local taverns. Ride through the battlefields where our own country men fought each other and thousands died shaping our country’s dedication to what it means to be free and to be an American!

battlefield harley-davidson parking lot activity

Click here to see all the pictures we took.