The 7th Annual Fall Thunder Beach Rally kicked off on Thursday, September 27. Well actually, they started the party on Sunday, but most of us who work weren’t able to start partying until Thursday.
We passed only a few bikes going down, so we figured it might not be as big of a crowd as there was for the Spring Rally. Instead of taking the motorhome this time we were invited to stay at our friends, Jim and Fay’s house, since they were not able to make the rally. We enjoyed staying there because it's between Front Beach and Back Beach Road, which makes it an easy in and out. Harley-Jane, our bulldog, also had her own yard to go out in, and her friend Tondra was there to hang out with.
After we got everything unpacked we hit the road to check things out. Our first stop was The Shoppe’s at Edgewater, where the band Geneva was playing outside in the vendor area. Vendors included American Classic Cycles/Bikers Dream, Bags by Maryann, Big Boys Toys, Clint’s Cigars, the CMA, Craftsman’s Leather, CruisinGear, Cycle Care, Denco-Scooter’s Outhouse, Doc Bailey’s, Gold’s Gym, Havin' Fun, House of Hawgs, Imaginations By Ginger, Jameson Distributing, Pinstriping & Murals by Lori & Sam, Rich’s Pins & Things, Serenity House, Soft Bake, Spur Ranch, Suncoast Eyewear, Trailer in a Bag, Village Leather House, Wild Bill’s Custom Arts, Yankee Air Pirate, 7th Son, and of course the Thunder Beach Store. Inside was Rock’ it Lanes, All States Traders, DFS Dealer, and United Motors. We worked up an appetite exploring all of the shops so we stepped inside Montego Bay for some seafood. We started with raw oysters, which are some of the best on the beach. Earlier that day, The Shoppe’s at Edgewater also hosted the first Poker Run of the weekend.
First on our list of things to do Friday was the Sandpiper Beacon, where we ran into a friend of ours, David Santos who is the editor of Thunder Roads magazine. He had been there all week and told us that this weekend any flashing, burn-outs, or wheelies would be a jailable offence. They have never done that in all the years the rally has been there, but instead, have allowed those things in short spurts, but this time they weren’t going to let them do it at all. We aren’t used to not having any boob and burn-out shots in our pictures from the rally. The only thing we could figure was that back at the Spring Rally they had several deaths, which is also something we are not used to. Court TV had also been down there filming the cops and boneheads from Spring Break, so we figured Panama City must have had enough of a black eye from that and didn't want to make things worse.
We didn’t see their usual babes in bikini’s bike wash out front, along with Devine Leather, Rumbling Pride, The Sunglass Shack, and another Thunder Beach Store. Thankfully, the Tiki Bar still held their infamous wet T-shirt and bikini contests, where the bands Southern Thunder and Ketch 22 entertained us all weekend.
Then it was off to Frank Brown Park to see what they had going on. Leigh was hoping to run into a vendor that was there this spring, who had a gas tank Leigh had his eye on for the new bike he has been working on, but it was not to be. He will just have to keep looking for that perfect tank. They did have plenty of other things to check out while we were there, like some pretty cool bikes from Big Bike Motorcycles who had several of their Big Dog and American Ironhorse bikes on display. There were also several metric and American choppers from Don Gray Customs, Desperado Cycles, Heritage Cycles, and R & R Trikes & Bikes & Accessories, and Big Bear Choppers. American Dream Machines also brought down several bikes from their American Ironhorse and Saxon Motorcycles lineup.
This area is also known as food alley because of all the food vendors that set up there. There was homemade ice cream by 4th Day Ice Cream, Italian sausage and sirloin tips by Gary’s Concessions, and L. F. Foods offered mouth watering burgers and chicken sandwiches. There were also plenty of parts and accessories shops including jewelry, sunglasses, pinstriping, patches, leather apparel from Devine Leather, hats from Cash Do Hats, and LED Lights from Radiant Rides.
A bike show took place at 10 a.m., 1 p.m., and 4 p.m. each day, and from 5-7 p.m., ABATE of Florida hosted the biker games. Bands included Kelly Hundley & the Healers, The Steve Wiggins Blues Band, Jay Johnson & Bruce Butler, One of Many, and Big Mike & the Booty Papa’s, which were spread out throughout the day,
After leaving Frank Brown Park we looked for the Hawg Shop, but discovered that our T-shirt buddy was not set up there this time. Therefore, we decided to grab a bite to eat, so it was off to Hooters for some Buffalo Shrimp on the beach and to watch the sunset. What a way to cap off the day!
Saturday was an exciting day because one of our friends was getting married on the beach behind Sharkey’s. Billy and Kyndal tied the knot on the waters edge, while good friend, Kenny sang Angel Eyes to Kyndal as she walked out on the beach to join Billy.
A lot of us couldn’t help but tear up ourselves as we saw the tears forming in Billy’s eyes while they said their vows. It was so touching, and you could see how in love they were. It was all so beautiful, and the ceremony ended just before sunset, which made for some really awesome pictures. Kyndal looked like a Grecian goddess in her gown, which was perfect for a beach wedding. Billy’s daughter Jordan caught the bouquet, so we may have another wedding to attend before long.
After the reception, we headed over to Dirty Dicks where we got CRABS! The good kind, Dungeness crab, which was very good! It was a little pricey and the service was lacking a bit, but the food was good!
The usual party joints were hot with entertainment, of all sorts. Shuckum’s Oyster Pub & Bar, another excellent place to get raw oysters, had live music and a best bike contest. All three of the Ms. Newby’s locations were also hopping with live entertainment and a tattoo contest. The parking lots were filled to the brim with bikes and people. Spinnaker’s Beach Club, Pineapple Willy’s Pier Bar, Coyote Ugly, and Hammerhead Fred’s are a few other great locations you have to visit while at the beach.
Our friends from American Cycle Centers were set up inside at Boardwalk Beach resort, which was a "cool" spot to be. Michael Swann was also back, again, and was setup outside. He stays so busy that he has to be somewhere where people can come and go easily. If you ever see Swann Graphics set up somewhere and you are looking for the best pinstriper or airbrush artist to do work on your bike, this is your guy!
On Friday, Boardwalk hosted the Miss Thunder Beach contest, along with a Rate the Rack and wet T-shirt contest. They also provided their own live music all weekend, and you could make your way up and down the beach from party to party while listening to some really good music, eating some great seafood, and seeing a whole lot of beautiful people and beautiful bikes. What more could you ask for?
Except for the little bit of rain we ran into on the way down Thursday, the weather couldn’t have been better. The love bugs were out, but we didn’t see a lot of them until Sunday, when they were everywhere. The same went for the dragonflies; both of which were seen two by two; in other words, coupled!
It was somewhat of a leisure weekend, as we had nowhere special to be at any given time, except for the wedding. It also seemed there were about half the number of people as compared to the spring rally. Thankfully, we saw no wrecks and heard of no accidents that weekend, which is always a wonderful thing!
It’s always hard to leave the beach, but it helps a little when you don’t have a checkout time that dictates when you have to leave. I’m spoiled, so what can I say?
Well, I can say, “See ya back at the beach the first weekend in May for the Spring Rally, and thank you to Jim and Fay!"
Write-On and Ride-On
Story and photos by Lynn Reynolds and
Leigh Lilly - Birmingham, Alabama