IT’S TRUE, I have attended the past 27 Americades. I still haven’t experienced all the activities offered at this landmark event, but considering my level of experience and involvement, I might be able to offer some insight on why to attend, what to look for or how to best spend your time, depending of on your interests and priorities. For simplicity’s sake, I will list activities based on the overall level of rider interest and engagement or my own personal enjoyment.
TOUREXPO is Americade’s extremely popular trade show, where you can purchase about any motorcycle-related item imaginable. It may or may not be the largest motorcycle trade show in the country, but it is the most eclectic. Unlike so many others of its type, where you see the same five leather jackets sold by 30 different vendors, or products designed for a single brand of bike, TourExpo features an incredibly diverse range of products, from tires, to pinstripers, to sophisticated electronics and trike conversion kits. Kudos to the Americade organizers, who restrict the number of vendors selling the same kinds of products, to produce a one-of-a-kind motorcycle shopping experience.
INSIDER TIP: TourExpo also has a great food vendor area, with some of the best trade show fare you’ll ever sink your teeth into.
DEMO RIDES are the second most popular reason to attend. Other than traveling to Cologne for Intermot, you won’t find a better opportunity for throwing a leg over dozens of the major manufacturer’s latest two-wheeled offerings. There are many riders who attend Americade for no other purpose, and spend their entire week jumping from one bike to another. Be forewarned, demand is high, and reservations fill up early and quickly.
INSIDER TIP: Spots are allocated daily, on a first-come, first-served basis. Lines form as early as 6 a.m. Show up after 8 a.m. and you might not get in.
Guided Mini-Tours are yet another high-demand activity. Several leave every morning, and you must sign up in advance. Highly-experienced Americade staffers will take you on a well-planned, daylong route through the Adirondack area. The price always includes a terrific lunch stop, replete with door prize giveaways. My two personal favorites are the Covered Bridge Tour and the Ferry Tour, but others include steam train rides and similar attractions. This year there is a ride to visit the filming sets of the original Star Trek TV show. All are incredibly well-organized and terrific fun, especially for meeting and riding with other motorcyclists from all over the world.
INSIDER TIP: Americade also provides extensive mapping and information for self-guided tours, available for free at registration.
Boat Tours are a close second behind Mini-Tours, in terms of popularity. Lake George has two different tour boats that cruise the huge lake every day. The boats are sponsored by different vendors and bike manufacturers. Always a highlight of Americade, the boat tours also sell out early, so don’t wait to decide you want to go. INSIDER TIP: Besides the scenic ride around the lake, you’ll also be entertained by a live band, receive a meal and a chance to win great door prizes. Americade University offers up a schedule of dozens of seminars. Unlike other rallies where the seminars are designed to sell you something, many here are very educational. Want to learn about how motorcycle tires are constructed? How to make your battery last longer? How to optimize the features on that expensive GPS? What it’s like to tour in a foreign country? There’s probably a seminar here for you. Don’t forget the nightly Featured Speakers, where well-known motorcycling personalities share their insights into the industry and answer those questions you’ve always wanted to ask. There is also a roundtable, featuring conversation with various motorcycling personalities, and early morning Coffee Clubs, one of which is hosted by yours truly. Drop by at 7 a.m. for free coffee, donuts and lively discussion.
INSIDER TIP: Both myself and MCN Editor David Hilgendorf will be featured speakers at this year’s Americade.
SHOWS are a big deal at Americade, and many attendees wouldn’t miss them for the world: Alonzo Bodden is not only one of the most famous and truly funny comedians in the country, but he’s also an avid motorcyclist. Rather than giving one of his trademark Vegas headliner shows, he tailors his act at Americade around his favorite sport, often including many of the riders in the audience. You might inadvertently become famous for the rest of the week.
INSIDER TIP: If you can’t take the heat, don’t sit near the front, and don’t raise your hand for a seemingly innocent question!
THE FASHION SHOW models show off all the latest, greatest and most stylish motorcycle gear from the major manufacturers exhibiting at the event. The fashion show is practically always standing room only.
INSIDER TIP: Everyone in the audience receives a ticket, and after the fashion show, all the displayed gear is given away to the crowd—about $10,000 worth.
This isn’t even the tip of the iceberg. The world-famous Phil Smage Stunt Show will astound you with the things he can do on a motorcycle; Monday, Tuesday and Thursday. Check out the Motorcycle Drill Team Competition to watch some precision maneuvering. On your way there, stop by the Vintage Garage to see the amazing collection of antique two-wheelers. You could also sign up for the Charity Poker Run, the Ride for Kids or the Amazing Ride, a scavenger hunt on your bike. Want to see how your riding skills stack up? Check out the Motorcycle Skills Challenge, the Cone Course Catch the Motorcycle Drill Team competition (top), or practice your precision riding at Americade’s Cone Course (center). Everywhere in the Lake George community, you’ll find the welcome mat out for this annual festival. Don’t stay too late or you might miss the Party on The Pier down at the lake, Thursday and Saturday nights. Food, live bands and a few thousand of your closest friends. Even bigger is the Friday Night Spectacular, which really lives up to its name. Thousands of riders gather in the park for concerts by two different bands, a catered dinner and literally tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of door prizes, followed by one of the greatest fireworks shows you’ll ever witness, set to music from the enormous loudspeaker system. It’s pretty awesome. Perhaps you’re beginning to get the picture, because this synopsis doesn’t reveal nearly all there is to see and do. Yet, Americade is so much more than just activities. These days the word “diversity” is somewhat overused, but it is the best word I can think of to describe what Americade embodies.
I have nothing against other rallies, trade shows and events. I attend many of them and usually enjoy myself, but nearly all of them are very brand, marque or rider-type specific. Go to Sturgis, Laconia, the Laughlin River Run or similar and the crowd is 90 percent or more Harley riders. Go to Wing Ding and it’s entirely Gold Wing riders. At BMWMOA or RA rallies virtually everyone is on a BMW. Even nonbrand specific groups, like the Motorcycle Sport Touring Association (which I love), have gatherings that are attended almost exclusively by sport-tourers. Likewise, there are adventure rider events, racer events, three-wheeler rallies, etc. The thing I love most about Americade is that it is about the only event that draws from the entire spectrum of motorcycling. Touring riders are the largest contingent, but there are always lots of cruisers, sportbikes, three-wheelers, classics, antiques, and even scooters. Dual-sports get a simultaneous Dirt Daze rally nearby. You’re not going to find wet T-shirt contests, burnout exhibitions or other nonsense. For the most part, you’ll find very little alcohol at Americade-sanctioned events or venues. Sure, there’s some partying going on at night, and always a few hooligans about, but generally Americade is a very family- oriented rally. The kind you really wouldn’t mind bringing the wife and kids to. I would be remiss not to mention Americade’s greatest virtue. Located right at the edge of Adirondack State Park, the event provides access to hundreds of miles of some of the greatest motorcycling roads in America.
Most people don’t realize how big the park really is. Covering more than 6 million acres, Adirondack Park is larger than Yellowstone, Glacier, the Grand Canyon and the Everglades, combined! You could ride every day for a week, and still not cover all the great roads. I know, because I’ve tried. Lake George Village is also one of the most delightful places you’ll ever visit, with block after block of interesting shops and great little restaurants. You won’t go hungry.
INSIDER TIP: Try the Barnsider BBQ or Smokey Joe’s Grill for ribs, and Mama Riso’s for great Italian.
A couple of years ago, I bought a T-shirt that summed it up: “Americade … Been there, Done that … Liked it, Did it again!” It isn’t one reason, but many that have kept me returning annually for nearly three decades. It is the best-run, most bang-for-your-buck, most entertaining and downright most FUN motorcycling event in the world. That’s my opinion, and I’m sticking to it. See you there! MCN Many attendees enjoy demo rides aboard the latest offerings from various manufacturers. It’s a great way to try new bikes and take in the sensational local mountain roads.