MYRTLE BEACH — Wayne Williams’ birthday is Tuesday, but he got an early start on the celebrating by attending his first Harley-Davidson rally in Myrtle Beach.
Williams, along with wife Lisa, arrived on the Grand Strand Friday night. Shortly before 1 p.m. Saturday, the North Carolina couple were strolling through the parking lot of the Myrtle Beach Harley dealership.
Under a clear blue sky, the Williams maneuvered through the throng of bikes that filled the parking lot. If the sound of the revving engines wasn’t their thing, there were plenty of vendors peddling wares of all type.
As an early birthday president, Williams said he was enjoying the gift.
And that in a nutshell could explain the fall bike rally: enjoyable. Gone from this edition was the controversy surrounding the dates of the spring rally, a controversy that grew about as loud as any revved-up chopper engine.
From a law enforcement standpoint, gone too were major traffic issues.
Lance Cpl. Sonny Collins, with the South Carolina Highway Patrol, said the weekend was busy for troopers, but there was nothing as far as serious collisions or fatalities.
“Everything’s been running smoothly,” Collins said.
From reports, the most serious collision during the bike rally occurred Friday night.
The crash occurred shortly after 9:30 p.m. Friday. Pat Dowling, North Myrtle Beach spokesman, said via email that two motorcyclists were traveling down 1601 N. U.S. 17 when the driver of an Infiniti turned in front of them.
One of the motorcycles hit the Infiniti, while the other motorcyclist avoided the crash but did lay his bike down, Dowling said.
A witness who was a combat medic stopped to help the injured biker and was kneeling on the ground when a vehicle hit her car from behind, causing the vehicle to strike both her and the hurt motorcyclist, according to Dowling.
The motorcyclist suffered a compound fracture on one of his legs and a severe injury to one of his forearms, Dowling said. Five others were taken to a nearby hospital for mild to moderate injuries.
Still, law enforcement officials seem satisfied with what they’ve been seeing on the roadways during the fall rally.
Collins noted that fall bike rallies are always smaller than the spring events, thereby helping to keep traffic issues to a minimum. Also, he added, troopers don’t have the arriving summer tourists to contend with.
“That seems to be holding true this year,” he said.
For organizers of the fall rally, one thing they didn’t have to contend with was controversy.
Controversy was front and center leading up to the spring bike rally. It started after the owners of the Myrtle Beach Harley-Davidson dealership announced plans to expand the dates from May 18 to May 28, which coincided with the Atlantic Beach Bikefest held during Memorial Day weekend.
The Horry County Council got involved in the dispute, and considered limiting the vendor permit period to five consecutive days, instead of the seven that’s currently in place.
After three months of discussions and public input, the County Council opted not to change anything about the May bike rallies.
Winston-Salem, N.C., native Carl Karpinski has traveled to Myrtle Beach the past four years to take part in the rally. This year was the first time he and his friends decided to come down in the fall instead of the spring.
“The weather’s nice,” Karpinski said.
He added he’s always enjoyed being around the Grand Strand, and was all smiles Saturday as he guarded his friend’s Harley.
Karpinski’s maroon-colored one was hoisted up as Harley workers were busy outfitting it with new lights, perfect for nighttime riding.
“It’s good to be seen,” Karpinski said.
Contact BRAD DICKERSON at 626-0301.