MURRELLS INLET — Often lost in the rumbling of motorcycles, the glare off sunglasses and the glistening glow of barely-dressed beer servers during Fall Bike Week is a natural accessory tied to the bad-to-the-bone biker look – the beard.
At Saturday’s event, some were long and thin and others were thick and curvy. Some facial follicles of the fall rally were peppered or white, and others were purple and parted to each side of the face. For some it took months and even years to grow out. But for all, having a tough looking biker beard that saves the flavor of beer, barbecue and the salty beach breeze from last week’s biker rally is all part of the lifestyle.
“When in Rome, dress like the Romans, right?” said Barry Maffeo, a biker from Burlington, N.C., who was at Beaver Bar Saturday. Maffeo rides a Harley Davidson and a BMW motorcycle, and has taken the last 18 months to grow the full beard out. “I’ve always had a goatee, but this is kind of new.”
Biker Butch Hanes, also of Burlington, N.C., said the bearded biker look is sometimes a means for what is covered up under the bandana.
“I wear the ‘do rag because I can’t grow it here, but I can grow it here,” he said referring to his beard, which had two braids bottomed with beads. “I just started the beard. Usually I have a mustache with this, but I got lazy.”
Traffic jams fluctuated all week as thousands of bikers flocked to the Grand Strand for one last organized hoorah until the spring rally brings more bikinis, body paint and bike aficionados.
Fall Bike Week has traditionally been more mild than the spring and Saturday was no different. Sure there were the normal bikini-topped beer tub servers with fishnet stockings, but the gawking came at the chrome and bodywork of the bikes lined along places like the Beaver Bar and The Original Suck Bang Blow. Vendors were lined up to sell everything from food and drinks to biker apparel and booty shorts. The vendor list, however, was not enough for Randy Norris, a biker from Whiteville, N.C., and president of the Concerned Bikers Association.
“We’ve seen a lot of bikers down here, but not many vendors,” said Norris who rides a 2000 Road King. “We’re sort of disappointed with the vendor side of it.”
Horry County had issued 32 temporary vending permits for the rally, down from 45 permits last year.
Norris sports his biker beard proudly, which he said took five years to grow.
“When I ride, it parts and just kind of blows back,” he said.
This year’s fall rally marks the first time Suck Bang Blow Four Corners was closed, and a sign on the marquee simply read: “Fall Rally, SBB Original.”
Slightly more bikers were expected this year compared to last, but official numbers won’t be out until later this year. Lodging occupancy was projected to be between 65 percent and 70 percent during the rally, according to Taylor Damonte of Coastal Carolina University’s Center for Resort Tourism. Occupancy during the fall rally last year was about 65 percent, he has said.
For Maffeo, who attended his first bike rally in the region this spring, this week’s rally was just as enjoyable.
“So far, we’ve had a ball,” he said.
Jimbo Gibson, a biker from Dallas, was also having a good time Saturday and said it took about a year and a half for him to grow his white V-shaped goatee.
“It’s just me,” he said. “I’ve had it for a long time. Everybody has their own way.”
Contact JASON M. RODRIGUEZ at 626-0301 or follow him at Twitter.com/TSN_jrodriguez.