Tropical Storm Bonnie was the washout that wasn’t.
She tried to spoil Saturday with rainfall that was just enough to exasperate some bikers who chose to sit out the weather rather than cruise Atlantic Beach Bikefest happenings.
And, with predictions from the National Weather Service that the tropical storm would slam the Grand Strand coast Sunday and cut the rally short, many attendees this year bailed early and checked out of their hotels Saturday night.
But Tropical Storm Bonnie, it turned out, fizzled into a tropical depression after making landfall at the Isle of Palms Sunday morning, and stalled over the Charleston area.
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And for those who gambled and decided to wait out the rain, their bet paid off with sunny blue skies and a brisk ocean breeze across Atlantic Beach throughout the afternoon and evening.
Raheem Jackson with the Git Wit It Motorcycle Club had his trailer loaded and was ready to hit the road back to Washington, D.C., Sunday morning, but his family who live in Longs begged him to wait just 20 more minutes.
“That’s all it took, then the sun was shinning and now we’re out here having a good time,” said Neilly Boone, Jackson’s 23-year-old niece who has been coming to the event for the past decade.
Thelma Smith, who has attended Bikefest for 22 years, rode her Can-Am from Lumberton, North Carolina, and says she wasn’t about to surrender to the weather.
“We already put up the money, so we decided to tough it out,” said Smith.
The streets of Atlantic Beach were mostly deserted on Saturday, where many vendors closed up shop early and headed out of town. But the tiny town was packed Sunday with folks dancing in the streets as a disc jockey spun tunes down by the beach.
Rod V. Bell, who rides with the 0-Six Ryderz Motorcycle Club out of Herndon, Virginia, said he watched as the parking lot at his hotel emptied as riders decided to cut their loses and head home.
When the rain subsided at midnight, he hit the streets until 3 a.m., and was back in Atlantic Beach on Sunday afternoon.
“I stuck it out, and I’m glad I did,” Bell said.