WRITER | LISA BECKER CAMPBELL
Every July, a procession of motorcycles rumbles into the middle of the West Michigan shoreline during Muskegon Bike Time, a festival celebrating great bikes, great rides, and great memories. Now in its 13th year, bikers are invited to discover and enjoy the lakeshore’s “vacation vibe” and the spectacular rides found throughout West Michigan from July 18-21.
A four-day celebration, Muskegon Bike Time welcomes the general public as well, allowing attendees to enjoy a wide range of food and drink, music venues, stunt shows, and vendors.
The spectacle has drawn enthusiastic crowds to Muskegon since 2007, with recent attendance of more than 100,000 people and 75,000 motorcycles from across the country.
Hot Rod Harley-Davidson’s gleaming building is located in the heart of downtown Muskegon and affords great views of Lake Michigan. The shop is adjacent to the cruising strip of Western Avenue, also known as Steel Horse Alley/Rebel Road. The strip will be open to motorcycle traffic only and will also house beer tents, vendors, and other activities.
Favorite ride destinations include the Pere Marquette Beach, one of the most beautiful sugar-sand beaches in the country, which is just 10 minutes from event headquarters.
Also popular is the hour-and-a-half nonstop police-escorted scenic ride with about 200 of your new-found friends. Ride registration begins at 10 a.m. at Hot Rod Harley-Davidson and leaves promptly at 11 a.m. A $10 donation is requested.
Another favorite excursion is a tour along seven northern lakes: Muskegon Lake, Bear Lake, White Lake, Long Lake, Stoney Lake, Silver Lake, and Pentwater Lake. This ride takes about two and a half hours nonstop, but taking detours along the way to discover some of the unique small towns and breathtaking scenery is encouraged.
Muskegon offers diverse excursions and entertainment opportunities outside of biking as well. Freshwater fishermen can find charter excursions nearby, and thrill-seekers will relish Michigan’s Adventure, the state’s largest amusement and water park.
The USS Silversides Submarine Museum is another interesting destination just minutes away from the headquarters. Visitors enter a real World War II American submarine that is claimed to have among the most prolific combat record in existence. The venue’s mission is to honor the men and women of the military, preserve military history, and provide experiences that educate the public about past and present military history and technology.
Beach-goers and hikers will appreciate nearby P.J. Hoffmaster State Park, which is home to three miles of Lake Michigan shoreline and towering sand dunes. Newcomers may be awed by the expansive horizon of Lake Michigan and perhaps surprised that, while Harley Davidson’s iconic home lies due west on the opposite shore, Milwaukee is nowhere in sight.
In fact, to ferry between the two cities takes nearly three hours on the high-speed Lake Express Ferry. Bikers and others who’d rather not ride through Chicago will be treated to a comfortable cabin, food and drink, and amazing views as they cross Lake Michigan. The SS Badger also traverses the Big Lake, at a slower pace, arriving in Ludington. And upon disembarking from either ferry, the trip to Muskegon is filled with breathtaking lake views, presenting a scenic welcome to the vacation vibe in West Michigan.
Hot Rod Harley-Davidson & Holeshot Harley-Davidson, HotRodHD.com / HoleshotHD.com
Lake Express High-Speed Ferry, Muskegon Terminal, (866) 914-1010
USS Silversides Submarine Museum, SilversideMuseum.org