WILLIAMSTOWN -Hundreds of motorcycle riders and enthusiasts gathered in Williamstown over the weekend for the third annual Thunder Road Madness.
The three-day event was held at S&P Harley-Davidson at Williamstown from Friday through Sunday and featured live entertainment, activities, concessions and guided rides throughout the area for cycle owners.
Tom Stilgenbauer, of Vienna, W.Va., volunteered Friday and Saturday to help put on the event as a member of the Borderline H.O.G. (Harley Owners Group) chapter and returned Sunday on his own to enjoy the activities and entertainment.
WAYNE TOWNER Special to the Times
Hundreds of motorcycle riders and enthusiasts attended the third annual Thunder Road Madness event this weekend at S&P Harley-Davidson at Williamstown.
"It's good. It's in its early stages, this is its third year," he said.
Stilgenbauer felt bad weather hurt the event during its first two years and while this year's first day was rainy, the weather on Saturday and Sunday was beautiful and that made it a positive weekend. He hopes to see Thunder Road Madness grow in the future.
"There's a lot of effort put into this and it will be there one day," he said.
Ripley resident Ed Moore came to his first Thunder Road Madness event on Sunday with his daughter after coming in the day before with his wife to see what the event was like.
"I like it, I think they've done a good job," he said. "It's a good place and fine for kids."
A popular attraction at this year's event was the American Motor Drome Company's "Wall of Death" show, featuring stunt cyclists doing trick riding around the inner surface of a large silo-type structure, going from circling on the ground to horizontal circles around the inner wall parallel to the ground.
"We've been very excited about the response and the community support," said Patsy Hardy, event co-organizer and co-owner with her husband Steve of S&P Harley-Davidson.
The Hardys worked closely with the Greater Parkersburg Convention and Visitors Bureau, local motorcycle clubs and others to organize and put on the event this year, she said.
Hardy didn't have specific attendance figures Sunday since many people came and went for activities and rides, but at least one of the guided rides had between 200 to 300 bikes participating on Saturday. Shuttles also kept busy Saturday taking people back and forth from the festival site to parking at the West Virginia Welcome Center in Williamstown and sites in Marietta, she said.
"They are coming from all over. We've had bikes from Virginia, Ohio and Tennessee. Of course, because we're located on the interstate and easily accessible, we're making sure that travelers can come up and see us at any point in time," she said.
Hardy believes the event is progressing and growing well as it completed its third year on Sunday and she is looking forward to doing more in the future. She received positive feedback from a number of people throughout the weekend about what the event is like and what it is becoming, she said.
"We just want to see it continue to grow," Hardy said of the event. "We've already started dialogue for next year."
For several years, the Borderline H.O.G. chapter and S&P Harley-Davidson has been supporting Camp Kno Koma, a summer camp for children with diabetes in and around West Virginia. Wanda Marks, president of the camp's board of directors, said about $5,7000 was raised during the weekend event which will pay for scholarships for children to attend the camp.
"It's pretty awesome," she said of Thunder Road Madness. "It's a very, very generous group of individuals who are here participating in the event."
In preparing for Thunder Road Madness, the organizers worked with the visitors bureau, local government and other groups to raise awareness of the events and the positive impact it can have.
As a sign of ongoing growth and interest in motorcycle riding and touring, the CVB has developed and started distributing a brochure targeting motorcyclists with information about various scenic routes good for riding in the and around the Mid-Ohio Valley.
Entitled "River Rides & Scenic Drives," the CVB brochure provides information and maps for five different loop rides, including Pennsboro, Mason County, a river crossing tour along the Ohio River, Glenville and a Northern West Virginia loop, all ranging from 100 to 180 miles in length. All of the rides start and end at the West Virginia Welcome Center just off Interstate 77 at Williamstown.