Posts Tagged ‘rolling thunder’

This year Debbie and I chose not to ride into the city to partake of the Rolling Thunder main event.  We had went for several years so there was no great interest in doing it again this year.  BUT I did attend a pre-Roling Thunder event and assisted our local HOG (Harley Owners Group) chapter with the marshalling of motorcycles for the police escorted ride from Frederick to the Pentagon. 


Saturday was the pre-Rolling Thunder event at Washington Harley Davidson.  Not only is it a collection of vendors of all types (t-shirts, food, parts and accessories) it is the site of the official Harley Davidson Owners Group Pin Stop.  Harley Davidson Pin Stops are a half dozen or so events in which Harley Davidson gives out commemorative pins to the HOG members.  Each one is different for each event.  If you follow my FaceBook page each week I post one or two dealer or other pins and several of the pin stop pins are pictured.   

While this is only a SWAG I think there were more motorcycles at this year’s v. last year’s pin stop. The parking lots were mostly full when I arrived and, unlike last year, still full when I left.  The ride to the event was a Frederick Harley Davidson HOG club ride. 

STORM CHASER POWERS ACTIVATE!  About 15 bikes left that morning from



the dealership under misty, overcast conditions, within 15 minutes the mist turned to full rain and stayed on us for more than half of the ride.  Guess what!  On the ride back we left a partial cloudy site and again got wet, although for a much shorter frame. Some days, when I ride my motorcycle, I just seem to attract bad weather.  

Sunday morning I rolled out of my warm bed, shared by my wife, our dog and myself, and was out the door before 5:30AM.  The HOG chapter was assisting the Frederick Harley Davidson dealership with the staging and marshaling of motorcycle going to Rolling Thunder. 

ijustwant2ride.comThere are two groups of motorcycle riders who participate in Rolling Thunder.  Those that go to the Pentagon (the starting point for the parade) and those that do not go to the Pentagon.  That second group seems to always be nearly identical in size to those that go to the Pentagon.  This group typically rides into the city and then parks along the parade route to watch the motorcycle pass by. 

By ten minutes after 8:00AM all the bikes were out and on their way to the either the Pentagon or somewhere else.  There were just at 300 bikes assembled at the dealership.  Nearly every bike brand was represented, I saw Triumph, BMW, Indian, Victory, Yamaha, Honda and Suzuki, there may have been others but those are the ones I recall. 

It took just a bit over 5 minutes to get all those bikes on the road (see video below).  A short while later we have all the signs, coffee, doughnuts and other stuff gathered and put away.  The parking lot looked like nothing had ever happened.  365 days until the next Rolling Thunder.

2016 DAV Rolling Thunder Raffle Motorcycle

2016 DAV Rolling Thunder Raffle Motorcycle

I am not sure, as I have never heard any official numbers, but from my perspective attendance was way down over Rolling Thunder 2015.

Normally, starting from the Wednesday before the event, I would start seeing motorcycles headed inbound to Washington.  This year, even through Saturday afternoon, there was little thunder in the area.

Almost every motorcycle dealership in the Washington metro area has some form of pre-event the Saturday before the actual Rolling Thunder parade. Debbie and I attended the pre-event at Fort Washington Harley Davidson.  This dealership is also the Harley Owners Group (HOG) “pin stop” which leads one to believe that there would be a large crowd, as there has been in the past.  Not this year, I was very surprised at the lack of numbers at the dealership.

I make it a point to wonder around the parking lot to check out the bikes and license plates.  This year there were, of course, a lot of motorcycles from the east coast nearly every state from Maine to Florida were present. A couple plates from Texas and one from Montana were the furthest western representatives.  On the international front Canada contributed bikes from Quebec and Newfoundland.

On the way home we stopped at the Jukebox Diner in Sterling, Va.  It was a quite enjoyable meal.  The restaurant is a hat-tip to 1950s in theme and our server, Erich, was having a lot fun with his customers.

Sunday morning, the day of the Rolling Thunder parade, I decided to support my local HOG chapter with the staging for the ride to the Pentagon.  We parked 373 motorcycles in Frederick Harley Davidson parking lot. That was down from 2015 and way off the 750 staged during the 25th anniversary of Rolling Thunder.

Next year is the 30th anniversary so maybe the numbers will return to the norm.

Rolling Thunder 2014

Debbie had to work Saturday so I was out on the motorcycle by myself. I rode the Army bike as I was planning on entering a bike show that afternoon (see Part Deux).

The first stop of the day was the HOG Pin Stop at Washington HD. Getting there from Leesburg takes a while and it involves some of the most trafficked roads in the DC Metro area; I495 and I95.

With Rolling Thunder the next day I was surprised that there were so few bikes out and about. From home to exit for the dealership I counted 17 bikes, much much fewer than I have noticed in the past.

I arrived at the dealership about a little before 10 and was surprised again at the number of bikes. In the past, at about the same time, the parking lots were packed and the vendor areas were standing room only. Not this year, I had no issue what so ever getting a parking spot and had a leisurely stool through the vendors. I saw nothing I could live without among the tents, although I am becoming intrigued with center stands, and decided to go inside and check out the remodeled digs.

The dealership has been in this building for a long time and was looking very “long in tooth”. The remodeling was, I have to say, was underwhelming. IMHO there was no real improvement at all. The one area of the store that I though was better was a display of older bikes with large period photos behind them.

I did speak to a person, who claimed to be an employee, stated that the dealership was about to change hands and that the new owner was going to build a new building. In the DC area, and especially Maryland, that can be an expensive proposition (hey, Maryland even taxes the rain).

Mounting my bike I was back on the road in less than a minute, still no heavy bike traffic.

1st Place


After leaving Washington HD I rode over to Hardcore Choppers for their Freedom Fest. The proceeds for this event were to benefit Able Forces.

They had multiple bands all day including Sam Tate and Gypsy Sons. There were a several vendors, a bike show (which I entered) and the Fairfax County Police motor patrol drill team among other things.

One of the funnier items occurred when the police were giving a demonstration of how to pick up fallen bike. When they asked for volunteers to try picking up the bike a 70+ year old lady jumped out to give it a go! Check out the video Old Lady picks up police motorcycle!

As for the bike show I took first place in my class!

OldLady picks up police motorcycle!

Late Saturday evening Debbie and I rode the new bike to our friends (Tim and Karma) home. We were spending the night there with the plans to take a long ride Sunday.

We have all done the Rolling Thunder event multiple times and decided to take a break this year from this year’s festivities. We had no particular destination in mind until we were ready to pull out, then we decided to cruse to Solomon Island (which has an interesting history).

While Tim and Karma had both been to the Island in the past this was the first for Debbie and I. The ride out was outstanding, not much traffic (by DC standards anyway), warm but not hot and clear sky’s made the ride out very pleasant. When we made it to the island we had lunch at Stoney’s Solomons Pier restaurant.

After lunch we rode to the end of the island took some pictures and headed back out on our ride. Heading south towards Frederick, VA we crossed the Governor Harry Nice toll bridge ($6, really Maryland, for a bridge) and then up US Route 1. We stopped in Dumfries at Baylor’s Ice Cream shop which was very tasty and just right as the asphalt and concrete was warming us up.

By the time we made it home we were ready for a good shower. At over 275 miles we had quite a day on the bike with great weather and good friends.

RollingThunderRussBrownEagle2014-NEW-600x350This coming weekend, May 25th, is Rolling Thunder in Washington DC. In addition to the ride itself there are a lot of other, smaller events in the DC metro area that feed on the biker traffic that Rolling Thunder brings to the area.

Some of the other events in the area are:

Thunder Ally – The OFFICAL vendor location for Rolling Thunder is located at 22nd St. and Constitution Ave in the city. It is open Saturday-Monday.

HOG Pin Stop – At Washington Harley Davidson, plus they have vendors and bands at the dealership.

Candlelight Vigil 9PM Friday the 23rd of May at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

Ride of the Patriots at Patriot HD in Fairfax VA, is an event that covers all four days of the Memorial Day weekend.

Lots of the local bike dealers have their own Rolling Thunder related events. Check your favorite bike shop’s website to see what is going on. For example, Hardcore Choppers is sponsoring their Operation Freedom Fest 2014 on the 24th.