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A new more concentrated schedule offers a higher-octane rally!

For the last several years, Ohio Bike Week (OBW) has kicked off sales of their All-Access VIP Rally Passes on Black Friday – and it’s often included a few announcements, usually a headliner or that Jackyl will once again be kicking off the Block Party.  This year, though, they had a major announcement that may have been missed by many – they are changing their schedule and event format for 2018.  Instead of running 10 days of programming up to the first weekend in June, they would instead focus on five days leading up to Memorial Day in May.

The rally organizers have announced their intentions to make the change and are now working with their various partners and the city of Sandusky to make it happen.  It’s not official yet, but it certainly seems as though they are set on this new course. 

For years, Ohio Bike Week has been the undisputed LARGEST MOTORCYCLE EVENT IN THE MIDWEST and the unofficial kick-off to the summer riding season.  It has evolved into one of the largest rallies in the nation, with events and rides ranging from Toledo to Sandusky.  Thunder Roads Ohio has been a proud partner of the event since our inception, publishing the Official Rally Guide as our May Edition.  We also added a smaller Pocket Guide several years ago, which offers the final complete schedule and guide to the various rally events / stops.

Of the major national Rallies, Ohio Bike Week is one of the few that has sought to provide two full weekends – 10 days – of programming.  Many of the big rallies don’t even do a full week – instead focusing on just a single weekend.  It takes a lot to put on a large scale rally and the expenses go far beyond the big name entertainment on stage.  The operational and support staff, emergency services, and all of the logistical considerations and expenses add up for every day that the event is hosted.  Many of these expenses add up regardless of the number of people attending or if an event is rained out. 

For many, the Rally was just too long.  Few people can afford to take a full 10 days off work or away from home, so most riders were forced to choose between one weekend or another.  There were also always a few “down days” – usually Monday and Tuesday, where there really wasn’t much going on.  By tightening the schedule to a concentrated 5 days – it eliminates the dead days and allows the organizers to focus their energy and resources to really blowing it out one weekend.

From the sound of things, though, all of the major rides and aspects of Ohio Bike Week will still be incorporated into the new schedule.  The Kelly’s Island Ride, the wine ride, and most importantly – the Thunder Roads Pool Party have all been worked into the new format.   Seriously, though, the biggest advantage in our minds is that the Downtown Block Party now runs through the entire event.  It’s actually expanded to at least another full day – with vendors, entertainment and festivities now running through Sunday on the streets of downtown Sandusky (tentatively) with the new schedule.    It had always seemed confusing and disappointing to new folks attending the rally that nothing happened beyond the Barrel House Pier in downtown Sandusky the first weekend.  For those only attending that weekend, it always seemed to leave a bad impression.  With the single weekend, the Block Party will now extend through the entire rally.  Rally organizers are also clearly excited about the prospects of being able to concentrate their resources on the Memorial weekend.   If everything goes as planned, it sounds as though it will be the biggest biker party of the year for at least 600 miles!

Probably the only “casualty” of the change, thus far, seems to be the kick-off concert in Toledo.  With the concentrated format and Block Party running the entire time, it really doesn’t make sense to hold a  concert more than 50 miles away the first night of the Block Party.  While that may sound disappointing to some, we hope that this prompts OBW organizers to spin the Toledo aspect off into its own separate rally.  We’ve always enjoyed the kick-off concert and thought that Toledo Harley-Davidson was a great location for it – but wondered why it was only the one night.  Toledo is a great town with a great motorcycle community.  It should have its own rally and this change may prompt the OBW folks to finally spin off a second major event here.  Maybe in the Fall?

Please note that all of this is tentative at this point and “unofficial”.  Ohio Bike Week has announced the change in dates on their website and through social media; but it is still pending official approval by the City of Sandusky, as we understand it.  From the sound of things, though – we think that this could be a GREAT change for the rally and really allow it to become even better.

Stay tuned for more updates!  You can visit OhioBikeWeek.com and their facebook page for official news.  Of course, we will continue to post “unofficial updates” and news on our facebook page (www.facebook.com/ThunderRoadsOhio) and right here at our new Blog at ThunderRoadsOhio.com

For more information on the Official Ohio Bike Week Rally Guides or how you might get involved in various events across Ohio, you can email ThunderRoadsOhio@gmail.com

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