Motorcycle riders from throughout the Mid-Atlantic region took advantage of the beautiful weather Monday and spent their Labor Day holiday traveling through Cecil and Harford counties.
"It's been very nice," said David Coates, who traveled from Deptford, N.J., with his wife, Geri, on a black-and-silver Harley-Davidson motorcycle to the Chesapeake Harley-Davidson dealership in Darlington. Fellow rider Adam Mast, also of New Jersey, joined the couple.
Coates said they spent about an hour and half riding along back roads.
"It was a nice ride, a very beautiful area," he said.
The Coates joined their fellow riders at the Fall Freedom Fest at Chesapeake Harley-Davidson, a three-day event from Saturday through Monday. Riders could check out each others' bikes, get a bite to eat, listen to live music and socialize — plus they could see new 2018 model motorcycles.
"We're a destination dealership," sales manager Kevin Criswell said.
Coates said he and his group planned to meet friends from Baltimore, and the Darlington dealership made for a good "halfway point."
"This was a halfway point for us, and [there was] something going on, something to eat, a little bit of music, see all the bikes," he said.
Coates met up with Marcus Dent, the commander of the Baltimore chapter Guardian Angels, and rider Eric Young.
The Guardian Angels are a volunteer organization that works with community groups and law enforcement to conduct safety patrols in neighborhoods and provides mentoring, violence prevention and safety education services to youth and families, according to the Baltimore Guardian Angels website.
Dent rode up from Annapolis; he said traffic was "not bad."
"[Interstate] 95 was pretty busy, but it's a beautiful day — it was worth the drive up here," he said.
Young, his riding companion, also praised the sunny skies and mild temperatures. He noted the friendliness of fellow riders and said they were waving as he passed.
"It's just a good time when you know all your friends are off and you get to meet them," Dent said.
Scott and Gwyn Williams, the respective president and secretary of Lititz American Legion Riders Post 56 of Lititz, Pa., were part of a group of riders who attended Fall Freedom Fest Monday.
"It's been an awesome ride," Scott Williams said. "Traffic's down to a minimum — I only ate one bug."
His wife, Gwyn, sat on her 1997 Harley-Davidson Sportster. She wore a black vest covered with patches, and two pink tufts, which resembled pigtails, were attached to her helmet.
"It's just a good way to get out ... forget about what else is going on and enjoy the weather — get away from social media," she said.
Brad Lankford, the controller for Chesapeake Harley-Davidson, said Harley-Davidson is not just a motorcycle — it is "a lifestyle." He pointed out the apparel and jewelry that were also on sale.
"Today has been phenomenal," Lankford said, "We had bikes around both sides of the building and all out front. We had very good attendance today."
Cecil County riders
Bel Air resident Scott Delong rode through Cecil County Monday and stopped at Lee's Landing Dock Bar in downtown Port Deposit — the restaurant attracted many other riders, too.
"You couldn't ask for a more perfect day to be out riding," Delong said.
He said he has been riding motorcycles since he was 12.
"Motorcycling is just a great sport," Delong said. "You're out, free, you feel the wind — it's just awesome."
Three generations of Rineer men — father Dick, of Pequea, Pa., son Craig and grandson Collin, both of Washington Boro, Pa. — checked out the motorcycles in the Lee's Landing parking lot.
Collin Rineer, 19, rode his 2007 Kawasaki ZX-6R from Pennsylvania to Port Deposit. His father and grandfather drove down with their wives — the family planned to eat dinner at Lee's Landing.
"It was a nice day, easy ride; [you're] coming down in the shade so you don't get too hot," Collin said.
Dick Rineer, 69, frequently visits Port Deposit and Havre de Grace. He is a member of the Havre de Grace Decoy Museum.
He said he has been riding since the 1960s and takes trips with a group of riders from Lancaster and Lebanon counties — he noted the oldest member is in his 90s.
"It's just the freedom of being out there on the open road," he said. "It's not like being in a car; you feel like you're out there with everything."
Craig Rineer, 46, rode motorcycles when he was young, and a bike is being shipped to him. He said he wants to get back into riding sport now that both of his sons — Collin and 18-year-old Corey — have graduated from high school and are in the workforce.
He survived a crash during his previous riding days, and he said he did not want to risk a serious injury while his children were young.
"I understand the danger and how fast it happens, but there is nothing better when you're out there on the open road," he said. "It is a heck of a sense of freedom, like no other."
Riders also gathered at Jumbo Jimmy's Crab Shack, farther down Route 222.
Owner Bill Barton said riders make up 30 to 40 percent of his customers on the weekends.
He stressed Jumbo Jimmy's is not just for bikers, that it has a "friendly, family atmosphere."
"What I hear from a lot of the bikers is, they get served here," Barton said, noting riders have reported slow service at other establishments.
A number of riders hung out in the outdoor bar.
Joe Robinson, of Holtwood, Pa., chatted with Dave Wilson, of Rising Sun. The two men were riding with their wives, respectively Marie and Debbie, and they met and struck up a conversation while at Jumbo Jimmy's.
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"That's what's fun about [riding] especially when you meet somebody really interesting, which I have," Wilson said, indicating Robinson.