LAKE GEORGE - Ignoring the prevailing drizzle from above, Randy Littlefield of North Berwick Maine pulled his Harley Electra-Glide into a parking lot at Roaring Brook Ranch, headquarters for Americade touring motorcycle rally last week.
Parking near Ray Jenkins of Columbia Md., he asked Jenkins about a weird plastic case attached to the back of his decked-out Gold Wing.
Jenkins' cherry-red teddy bear with light-up eyes, his spiked handlebars or his "ring-of fire" wheel lighting didn't prompt Littlefield's curiosity; it was the five-foot case attached to a beam jutting out from his motorcycle's axle that sparked his interest.
Jenkins revealed that yes, the case carried his golf clubs, to the smiles of bystanders.
"I get asked this 12 times a day," he said. "I love Americade, and the friendliness of being around others here, whether they're from Alabama or Montreal."
Littlefield agreed with the assessment.
"Americade and Sturgis are my two favorite rallies," he said. "Here in Lake George, you've got a laid-back family-oriented atmosphere, not a 'party crowd' like other rallies."
Littlefield, Jenkins and tens of thousands of other motorcyclists from all over the continent converged on Lake George this past week, participating in area tours, a parade, test rides, and contests - despite rain that didn't let up for most of the annual week-long rally.
Embodying the stamina and resolve that's traditional with long-distance tour motorcycle riders, the legions of Americaders drove through downpours, drizzles, steady rain and fog. This year's edition of Americade, with its ample precipitation, took the world's largest touring rally back to its roots, Americade founder Bill Dutcher said Sunday after the week-long event's conclusion.
Many of the non-Americade bikers that enjoy dressing up and play outlaw or their hell-raising sportbike counterparts stayed home due to the rainy bad weather, while the true motorcyclists attended the rally and enjoyed themselves regardless, Dutcher said.
"The nice thing about when it rains, the people left in Lake George are the real riders, not the 'profilers,'" he said, noting he hadn't tallied up attendance numbers yet for the year.
One of those "real riders," apparently was Vincent Morrell, 80, of Newington Ct.
Morrell said this week that weather doesn't make a difference to him in his motorcycle travels. He's been attending Americade since 1991 or so, rain or shine.
There's no question Morrell is a die-hard tourer. Eight years ago, when he was 72 years old, he completed an Iron Butt ride, which required him to pilot his motorcycle 1,000 miles within 24 hours. He made the trip in less time than most of his fellow travelers, who were half his age, he said.
"They had trouble keeping up with me," he said. "Then they decided not to run with me no more."
Since his 70s, Morrell has been primarily touring the back roads of Connecticut - except for last August, when he rode his Gold Wing 899 miles to Branford, Missouri.
This year, he attended Americade with his 19-year-old grandson Kyle Roberts, sharing tales of some of his many adventures since he started riding a 1932 Indian Chief in 1947 in his family's cow pastures.
"Riding is one of my passions," he said. "If I get up in the morning, and the sun is shining, I want to get out and go see something I've never seen before."
Morrell praised Americade for its ever-changing lineup of tours and activities. But most of all, it's the people he meets on the road that make the difference, he said.
"I enjoy good friends and good riding,' he said.
Littlefield said he enjoyed the choices of accommodations, whether it was a motel, cottage, hotel or campground.
Also, the Americaders themselves represent different interests, ages, lifestyles and choice of equipment and type of motorcycles, he said.
"There's the most diversity here of any rally anywhere," he said.
His riding partner, Amanda Phelps of Rochester NH, agreed.
"It's not like the dangerous crowd at Daytona and Myrtle Beach," she said. "Here, everyone is friendly."
That friendly attitude may have even rubbed off on several Hell's Angel's gangs, who visited Lake George while Americade was under way last weekend, according to Warren County Sheriff Bud York.
He said they and other reputed outlaw bikers - and the run-of-the-mill rowdy bikers - were closely monitored by undercover police plus uniformed officers, representing both the Sheriff's office and State police. Together, the agencies had a dozen or more in undercover roles, plus many more in uniformed patrols in sedans, motorcycles, bikes and on foot.
"There were no problems whatsoever this year - it was very smooth," York said.