SPI BikeFest almost never happened.
And three years ago, organizers moved the event to North Padre Island. But event organizers are revving up their engines to bring SPI BikeFest back to South Padre Island.
“We are looking forward to kicking off the 2017 riding season with bikers from all over Texas,” said GJ Reyna, SPI BikeFest coordinator.
This week, city officials and local business owners along with the president of SPI BikeFest announced the event’s return to the Island in February. Organizers are sure the beastly event’s loud and proud motorcycle riders will be having a little cabin fever over the winter holidays. They’re betting riders from all over the state are going to have an itch to end the holidays and New Year with a great motorcycle ride to the Island.
For 19 straight years, the event drew thousands of motorcycle riders with all types of bikes to the Island. There were Harley-Davidsons, Indians, Hondas, BMWs, Ducatis, custom bikes and maybe even a Vincent Blackshadow. Owners filled the Island streets and boulevard after taking the long and windy stretch across the causeway riders love to ride. And when the bikes didn’t come back three years ago, city leaders and business owners began to wonder if the SPI BikeFest could be refueled and brought back to the Island.
City officials went calling for the organizers to turn on the throttle and come back just like they did 20 years earlier.
City leaders originally thought the idea of having thousands of motorcycle riders on the Island would draw lawless motorcycle gangs who would tear up the place. But that wasn’t the case in 1994, and the city welcomed the event back year-in and year-out.
The perennial event pulled out of the Island in 2013 and relocated to Corpus Christi. “We are ecstatic to come back,” Reyna said. “This is home for us and this is where it all started.” BikeFest is a nonprofit with 25 volunteers who organize the event.
Reyna said in 2007 the Island causeway was shut down because more than 40,000 people and thousands of motorcycles were on the Island. “There were just too many people and too much traffic,” Reyna said. “Hopefully, we can do that again some day.”
“It’s going to be an exciting time and its great to have them back,” said Dennis Stahl, SPI councilman. “We are very appreciative of them coming back and I think we’re going to have a spectacular event here.”
Stahl said the bikers are good, fun-loving people who love to ride bikes.
By RAUL GARCIA Staff Writer