MURRELLS INLET, SC (WMBF) - The first motorcycle rally of the year starts Friday and there are signs it's already here. Thousands of bikers will rev up their engines and crowd the roads for Myrtle Beach Bike Week.
Bill Barber, owner of SBB, says he started preparing for the 75th rally as soon as the fall rally ended in October - months of preparation for a rally that lasts 10 days.
The old SBB is officially torn down, which means this will be the first spring rally where more bikers stick to locations along Highway 17 Business. If you drive down the busy road, you'll see vendor tents from merchandise to music and food, already lining the street. Cones, barriers and directional signs have already been put in place.
Barber says a main focus is preparing for your safety, so they've doubled parking staff to make sure traffic runs smoothly, especially since the interest is high for the 2014 rally.
"Our phones, our Internet, everything's been blowing off the wall," says Barber.
The goal this year is to get rallies back to where they used to be - at the spring bike week's peak year, nearly 400,000 bikes rolled onto our streets. Barber says he anticipates this year to be the best rally we've had since then.
"I'm hoping 300,000, that will get us close to the numbers we had back in mid 2000's," he says.
To keep track of how many bikers will be here, this will be the first year people will be designated to keep count on the roads.
High predictions, accompanied by bikers in the inlet days before the rally, is a good sign for this year. Barber says each year, about half the crowd is new to the rally, which means it's attracting new visitors to Grand Strand restaurants, hotels and attractions.
If you've never been to the rally before, expect vendors, live concerts and crowds from across the US.
"Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Ohio, Michigan, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Maine, Vermont, they're tired of that winter they had and they're ready to come down and party at the beach and look at the weather," says Barber.
Although the event starts Friday, bikers started showing up Tuesday. The earlier bikers arrive, the better the business impact for the Grand Strand.