For years, Atlantic Beach Bikefest has been a word-of-mouth event, but in the 21st century word-of-mouth has become social media.
Some say the anonymity of the Internet is what has caused the event to not only grow in recent years, but also drawn those who want to cause trouble.
“There are three types of people who come to bike week,” said Clarence Middleton, who moderates www.BlackBikeWeek.us and its corresponding Facebook page.
“You have the out-of-state travelers who are coming to party,” Middleton said. “They spend a lot of money – on hotels, bikes, restaurants. There are locals [from South Carolina] who show up in the day. And then you’ve got your criminals. They come with gangs and sell drugs … looking for opportunities to [take advantage of people].”
Atlantic Beach Bikefest began in 1980 as a rally for black motorcyclists and as it grew it began to spill into other areas of the Grand Strand.