Thunder on the Byways:
Motorcycle Cruise Creates
Cash for Byway
A byway organization organizes a motorcycle cruise
as an annual awareness builder and revenue generator.
The Arkansas Delta Byways’ Thunder on the Byways
Motorcycle Cruise entered its third year in 2005.
Thunder on the Byways is held each fall.
The first Thunder on the Byways tour tried to cover
the length of the two Eastern Arkansas byways routes in two days.
Work conflicts over the Friday-Saturday event scheduling were a factor
in riders not being able to ride the entire route, and organizers,
in hindsight, judged the route as too long.
The second year ride covered a one-day, 193-mile segment
of the route set up as a loop tour so riders could return to the
starting point. The Fall 2005 tour was planned as a single-day
event with a 200-mile loop.
first year’s tour expenses were limited to the cost of t-shirts,
pins (a favorite collectible with bikers), and promotional flyers.
Communities along the byway hosted meals and breaks.
$35 to participate and the first tour attracted 50 riders. Riders
must sign an insurance waiver. Police
blocked intersections along the route to facilitate the riders staying
together as a group.
On the negative side, because the ride was too long,
some riders broke off and did not complete the tour. On the unexpected
plus side, unlike other tours, when Thunder on the Byways riders
stopped for an off-the-bike break, they took time to tour local sites
and enjoy interaction with local residents.
The Arkansas Delta Byways’ promoters say the
first year’s tour provided them with valuable learning experience
for adjusting second-year tour plans. The second Thunder on the Byways
tour was limited to one day and a shorter loop ride, returning riders
to the starting point. This back-to-the-start aspect was critical
for riders who had trailered their motorcycles to the starting location.
A Friday night hospitality event did not draw well and rainy weather
may have kept Saturday’s riders to only 35. Byway promoters
again asked police to block intersections to facilitate the riders
staying together as a group.
The 2005 cruise was planned as a one-day, 200-mile
loop tour with five stops and an hour between stops for riding. The
cruise fee of $35 included meals and refreshments sponsored by and
organization or business at each stopping point.
Riders receive a free “Thunder on the Byways” t-shirt
and commemorative pin. Others may purchase a shirt for $10.
To have the tour recognized as a sanctioned event by
the American Motorcycle Association, byway staff had to contact the
association 30 days ahead of time and have a certified AMA representative
present at the event to register riders.
The Arkansas Delta Byways organization set a 2005
tour goal of hosting 100 riders at $35 each. Expenses were
projected to total $1,000, leaving a potential for $2,500 in revenue
for the byway organization.
Other Motorcycle Tour Examples:
• The southernmost community on one byway has
hosted 5,000 motorcycle riders for a Sunday brunch during warm weather
months with the northernmost town offering a late afternoon snack
or dinner to draw riders north along the byway. Tickets were sold
• A byway organization has worked in cooperation
with the Harley-Davidson stores along the byway to host a poker run
that netted $3,500.
• Motorcycle tours, rallys, and runs are often
held as fund-raisers for such charitable organizations as Ronald
McDonald House, which might partner with byway organizations on such
Why A Motorcycle Cruise:
• Motorcycle touring is an increasingly popular
activity with people who have disposable income and are interested
in the type of touring that byways offer. Motorcycle cruise events
can be designed to draw many riders at one time or can be offered
as a tour option for sale to individuals and small groups.
• Encourages public participation which increases
civic pride and creates byway appreciation and relationships
• Encourages public and media interest
in the byway
Thunder on the Byways: Arkansas