Ed O'Neil, Dick Williams, and I initially had plans to travel to Charlotte on the morning of Friday (February 24th), attend the show that afternoon and evening, and return on Saturday. However, after checking the weather forecast a day or two beforehand, we made a last-minute change and delayed our departure until Saturday. Friday was overcast, very windy, and a line of strong storms roll through in the afternoon, so we made a good decision to wait.
On Saturday, Ed, Dick, and I were joined by Tony and Jill Barcia, Bob Thomson, and Bill Traina, all of whom are members of our BMW motorcycle club, for the ride to Charlotte. Despite delaying our departure until Saturday, we still had to contend with some gusty winds throughout the ride to Charlotte. We rode on Highway 74/76, stopping in Wadesboro for lunch
After having a quick meal and warming up, we continued on Highway 218 from Polkton to Charlotte. This allowed us to avoid the traffic congestion that always seems to occur through the Monroe area.
Ed, Dick, and I all stayed at the Charlotte Residence Inn – Uptown, while Bill Traina and Bob Thomson stayed at the nearby Marriott Garden Inn. Our rooms at the Residence Inn had a great view of the downtown Charlotte skyline.
After checking in, Ed, Dick, and I walked to the Charlotte Convention Center, which was located only a few blocks away. During our walk to the convention center, we noted that downtown Charlotte has a large number of museums, restaurants, open spaces, and other places of interest, and there was an abundance of contemporary artwork in these public spaces.
This year, the International Motorcycle Show was sponsored again by Progressive Insurance. The event was set up downstairs in the Charlotte Convention Center. The convention center offered good accommodations for the show, but a common complaint heard throughout the show was the lack of dedicated motorcycle-only parking for show attendees. Hopefully the show's organizers will address this for the 2013 show. After 2013, I was told the show's contract is up for renewal, so show parking could become a factor for where future shows are held.
Most of the major manufacturers were represented. BMW had a pavilion near the show entrance, and had a number of motorcycles on display. The BMW pavilion was staffed by representatives from the Charlotte, Greensboro, and Raleigh dealerships, as well as a representative for the BMW Performance Center in Greer, SC. While at the BMW pavilion, Ed, Dick, and I again met with Bob Thomson, Bill Traina, and Tony and Jill Barcia.
All of us spent the next few hours walking around to see the motorcycles on display, as well as spending a little bit of money for accessories that we otherwise do not get to evaluate.
When dinner time arrived, Ed, Dick, Bill, Bob, and I met at Connolly's on Fifth, a delightful Irish pub. While there, we were able to enjoy a few pints of our favorite beers.
Afterwards, we walked to a nearby Italian Restaurant, Vapiano, for dinner.
The walk back to our hotels allowed us to see some of the city lights.
The next morning, Ed, Dick, and I met Bob Thomson and Bill Traina at their hotel and we headed home using a back road route across South Carolina, mostly on SC Highway 9.
On our way out of Charlotte, we made a quick stop at the James K. Polk birthplace State Historic Site to collect a photo for the State Historic Site Challenge Ride.
It was a great weekend, shared the rides and the show with friends. I close with some additional photos of some of the motorcycles we were able to see at this year's International Motorcycle Show.