Hundreds of bikers gather for festival in S. Korea

Biking regalia was much in evidence.


By FRANKLIN FISHER | STARS AND STRIPES Published: April 17, 2006

PYEONGTAEK, South Korea — With hundreds of motorcycles parked side-by-side for blocks and rock music booming from loudspeakers, Army Cpl. Brad Fatuesi and a buddy stopped for a look around.

The two, stationed down the street at the Army’s Camp Humphreys, were among onlookers who came out on a chilly, overcast Saturday afternoon to view the enthusiasts and their machines gathered on a long street known locally as Rodeo Drive.

The scene was right out of a movie set: biker guys and biker gals; middle-aged guys with goatees, ponytails, colorful biking jackets. Bikes in metallic dark red, metallic medium blue, black and white, and always, plenty of chrome.

“A lot of people out here,” said Fatuesi, “a lot of things to see.”

The second annual Pyeongtaek Bike Fest drew about 400 enthusiasts, 380 of them actually riding their bikes.

The event also drew knots of onlookers, most of them servicemembers, three here, six there, some with small children, taking in the contests and eyeing the food and T-shirt concessions.

The aim of the two-day festival, which began Friday with a catered party, was the sheer love of biking and its pleasures, said Jason Montgomery, a defense contractor who also is president of the American Steel Motorcycle Club’s Korea chapter.

“I think it’s a lifestyle,” he said. “Everybody comes together. We all have the same pleasure to ride, feel the wind in your face.

“[It’s] also an opportunity for all of us to get together and have a good time,” Montgomery added.

American Steel and Easy Riders Korea in Seoul co-sponsored the event, he said.

Saturday’s fun included a 45-minute cruise that included about 250 bikes, followed by a beer-drinking competition in which contestants stood at a big outdoor table and on signal gulped down a glassful.

And what self-respecting biker bash would be complete without a tattooing contest?

Another of the day’s highlights was the “burn-out pit” event.

“Actually there was a guy who actually drew a happy face with his back tire on the cement, did a complete circle, then drew the eyes, the mouth,” Montgomery said. “It was actually pretty cool. He won the event.”

About half the participants this year were Korean, Montgomery said.

Besides the bike-related events, vendors were set up on the street selling everything from hot dogs and chicken-on-a-stick to beer, T-shirts and biker jackets.

“It’s a really neat thing,” Fatuesi said of the event, even though he’s not a biker himself.

“I watch ‘Orange County Choppers,’” he said, “but that’s it for me.”

Near Camp Humphreys in South Korea on Saturday, a long line of bikers moves down Rodeo Drive in the Anjung-ri section of Pyeongtaek City during second annual bike fest.