Festival brings motorcycle crowd to Capital Park

Giavona Williams founded the Tallahassee Bike Festival last year.
Photo by St. Clair Murraine

By St. Clair Murraine
Outlook Staff Writer

Just by chance Porsche Taylor and Giavona Williams got to talking last year at Bike Week in Daytona.

Williams, founder of the Tallahassee Bike Festival last year, invited Taylor, founder of Black Girls Ride, to visit for her event. They rendezvoused last weekend at Capital Park.

Taylor ended up with the role of being leader on a bike ride with one of the many groups that showed up for the festival. She also held a talking session about how to safely make a long distance ride.

More than 1,500 motorcyclists were in town for the three-day event. Some rode their cycles and others brought them in tow on a trailer. Riders say the attraction is the usual camaraderie, the opportunities to ride the hills of Tallahassee and check out the scenery.

“Seeing people of different origins, different colors from different locations that have one thing in common – motorcycles,” said Andre Wiggins, who rides with the South Augusta (Ga.) Buffalo Soldiers motorcycle organization. “No matter who you are, who you vote for we can have that common bond of enjoying the ride of a motorcycle.”

The event even featured a VIP section, rows of vendors and food trucks. Entertainment included a variety of bands throughout the weekend.

Those who came to show their bikes didn’t have to worry about having a clean machine. Menace Barnes and Michael Bradwell were there with their Wet N Wild Mobile Detailing business.

They were expecting to be busy all weekend. 

“People just want to keep their stuff clean,” said Barnes. “We spend a lot of money on these motorcycles so why would I want to ride my $35,000 bike with dirt and grime on it.”

Socializing was just as big for the attendees. Bradwell was looking forward to that when his work was done.

“We get to where we can all park together, then we eat, drink together, laugh together and that’s what bikers do.”

The count of participants wasn’t immediately available, but Williams speculated as early as last Friday evening that the number of women was high.

“Being a woman rider, I thought what could we do to showcase women who ride,” said Williams, explaining the genesis of the event. “Women riders have increased 40 percent in the last six to seven years and we need something that focuses on them, families and all riders.”

The growth in female motorcyclists is proof that women have become more than “an accessory on the bike,” Williams said. 

“Social media has shown us that it’s not an unusual phenomenon,” said Taylor. “Women actually are making up the largest segment in motor sports.”

More than 100,000 people plug in to Black Girls Ride on social media, Taylor said. Through the same platform, she rallies about 300 female riders each year to gather at the Essence Festival in New Orleans.

“Essence fest is the largest celebration of Black women in the world so it was important for us to show up among those,” Taylor said.

Riders came from across the country for the weekend event. Some, like Wiggins, came from nearby Georgia. 

“Augusta is just five hours away so I said I’ll come on and get it,” said Wiggins who brought his bike on a trailer.  “I like this event because it’s very new. It’s not crowded but it’s a nice crowd. It is always fun.”