This year's event was not the first attempt to clean up Atlantic Beach Bikefest. In 2004, the National Association of Black Bikers, a nationwide group headed by Maryland native Keith Hyman, started a three-year run, organizing fashion shows and industry events. Hyman was pleased to pass the torch on to bigger companies, as he said years of negative press may have permanently affected Bikefest. "Like a lot of people, I'm glad to see so much corporate involvement, but gone are the days when there were half a million bikers here for the weekend. The streets were just tire-to-tire thick with bikes and it took four hours just to ride through Atlantic Beach. But after people are made to feel unwelcome for so long, they just tend to go to other places with their money," he said. Hyman, who rides a Kawasaki ZX-9R, also believes the well-publicized, ahem, crackdown on thong-wearing sportbike passengers will affect attendance numbers. "This is a beach. Nobody is supposed to be in a parka or a snowsuit here. This is a very young crowd that is open-minded about showing off their bodies and, let's be honest, to a great many men and women, that's an attraction. The men come to meet ladies and the women love the fast bikes. How somebody decided that's something worth arresting somebody for, I don't know," he said. Something tells me there will be fewer arrests as Black Bike Week continues to clean up its act. One sign of the changing times was the first organized (read: closed course) drag races staged by the Carolina Knight Riders, which should prove a steady draw for the straight-line crowd. And if everybody can keep their pants on, the crowds may start to return.