ROT Rally 2016 sees record-breaking attendance in Austin

Thousands of motorcycles are taking over the downtown area this weekend. Friday was the official kick off of the Republic of Texas Biker Rally.

The City of Austin has closed 50 blocks downtown for the ROT Rally parade and party.

This is the 21st time the rally has brought motorcyclists from all over the state to Austin and organizers said they are already planning number 22. 

“What's the best part of ROT Rally? People watching,” said Clay Clemons who is attending ROT Rally this year. 

There will be plenty of that this weekend as hundreds of thousands of bikers roll into Austin.

“Everywhere you turn around, there's a motorcycle,” said Laurie Guthrie who is attending ROT Rally 2016. 

“ROT Rally is an event for motorcycle enthusiasts to come together, to spend time in Austin, TX, to ride in the hill country, and to celebrate the freedom of riding,” said ROT Rally Executive Assistant Ashley DuPree.

ROT Biker Rally organizers have put in a lot of work to make this year even bigger and better than previous years.

“This year the weather has turned out great for us, so we are having a record breaking year,” said DuPree. 

The four day motorcycle event is one of the largest in the United States. The Travis County Expo Center serves as home base for the rally, but Friday night bikers venture out to downtown Austin for a kick-off parade.

“It's just a big roaring rumble going down 35 all the way to 6th Street, so it's a lot of fun,” said Guthrie. 

In 2014, there were 200 motorcycle crashes during the event and officials said some of them could have been prevented if people paid attention. Bikers have also been warned to take extra precautions this year as almost 90 Austinites have been targeted by people throwing rocks onto I-35.

“We work closely, as you can see, with the Travis County Sheriff’s, Austin police, we all work together,” DuPree said. 

ROT Rally visitors will have plenty of activities to choose from. This year, organizers added flat track racing and a custom building show to the lineup of events.

“Seeing all the cool bikes, you'd be amazed at how people take the time and trick their bikes out. That's what the best part is,” said Guthrie. 

Just one year after a biker club shootout in Waco gave some riders a bad name, motorcyclists said they hope to show that they are people just like everyone else.

“They are everyone. They’re your next door neighbor, they're your doctor, they're lawyers, they are everyone,” DuPree said.       

“Bikers are good guys. I meet my buddies from Houston here. We're good guys. That's not indicative of what really goes on. A lot of good people out there,” said Clemons. 

Friday’s party will go on until 12:30 a.m., but, if you miss that, the rally will move back to the Expo Center for the next few days and ROT Rally organizers said there will be a special announcement Saturday regarding the 2017 rally.