Spring Street Vibrations: Sparks & Thunder in Northern Nevada
STORY BY RANDY TWELLS; PHOTOS BY RT & CONTRIBUTORS*
June 1-3 in Sparks, Reno and Virginia City. Once again, we hit the highway for Northern Nevada. up the 395 corridor through the Eastern Sierra. I stop continually to shoot pictures along the road, how can I not? Mt. Whitney and its neighboring peaks just astound the senses imagining being up there and looking down at us at the same time we are looking UP. At 14,505 feet it’s the tallest mountain in the 48 states. All through the Owens valley are reminders of this being old western film country, where the Duke and many others rode ‘em hard & put ‘em up wet. And I don’t mean bikes! (or horses either, sometimes…)
And the ascent from the valley out of Bishop up past Mammoth Lakes to Lee Vining, past Mono Lake’s glassy waters and strange stalagmite formations, the peaks of Yosemite and beyond, wind gusts blowing puffs of snow off their crests in the glaring sun, the winding road dropping out into the valley where Bridgeport stands, golden in peaceful evening pastoral sunlight. From there, onward north along the Walker River- a shallow winding tumult of rocky rapids. The passage into Nevada is epic.
Quick Throttle HQ at John Ascuaga’s Nugget—if you visited the Nugget I’m sure you noted you could pick up a Quick Throttle in the lobby at Registration or the Bell Desk— I settled in to my comfy digs, greeted by a wonderful room with perfect air temp the whole weekend, never had to adjust the thermostat, and 2 complimentary bottles of water. I have to mention this and say, “kudos” to John Ascuaga for getting it right–because everyone ELSE charges your room bill for these tempting items at about $3 a pop if you open one!
Street Vibrations is a unique event, showcasing Northern Nevada. Sparks is the small town sidekick to Reno, “The Biggest Little City in the World”, and within a day’s ride to other far flung towns separated by long stretches of unpopulated virgin desert, sagebrush and mountains. Virginia City and Reno play second fiddle in Spring to the Sparks/Victorian Square main event area with John Ascuaga’s Nugget as the major sponsor and venue for the headline concert, this year by the Unauthorized Rolling Stones. So we began our weekend with walking the vendors, checking out the local boys — LivFast Stunt Show 3X freestyle bikes in the air at once, and John Stotts & Bela Tabak riding dirt bikes inside the 14.5 ft. diameter Globe of Death, both at the same time going upside down and all around too. I get to shoot looking up through the metal grids for the exclusive Quick Throttle photo. The Iron Horse Rodeo roping competition was a new thing but got derailed due to gusty winds that blew the horse over, it being a model of a horse, not a real one. Next time—
The Slow Races got off to a..slow..start, on purpose! Local radio host Trey Valentine was here with BOB 93.7 doing the MC honors and with the beautiful scantily clad model who acted as the starter, she also using some very visual signals for the racers- hand held high was ‘ready’, hand held outstretched at her side was ‘set’, and GO was, she dipped down a bit and slapped herself soundly on her butt cheek. You had to be there. A cigar smoking entrant was the winner, and races went on all weekend with big crowds at this first time Streets feature.
The Hot Rod display by Miller’s Chop Shop was also new, some beautiful examples of vintage rats & rods and custom restorations. Beautiful memories of days gone by.
Unauthorized!! Rolling Stones– The Nugget set up the Celebrity Showroom with a dance floor down in front this time, making it easier for big fans of the Stones to dance and appreciate up-close the swagger and strut that Rudy Columbini and the others brought to this Stones tribute performance. ‘Keith Richards’ had the authentic crazy feather trimmed hair and all the moves and guitar licks too. All in all a great show that brought back some good times, or at least for those who actually recall them! Great stage lighting in the Celebrity Showroom makes for a great visual show too and great photos which we have more of in our Quick Throttle online Gallery so check it out!
Virginia City was the destination for the Saturday Poker Run with bikes lining the curb all along the main street. Riders take the scenic route on the highway into these mountains that I can’t imagine traversing daily as a dirt road in the 1800’s when this former mining town was booming. Virginia City is its own isolated microcosm with a mystique born of strange visitors in empty hallways and high mountains on which slopes it perches, separating it from the outside world. Our Northern Nevada correspondent Irish Flame Dana Fruend /Anam Cara Tours gave us the Ghost Tour — The Bucket of Blood Saloon, the Old Washoe Club, Tahoe House and the whole town are like walking around in a sudden time warp to 100 years ago, and you can stay in the rooms that have seen everything. The uneven plank sidewalks keeping pedestrians above the 1800’s mud street are still as they were, whether walked on by a young lady in her long frock and petticoats with hightop buttoned shoes or by a gunfighter in a long coat and boots.
Chester’s Reno Harley-Davidson’s party for Spring Streets was the place to be this year. Marketing Manager Amy Baker says, “We had a much bigger crowd than last year and our parking lot started filling up with bikes as early as 9am. We had an excellent band (Alias Smith) that had people dancing in the parking lot until late in the day, and we announced the winner of our May Ladies Boots Giveaway. The Dish Truck, a gourmet food truck that has been featured on the food network, was serving in our parking lot from 11-4pm and Road Shows had a beer truck serving all day as well. Despite the heat (almost 97 degrees), the dealership was busy and a lot of people came out to not only party, but to check out our great inventory of new and used bikes. As a major sponsor of both Spring and Fall Street Vibrations, …we encourage people to make Chester’s Reno Harley-Davidson a regular stop in their plans to attend Street Vibes in Reno and Sparks. While we are separate from the downtown areas, we always have a lot going on here, in conjunction with what Road Shows has planned, and we’ve always had, lively, fun and peaceful events at our dealership. While Spring Streets is still gaining momentum, during the fall event we have dozens of vendors, multiple live bands, street closures and a huge party that goes on all week long.”
Back at Victorian Square in Sparks the Roadshows models in their tall feather headdresses and red chaps are a striking presence offering tickets for a drawing for the brand new 2012 Harley 72 to be awarded one lucky winner in the fall with proceeds benefiting Juvenile Diabetes research. And Roadshows takes care of their VIP registered attendees with a VIP party Friday and Saturday evenings upstairs in the Nugget’s convention area with live music and free food and drinks including beer. Feed them and they will come! Saturday also featured an arm wrestling competition and the ceremonial Flag Raising with the National Anthem by solo vocalist Tamara Evans.
Cheap Lick tribute band brought out the Dream Police ladies for their show Saturday at the outdoor stage on the Square—oh yes, this is their troop of ladies who will keep everyone in line at the show! With official badges (badges? BADGES??) and nightsticks, I’m not going to argue with them… a great show with all the Cheap Trick hits.
Sunday the Bike Show was again graced by Lenny Walker with his original creation bike as he also entered last year. Lenny is a train conductor who last year due to entering the Bike Show at Spring Street Vibrations, was NOT working on the train when a big rig driver slammed into it broadside out on the desert, derailing the train, killing himself but sparing the conductor filling in for Lenny. Lenny was in a different place than he normally would have been, and who knows what might have been if the Bike Show had not beckoned to him. We were glad he was with us again this year. The Best of Show winner was a 1939 Harley service car that Dave the owner bought in 1990 for $600, with the original box, put in $8000 worth of parts and his own labor since then, and enters yearly but show judge Gordon Madison sticking to his criteria and playing no favorites, passes on it for one minor thing or another. But this year it finally won the top prize. With a beautiful red paint job and well done restoration, using the original box, the little red trike deserved its win.
The rest of the afternoon Sunday was for relaxing and listening to the bands on the outdoor stage, Jelly Bread being the funky pop R&B hit of the day, doing Stevie Wonder, Al Green etc., the bass player doing a killer solo on ‘Superstition’, and people got so into it that spontaneous moms, grandma’s and kids and dads all got up and partied like it’s 1999. The dais’s that had displayed the Chester’s H-D bikes were now impromptu go-go dancer platforms and made all the better in that these were just regular gals who lost all inhibition and became like a flash mob of 2. (Not to be confused with the Go Go Bar’s bartop dancer in 4 inch platforms and a bikini who collected patrons’ dollar bills in her garters.) For those who were around late afternoon and hungry, we found that the food vendors’ BBQ and ice tea, lemonade etc. were all now $1 per item. It pays to stick around!
Many hundreds of bikes parked all over Victorian Square and the Nugget parking areas, vendors of every description and numerous bands rounded out the stuff to see, hear, do and buy. We saw bikes and met people from all over California, the Southwest and the Northwest too. The June issue of Quick Throttle was a popular free pickup perk not only in the Nugget but also out on the Square at many spots. Save the date Sept. 19-23 for Fall Street Vibrations again in Northern Nevada and another great road trip.
More Spring Street Vibrations 2012 photos and Unauthorized Rolling Stones concert photos at: http://quickthrottle.com/media-archive/2012-photo-gallery/
For 2012 Spring Street Vibrations Competition Winners Info please visit: http://www.roadshowsreno.com/spring_winners/index.php
*Some photos courtesy of Chester’s Reno H-D, the band Alias Smith