American Heat – 2012
Story and photos by Ray Seidel
American Heat returned to Palm Springs this year for another 3-day weekend, Friday, October 19 – Sunday, October 21. (So one COULD squeeze in both this and Love Ride with some planning). I’ve been to American Heat previously, and will spend the weekend there this time. These street fairs, I think, are more fun when someone comes along, so YOU are riding along with ME, so let’s go check it out – kickstands up!
Coastal Inland Empire on Saturday was cloudy, drizzle, cold, but the weather for Palm Springs says hot and sunny. If it’s over 82 degrees I’m going in layers so I can strip down to a white “T” and not melt. Since I’m spending the weekend I’m taking the Sporty and leaving the Indian behind since I can lock the Harley forks. Maybe Polaris will think of this feature on the new Indians? Once off the I-15 and heading east on the I-10, the weather changes to sunshine, as expected. Passing Morongo to Palm Springs, there is a mandatory stop: HADLEY’S, which is right next to the Morongo Casino. Date shakes – ya gotta try ‘em if you haven’t, if you have you know what I mean – the best I’ve ever encountered. A good idea is to gas up the bike here – Morongo has a SUPER-SIZED filling station, and the gas prices gotta be 30-40 cents less than anywhere else I’ve seen in LA or San Diego. Recommended, so remember that for next year.
Back on the road, past the windmills, down CA-111. As usual, always windy out here. Little ball bearings of sand blow across the blacktop just before entering town. No sudden moves riding over that stuff. I’m just going to wing it finding a place to stay, so I keep an eye open for that, and land at a nice hotel that looks like a good bet.
Entering the event, as in the past, Palm Canyon Drive is blocked off so only motorcycles can enter, and there is plenty of parking for bikes. This is a high point for me, as one can see the wide variety of bikes people ride in easily when they’re stretched along both sides of the block. The Chrome Alley Vendor Show is blocks long again this year. Most of the events run all three days, but Saturday only is the Poker Run which started at 11:00 am. At 3:00 on Saturday were the awards for the Open Bike Competition. Mary Anne Hummel last year won the Women’s Class in the Bike Competition, and this year upped her win to the dual “His & Hers” Best of Show with hubby Gary.
Palm Springs local Steve Wright won the Dresser/Bagger class with his stealthy black bagger that’s had about $70,000 poured into it. A nice touch was its Darth Vader helmet, which is DOT legal. The Alyce Bowie band kicked in at 4:00 at the main stage – a group of local desert musicians located in the Coachella Valley who perform 70’s and 80’s rock and roll.
So many vendors, so much to browse, and many options for food. In addition to fast food the vendors offer, there is of course fine dining on each side of the street, and the bikers are filling the seats everywhere. I’m happy with just a quesadilla for now, and look at the tasty items I may want later. Next booth I see looks good: Digital EMS Muscle Stimulator Units. Hey, when you’re a Baby Boomer, jump at the chance to give those stiff muscles a chance to loosen up. This is a small hand held unit smaller than my smart phone, and the operator puts some pads on my neck and back. This one does a series of on & off rather than steady pulses in this example, and certainly helps those tight muscles. Okay, off to another booth. Here I meet “Kickstart” who is selling his book “MEMOIRS OF A BIKER.” This is a true story of his earlier years with the outlaw M/Cs in the 60’s & 70’s and those days of sex, drugs, and rock and roll. Maybe better to just read about those bar brawls and fist fights during the club wars, and enjoy the food, music, and entertainment of the moment. But looks like a good read, and may report on that later.
One thing on my must-see list today is the Globe of Death Stunt Show at the Palm Canyon and Amado intersection, so let’s go see that. This goes on all three days, but ought to look even better at night. While the famous WALL OF DEATH was exiting in the day, buzzing inside a globe 360’ must be better. And it’s better also because they put TWO bikes in at the SAME TIME. I’m guessing these guys must have one another in sight, in formation, so they don’t have the Big Crash, but what must the learning curve be like for this stunt?
At the intersection is the Attack of the 50 Foot Woman? No, it’s not Allison Hayes, it’s a giant statue of Marilyn Monroe in her iconic pose from The Seven Year Itch (at 26 feet). And a steady line of people getting their picture taken at her feet. Up the block is a shop that sells Western Wear, so let’s go in, since that can often double as biker clothing. First glance, the shirts look made for Republic Pictures King of the Cowboys, Roy Rogers (though I’ve never heard of a King of a Republic). Lots of tourists from France and Germany come through here, the shop worker tells me, and that’s kind of what their expectations are. Further in the back is the pragmatic clothing of leather and denim for a rider of a horse or motorcycle. It may not be widely known, but the seated position of a cowboy on a horse and a biker on a cruiser motorcycle is exactly the same. (As is a racer on a quarter horse and the rider on a rice rocket).
Across the street is a cigar shop, should one want a smoke while the Alyce Bowie Band is playing. I guess being in Palm Springs, one would expect a fine selection, and it is, offering Padron, and cigar of the year – Alec Bradley Prensado Churchill Cigars, nearly impossible to find anywhere else. People are enjoying the music at the main stage as the weather has dropped from 97’ to a cool, soft breeze, and as the vendors close up around 9:00, the street stays alive to party on.
For Sunday morning, the Christian Motorcycle Association had a service from 9-10 am at the main stage. (And a booth nearby). On the main stage LUCKY TONGUE appears, a father & sons trio that performs old favorites of the 60’s with a British influence. This is a Coachella Valley band, right off a tour of England. And I have to say, they are REALLY good. Not to be lost, also appearing on stage was Heatwave. This former at risk youth group band is sponsored by the Boys and Girls Club of Coachella Valley, ranging in age from 9 to 18 years, widely known for their Las Vegas style.
Three big acts, stunt shows all three days, blocks of vendors to browse in addition Palms Springs own local shops and restaurants to pick through – not a bad way to get away and spend a weekend in October.