By Mike “Spike” Sayer • Photos by Mike Sayer & Art Hall
It is hard to believe that summer is already here. The first event that makes summer a reality to me is the Big Bear Choppers – 5th Annual Ride the Mountain event! By now the days are getting longer and warmer, especially when the morning coastal “June Gloom” cloud-cover burns off so the sun can shine through and give us some beautiful weather to ride in.
Riding the Mountain is an event that simply cannot be missed! Not only is it one of the most spectacular and scenic routes you can ever ride, once you arrive on top of the mountain, there are numerous things to do. The first thing is to go to the Snow Summit Ski Resort. In the summer, you say? Yeah! Of course, because that is where you will find one of the biggest biker parties of the year… and Kevin & Mona’s Big Bear Choppers are the gracious hosts.
As you ride along the business side of the lake from either Highway 18, or Highway 38 (the beautiful back way up) you cannot help but notice the influx of motorcycles virtually everywhere. What tickles me is seeing the reactions of the locals and touristas in their cages looking around at us as if they have just been abducted by aliens, with a look of confusion, fear and “what’s-gonna-happennext” pasted on their clueless faces. I can only imagine what they must think (but who really cares anyway).
By the time you get close to Snow Summit, it is obvious where to go and where to park. At the base of the hill there is plenty of secured parking underneath shady pine trees with a short walk to a free tram that will take you up the hill to the event. If you desire to park closer to the top near the main gate, you could pay a small VIP parking fee and be just a few feet from the entrance.
Once inside you are in the Vendor area that featured over 100 Vendors from all segments of the industry, from Performance Machine, Wicked Image, Desperado Designs to name a few. The Big Bear Choppers Big-Rig was parked along the fence displaying many new models including their new low sling chopper/bagger that seemed to draw the attention of the crowd with everyone snapping photos of it with their high tech digital camera down to camera phones. The big question is, now that we’ve seen it, when do we get to buy it? How soon before it is available at local dealers, such as Temecula Valley Choppers? Well they say the GTX (Grand Touring X-wedge) is supposed to be available in November and in the ‘08 line up. We’ll see!
A special treat was to be able to see first hand the “Athena” Bike winner of Discovery Channel’s Biker Build-Off, again with a long line of bikers anxiously waiting to get a photo of the incredible work of art, that by the way, is now part of their wide line of fine motorcycles. Of course, you can’t have the original, but you can order one just the way you want it!
In my humble opinion, knowing what I know, seeing what I’ve seen, Big Bear Choppers is building the bikes that are changing the rules about what is in demand and what is “ultimately cool”. Every one of their machines looks like a “one-off custom” that draws more attention than any other machine out there. Seeing a 300 Pro-Street Sled cruising down the boulevard is an awesome site. The appeal of these bikes, including my favorite the “Merc” (or is it the “Screamin’ Demon… I can’t decide), invokes the interest of riders of all ages and brand preferences to get a closer look and drool awhile until they realize which one they want, which is a tough decision unless they plan to have several! Big Bear Choppers is a mainstay in the industry and with the visible growing support they get from their loyal customers, it is no wonder why.
Checking out the rest of the event, by going towards the back of the facility, upstairs, the event opened up with more Vendors, a few bars, a restaurant and Bikes on display in the Bike Show. If you tired of walking up and down the few slopes you easily find a nice place to sit down in the shade or, if you dare, ride a Sky Chair to the top of the hill for the best view possible.
On the Performance Machine Sponsored Concert Stage was top-notch live music most of the day with a performance by Uncle Kracker that rocked down the house and livened up an already lively party crowd. The attendance record set last year (at this same venue) was just over 10,000 visitors. By 2 pm the attendance records were shattered with well over 15,000 bikers already inside and more still arriving. Way to go!!! I guess that you can never keep a good party a secret and sooner or later it becomes a “can’t miss” event. If you missed going for whatever reason… make sure you commit yourself to go next year, in fact tell all of your riding buddies (if they didn’t already go without you) to mark your calendars and make it to Ride The Mountain next year… then you’ll understand what all the fuss is about.