Story & Photos by Randy Twells
I remember riding to Street Vibrations for my first time, in 2001, our first year of publication, with a tough assignment to cover. That was a fateful year in many ways, but mainly, the loss of America’s trusting innocence on 9-11. A mere 8 days later, as I rode Hwy. 395 north to Reno from Southern California, every overpass and every stop with American flags draped or flying in mourning but also defiance, I was headed to Reno for the 7th annual Street Vibrations. How far have we come, since then. In this its 13th event since 9-11, Street Vibrations brings the Spanish Springs High School ROTC WWII uniformed honor guard to raise the American flag on multiple occasions during the event, accompanied by the singing of the Star Spangled Banner.
This 19th year, Erik Estrada of “Ponch” fame in the 70’s-80’s TV show CHiPs, held meet & greets in the Reno Ballroom and JA Nugget, and participated in an awesome Police on Parade event with Reno Motor Officers, he and all of them on their motorcycles, right after one of the Flag Raising Ceremonies & Anthem. Erik was inspired at a very young age to go into police work, by the man his mother dated who was a New York police officer, and who won his respect. He got hooked on the acting bug for a while first, and then for many years he put his TV CHiPs image to use as the face of D.A.R.E. the program that encourages kids to be drugfree. Erik in addition to having a successful acting career eventually became a sworn sheriff ’s deputy, reserve police officer and internet crime investigator, and makes many appearances to support crime fighting events and causes.
Erik sure made everyone welcome and had fun doing it. At his meet & greets, he did not just sit behind a table and sign stuff, no sir, he was out in front where the people were so he could hug, shake hands, do photos & selfie’s, etc. – and after a string of about 15 guys came up one at a time for their picture with Erik, finally a lady was in the line next. He turned and saw her and said, “Finally—a woman!!” Everyone broke up laughing, she was thrilled, all was in good fun, and Erik just made like 50 new friends right there. A real biker, Erik fit right in, and was a hit with the Reno Police as well.
So I thought hey, I’m going to make sure I swing my deal here, I was shooting photos of all the cops and Erik etc., so I said to one of the motor officers, “soooo…. When you see me cruising around Reno this week, we’re good, right…??” He laughed, and said, “Just make sure you keep it to (…the standard answer ending with….) …the speed limit, “ and I was like DARN, ok. Can’t budge ‘em.!!
This year’s Fall Rally went with having almost all Rally vendors big and small all together in Downtown Reno, and just one official T-shirt vendor inside John Ascuaga’s Nugget Hotel —which is also very much an official part of Street Vibrations with poker walks, the poker run starting point, and a VIP concert there, one of the key sponsor hotels. Also of note is, the free event shuttle also operated between Sparks and Downtown Reno so you could party without worry—and get back ‘home’ safely. Many thought it was nice to have everything pretty much in one all inclusive area. You could get around to everything you wanted to see and didn’t have to choose between things happening at the same time in different places.
It was chilly out here part of the week, and I have to say the great long sleeve event T-shirt I got at Registration at the Reno Ballroom more than got me through when the weather turned cold & cloudy out and even sprinkled a bit one day. But then all was clear, sunny and very pleasant the rest of the time. Quick Throttle Magazine could be found at event Registration at the Reno Ballroom and other locations including the UniqCycle Sounds booth just to the side of the Reno arch next to Harrah’s Plaza. Kris and crew were verrry busy between customers for sound systems and people also wanting a free copy of Quick Throttle!
People rode from near and far to get to Street Vibes Fall Rally and we met some of them. At the BuBinga Lounge at the Eldorado was the first of the 2 VIP parties for Registered event goers, with Jason King playing on stage. Food was a nice green salad and various filled pocket pastas, deeelicious. In line, I saw a guy with a patch from Seattle HOG so I said, wow did you ride from Seattle? “Yes!” Thus I met Loren Cook (‘09 HD Ultra Classic) and Bret Van Iderstine (‘11 Electra Glide Ultra Ltd.) from Seattle, and their buddy Chris Sandoval who rode from Idaho on a 2014 Star Bolt. We shot their photo lined up in BuBinga so they could prove they were there! Then I met Bill and Sarita Miller who rode their bike all the way from Indianapolis, Indiana. Then sitting not far over were Dick Ford & buddy Terry Wilkinson who rode their bikes from Klamath Falls, Oregon. Talk about a gathering from all over here in Reno, Nevada.
It’s great to meet new people or revisit old friends and at Street Vibrations I get to do both. I met up with old friends motorcycle attorneys Steve Schapiro & Stan Leventhal. Steve also likes to meet people and find out about them, and people appreciate his hospitality. Like me when I needed to sit for a minute! One rider who stopped by was Don Blatchford who rode to Reno from Molalla, Oregon (near Portland). Reno local Lindsey Chrisman was also here helping Steve hand out his famous complimentary real leather wallets. These wallets have always been made in the USA, although he could have gotten them made elsewhere such as China, for a lot less. But he feels it’s important to stick to supporting American businesses. So, next time you see Steve, say thank you. Hey I still have my Schapiro & Leventhal wallet. It’s at least 10 years old and still good to go. But can you imagine how many wallets Steve has handed out over the years? A LOT.
Also in the Reno Ballroom was the Tattoo Expo- tattoo artists ready for attendees looking to get inked kept things busy. We also got to meet Kati Rae Long, the 1st Ms. Silver State Tattoo 2013! Kati Rae is from Reno and has graduated cosmetology school and plans to excel in hair, makeup and modeling to bring out the best piece of beauty in a person whether happy, sad, angry, sultry, light or dark. That’s a tall order and I think she’s up to it. Her mentor Shanda Golden herself a successful model and pageant director was here as well to meet & greet. We got Kati out by the bikes in the America’s Finest Custom Bike Builder’s Expo and she posed creatively for an awesome shot!
Speaking of beauty we also met up with the lovely ladies of the International Bikini Team Competition, doing their meet & greet in the Reno Ballroom and they found Quick Throttle Magazine to be fascinating reading along with welcoming their admirers…
In the Reno Ballroom you could get Fit-Ear earplugs to save your hearing in many applications. Mark the owner fit me with a pair of these custom fit sound-blocking plugs that I’ve worn for over 2 years now at concerts to shoot photos from right up in front of the booming speakers and they save my hearing. I recommend them highly. They have many types of plugs for various uses- motorsports, firearms, music/stage use, etc. and some for stereo listening too. Check em out at www.fit-ear.com.
Then I met the guys at Nevada Rider Motorcycle Safety Program, a state sponsored program. With staff to answer questions and lots of literature they had a computer simulator with handlebars that takes you on a road trip, kind of like a video game; and yes you could crash if you screwed up—oops…!! Find info on their classes etc. at www.nevadarider.com.
Then I stopped and met Scott and Aprille of A & S Jerky, and they have the most tender wonderful succulent jerky you can find. Really good. I know because he insisted I take a bag of Super Sweet variety with me for quick take along nutrition as he could see the pace I was on, and let him know what I thought. It was awesome and got me through the day shooting photos when I didn’t have time to sit down and have a meal. Also goes in a saddlebag for when you are out on the road and need a quick protein charge. They also have a Whisky Barbecue flavor, hmmm that’s next! Find A & S at shows or email them at AandSJerky@gmail.com.
Paul Teutul, Sr. built the gorgeous loooong custom chopper on display at the NIIA (Nevada Independent Insurance Agents) Assn. booth, to get our attention, which it did!
I checked out some nice looking rides for sale in the Bike Corral, and then headed out on the street. Although civic regulations have discontinued the parking of bikes up and down the center of Virginia St. (like under the arch) for several years now, bikes were still parked on Virginia, with 2 rows on each side of the north end of Virginia St. at 6th & 7th Sts. plus side streets, all free. VIP’s could also park in free special areas at Sands Regency, Eldorado & Sparks’ Nugget hotels. Music was a big part of the fun again this year- On the Jaegermeister outdoor stage we also had a return gig by Audioboxx, who did a smash tribute to AC/DC with Highway to Hell and their other hits, and really from a ways off I thought they got AC/DC out there… and it was Audioboxx doing an awesome cover. The band Rippin, drawing influences from Aerosmith, Foo Fighters & Stevie Ray Vaughn, brought some great original music to the stage with great guitar sounds, and has a CD entitled You Gotta Go.
Some great headliners this year — Jimmie Van Zant Band with his beautiful wife Zohra, and the two Dave’s, one on bass and one on lead guitar, and Jay on drums, played two awesome shows at John Ascuaga’s Nugget Celebrity Showroom– the Roadshows VIP party where he brought some stoked fans up on stage, and a ticketed concert where he had me get on stage with them and shoot crowd pictures too- I just focused on ‘not tripping’. Their new CD title song “Feels Like Freedom” feels like, a newly discovered road anthem that played like your favorite pair of well worn jeans. Jimmie’s originals along with his cousin Ronnie Van Zant’s Lynyrd Skynyrd family legacy music made it a mega music feast. Then backstage, the fun began after the second show as everyone horsed around and unwound with the ‘let’s all pile on the couch’ shot—Then out front for the fan meet & greet—where a die-hard FanZant couple convinced Dave the guitarist to sign and sell them his guitar-a blue beauty! Many photos, all the band members having signed it then, and many handshakes and hugs later, these FanZants had added Dave’s blue beauty to their wall collection of signed guitars from music legends including the Beatles. Watch for some incredible Gallery collections and some shots to be used possibly on their new website too. All I can say is, it was quite a night….
Three Dog Night held court at the Silver Legacy with a ton of their hits, remember those times?– but first, Night Ranger came on stage. An original big hair band known for their 80’s hit ‘Sister Christian’ that still delivers the goods, they had the crowd on their feet and my camera clicking to get the hair flying!
Skynnyn Lynnyrd concert at Harrah’s Plaza with their awesome Skynyrd tribute show, brought all the energy of the 1970’s precrash Lynyrd Skynyrd originals by Ronnie Van Zant and band. With gritty lead vocals and killer guitar solos including Robert Moody’s tornado-like finale on Freebird, it was a crowd-gone-wild show—and I’ve learned to watch for his mid-air leaps with the camera—thanks to everyone up front in the crowd who made room for me to shoot!
While Skynnyn Lynnyrd was playing the packed plaza, Trey Valentine, Reno area radio personality & announcer, was just a couple streets over with the final Slow Race of the night. A fun part of this was that a Reno Police Motor Officer challenged the bikers. And LOST. Yes. So as the Motor Officer was headed back around Trey stops him and says, loudly on the PA, “OFFICER! Do you realize that you were going TOO FAST!??!” (The crowd erupts with cheering and yelling…) and then “Officer, how does that FEEL??!!!” (Again with the cheering!) They made him feel right at home..!! We have a YouTube video link for this so check quickthrottle.com. As the Slow Races finished up and Skynnyn Lynnyrd took a bow at stage front having played their last song, and threw sticks and picks to the crowd, and started heading off stage, it was timed perfectly as the Fireworks show from the roof of the Silver Legacy started right then! So concluded the Saturday evening fun in Reno.
Over at Chester’s Reno Harley-Davidson, things were jumping with the Rowdy Johnson Band and the Baddest Bagger contest at the Paul Yaffe display, to be judged by Paul Yaffe himself. Scott Jacobs the renown Harley-Davidson commissioned artist, was here showing his works of art which could be viewed up close on display and were available for purchase. We noticed that one of the works shown was the “Sturgis or Bust” Panhandler that we had on the Quick Throttle cover for August 2012. Awesome!! Keeping it fun, Reno H-D also had a contest like none I’ve seen—guys competing to see who could hold a gallon jug of water out straight at arm’s length the longest period of time. The victor had a method, he kept leaning his body back to compensate, and it worked and he won a cool prize. Hey the bragging rights alone, I mean!!
As I made one more trip through Reno Ballroom Sunday afternoon, I met a young man named Matt Bailey, in a wheelchair, wearing an “Honor 42” (Pat Tillman) jersey and learned, the Pat Tillman Foundation saw his photo in it and thus, Matt found a new purpose in life with an adaptive career as a para-athlete; with the support of Schampa Rider Wear and the Tillman family foundation he will be ‘pushing’ the Grand Canyon this summer for a documentary film supporting Wounded Warriors called, “Grand Canyon Assault” to be shown at Sundance Film Festival. Go Matt!
Then, we got the whole Roadshows crew together for a team photo so you know who to blame for all the fun you had! Our other field correspondents Irish Flame and Kristan Fruend covered Carson City Downtown Street Vibrations and Virginia City, stay tuned for that….