Article by Mike Sayer and CD, Photography by Pete Alva, Mike & Jan “Pirate Girl” Sayer, Babydoll, Gary Balch
Hollister, what can I say? Just another invasion of thousands of Bikers to the small Central California town that pays homage to the fact that the American Biker Movement all started here some 61 years ago. The difference between then and now is most obvious by the organization from Horse Power Promotions headed up by Seth Doulton and his hardworking crew of staff and volunteers that has salvaged this event from almost becoming non-existent, to a successful event that drew a crowd of around 100,000+ (or so I have heard estimated by several sources).
What draws people to Hollister like a moth to a flame is the small-town feel of this event and the beautiful surrounding country that calls out to be ridden and observed while being part of this historic event. It is no wonder why Corbin has set up shop here in San Benito County; the city is simple, quaint, clean and graciously accepts the annual migration of Bikers from all over the world to share in the history that first put Hollister on the map. From the Clock Tower at Forth Street down San Benito Street to South Street and local places like Johnny’s Bar & Grill, a good time is bound to be had if you hang out long enough to experience a Bike Event that will surely live on for another 60+ years.
Unlike years of the past where motorcycles were able to park on San Benito Street, the vendors are now set up in double rows back-to-back down the middle of the street with bike parking in various other places and anywhere else they could be squeezed in. I heard a lot of the old school guys griping, those who were here when this street was packed with bikes, but they also weren’t at the endless city council and law enforcement meetings, where the new rules were laid down in order to bring back the rally. Name another rally that takes place on city streets anymore, within the police state of California, and we’ll start a petition together. Meantime, we’re just glad to have the rally back. And we’ll keep hoping for a Sturgis-style main street scene to return again some day.
The event spread to a nice shady park on the corner of Forth Street and Monterey where even more vendors where set up to display their wares. On the opposite corner closer to the action was the historic and exciting “Wall-of-Death” Motorcycle Dare-Devil Show along with others like Cole Foster and his Salinas Boys, Scott Long and Central Coast Cycles, Dragonfly Cycle Concepts and Fairfield the “old-school pin-striper” who kept busy most of the time doing what he does for those who wanted him to do it!
The one thing about the vendors being set up on the main street is the fact that when they start closing down around 8:45 – 9:pm (after a very long, busy day) the rest of the event seems to die down as well. In the old days when bikes were able to travel up and down the street, it was a never ending parade of bikes/riders from every walk of life that seemed to keep the run alive until after midnight. And with the bikes not being clustered in one main area it was hard to actually see how many bikes were actually there at any one given time. But there were times when the aisles were jammed packed full of people walking up and down the street or in groups visiting and just hanging out. After hours was very limited to the lines of folks wanting to get into one of the night-life clubs like the Broken Wing Saloon, Johnny’s or the Vault.
Law Enforcement remained present until the very end. A factor that was not to go “un-noticed” was the extreme population of law enforcement officers that were literally on every corner in groups of no less than 6 officers. Their main priority was to keep the event calm and peaceful and they were successful in doing that. For an event that draws a family oriented group, their presence was appreciated and warranted but their show of force also made it somewhat uncomfortable to just be able to hang-out and have a good time without being “eye-balled by the man” most everywhere you went or about everything you did. Unfortunately, I do not see the future of large bike events ever being any different, but if they were effective in their mission and nobody was hurt or overly harassed, I guess we’ll just have to get used to it. And knowing that there had been an incident involving 1% clubs just a week earlier in Los Banos, I guess we can’t blame the cops for keeping a lid on things.
One cool factor about the Hollister Run is the local riding through the hills or over to the coast. The group I was with rode to Monterey via 152 to Gilroy/Watsonville through a scenic highway that literally winds through tunnels of Redwood Tree branches and then back through Salinas to end up in a “can’t miss” place to go… San Juan Bautista. The town is a few miles out of Hollister and is very small but very big on it’s hospitality to host bikers wanting to have a good time without “the man” hovering around, in fact, I didn’t see even one law enforcement officer while we there on Saturday. For a small town it has some historic places to visit like the Mission or you can just cool your jets at one of the many bars inviting bikers in with open arms.
As in past years we stayed a few miles out of town at Casa de Fruta, a unique resort atmosphere with a RV park, restaurant, wine shop, candy store, a petting zoo for the kiddies and a miniature train ride that goes around the entire park. The RV park is secure and bustling with bikers that seemed to party all night long and into the “wee hours” including “those girls” who walked through the park at 4:30am talking, laughing and having a good time!
Others I met camped at Bolado Park where (I’m told) the best parties in Hollister take place and can get a little out-of-hand (but let’s not forget… we’re bikers and we love a little craziness from time to time)! Once again, Hollister was a blast and not to be missed out on if you have never attended, it is definitely an experience to be had. The locals love it, vendors love it and most importantly…bikers love it too. Let’s put another notch in our belt ‘cuz we “did” Hollister!!!
To all of our old and new-found friends… like Steve, Don, Dave, Matt & his crew, Knuckles from Boozefighters Chapter 101, Hard-working Bri, Joe and last but not least… my new little friend, Cheezy Rider, it was great to hang out with all of you in Hollister- see you next year!
MS – Ride Free and keep the wind in your face……..