by Charlene Casey
Community. Not a word most people would associate with motorcyclists. Yet, it is the best word I can think of to describe the group of people I’ve met in my brief experience (riding less than 3 years) as a biker chic and proud of it. How many places can you go and see the most beautiful bikes in California, listen to good music by a dj or even a live band, possibly win hundreds of dollars, eat a meal, have your photo taken and support a worthy cause or charity and all for the price of the gas it took to travel there?
As a new rider I had heard of “Bike Night” but didn’t know what people were talking about. As I became more experienced I wanted to know what this “Bike Night” was. Why did so many people care about it? My first experience was at Frisco’s in Downey, California. My husband indulged my curiosity and rode with me to the spot hosted by Front Line Warriors. At first, all I could see was black leather, denim, big choppers, custom bikes, tattoos, beards, classic hogs, trikes and lots of chrome. When I was able to look past what appeared to be an intimidating group, I met the people! Wonderful people. Front Line Warriors and their ministry was raising money for various good causes with their sales of raffle tickets for the evening’s give-a-way as well as the “50/50“ everyone waited for. I met a lot of Front Line Warriors that night – who greeted me with hugs and welcoming smiles. Within minutes I felt like a part of this wonderful community of people. As the night came to a close they announced the winner of the Best Bike of the Night – turned out to be me. What a fantastic feeling. I’ve won twice at Frisco’s – chosen by the community that shows up at Frisco’s every Thursday night. www.frontlinewarriorsmm.com
Next stop … world famous and sorely missed Curley’s in Long Beach, California. I couldn’t wait to attend a Curley’s Bike Night. Every Harley rider I met spoke of said Tuesday nights at Curley’s was the place to be. It was clearly “the spot” and I could see why. Beautiful classic, custom, brand new and antique bikes as far as the eye could see on that small parking lot. It was my first real experience with meeting other lady bikers. Folks sat inside, outside and on the back wall hooting and hollerin’ for a chance at a raffle prize. Curley’s also supported a local charity, sold raffle tickets, had a 50/50 and awarded a Bike of the Night trophy. I am proud to say my bike was selected as Best of Show at Curley’s – a non-Harley rider winning at Curleys?! Fantastic! The biker community would be well served if we could give this location more support so they could bring back their Bike Night to the glory it deserves.
Next stop … Wednesday night at The Starting Gate in Los Alamitos, California. What an amazing group of people who frequent this always exciting spot! Plenty of parking, plenty of bikes, good food, entertainment and Doreen. If you ever make it to The Starting Gate and have the chance to meet Doreen – you will never forget her. Doreen’s smile and enthusiasm for the charities and causes supported by The Starting Gate is worth a million bucks. It seems as if she knows everyone personally; remembering who you are and how long it has been since she last saw you. I won Bike of the Night there too. www.thestartinggate.us
Next stop … Aja’s on the border of Lakewood and Paramount, California. Aja is a lovely and unforgettable woman who serves home cooked food each Bike Night held on Mondays whether there are six or sixty people in the joint. She greets you with a hug and a smile and knows your name and your bike. If you have the pleasure of meeting her, you know why she is unforgettable. The staff is pleasant and the tiny parking lot is guarded by a very large dude = your bike is safe there. I won at Aja’s, too.
Next stop … Ricky & Ronnie’s in Torrance, California. This place is a classic diner with Bike Night on Thursdays. It looks as if it were built to feature bikes first, serving food as a perk. The staff is efficient and the food worth waiting in line for. I won Bike of the Night at Ricky & Ronnie’s too.
Next stop … Paid in Full Motorcycle Ministries in La Palma, California on Monday nights. Now here is a place where you are truly going to have fun. They have dancing lessons right there in the parking lot! Jose and Betsy Mata are the host and hostess with the mostest! Seriously, these people have energy to burn. I won Bike of the Night there too. www.holygroundchurch.org
Next stop … Rare Breed Motorcycle Club in Leimert Park, California. This was a very unique experience. Harley’s dominate this Bike Night and one can see why – the Dynas, Road Kings and other Harleys are exquisitely maintained and masterfully decorated. Here, more than anywhere else, the pride of ownership is what stands out. Held outside, folks are lined up on the sidewalks as bikers roar in, music blaring from their speakers which sound like the bike is a rolling night club. The community that is the Rare Breed is also welcoming, warm and very proud.
Next stop … Texas Loosey’s in Torrance on Fridays. This is lovely bar and restaurant with limited parking but they make it work. The food is good, the people are friendly and it is yet another place where the community of bikers is present. The waitresses are chics in chaps! Chaps with bikini bottoms underneath.
Last stop (so far), and not a ‘Bike Night’ but a bike show. The Palm Springs American Heat Bike Show sponsored by Renegade Classics Engine Joe’s. After a 2-1/2 hour ride from Los Angeles, I was a bit tired but after entering the sultry city of Palm Springs, riding along the numerous streets and seeing the amazingly beautiful bikes and colorful people riding them, excitement reigned. Signs in windows of restaurants that read “Bikers Welcome” were everywhere. Too bad the location wasn’t better suited to the large crowd but it was still a great time. Thumbs up all around from folks that rode along and saw my decidedly ‘girly’ bike. I, along with several other women were winners in their class, won 1st place Import Custom that afternoon. This was a sweet win as it was voted on by my peers – other ladies in the competition.
My little wins are insignificant in the scheme of things but if winning gets people talking and smiling and asking questions, I’m all for it. In this community of bikers, what is clear is that motorcycle riders make it possible to provide a necessary and important contribution to the charities that benefit from the success of Bike Nights in Southern California. Bike Nights raise a lot of money for major causes and little known charities. The people who put them together do so with passion and dedication. The motorcycle riders who buy raffle tickets for a chance to win a set of pipes or a tshirt or a leather vest or pocket knife already have these things – they buy tickets and support the community knowing their money is going to a good cause. Without the contributions made by the community of bikers who participate in Bike Nights – many groups and organization would have difficulty time raising money.
Support your local Bike Night – it will make you feel good!
Editor’s Note – Charlene lives in the South Bay area so she wasn’t able to hit ALL the cool Bike Nights So Cal has to offer – everyone in The O.C. knows Cook’s Corner is the place to be on Wednesday nights, as well as any given weekend. There are many others, and even dealers like Skip Fordyce in Riverside get into it with a Friday bike night once a month. But here’s a thought – if you see a new bike night just starting up, and you’re the kind who likes to help “build” something, come out and help any way you can. Whether it’s for charity, or just to show off your chrome, it’s a lot of fun.