Thunder Rolls Above and Below
Story & Photos by Kevin LeVezu*
*Photo assist- Chris Oggerino.
*Slow race winner photo courtesy of Don Clot
Meteorologists predicted thunder… Thunder happened – but not just from above. Street Vibrations Spring Rally got rolling under cloudy looming skies with some riders even encountering hail on the road to get here. But, everyone who I talked with was thankful that they came! The weekend was filled with cool temps and beautiful riding. It was a great prelude to September 23rd… the start of the Fall Rally.
Thunder from the engines of thousands of bikes arriving for the Spring Rally could be heard from Lake Tahoe through downtown Reno and all the way to Virginia City.
Friday, I started in downtown Reno where Randy Burke and his crew of professionals from Roadshows productions were working with over 50 vendors and 24 bands to put on a show that few in the west can rival. There were some awesome custom creations by Simms Custom Cycles as well as a display of the new Indian models. Bands like Blues Monsters, Rippin and Audioboxx rocked the stage to create their own thunder. The music along with the smell of slow cooked beef brisket made me hungry, happy and feeling at home. Then, in the afternoon, the Spanish Springs High School ROTC marched in, dressed in authentic WWII military uniforms, for a presentation of the American Flag. That was complemented by Darcy Gibson who sang our National Anthem. It was the only time when the thunder stopped as so many of the bikers present are Veterans or Active Military and we all paused as our flag was raised. I was honored to stand next to many of these patriots during the ceremony.
After the flag ceremony was over, it was time for the Slow Bike races. Slow racing may sound easy but it’s definitely not! Try going slower than the other rider, maintaining balance, and staying within a corridor seemingly the width of a popsicle stick without putting a foot down. So I wandered over to the bike race area and instead of starting the slow races… Roadshows’ Mike “Coach” McNulty started to dance! What? Well it turned into a flash mob and soon the whole street was dancing. I have never been in the middle of a flash mob but I must admit that it was fun. Then beautiful showgirls did a great job as starters for each race. Reno’s finest participated too– however congrats go to Don Clot of Portland who won 1st Place!
The rest of the evening was a blur. There were VIP parties in the Eldorado to attend, bands like Foreigner Unauthorized and Lucky Tongue on five stages to dance to, show girls, local casinos, great food…. You get the idea… fun!
Saturday morning there were blue skies and open roads! My wife and I headed east over winding roads and Geiger grade, stopping at viewpoints along the way to look at the spectacular views of the valley we just came from. Finally this historic road brought us to Virginal City. An old mining town with lots of character and lots of motorcycles! Walking the old wooden planks in front of the stores, we looked in the shops, soaked up the atmosphere of a century ago, sampled the food and tested our luck in places like the Bucket of Blood Saloon and the Delta Saloon with the famous “Suicide Table”. We even stepped inside the Old Washoe Club (rumored to be one of the most haunted places in America).
In the middle of the day, it was time to head back to Reno and to hang out at Chester’s Harley Davidson. Listening to the band Alias Smith, having a cold Coors Light and hanging out with friends made for a perfect afternoon. From the Street 500 city cruiser to full-on top of the line touring baggers beckoning you to take ‘em out on the road, there are some sweet bikes in that shop. It was a lot of fun and even though it was crowded, there was always someone from Chester’s there to offer advice or give me details on some aspect of a bike that I did not know. The Street Vibrations Poker Run stopped at Chester’s for lunch too, and then they headed on to Virginia City, with an award party at Baldini’s in Reno afterward. 3 guys all from California won the top 3 prizes with a Straight, 2 Pair and a Pair of Aces. Good times!
Saturday afternoon I found myself on the road once again, this time to Lake Tahoe. In my opinion it is one of the most beautiful places on earth. The views of Tahoe were amazing. The trip around the lake was about a 100 mile ride from Reno and back but, wow, it is worth it. Once back in Reno, more great bands played including The Fryed Brothers Band, there was another VIP Party at Baldini’s, and crowds cheered on more Slow Races.
Sunday there were event organized church services on the Silver Legacy Stage, great “last minute” deals from the vendors, more Slow Races and finally for us, a slow ride home after a very relaxing and fun filled trip to the Biggest Little City in the World.
While the sound of thunder is fading for now, I’m definitely looking forward to hearing the rumbling start again as the country band Rascal Flatts will entertain us on September 24 during Street Vibrations Fall Rally in Reno and Virginia City. See ya there!