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Posts Tagged ‘Laughline River Run’

For more than a year I’ve commented ranted about the various motorcycle rallies and the city council fiascos.

Many concerned city governments do their best to dissuade motorcycle rallies altogether using a series of tactics designed to run off motorcycle tourism.  By raising vendor and booth fee’s or trying to rein things in with stricter vendor rules or outright banning activity.  And if that doesn’t work they’ll pull the “P” card…exorbitant costs for policing the event to protect against the villain that doesn’t exist.

There have been boycotts by motorcycle enthusiasts, public forums, petitions, protests, organizations formed, news reports, and lawsuits filed (Myrtle Beach for example) so, I backed off on beating this dead horse which had begun to dominate my posts. I won’t say motorcyclists lost because we are still riding when, where, and how we want to, but some of the cities got their wish and several rallies were cancelled or downsized to the point where riders washed their hands of the whole thing.

Well, frankly I’m over it and looking forward to Laughlin River Run 2010.  If all goes well I will be saddling up in April.  I’ve attended this rally in various forms nine of the last 10 years.

Our posse is like most Laughlin River Run visitors in most cities that host motorcycle events. We don’t belong to a club or motorcycle gang. We don’t ride recklessly because we want to make it home in one piece. We aren’t going to walk out on our check or assault your families. Hotel furniture remains unbroken!  Several in the posse own a family business. And most all have worked their way up the ladder and been in management at a number of white collar companies.  All are family men and just looking to get away from the work-a-day world for a few days. We’ll spend money on lodging, we’ll go to restaurants, we’ll shop the vendors, we’ll have a few laughs, smoke a cigar or two and then we’ll go home. We’re the same people that cities work to get our tourist dollars, but have tried just as hard to run off as “villains.”

I read an article in, the Feb. 10 edition of The Sun News who reported that “For the first time in many years, hospitality revenue didn’t grow in Myrtle Beach in 2009, leaving the city with a larger-than-normal financial gap to overcome to balance its budget.” I told you so, Myrtle Beach.  But in reality we could [insert any city name USA here!] rather than Myrtle Beach.

Call my crazy, but here’s a novel idea for the Pacific Northwest Chambers of Commerce…in your city’s Chamber of Commerce embrace the, well… commerce, generated by the motorcycle rallies and maybe even play a key role in promoting them.  Yes, there will be times when city officials will have to deal with some complaints of congestion and noise. Instead of pulling the plug on tourist dollars hold the elected officials, heads of law enforcement, and Chamber of Commerce feet to the fire and ask them to do their jobs and address the issues.

Almost a year ago there was a CNN article where Kevin Kilian (Sr. VP of Daytona Beach/Halifax Area Chamber of Commerce) stated that their spring (Bike Week) and fall (Biketoberfest) motorcycle rallies generate $650 million dollars a year.

Could the same be true here the northwest?

Photo courtesy of Random House and Chip and Dan Heath.

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or_redrocksTalk was about a down turn in attendance.  The economy, you know.  Sure the attendance of Laughlin River Run was down (based on my unscientific estimate), but the beautiful weather, the awesome display of motorcycles, and the backdrop of events in the area brought out plenty of riders for the 27th annual motorcycle rally.

It turns out that bikers are indeed welcome in the little town on the Colorado River!  A nice change given un-friendly events in Daytona and in Snohomish, Wa.  We made the 90-mile trek to Laughlin from our Vegas base camp.  The end of April marks a return of bikers to Casino Drive which for a few days becomes the center of everything motorcycles.  I don’t know about you, but I thought it was easy to get around compared to years past.  A side benefit of smaller crowds I suppose.  The lines to vendor booths were shorter, there were no parking hassles and the overall atmosphere was just more relaxed.  Nice!

Sucker Punch Sallys - "Big Kev"

Sucker Punch Sallys - "Big Kev"

There were too many vendors to cover it in detail.  I’ll let the trade rags write about the assortment of “must haves” for your bike. However, I wanted to do a couple of shout-outs.  We grabbed some face-time with “Big Kev” of Sucker Punch Sally’s.  He had the fun meter on high with the “shine” as riders milled about the village of white tents and booths near the casinos.  Thanks for the hospitality and kudos to the SPS team!  I posted previously about who in the chopper industry is going to be the “new” ambassador and still maintain that SPS has the right old school ideas.  Moving on we spent some quality time with Dan Miller of Renegade Wheels to better understand the nuisances of proper wheel fit/placement on baggers. They have some high quality wheels and had a steady line of folks dropping $$ for additional bling.

Conventional wisdom is to post up at the rally, but I had a bit more passion for desert riding near and around Vegas this time around.  We spent more seat time around Lake Mead, the Valley of Fire, Red Rocks Canyon and the Pahrump Valley.  The RRC gets over a 1M visitors each year since it’s only 30 minutes from the strip, but I never get tired of the 13-mile scenic loop drive.  Further up the road is Pahrump which is a gateway into death valley.

rrc_posseBack to the ride out to Laughlin…as we anticipated, LEOs were visible and out enforcing any traffic violations.  Our first encounter was in the town of Searchlight, NV. where Senator Harry Reid was born.  For a town with a population of under 600, it sure had one of the highest saturation patrols I’ve witnessed from Sheriff, State Police, metro police and city LE.  We did a quick gas/water stop and the dialogue with other bikers quickly turned to ticketing for exceeding the speed limit by as little as 2mph in some cases.  A notable top priority for LE was helmet compliance.  Not for just wearing one, but city police were validating that riders had a DOT approved helmet and were aggressively ticketing.  Unfortunate because a lot of folks were getting pulled over.  We managed to idle out of town and not draw attention.

The trip was a great way to recharge after months of cold and rainy weather.  The most notable event?   There was NO event!  There were NO major problems.  No issues with motorcycle clubs and when I checked earlier today there were no motorcycle fatalities!  There were four felony arrests and 20 gross misdemeanor arrests in Laughlin and according to the Mohave News there were a number of accidents in and around Oatman.  In fact there were three within 61 minutes of each other.  But, no fatalities which is all you can hope for with so many riders who show up to revel in the taste and tunes of the desert.

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