When you've got a medium-sized event in the nation's fastest-growing metropolis it's easy to get lost in the shuffle, but what better place to get lost than Las Vegas? Other than at the Cashman Center, epicenter of the rumbling, Las Vegas just seemed to be a town with a large biker population - which it is.
There were events all around town: .38 Special at the Fremont Street Experience, SinFest at the Plaza Hotel (also the host hotel of the event), as well as various poker runs and bike shows. The real action - if you wanted to get nice and tight with a few of your closest riding buddies - was the Cashman Center. At the Cashman, there were all the vendors and builders' displays you've come to expect from a big event, as well as an invitation-only show, Artistry in Iron, sponsored by our sister publication, HOT BIKE magazine. Artistry had some fabulous machinery on display, much of which debuted at this little show, but the winner was a bike we'd previously seen in Sturgis:Roger Goldammer's "Trouble".
After sampling the crowds at the Cashman, we slipped unseen back into the city to play some poker. We couldn't help but like going to a bike rally that gives you everything one of the giant zoos (Sturgis, Daytona, etc.) can but allows you to escape into the "real world" inside of 10 minutes. You can see all of the cool new stuff for your bike (and, in some cases, get it installed), join a few hundred of your closest friends for a poker run, enter a bike show, gawk at some magnificent customs, and rub elbows with a slew of like-minded bikers - in other words, what you'd do at any event. Or you can take in a show, play poker against some of the best in the world (or some of the worst), pay far too much for a martini at a fashionable club, live the high life - in other words, what you can do in Vegas any weekend of the year. It's actually a good combination.
However, the best part is (unlike Laughlin, where you can get a $30 hotel room that would cost you $300-plus per night during the event) even though claimed attendance is 30,000-plus, in Vegas that's not even enough to make the hotel room rates go up by five bucks.