If you're like me, when you think of Las Vegas, the last thing that comes to mind is motorcycles. Not to say that there are no motorcycles in Vegas, but it just doesn't strike me a huge motorcyclist destination. In my opinion there is plenty of other trouble and entertainment (both good and bad) to get into within the city limits, that motorcycles or riding a motorcycle can become a complete afterthought. But every year I attend Las Vegas Bikefest I am completely surprised by the number of bikes and attendees roaming the gritty downtown area and the amount of fun I have with my fellow motorcycle brethren. This past September 27-30, according to the number posted by the promoters, nearly 30,000 motorcycle enthusiasts rode, drove, flew, or walked their way to Vegas to partake in the event's and city's many activities.
Like years past, home base for the event was the Fremont Street area with hotels like the Four Queens and the Golden Nugget providing discounted rates and clean, comfortable rooms to catch a nap or refresh after sweating in the heat all day. Even though it was the end of summer/beginning of fall, it was still pretty damn hot in the desert and soaking in a cool shower was a great respite from sweaty boxers. Just a short jaunt down Las Vegas Boulevard is the Cashman Center, the hub for the majority of the event's extra curricular activities. A mix between indoor and outdoor vendors, bike shows, bikini contests, concerts, and the final destination for several Poker Runs taking place during Bikefest, the Cashman Center was in a constant flux of masses of people coming and going. Many events can have the typical poker runs, but very few have can offer other money-winning opportunities such as slot, poker, or craps tournaments.
A row a baggers fall in line for one of the many Bikefest bike shows.
The mothership has landed.
They may look sweet and innocent, but the women of Hogs & Heifers know how to put a guy in
Inside the H-D Café, bikes roll off the “assembly” line and are carried around the top of
One of the main attractions taking place at the Cashman Center during Bikefest was the Artistry in Iron Master Builder's Championship. An invite-only, peer-judged competition, this event always draws a solid pool of custom bike builders who are at the top of their craft creating ground-up customs with many unique and handcrafted parts. It was unfortunate that there were no baggers entered into the competition, but that's not to say the bikes entered were not quality. With entries from the likes of Todd's Cycle, Indian Larry Legacy, Powerplant Choppers, TPJ Customs, LA Speed Shop, Spitfire Motorcycles, AFT Customs, Blacksmith Motoring, and Thunderstruck Custom Bikes, the builders had a tough task of choosing a winner. In the end though, Yaniv Evan of Powerplant Choppers took top honors and a check for $10,000. And for the first time this year, Artistry in Iron media event sponsor, Cycle Source magazine offered up the opportunity for all the magazine editors in attendance to pick an Editor's Choice Award. Our sister publications, HOT BIKE and Street Chopper magazines chose bikes from TPJ and Split Image Kustoms, respectively (look for full features in upcoming issues of those magazines).
You would think with all the activities going on at Cashman Center that would be plenty of entertainment to keep the crowd satiated. But this is Vegas where sleep is overrated and the partying, gambling, and alcohol never stops. For those who like to people-watch, late-night (or just about anytime of the day) under the lights of the Fremont Street Experience provides hours of free, or at least really cheap, entertainment. Just off Fremont Street is a popular biker hot spot, Hogs & Heifers Saloon. If you like scantily clad bartenders screaming and yelling and berating you about your masculinity, or lack there of, then this is the place for you. Leave your thin skin at the door and watch in awe as the gals hop on the bar in their booty shorts, bikini tops, and shit kickers and boot scoot boogie across the bar top. And now you'd think that would be enough excitement for everyone, but wait, there was more. All across town, national music acts like Shinedown, Godsmack, Buckcherry, .38 Special, and Rod Stewart, were rocking Las Vegas stages.
The bright lights of the Fremont Street Experience draws crowds like moths to a flame.
For those who just had to get out in the heat and do some two-wheeled sightseeing, the surrounding area of Vegas has some pretty interesting attractions and some nice scenery. Of course there's the Harley dealers, Las Vegas H-D has several locations around town, and then there's Red Rock Harley-Davidson on your way to or from a ride to Red Rock Canyon. A visit to the Harley-Davidson Cafe on The Strip is a must, if just to say you've been there. For those that really want to get out of town there are a couple decent routes with cool sites, if you can withstand the heat. The aforementioned Red Rock Canyon is pretty cool with a chance to see some desert wildlife while riding along beautiful sky-scraping red sandstone cliffs. The Hoover Dam is well, the damn Hoover Dam and is only about 30 miles away, plus while you're there you can check Lake Mead off your sightseeing list. The Valley of Fire State Park offers more amazing red sandstone and rugged rock scenery along with petrified wood and ancient Indian petroglyphs-but beware it's not called Valley of Fire because of the abundance of shade. Actually all these locations are within a relative short distance from event headquarters and if picked apart in loops, they range from 10 to 120-plus miles.
So as you can see, there's more to Vegas than just gluttony, gambling, sex, and debauchery. And when in town for Las Vegas Bikefest, you can have just as much fun off the bike as you can on. For information regarding next year's event, visit lasvegasbikefest.com.