By Steve Bohn Photography: Steve Bohn
We always hear: "It's not the destination, it's the journey." Well, this, my friends, may be the exception to that rule. Riding hundreds of miles through the hot, sun-drenched Nevada desert in the middle of September might not be your idea of a great ride, but once you hit Sin City, your reward is all around you.
In only its third year, Las Vegas BikeFest, held September 11-14 has firmly made a stamp on the American V-twin rally circuit. Starting back in 2001, the inaugural show was welcomed into Las Vegas and took up residence at the Fremont Street Experience (a semi-enclosed, multi-block area located downtown, closed off to vehicle traffic). Last year's event was also held at Fremont Street, but due to the popularity of the 2003 show, event organizers needed more space to accommodate the nearly 220 vendors.
They did this by setting up a Vendor Village, which was home to entertainers, competitions, and both outdoor exhibitors and vendors, who set up shop inside the air conditioned Cashman Center, located just a half mile away from the Lady Luck Casino Hotel (the event's headquarter hotel and registration location). If you were looking for transportation between the two locations, it was easily handled by the free shuttle service which ran continuously throughout the day. By weekend's end, the final attendance was pegged at 24,164 - far surpassing the expected 20,000 attendees.
The Fremont Street Experience still played a big part in the rally. A custom bike show, which featured 117 entries all looking for their share of the $1,500 in prize money, was set up throughout the sprawling area. In addition, the bands Blue Oyster Cult, and John Kay and Steppenwolf kept the crowds rockin' hard both Friday and Saturday nights.
Two separate poker runs were held on Friday and Saturday. Friday's $1,000 winning hand was just a warm-up to Saturday's winning hand of $10,000. And if that wasn't enough to keep one's interest, the Golden Nugget Hotel and Victory Motorcycles sponsored two giveaways in which an '03 Harley-Davidson Heritage Softail Classic was won by Pat Bowler, while Joe Reynolds took home an '03 Victory Vegas. Who said the casinos take all your money?
If people were still looking for something to do, they could have entertained themselves at a Biker Billy cooking demo, a Bloody Mary breakfast, the Miss Las Vegas Bikefest contest, a charity ride, a tattoo contest, or the strongest biker contest. For information on next year's event being held September 16-19, contact lasvegasbikefest.com or (866) 245-3337.