I’m in Vegas at least 3 times a year and have done so for the past five years. Conferences and trade shows bring me there and it’s always work. To say, “I hate Vegas” is too mild. I just go numb. It’s like the drudgery of a chore you do as a teenager:
Yes, Dad, I’ll mow the lawn. Then go to Vegas and get my expense reports into payroll while cleaning my chain and watching a webinar on social media.
Walking across a mile-wide, barren parking lot to get demo bikes
I’ve always ridden in Vegas. I travel with a bike most everywhere. Rode the Strip by myself, Red Rock Canyon, Lake Mead, and the outskirts of the city in huge bus lanes with those workers who hand out smut. Those rides led to group rides with Bros and then hundreds of us in Mobile Socials (MoSo).
Free Hugs Less Hate
Hard to fully hate-on Vegas when cosmetology students with perfect hair, hopped up on happy, notice your shirt screened with BIKE HUGGER, and all squeal “we’re huggers too!” They were out on the Strip giving free hugs and mobbed us during a pre-MoSo reconnaissance ride. This was my first indication that our MoSo was starting to think differently.
Hugs for Bike Huggers
Don’t Hold Back
Our longstanding agreement with Interbike was to assemble quickly outside the Sands. Ride to our party and not attract unwanted attention. A challenge with the Strip is the traffic lights. They’re timed to move cars in and out of casinos with huge intersections. A neon-lit, festive peloton of freak bikes, big wheels, tall bikes, trailers with speakers, and bucket bikes full of beer averages about 4 miles an hour. That crew is not equipped or in the mindset to sprint the next light. We get broken up and that’s part of the ride – we just roll along.
Last year the ride was so massive it got out of control. This year we downplayed the ride. It was on, but a group of a hundred would flow better than three hundred. Little did we know, we inspired a bike cop to ride with us, call his fellow cops to join us to help, and within a block had a full-on police escort. That’s squad cars, motos, bike cops at the front, middle, and back with sirens and lights. We were like a diplomatic caravan of bike culture. Could’ve had television helicopters with Phil and Paul describing our bikes and what song the mobile DJ was playing.
Dahon sponsored the ride and brought a fleet of bikes with them
I’ve seen some crazy shit in my bike travels and this was like Joaquin Phoenix-on-Letterman crazy; falling-off-a-stage Axl Rose, while singing Welcome to the Jungle and telling his fans to fuck off drunk crazy. At one intersection, I looked at David wide-eyed and said, “WOW!”
At a stop to regroup, the Sergeant in Charge called me up to discuss the situation. We met in a circle of cop cars with him in the role of rule enforcer from Planet Vegas and me an attache from the Bike Culture universe. It was respectfully agreed that we’d stay in one lane, roll through lights escorted, get back to the Sands, and disperse. They’d guide us. I yelled instructions to the group and they all cheered.
Rolling with Officer Tom
Back on the Strip and a few blocks later, an Alley Cat whizzed by us like Stormtroopers on speeder bikes. I told Officer Tom, “they’re not with us!”
PoPo on this MoSo
When we arrived at the Sands, the group was having such a good time it turned into a street party with a big wheel skidding contest courtesy of Captain Obvious.
Photo: Matt Davis, Dahon
Come Back Soon
I leave Vegas this time forgetting all the numbing bad stuff and remembering the best MoSo we’ve ridden. Next month I’m back to speak at a conference and will ride the Strip again. This time by myself.
If I see officer Tom, he’ll get a nod and a “hey Bro!”
Props to the crew that brings these together and for helping me work through the ride. Also thanks to David, our Number One, at these events.
See more photos at this slideshow and we’ll post more soon.