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Posts Tagged ‘Carson City’

Somewhere on CA. Highway 139

Somewhere between Bieber and Sheepshead on CA. Highway 139, you’ll find yourself in the middle of nowhere.

Add to that being kissed with semi-warm September sunshine and you’d be in a place that many of us on motorcycles call happiness.

Sure we could set the cruise control on Interstate 5, but the fun ride to Reno, Nevada for the fall Street Vibrations Rally is coincidently also the shortest route leaving Portland to Eugene (Hwy 58) to Klamath Falls then on OR39 which becomes CA139 through much of the Modoc National Forest and Tule Lake to US 395 into Reno.

Interestingly, OR39 runs through the mixed-up little town of Hatfield.  The California map says it’s in California and the Oregon map says it straddles the state line, which at least in practice, it does.  The actual location of the state line is a bit confused, because Hatfield is an unincorporated community in both Siskiyou County, California, and Klamath County, Oregon.  At any rate, the junction of Oregon Route 39, California State Route 161, and California State Route 139; all three routes terminate at a four-way junction in the community.

If you live in the Northwest you know that the Oregon summer ends and autumn starts for many motorcycle enthusiasts by making the pilgrimage to the 25th annual Street Vibrations Rally.  It’s often the last nice weather ride of the season.  Nothing replaces wind in the face on the Harley-Davidson, a playlist with heavy bass, and a distant horizon when needing a little adventure.  Some may argue that the make and model of the motorcycle doesn’t matter, that the joy comes solely from the open road—frankly, they’re right.

Street Vibrations officially closed on Sunday.  Over five thousand people were expected to attend the multi-day event and from my vantage the number of riders in town for the celebration exceeded that estimate.  There were over 250 vendors with motorcycle gear, food stalls and six stages of great live music!  Most notable was Heartless—a tribute to Ann and Nancy Wilson of Heart and they delivered the sound and spirit of the sisters classic rock-n-roll songs.   Video snippet below:

 

On Friday we rumbled along the 26-mile route from Reno to Virginia City—called Geiger Grade Road—with thousands of other riders who cruised into the historic mining town.  The route offers several curves along a cliff side and views of rolling hills with sagebrush to the pine tree-covered mountains.  It’s a thrilling experience, but the road routinely catches riders off guard and can become an accident quickly.

We soaked up the 81°F day and continued riding the loop to Carson City Harley-Davidson for more motorcycle accessories, themed art, crafts, apparel, music and ended the day back through the Carson (“wind tunnel”) Valley.  Mainstream meteorology suggests that “windy” conditions are anything sustained above 15 miles per hour, but we joked later that our helmets began inflicting what felt like a wind concussion on that segment of the ride.

I-5 Return Route With Cold, Rain and Wind

Speaking of navigating hazards… they are part of everyday life for motorcycle riders—we’re experienced riders, and typically get the local weather forecast before riding. If extreme temperatures are predicted, we might consider a different route and/or a different departure day if it’s practical. It was clear from Friday’s weather reports we’d be riding through less-than-ideal conditions—read MUCH COLDER and wet.  What?  Rain at Street Vibrations!  We enjoyed the 80°F temperatures  Wednesday through Friday, but now fast-moving storm along with a freeze watch was in effect with heavy rain expected Saturday mid-morning and all day Sunday.  In addition, the Oregon passes would receive snow down to 3500 feet and we had at least two major mountain passes to traverse above that altitude.

Postponing our departure wasn’t an option so, we opted to end the festivities early and leave on Saturday and avoid the worst of the early winter storm.

Estimating wind chill is a complex calculation involving ambient temperature and wind speed.  It goes something like:

Temperature’s Influence = ( ( Predicted High Temperature – ( Temperature Base = Your Minimum Acceptable Temperature – ( Predicted High Temperature – Your Minimum Acceptable Temperature ) ) ) / ( Your Ideal Temperature – Temperature Base ) ) * 100 then factor in Wind’s Influence = ( ( Low, High and Gust Wind Speeds Averaged – Your Minimum Threshold For What’s “Windy” ) / ( Your Minimum For What’s “Hazardous” – Your Minimum For What’s “Windy” ) ) * 100 and finally there’s Precipitation Influence, Minimum Visibility and the wildcard algorithm of Road Conditions.  When in doubt always multiple by 100!

If you tracked all that, then you’ve likely developed a customizable motorcycle weather application for the iPhone and already talking a “deal” with the motor company.  I’m not a mathematics wiz, but I know for a fact that warm and comfortable riders have more fun!  Thirty minutes outside of Reno did not fail to disappoint—bringing heavy black clouds, cold torrential rain, hail showers along with snow on the higher elevations of the Plumas Mountain Range.

Riding in the rain doesn’t make me unique—it’s one of the things you do on the road.  Motorcyclist spend the money on riding gear with features or materials to keep warm(ER) and dry.  But, very cold temperatures and the first major rain of the year in Nevada means the oil rises to the top of the highway in a soapy like mess and combined together makes a person go from “Get your motor running” to “Sux2BU” pretty quick.

No one thought we were “cupcakes” just because we didn’t want to ride in the cold/rain/snow.  Fortunately Harley’s heated gear has gotten far more user-friendly over the last ten years and we pressed through the worst of the weather for 560 miles and now have another story to tell.

Arrest Stats for 2019 Street Vibrations.

Photos take by author.

All Rights Reserved (C) Northwest Harley Blog

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Virginia Street during Street Vibrations – Note LEO’s on Parking Garage

Gas prices were higher than in the movie, but Reno always takes advantage of special events that go on through-out the summer and none of them are bigger than Street Vibrations which brings in motorcycle enthusiasts from all over the world.

This year was no exception as the warmer than normal riding weather meant tens of thousands of people turned out for the 18th annual event and they were looking to spend their money!

Over the last 11+ years I think I’ve missed the Street Vibrations Rally only once.  The event typically marks the last long ride of the season for our posse.  The rain and cold winter weather will quickly kick in and last for several months limiting trips to the few dry riding days.  I’ve seen the event evolve over the years.  Some of the changes were not well received (see HERE) to say the least.  In 2010 there was club-on-club taunting during the day on the Virginia Street sidewalks (see HERE).  And then last year someone “pee’d in the pool” so’s to speak with that Sparks shootout.

Now for the first time ever visitors are not allowed to wear patches.  In fact, Roadshows Inc., the event managers for Street Vibrations, has a provision in its “Exhibit Space Contract” for this rally that “No club colors may be worn or sold in vendor booths.”   This is similar to the Laughlin River Run riot ten years ago and the changes implemented there after the biker club brawl.  And just as I predicted last year the Street Vibrations Rally is now a ‘No Colors’ event and will be going forward.

Carson City Harley-Davidson

For those of you new to the blog…the  ban on motorcycle club insignia was the result of the shootout between members of the Vagos and Hells Angels Motorcycle Clubs inside John Ascuaga’s Nugget Casino in Sparks.  Jeffrey “Jethro” Pettigrew, the President of the San Jose charter of the HAMC died of wounds he suffered in the fight.  The Vagos, Leonard Ramirez and Diego Garcia were also shot. Two others, Vago Ernesto Manuel Gonzalez and Hells Angel Cesar Villagrana are awaiting trial for participating in the fight. Gonzalez is accused of killing Pettigrew and Villagrana is accused of shooting Ramirez and Garcia.  It’s been reported that former Vago Stuart Gary “Jabbers” Rudnick, actually started the fight with Pettigrew and he has agreed to cooperate with the prosecution of Gonzalez and Villagrana and is now free.

But, the above carnage is old news.

This year there was a noticeable increase in law enforcement presence in and around the various venues for Street Vibrations. The “no colors” policy and signage were highly visible and hotel security was clearly beefed up.  I visited left money in several of the casinos and observed a few club members wearing “soft” colors in a couple of the casinos, but it was fairly limited.  One item most noticeably missing at this year’s motorcycle newly labeled “family friendly event”… was the typical large contingent (30+) of HAMC members bristling and posturing in and around the Silver Legacy Casino bar at the foot of the antique mining rig set.

Street Vibrations is the second largest motorcycle rally in the west.  It’s the fourth largest event in the nation and includes activities in multiple locations in Reno, Sparks, Carson City and Virginia City, Nevada.  And as you might expect with any large motorcycle gathering it increases the opportunity for accidents and other issues to occur.  And there were plenty.

Street Scene at Street Vibrations 2012

There were fewer crashes, but more than twice the number of arrests than last year.  For 2012 there was a total of 65 crashes investigated in the greater Reno-Sparks area. Of the 65 crashes, 25 resulted in some type of reported injury and the remaining 40 were reported as property damage only. These numbers are down from last year’s 84 crashes with 49 property and 35 injury.  However, this year there were 54 motorists arrested during the Rally period with 27 motorists arrested for DUI and the other 26 related to warrants, misdemeanor or felony arrest. These numbers were up from last year’s 23 arrests which were 16 for DUI and 7 related to warrants, misdemeanor or felony arrests.  There was one motorcycle fatality crash on Plumb Lane Sunday morning that reportedly was the result of a truck running a red light.  The 2011 stats HERE and 2010 stats are HERE.

I want to provide a big shout-out to Richard Tapia, the Carson City Harley-Davidson dealership owner.  The “Carson Event” in my viewpoint is really setting the tone and direction of where the event is heading as part of the area-wide Street Vibrations motorcycle festival.  There were more of the big vendors like you’ll find in Sturgis along with the big vendor trailers in Carson City.  Not to mention a bunch of activities aimed to wow the crowds.  Yes, the HAMC were very visible as part of the Cathouse Run, but so were the employees of the Cason City Sheriff’s office who were selling support your “black & white” t-shirts in a vendor booth in the parking lot.

Downtown Reno (Virginia Street) was a disappointment for me when compared to the Carson City event.  There were only a couple of what I’d consider to be tier-1 vendors on Virginia Street like Corbin Seats.  It was great to meet/chat with Mike Corbin.  Other than the food stalls many of the vendors were on par with a motorcycle parts swap meet.  Sparks was a lot better, but Carson City was top notch.  However, staying in downtown hotels at the greatly exaggerated prices means were paying for proximity and access.

The lack of high-quality vendors on Virginia Street might be a ploy driven by the casinos to keep people on the gambling tables, but in my view if the quality level of Virginia Street vendors don’t greatly improve folks (including me) will migrate out of downtown and this will become the Carson City Rally!

Photos taken by author.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

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HDFS_CarsonCityThe eastern slope of the Sierra Nevada mountains offer motorcycle enthusiasts an interesting blend of motorcycle rides and some of the best scenery in the west.

Unfortunately, Northwestern Nevada is also the location of Harley-Davidson Financial Services (HDFS) who took quick action after the parent company, Harley-Davidson, posted disappointing Q2’09 financial results.   More than 100 employees were laid off of which many came from the facility in Carson City, NV.

HDFS provides financing for H-D dealers to buy inventory for their showrooms as well as loans for customers who are buying motorcycles.  The Carson City facility is co-located on the Western Nevada College campus and one of the largest HDFS facilities.  H-D negotiated a $750K tax break with the Nevada Commission on Economic Development and opened the new 100,000 sq-foot-office in 2005.  Laurie Cole (Director of HDFS Communications) stated that HDFS has 770 employees with the largest number based in Carson City and there were now ~300 employees remaining at the Arrowhead Drive office.

The economic changes have been dramatic and it’s a difficult time for the folks who have made this beautiful area their home.  The process of making H-D leaner and more efficient is filled with painful actions effecting really good people.  H-D is a good company that will continue to deliver great products. It may not feel like it today, but motorcycling enthusiasts around the world are counting on you to bring us the products we want and need in the future.

Photo courtesy of H-D and WNC.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

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Poker Table

Poker Table

We were up early in prep for a ride around Lake Tahoe.  The previous night of gambling and fun thru the early morning took a toll on the posse as several dropped out of the Lake ride in favor of a bit more sleep.

I have ridden around Lake Tahoe on previous Street Vibration trips and about mid way up Hwy 431 near the Galena Creek County Park I started shivering and I never stopped until I hit the hot tub at the hotel hours later!  But not today.  It was in the high 60’s with clear skies and our route included the “twisties”…winding roads with gentle, sweeping curves that had us feeling like a soaring bird. Tahoe is a motorcycle paradise. 

Lake Tahoe

Lake Tahoe

The scenic beauty of Lake Tahoe is hard to describe in words.  With its crystal clear blue waters surrounded by towering peaks it’s easily one of America’s most beautiful areas.  What’s interesting to me is the developer assault of this pristine landscape and the huge estates… sprinklers going on manicured watered lawns one can only imagine what the construction phase of these behemoths was like and the toll it is taking on nature.

Even being up early every time we stopped for a photo op we had tourists to my right, left and back, already… sigh.  Made it difficult to get that perfect landscape photo which will make me rich and I can retire.  Yes, Saturday was a busy day at Lake Tahoe.  Not only were there a lot of motorcycle riders and tourists, there was both a bicycle and marathon race around the Lake.

We wound our way down to Incline Village and the grandeur of this route touches all your senses. You observe deep valleys and the aroma of the forest fills your lungs…as the bikes keep coming.  The peaceful Washo Indians considered the Lake to be a spiritual site and conducted sacred ceremonies on the South Shore.

We headed south on Hwy 28 and made a quick caffeine stop in the village.  Afterward we made several stops along the shore line in the Tahoe State Park. The “edge of the lake” is a unique and special place. We connected with Hwy 50.  Once called the “Bonanza Road,” due to the influx of pioneers to the region in search of Silver.  We grabbed burgers at McP’s on the state line and then elected to head back to Reno. 

The number of events, crowds and traffic on this beautiful day was taking a toll on our patience and our time.  We decided to cut the tour short and returned via Hwy 207 thru Minden then headed north on US 395 back thru Carson City.

We grabbed dinner at the hotel buffet and ended the gambling night before midnight in prep for an early departure and 11 hour ride back to the northwest.

Read more about the Street Vibrations trip at Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4 and Day 5.

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Virginia City

Virginia City

What a great couple of days. Terrific t-shirt weather, easy riding and we’ve been here in Reno with a bunch of good riding friends.

On our third day (Friday) we seperated into a couple groups and one drove the Virginia City, Carson City to Reno loop. Those of you old enough to remember the TV show Bonanza might be interested to know that the Ponderosa Ranch, home of the Cartwright’s is in the area.  Many believe it it’s in Virginia City, but actually Virginia City only hosted a back lot for the filming of the TV show.  The Ponderosa Ranch was actually a theme park in Incline Village, near Lake Tahoe.  It was shut down in the late 1990’s, but you can read lots more HERE.  Bonanza ran from 1959 to 1973 and was behind Gunsmoke as the longest running Western TV series.  I have an aunt who co-wrote a couple of the shows, but I don’t have a clue which ones.  It’s a cool area to ride in and the Ponderosa Pines are massive and the views are spectacular.

We arrived in Virginia City (pop. 1000) which still has much of the same character and ambiance it was famous for, and some of the same businesses (brothels), for which it is now infamous.  Named after the Comstock Lode which was an exceptionally large and rich mineral deposit of Silver, the city is directly built over the “lode” and was mined for years.  We leisurely wandered through many of the old buildings. Most have been converted from saloons and brothels to retail stores: cowboy clothes, leather goods, tourist trash, etc., however you can still see much of the original building details: large mirrors found on walls behind the various bars, the bar itself, or areas set aside for the honky tonk piano, gambling tables, and the infamous stairway to the rooms upstairs where a hard working miner or cowboy could find friendly companionship.  We enjoyed a $5 combo hotdog and beer lunch while watching the SWAT teams invade, oops I mean lurk in doorways in this rustic city.  Estimates had the biker crowd in Virginia City as high as 15,000 during the busiest part of the event.  Afterward the hotdogs we headed east out of town toward Carson City.

Speaking of the “companionship” business.  All indications are it’s going strong…. several of us made our way over to Mound House (about 6 miles east of Virginia City) to what’s called “The Ranch”…a set of connected trailers owned and operated by Dennis Hof for a “what’s-a-nice-girl-like-you-doing-in-a-place-like-this” tour.  Dennis is a TV personality and most visible as the owner of the Bunny Ranch and who starred in the reality TV show Cathouse: The Series on HBO.  I met him last year.  This year it was slow due to the poker run being on Saturday.  Sponsored by the Hells Angels and called the “Cat House Poker Run” many motorcycle enthusiasts go from business-to-business and participation is high…we had other plans. 

Skynnyn Lynnyrd Band

Skynnyn Lynnyrd Band

From the Ranch we rode to the Carson City Harley dealer.  The new building is located on 2900 Research Way just off US 395.  It took us awhile to find it because last year it wasn’t in this location!  We ran into the other half of the riding posse who were getting some parts and enjoyed various activities from burn outs to rock bands at this venue.

We headed back into Reno after a long and fun day. We grabbed dinner at the Eldorado Hotel in the Hong Kong style Chinese restaurant called Golden Fortune. Afterward we did a bit more vendor booth hopping and decided to catch a Harrah’s show.  Turns out that Skynnyn Lynnyrd (a Lynyrd Skynyrd tribute band) rocked out the plaza for some good sets. For comparison here is a video of Lynyrd Skynyrd from 1977.

Read more about the Street Vibrations trip at Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4 and Day 5.

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