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For many, Bullhead Bike Fest a means to keep in touch

ROLLIN’ BY THE RIVER: With the scenic Colorado River in the background, Richard Vasquez and his wife Espe, of Covina, Calif., sit on their motorcycle in the parking lot at Bullhead Community Park. The two were in the Tri-state to attend the Laughlin River Run and Bullhead City Bike Fest.

By RODD CAYTON/The Daily News

BULLHEAD CITY — The came for the weather. They came for the camaraderie. And of course, they came for the bikes.

Bullhead Community Park, once again temporarily renamed Harley-Davidson Community Park, was the place to be Friday and Saturday for anyone interested in (mostly) two-wheeled transportation.

The Bullhead Area Chamber of Commerce and the Southern California Harley-Davidson Dealers Association hosted the second Bullhead City Bike Fest.

While it drew a lot of people from California, judging by the number of “CA” license plates, a local connection was part of the event’s lure for many.

Chuck Rios of Lancaster, Calif., meets up for Tri-state motorcycle events (Bike Fest takes place alongside the Laughlin River Run) each year with his brother Danny and Danny’s wife Jill, who live in Bullhead City. A third brother was to arrive Friday night from San Diego, and friends from Seligman were also expected. The idea is to combine their love of riding with staying in touch with family members, Chuck Rios said.

Oklahoma’s Alice Sutter said the Tri-state will be the base for her group, which plans trips to the Hoover Dam, Kingman, Oatman and London Bridge. She arrived Wednesday and planned to stay until today. Richard and Espe Vasquez, of Covina, Calif., have been visiting family at River Run time for about 20 years, to see the new bikes and enjoy the company of other motorcycle enthusiasts.

Why was Jim Harvey of Johnson Valley, Calif., in town? “Just like everybody else,” he said. “To see some good-looking bikes, and have a few beers with like-minded people. To engage in the spirit of American freedom.” He said he and his wife, Catherine, who regularly go to the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in South Dakota, have wanted to visit the River Run for years, but this is the first time they’ve been able to.

The event included music, food and, of course, motorcycles. While a lot of the event was visitors admiring one another’s rides, staff of Mother Road Harley-Davidson in Kingman brought 22 brand-new models for demo rides. Any licensed rider could take a spin up Silver Creek Road and down the Bullhead Parkway, said Mother Road’s Steven Vukovich. Each bike was being taken out about every 40 minutes, he said. The dealership provided escorts during the demo rides. He said the event is a way to promote the new models and meet customers.

David Plunkett, of Santa Paula, Calif., said he found the demo rides a great opportunity, because with back trouble, he’s in the market for a three-wheeled model and planned to check one out Friday. He said he also enjoys seeing how others customize their bikes. “It amazes me how much money they put into some of them,” Plunkett said. “And a lot of time, you look and go ‘what were they thinking?’ Plunkett came out with his wife Paula and brother John, who flew from Rome, N.Y., to California. The trio towed their bikes into town, Plunkett said, which has it’s benefits. “We used to want to crash in the room (after arriving in the Tri-state),” he said. “We get to do more riding here, and when we get home, we’re not all beat up.”

Bullhead Area Chamber Executive Director Chris Barton said this year’s Bike Fest is bigger, based on having a whole year to plan it. The inaugural Bike Fest took place six months after its conception. Barton said the longer lead time has meant more mention in enthusiast publications and “huge business community support.” Barton said there are twice as many vendors at Bike Fest this year. Plunkett said vendors are another plus for the event. “You always seem to get a good deal on apparel and bike parts,” he said.

A better deal was to be had on wallets at the Schapiro & Leventhal booth. The Orange County, Calif., law firm gave them away; each contained the business cards of partners Steve Schapiro and Stan Leventhal. Leventhal said that the large number of Californians present represented a nice potential client base. He said the firm’s presence at Bike Fest was aimed at meeting riders who may later need its services. One booth that didn’t get much traffic was the first aid station, run by volunteers from Dimond & Sons Mortuary. Seven individuals were treated Friday and none by Saturday afternoon. Barton said “a couple of thousand” people visited Friday, and that Saturday turnout was considerably larger. The event’s major sponsors were Law Tigers and the El Palacio/Casa Serrano family of restaurants.

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