The '04 River Run

Laughlin, Nevada
April 21rd to 25th, 2004  

Wednesday, 4/21/04

Getting It Going


The weather is perfect - clear cool air to counter the hot desert sun, with highs in the 80s. Bikers have been gathering around the lower Colorado River since last weekend, taking in the open roads and the sights.

Today is the first official day of the 22nd annual River Run. Attendance estimates are running from forty to seventy thousand riders. Hundreds of vendors of everything from $60,000 custom bikes to genuine Indian jewelry are setting up their tents on every available spot close to the action.

Most riders were out on the roads today. Roaming around Laughlin was like being "backstage" while the pros get their illusions together. I scouted the place out today, and felt the tingle of something big coming on.

Harley-Davidson set up its Run headquarters in the south parking lot at the Riverside, arranging and polishing their fleet of demo bikes for judgment by riders tomorrow. Victory's doing the same at the Colorado Belle. These are the only two offering demo rides this year, since Indian has returned to the Happy Hunting Ground.

Also at the Colorado Belle is another great lineup of all-day free live blues performances. I look forward to stopping by there for frequent R&R and $3 drafts over the next few days.

Without the crowd, it was a good day to stroll around the various casino properties and get a view of the goods. Not only are dozens of custom bike builders showing off their dream creations, but the Discovery Channel's "Great Biker Build-Off" is in town, at the Golden Nugget. Ten of the best custom bikes ever built are at the River Run, and riders will decide Saturday which one is the winner.

These are top shelf custom motorcycles, built by the likes of Arlen & Cory Ness; Hank Young; and Russell Mitchell of Exile Cycles; among others. And that's not all - during this week in Laughlin all ten builders have been collaborating on one motorcycle - what might be a "super-custom" - which will be unveiled to Build-Off viewers sometime in June.

The Dodge Tomahawk

I was walking over to the Victory display at the Belle when I was hit with a snarling, snapping, howling roar. It was a caged V10 Dodge Tomahawk, surrounded by a crowd, being revved up to full madness. It is a huge mad beast any way you look at it, like a V8 on roller skates. It belongs in a cage - and wouldn't you love to ride it?

I continued on to the Victory display. I'm sorry to say, after the Tomahawk, the big Victorys looked like Whizzers. Hopefully I'll recover from this before Demo Day.

The "Bikini Girl Dunk Tank" at the Pioneer was deserted. That broke my heart, and suddenly I really needed that beer and blues at the Belle. Luckily, the first act was due to open in about 5 minutes.

I got a "pork chop on a stick" and a beer, and sat down right in front of the speakers to hear the music.

The Moanin' Blacksnakes have earned a name in the Vegas area over the last 6 years. All bands have some synergy - these guys have synergy squared. Scott Rhiner puts so much energy into his guitar I expected to see the whole neck bend - and then he picked up a slide guitar and really started wailing. On keyboards, "Zoltan the Hungarian" plays the same game, and they keep topping each other and driving each other higher and higher. The whole act revs to the redline and the audience is in for a ride on the blues. A sweeper passed behind me dancing up a storm as she swept the place up. Yeah! That was a 90-minute set of LIVE BLUES! - and just what I needed!

Scott Rhiner, Phat Mike Rector on bass, Dalton Farmer on the drums.

Moanin' Blacksnake came to town to open the weekend with that one set. From here it'll be the Michael Burks Band, Kelly Richey, and Little Charlie and the Nightcats.

I took another stroll around the Pioneer and Golden Nugget to check out some more bike builders' wares, then headed out. There are three more days of bikes, babes and blues comin' right up.

Ridin' into the sunset on Route 66...

Oh - you might remember some dragstrip adventures from last year? She's back.


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