Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Laughlin River Run and Dal-Con Promotions

Life sure can be a bitch can't it? And the way she can sneak up on ya and bite ya on the ass always amazes me. I'll call this post, Life's Curve ball.

So, my last post, which was a mere few weeks ago was all about the Laughlin River Run and how my wife and I were getting ready to head out on the 23rd for yet another ride out to the desert. I had been talking about the state of the economy and how many of our friends were not going to be able to attend this year due to the economic meltdown.

We felt fortunate if not downright blessed that we were doing pretty good money-wise and we were looking forward to riding out to Laughlin and enjoying ourselves for a few days. I was also wondering how the turn out would be this year due to the economy and also noted that while the run has, in my opinion, completely ripped off bikers in regards to the cost at least they lowered the cost of room packages this year.

I had held off on the Laughlin River Run reservations just out of laziness but also out of some strange sense of...I dunno....caution I guess. Well, somewhere near the end of March, I think the 29th or 30th, I said to my wife, "I better get online and book those River Run rooms before they get sold out". I had been keeping an eye on them and noticed that ALL of the hotels still had rooms available. So I got on, went through the Dal-Con Promotions website and slapped down my $435.00 for our stay at the Riverside Casino.

Which brings me to "the curve ball".

Not 3 days later, over half our income was gone.

As in, "Welcome to the California Employment Development Department"
Better known to y'all as UNemployment.

Yep, after waiting all that time, as soon as we paid for it, we couldn't afford to go.

I'm not going to belabor the whole bit about being out of a job though. The point of this post is to talk about Dal-Con Promotions.

Along with other bikers too numerous to mention, I've been quick to berate Dal-Con here in this blog and in conversations as being money-grubbing and not looking out for bikers. Considering the cost of the Laughlin River Run packages in the past, I think there has been some merit to that. When compared to something like Vegas Bike Week and the cost of a room there, Laughlin has been outrageously overpriced and many bikers have bitched about it for years.

So when we figured out we really needed to cancel our reservations, I saw on my confirmation email from Dal-Con that cancellations would incur a $100 charge as long as the room was canceled 30 days PRIOR to the event.

Considering I had only booked the room about 3 weeks prior to begin with, I was concerned about getting at least a partial refund.

I called Dal-Con the same day. I'll break down their response in my next post.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Another Year, Another Laughlin Run, But somethings different

What's it been? 7 or 8 months since I last posted? Who says blogging can't be fun?
So another winter is almost behind us and what a change this one has been. Me and the wife found ourselves pretty much picking up our lives and moving 90 miles east to beautiful Riverside California. A job-offer-she-couldn't-refuse came around and despite my reservations about leaving the relative security of a position she'd had for 10 years, plus moving out of a house we owed very little on, we took the plunge and switched it up.

So we (gulp)put the old house on the market back in September right before the world went to hell in a hand basket. To our amazement, the old homestead sold in four days. We thought we'd have easy pickin's finding something out here since the real estate market had tanked here in the inland empire area of southern Cali about twice as bad as anywhere else. Well, to make a short story long, we found a foreclosed house, put in our offer (one of only two, ours being the highest) and the night before we left for Vegas Bike week, we found out the other (lower) offer had been accepted. WTF??? But God smiled on us and we eventually wound up getting the house.

So we spent the rest of the winter and early spring focusing on the new abode with very little riding to be had. During this time of course...well, as I said....the world seems to be a different and much weirder place with people by the thousands losing their homes, their jobs, their savings and sad to say, their hope. It's a fucked up world right now and weird indeed. So I feel blessed to have what I have and I think at this time it's probably best to heed a bit of advise from my old sage HS Thompson: "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro" So I say we all need to turn pro, help each other out and try to remember that it's during times like these that friends turn to each other.

I have no idea what any of this has to do with my original idea to post something about this years Laughlin River Run but I guess I got off on a tangent. But in a way it does. Last year we noticed a very thinned out crowd at the event from years past yet the rip off the biker prices at the Laughlin casinos hadn't changed one penny. They were still raping us with $200+/night rooms in a shit hole corner of the desert where they normally are lucky to get $75/night on any given weekend.

This was of course in late April of '08 and the economy was just starting to show signs of deeper problems and at the time we wondered what the '09 event would be like and whether the event promoters, DAL-CON Promotions, would pull the bloated heads out of their fat asses and figure out that you can't continue to screw people with those prices.

So sure enough for this years event the prices at most of the casinos are down considerably. We usually stay the the Riverside and if not mistaken, we're usually taken for about $650 bucks for the 3 nights. This year, I believe the online price is about $435. About $145/night which is still a RIP OFF (y'all listening DAL-CON???) when compared to the Vegas Bike Week for example, but it's better than it has been.

So we're gonna head on out once again but our good riding buddies we usually go with will be staying home this year. Hmmmmm....wonder why? Well, she's a realtor and he's in commercial construction. That they even have jobs that still pay is a miracle but they're not taking anything for granted and are hoping that they can make it on some local runs over the summer and then have a nice time in Vegas come fall.

Strange, sad, sorry times indeed. It should be interesting to see what the crowd is like there this year. I pray for everyone that we are at or nearing the bottom of this black hole and that the rest of '09 and 2010 bring better days.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Las Vegas Bikefest 2008

Well, as sure as the sun coming up, the days are flying by and we're in the dog days of summer and fall will officially be here in about 4 weeks or so. The riding has been great for the most part during the summer since we've pretty much stuck to coastal rides. My wife pretty much informed me back in late June that her days of riding while it's 95-100 degrees are over.

But with fall comes a couple of great rallies on the west coast: Street Vibrations up in Reno, Nevada and Las Vegas Bikefest. We did the awesome ride through the Sierras last year and hit the Reno event but at the urging of some riding buddies we'll be sticking a little closer to home this year and doing Bikefest.

October is usually pretty nice in Vegas, nothing extreme as far as temps go so we're looking forward to some nice rides and of course, Vegas can't be beat. We're pretty much Vegas veterans, typically going there 2-3 times a year and were just there a couple of weeks ago and as usual, stayed on the strip since we get comped for our room. But knowing we would be staying downtown for Bikefest and having not ventured down there for about 15 years, we took a drive to check out Fremont street where the event will take place.

Comparing downtown Vegas to the strip is sort of like comparing a mini-bike built with an old lawn mower engine to a Harley Ultra-Classic. It's pretty much apples and oranges. But strolling down Fremont, checking out the old school casinos like Fitzgeralds, Binions, and The Four Queens where we'll be staying, really drove home how cool it should be for our first time at Bikefest. We're definitely looking forward to riding out with friends and meeting new ones once we get there!

And if our recent string of luck in Vegas continues...all the better!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Laughlin River Run 2008

We hit the Laughlin River Run again this year and there seems to be some changes afoot. Even as a newbie to the event having only been going for a few years, I'm starting to really pick up on some bitching from even local residents about the whole affair.

To start though, we had a blast. What's not to like about getting together with tens of thousands of your closest friends? We took of from SoCal on Thursday as usual. The weather here had been mild to a little chilly in the mornings leading up to the ride and the one thing we had hoped not to do was to drag the leathers out. It really does suck to load the bike down with leather only to peel everything off 4 hours later in the middle of the desert and not put them back on again for the entire weekend.

On Thursday morning though, we woke up to sunny skies but temps in the high 50's. We figured by the time we hit the road around 9 it would warm up a little but we wound up wearing leather jackets anyway. We left the chaps at home but were glad we had the jackets as it never really warmed up enough to take them off until we got to Goffs.

We took our time and pulled into the Riverside in Laughlin around 3:30 after having stopped on Needles Hwy for some "refreshments" we needed for our room. We found out a couple of years ago that there are no glass bottles sold anywhere in the casino strip area for the weekend so we usually pull into a market for our supply of beverages.

As usual, we paid the $100 for a weekends worth of reserved parking right in front of the main entrance. If you have never been and ever wind up staying at the Riverside (the only place I can comment on), I say definitely at least pay for secure parking and if you can afford it, reserved parking. It's worth it for the piece of mind and even though the temps were very mild this year, there's nothing quite like hopping onto your bike after it's been sitting in the 110 degree sun which is what you get if you park in the general parking section.

And speaking of mild temps....wow...what a great weekend for riding. The past two years have been brutal with temps in the 100's and last year was beyond reality with highs above 110. Not what I consider good riding weather by any stretch. But this year was perfect, highs in the mid 80's to low 90's. Good enough that my wife said she wanted to make the ride out to Oatman even after having sworn she'd never go again after last years nightmare.

Our plans for riding for the weekend were to keep everything unplanned except for Oatman and a possible ride out to another ghost town called Chloride. As it turned out, we blew off Chloride for another (mis)adventure I'll rant about later but we did hit Oatman on Friday

As usual, Oatman was filled with people but as in Laughlin, the number was way down from years past so we were able to find a place for the bikes without a hassle. Our friends who rode with us this year had never been to Oatman so they got off on the donkeys (mules? burros? jackasses?) that cruise the streets. It never ceases to amaze me that these little guys have no fear of anyone or anything. One hilarious scene was someone cruising up the street on his scoot with two little dogs sitting in a trailer he had behind him. As he was stuck in traffic, they spotted one of the donkeys standing in the middle of the road and started yapping uncontrollably. They were frothing at the mouth and I honestly thought they'd self combust from their combined angst. Clearly amused or curious, the donkey walked a little closer to them and started a stare down. The dogs were going insane, hopping up and down, yapping and probably pissing themselves to boot. Traffic was stuck so the rider wasn't going anywhere and neither was the donkey. After what seemed like 5 minutes but was probably closer to 1 or 2, the donkey decided he'd had enough of these two little mutts and started to walk away. They kept barking and after he'd taken about 10 steps he stopped again and turned to give them one last look before moving on. We were hysterical. A great Oatman moment.

This little fella never even woke up while numerous riders took their pictures with him.

After hanging out and having our one beer each due to the ever expanding police presence and the sobriety checkpoints, we headed back into town. The rest of the weekend was in typical Laughlin style, checking out the vendors, watching my buddy spend a few hundred dollars...lol...and on Friday night, heading to the tattoo "convention" at one of the hotels. It was pretty small but my wife did find a cool artist who she's going to have add more ink to her back.

Saturday featured a cluster fuck of a poker run and on Sunday we headed back home.

Some notes about the run: After the shootout a few years back, the cops have become more of a force every year. Don't get me wrong, I'm very pro cop and would prefer to have some of them around over rival mc's having it out with drawn weapons but there has to be a middle ground. Maybe it's because most of our riding was not around the casino area but I felt there were more cops last year. From what I was told I was definitely wrong on that. Even employees of the hotels were griping that if it keeps up, they'll wind up killing the run completely. Whether it was due to the heavy handed tactics the cops are using or the fact that the economy sucks and many people cannot afford the rip off room rates, attendance this year was WAY down. I'd say it might have been 70% of last years numbers. Times are hard for many folks and that brings me to my last point.

Pretty much the only way to book a room at one of the main casinos for the run is through some corporation called Dal-Con Enterprises. I have no idea who these people are but at some point, they or the casinos are going to take a reality check on the prices they charge. We stayed at the Riverside and while we are fortunate enough to be able to afford it, $600 for three nights at a hotel that normally charges about $75 per night is a total joke. The fact that you get a free bandana, pin, are entered in the poker run and get two tickets to a crappy concert by a crappy 70's geezer band does not justify it. Conversely, at Vegas Bike Week in October, rates are very reasonable and might even be better at the selected hotels than if you came without booking for the event. We ran into too many local residents of Bullhead City who felt that the cops and the prices were killing the event.

Note to Dal-Con and others involved: Get a grip on the number of police and take a look at the package rates!

Monday, April 21, 2008

It's time again, Laughlin River Run 2008

Late April and it's time for our first decent sized event of 2008 with the annual trek to Laughlin Nevada for the 26th annual River Run. For some reason, the small group of us that are going are practically jonesing this year. And for the life of me I can't figure out why but we are plenty stoked about riding out. And what's not to love?

Cheesy hotel/casinos that charge exhorbitant rates? Check.
Gazillions of cops? Check.
The potential for temps over 100 degrees? Check.
Crappy "geezer" bands from the 70's (can you say Blue Oyster Cult?). Check, check.

Don't matter though, we fucking love riding out and love the rally more.
Anyone heading, be safe, have fun.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Love Ride 24 Thoughts - Huge success

We did the Love Ride yesterday which was the 24th annual Love Ride. As mentioned, it's a huge charity event put on by Glendale (CA) Harley Davidson and has become quite the show over the years with numerous celebrities involved and riding (Peter Fonda, Lorenzo Lamas, Robert Patrick [very cool dude btw] and Jay Leno who has been the Grand Marshal for some time.

As was the case last year, the pre-ride rally at the Glendale dealership was again haphazzard and rushed. And while I absolutely love Leno and think almost anything he says is hilarious, he really should at least give himself a little more time next year and get rid of the bed hair.

This year, after some 13 years of the ride gonnig up to Castaic Lake, the rally headed east out to the Pomona Fairgrounds. And unlike years past when you weren't even able to purchase anything from the limited vendor area, the vendor area this year was huge, full of great booths and for the first time in memory, I was actually interested in some of the stuff. I mean, how many "bad hog", "biker babe", "the bitch fell off", etc t-shirt vendors can you see over and over? The selection here included these staples of course but there was other cool stuff as well.

The weatherman was predicting light rain but the day turned out perfect: light clouds, broken sun and temps in the high 60's so everyone was happy. The free (not including the 70 buck donation per person) grub sucked for the most part but hey, it's all for a good cause so who wants to complain?

The entertainment? Aaaahh....well, listen: After 280 year old BB King two years ago who bored me and most of my friends to tears, we had the Black Crows last year who freakin' tore it up with a great show. Considering past acts have included ZZ Top, Bruce Springsteen, Sammy Hagar, Jackson Browne et al, we were wondering who they might feature this year. And the headliner was.....Greg Allman. Yaaaawwwwwwnnnnn.
Look, I grew up on the Allman Brothers but for Gods' sake, can we get someone playing some current music??? As was the case two years ago, we bailed out shortly after this yawner commenced. It was just as well, we'd gotten their early for the lineup and were amongst the first in the fairgrounds so by the time Allman came on around 2, we'd been there for about 4 hours and had our fun.

One item that did make my day was meeting a minor celebrity from one of my favorite movies of all time. If you're under 50 you might not remember or care but American Grafitti was a fine 1973 film about kids growing up in the early 60's. It starred many people who used it as their launching pad to bigger fame including Harrison Ford, Ron Howard (who was already known as Opie), Richard Dreyfuss, Suzanne Somers and nominated for best supporting actress, Candy Clark who played the spaced out blonde Debbie. We walked into the vendor area and she was sitting there signing autographs. I'm not big on the cult of celebrity in this country and Candy Clark is probably known to very few people but it was very cool to meet her and she couldn't have been nicer. When I saw her I blurted out something like, "Holy Shit" and she laughed and walked right up to me and gave me a huge hug. My riding buddy had no clue who she was at first and later told me he thought we knew each other.

So Candy signed an awesome pic from the movie and was gracious enough to let my wife take a pic of us together. "Peel out" indeed. Thanks Candy.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Love Ride 24

It doesn't seem like another year has gone by this quickly but here we are getting ready for the 24th annual Love Ride that is put on every year by Glendale (CA) Harley Davidson.

For the past few years, the Love Ride has started out at the Glendale Harley Davidson dealership and has taken its route up the Golden State freeway to Castaic Lake, a beautiful arena that to me has seemed a perfect venue for the event. Castaic has a great grassy area that is perfect for kicking it, drinking some beer and listening to the entertainment that is usually top notch.

This year though, the ride is heading out to the Pomona fairgrounds where it's actually part of what will be known as California Bike Week. I'm not quite sure how a 3 day event that starts on a Friday can be called bike week but hey....what do I know huh?

The past Love Rides were one day affairs but this year it seems that Glendale Harley is trying to up the ante and create something akin to a bigger event ala the Laughlin run or Vegas Bike week. I guess we'll see what the turnout is like for the activities on Friday and Saturday but my gut tells me that the crowd will be smallish until Sunday when the masses (usually well over 50,000) show up for the actual ride.

According to the Love Ride official site, this year the event will feature "the debut of the Pacific Coast Nationals - a first class, national level flat track racing series; AHDRA drag racing on the famous NHRA strip; a large vendor village/trade show; stunt riding exhibitions; major manufacturer demo rides as well as daily musical entertainment."

Personally, I have little interest in any of it other than the final show on Sunday but it's for numerous charities so hopefully it will grow into something big.

For more info on the Love Ride, be sure to visit the official site at http://www.loveride.org