Loudest party of the year
In a narrow, roped-off portion of the parking lot in front of the Carson City Harley- Davidson store, “American Daredevil” Bubba Blackwell jammed the throttle on his Buell street bike and raced upwards of 60 mph toward a crowd of onlookers.
Once up to speed, his body moved into position. He pulled the clutch, hit the brakes and rocked his body forward, his arms straight and stiff. With a quick cloud of tire smoke, his body moved forward, the rear wheel of the motorcycle floated upward and he came to a hard stop, just inches from a group of beer-drinking cyclists who didn’t offer Blackwell so much as the thought of a flinch. He stayed in the stoppie for a moment, motionless, and then kicked the back end around, let out the clutch and rode it out.
All of this is done while he narrates the maneuver through a head-mounted microphone. He is part Evil Knevil, part Garth Brooks.
Otherwise, people are milling about, drinking beer, checking out bikes and enjoying the noise. They’ve just heard Reno-based band Bad Intent do a Metallica cover. Blackwell’s show was pumping the opening riffs to George Thorogood’s “Bad to the Bone” into the mix, along with the chrome-plated Southern swagger in his voice. Every frequency within the human range, from 20 to 20,000 hertz was putting out some kind of noise. This is Street Vibrations. And only a small part of the total noise.
Patty Hurt, the one responsible for all of the enjoyable madness, is already planning for next year. “(The local portion of) Street Vibrations brings a lot of money into the economy,” as evidenced by the many “No Vacancy” signs around town, she said. “We expect about 50,000 people to have passed through here from Thursday. The party is always in Carson – that’s our motto.”
The parking lot was full, with best guesses of about 2,000 bikes. “At around $25,000 a bike,” said San Bernardino, Calif., motorcyclist Jim Leswing, “that’s a whole hell of a lotta money.” Indeed. Half a million dollars worth of chrome and steel, just in this one location.
And those ubiquitous Harley T-shirts. Harley-Davidson store cashiers Melinda Lathrop and Jennifer Jimenez, who came in from the Golden Valley, Calif., Harley store for the event, have been going nonstop, working some 14 hours a day selling T-shirts and souvenirs.
Bear and Cathy Schriner, of Carson City, brought their three kids: Taryn, Ethan, and Jake. Bear builds custom bikes while 9-year-old Ethan is still working on his wheelies.
“I can do a half of one,” he said, watching Bubba Blackwell crank his bike into fifth gear and melt his back tire into a cloud of stinking rubber.
Jake, 10, seemed to be watching the180-degree endos, high-chairs and one-handers, and taking mental notes for some possible future event.
“He asked how old you had to be to start jumping and doing tricks like this,” half-laughed his mother, Cathy.
Quickly, she stopped laughing.
Derrick Havermeyer of Rialto, Calif., is nothing but laughs and smiles. He came a long way for Street Vibrations and is enjoying every minute of it. Like a lot of the crowd, he was heading up toward Virginia City for a night of celebration.
He got on his bike and started it up. The slow, guttural explosion coming from his pipes was loud enough to kill a dinosaur. Or at the very least, make the street vibrate.
Contact Peter Thompson at email@example.com or 881-1215.