Tejon Street BikeFest Owns Colorado Springs
Nestled at the foot of Pikes Peak lies the City of Colorado Springs. Known for ultraconservative politics, military bases and tourism, he city might be able to add, “biker friendly” to that list, as for the eleventh year, thousands of motorcyclists claimed downtown Colorado Springs as their own, and got away with it.
The 11th Annual Tejon Street Bikefest is exactly what the name implies: a festival of all things motorcycle on Tejon Street, a major thoroughfare in downtown Colorado Springs. The street and surrounding side streets, were blocked off, allowing only motorcycle and foot traffic into an area that was, for a day—June 26th, transformed into a motorcycle Mecca. With vendors setup along the streets, thousands of people wandering everywhere, and motorcycles—lots and lots of motorcycles—parked everywhere and rolling up and down Tejon Street, there was no mistaking the heart of the city, at least for one day, belonged to bikers.
“I think it’s safe to say that Tejon Bikefest has become an event that almost has a life of its own,” said promoter Jim Wear. “We had about the same number of people as we have the past couple years, maybe a few more. That by itself is encouraging since so many other events have seen a drop in attendance and participation so far this year.”
According to Colorado Springs Police, the crowd was roughly the same as it was for the 2010 version of Bikefest, which was put at roughly 30,000 to 35,000 people. The diverse crowd was made up of local bikers, a fair number of out-of-town riders, and quite a few members of the non-riding public. That there were so many motorcyclists at the event again this year really is no surprise. El Paso Country, where Colorado Springs is situated, has the greatest number of motorcycle registrations in Colorado, and is in the top three for total bike registrations in the state. That means there are more than a few bikers around to keep a good party going. Add to that the interest the event has generated across the Front Range, and presto!—you have a bike event with a life of its own.
“We couldn’t be happier with the way things went again this year,” Wear said. “There were a ton of people on hand, vendors all seemed to be busy, all the events were well-attended and had enthusiastic participation. And all day, there was not a single major incident that required police attention. Again, bikers have shown that we are regular, law-abiding, fun loving people, just like most of the rest of Americans, and the result is that we can have this huge party in the heart of Colorado Springs.”
Things kicked off the morning of June 26th at 10am when bikes started rolling into the freshly set-up festival area. By noon, parking of any kind was getting hard to come by, and bikes just kept rolling in.
“We took steps to try and provide more bike parking,” Wear explained, “but that filled up fast again. The good thing is that we were able to find reasonable parking for everyone.”
At least the bike parking was close. If you came in a cage, you had a bit of a walk to get to the good times. But that’s OK, this was a bike party…and it kicked into gear fast.
With temperatures in the 90s, the mood was perfect for a summertime biker bash. Water was a constant companion for most people, with some vendors exhausting their supply by mid afternoon. One place there was no water, was coming from the sky. Often, late afternoon thundershowers dampen things a bit this time of year, but not during Bikefest this year. Skies were clear and stayed that way until the big orange ball in the sky slipped behind Pikes Peak that evening.
It was a damn near perfect day.
The bike show area attracted lots of people with a display of some amazing motorcycles. With 47 bikes entered in the official show, it was impressive.
“The bike show might have been the best one we’ve had,” Wear said. “Some really nice bikes were entered, and they were attracting a lot of attention. It was nice to see that.”
As is always the case, there was also the unofficial show out in the parking lots and along the streets. Bikes there garnered just as much attention as those entered in the show.
The bike rodeo featured a full slate of biker field events, held in a parking lot, the event pulled in a fair number of competitors, not all of them participating in every event, and an event larger number of hootin’, hollarin’ and laughing spectators out to support the event. The action was fast, furious and very competitive with the riders showcasing some amazing riding talent.
“We might have had the most rodeo spectators we’ve seen at this year’s rodeo,” Wear said. “There’s a lot of other stuff going on during the day, and sometimes people don’t want to stand out in the sun watching field events, but this year there were quite a few people who did.”
Another event with a large following was the tattoo contest. Formerly held during the Cripple Creek Rally in August and known as the high altitude Tattoo Show, the event moved to the Tejon Bikefest for a variety of reasons. The result was the same though: lots of people showing off lots of cool ink. The event was held inside Cowboys Nightclub, which naturally helped bring in lots of spectators. Many people may have come in for the air conditioning, but they left fans of body ink. The display was that good.
Aside from hanging out on the street watching the endless parade of people and rumbling steel, the beer garden was the place to be. With live music starting shortly after 11am, this was the place to enjoy a cold one, meet with friends and dodge the blast furnace heat that was building. Music from the Jake Loggins Band, The VooDoo Hawks, and the Black Rose Band created a soundtrack for the day that echoed through the glass and concrete canyons of downtown Colorado Springs all day.
The many bars and nightclubs along Tejon Street were open and rockin’ hard, too. Some for the air conditioning they offered, other for the parties that developed inside.
While it did turn into the hottest day of the year, no one seemed to mind. People came downtown, and stayed all day.
“It got pretty hot, make no mistake,” Wear said. “But we knew that might be the case, tried to prepare for it and have a good time anyway. What was really cool was that nobody complained too much about the weather. Most people who came seemed intent on enjoying the weather and having a good time.”
There was group that came prepared for the heat. Entrants in the always-popular bikini contest wasted little time in shedding clothes, making bikinis the official, and preferred, dress code of the day. The bikini contest is always a crowd favorite, and seems to attract more participants every year—thus growing the popularity.
A bevy of bronzed beauties strutted and preened for the enthusiastic crowd, and made this year’s bikini show one of the best on record.
In the end, this now-entrenched one-day event turned out to be a monster success again in 2011—by whatever measure.
“We had a good crowd, no problems, and a safe rally,” Wear said. “That’s how we determine our success. This entire event started coming together early Sunday morning, we pulled out all the stops and had a great party all day--people stayed right to the bitter end. Then, we torn it all down, cleaned the streets up, and they were open to regular traffic by about 9pm. That’s truly a one-day event, and a successful one at that.”