Tejon Bike Fest Hot As Ever
MORE PHOTOS IN THE GALLERY !
By Tim Anderson
Right in the middle of the nastiest triple-digit heat wave Colorado Springs has seen in a very long time—maybe ever—a wildfire sparked up on the western edge of the city, roaring out of control and causing considerable consternation in the Pikes Peak Region.
In the center of all that heat was the city’s hottest street party, the 12th Annual Tejon Street Bikefest on June 24, 2012.
The 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 transformed into a motorcycle Mecca for a day. With vendors setup along the streets, thousands of people wandering everywhere, and motorcycles—lots of motorcycles—parked everywhere and rolling up and down Tejon Street. There was no mistaking the heart of the city, in spite of the Waldo Fire, belonged to bikers.
“We made the best plans we could to deal with the heat,” explained promoter Jim Wear. “But no one could have predicted the fire starting and causing the problems it did. Surprisingly, the fire didn’t affect the event much at all. We have a drop in attendance, but not in an amount that impacted anything. There were still a lot of bikes and a lot of people.”
Wear estimated the attendance for Tejon Bikefest was down roughly 20%, and pointed to the weather and the fire as the cause.
“It was 100 degrees or more,” he said. “It’s understandable that people would want to stay somewhere a little cooler. There are people with health issues that can get worse in that kind of heat. So that accounts for some of the drop, and the fact that Highway 24 was closed by the fire meant everyone living in the mountains west of town, or coming from that direction couldn’t get to town. We still had a great party, though. It was crowded and people were having fun.”
They were just spending time in air conditioning when they could. All the bars and clubs were cranking out cool air, keeping the party going strong. Water misting systems and fans were added to the beer and trophy tents this year, which made a big difference in the comfort level. Both venues were full of revelers all day, as people dodged the sun.
Aside from hanging out on the street watching the endless parade of bikinis, people and rumbling steel, the beer tent 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 began early. Music from Jake Loggins, 6035, and the incomparable Arch Hooks created a soundtrack for the day that echoed through the glass and concrete canyons of downtown Colorado Springs all day.
One of the best parts of Bikefest though, required catching some rays. The motorcycle stunt show put on by Suicidal Lifestyles was without question something that brought people out into the heat. The show was awesome, with riders performing maneuvers that would make even the craziest riders think twice. And they made it all look so easy. The stunt riders even drew an audience from the balconies of the luxury downtown lofts. That picture really spoke to the spirit of the Tejon Bikefest.
“We just had a big, free party where everyone who wanted to was welcome to come,” said Wear. “There was no admission, no registration, no charity to donate o, you could come see everything and not spend a dime if that’s what you wanted to do. The only money anyone spent was what they wanted o spend—food, drinks, vendor products or whatever. The idea behind Bikefest is that it’s free and includes everyone. This provides a scaled-down version of what happens at a big rally, so people can come get a little taste without having to take a big trip and spend a lot of money for a little of that experience. This is like the backyard version of the big rallies.”
Because it’s just a one-day event, in the center of downtown Colorado Springs, there is a large contingent of the non-riding public who come to check thing s out.
“We think that’s great,” Wear said. “That’s what it’s all about. The mix of people we see makes for a great time. There were a ton of people on hand, vendors all seemed to be busy, and all the events were well attended and had enthusiastic participation. 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.”
The ride-in motorcycle show attracted lots of people with a display of some high-quality machines. With a few dozen bikes entered in the official show, it was impressive.
“The bike show was one of the best one we’ve had at Bikefest,” Wear said. “Some really nice bikes were entered, and they were attracting a lot of attention. It was a quality show…there weren’t any dogs entered. Even as hot as it was, there were a lot of people out checking out the bikes and appreciating what was there. 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. With thousands of motorcycles parked all around, bikes there garnered just as much attention as those entered in the show. Awards were presented to the show winners.
Another show with awards generated a lot of excitement and was very well attended. The Tejon Tattoo Fest was held inside Cowboys Nightclub, and the place was packed. While many people may have come in for the air conditioning, they left fans of body ink.
“We made a few changes to make the tattoo show a little more exciting this year,” Wear pointed out. “It went really well. There were more than 150 entries, and people were more excited about the show this year. We also brought in Rico Bomba, kind of a goofy guy act to MC the event and help keep it entertaining. We also brought in out of state judges for a different perspective, and we sweetened the prizes, including having awards that went to the tattoo artists, not just the people wearing the art.”
Three full Force tattoo machines were presented to the artists who created the winners of the Best Sleeve, Best Large Tattoo and Best Use of Color categories. Other artists received a gift bag from Grind City.
While everyone came dressed for the heat, there was group that came specially prepared. Finalists in the always-popular Corona 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.
This year, twelve finalists from the four-week-long elimination rounds strutted and preened for the enthusiastic crowd, and made this year’s bikini show one of the best on record. The top three winners split a $1000 purse, and all the ladies were ogled, admired and photographed.
Plus, given the heat, bikinis became the official—and preferred—clothing of Tejon Street Bikefest. Another bonus: the show was held in The Mansion nightclub, which had the AC working hard, offering heat relief to everyone, and making the show that much more enjoyable.
“It got hot, make no mistake,” Wear said. “But we knew that would 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 or the effects of the fire. Everyone who came seemed intent on having a good time.”
Whether the heat was too much, or prompted the display of barely-there swimwear; whether the air-conditioned clubs were a distraction or if they were an alternative party to the one on the street, how ever you look at it, the day was a pretty good party.
“We had a good crowd, no problems, and a safe rally,” Wear said. “That’s how we determine our success. This entire event came together early Sunday morning. We have a great crew who put on 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 8pm. That’s truly a successful one-day event.”
…And when it was all said and done, no one really cared about the 101-degree record for the day, they just remembered a great time.