The Wild Bunch Rides Again

18th Annual Run-A-Mucca Motorcycle and Music Festival

Words and photos by “Rambler” Steve Austin

Butch Cassidy, the Sundance Kid and the Wild Bunch rode into Winnemucca, Nevada, and robbed its First National Bank of $32,640 in gold coins on September 19, 1900. At least that’s what town officials say. There is some dispute whether Butch and Sundance were actually there but at least members of the Wild Bunch were, according to the bank manager, George Nixon, who witnessed that robbery.

This past Memorial Day weekend another Wild Bunch rode in on motorcycles from all over the west, greeted by building murals depicting the two notorious outlaws committing various robberies. Given Nevada’s reputation for gambling, sin, entertainment and spectacular riding, it’s no wonder riders show up faithfully every year regardless of conditions that vary from snow, rain, sleet, hail and some years, actual desert heat.

This year, hundreds of bikers rolled in to enjoy great music, poker runs, motorcycle stunt shows, bike shows, a tattoo contest and the now famous Bike Burning. Additionally, a brand new Vivid Black 2019 Harley Davidson Street Glide was up for raffle at $20 a ticket.

MOB FMX Bike Jumpers from Colorado put on nine separate shows over the weekend, with riders flying up to 40 feet in the air while doing tricks like Superman, Cliffhangers, Backflips, Superman Indies, Superman Double Grab, Rock Solids, Whips and more.

Regional bands like Arizona Jones, Dusty Leigh, Claim Jumpers and Johnny Young played multiple shows throughout the weekend. Tribute bands were also on the bill. Turn The Page, a Bob Segar Tribute Band closed out Friday night while Damage Inc, a Metallica Tribute Band closed out Saturday night and Led Zepplica closed out Sunday night. All the tribute bands sounded like the real deal and the crowds loved them.

When you go looking for a watering hole, Winnemucca’s best dive bar has to be Mike’s Mineshaft owned by Mike Leavitt up by the old railroad station. The bar has a lot of character although there aren’t a lot of lights inside. Some of the lowlight events include a sultry All-Girl Kissing Contest, Amateur Strippers and Wet T-shirt Contests. But be sure to get to the bar early as the crowd quickly swells. 

Sheriff Allen presents the Annual Nevada National Guard Soldier of the Year award and a specially engraved Remington Model 1858 New Army .44 Caliber Black Powder Revolver in a special display case to Sgt. Ponce.

On Saturdays during Run-A-Mucca, Winnemucca awards an Annual Nevada National Guard Soldier of the Year award. This year it went to Sgt. Enrique Ponce, a Sergeant in the Marines who served three combat tours in Iraq and at one point he not only rescued three other Marines under fire, he also beat back the attackers. His boss, Sheriff Allen presented the medal and a specially engraved Remington Model 1858 New Army .44-Caliber Black Powder Revolver in a special display case.

Later that night, the ritual bike burning took place with an old Honda set ablaze on a pyre made of wooden pallets. As the bike cooked, flames at times leapt 50 feet into the air. The heat was intense and it took an hour for the flames to cool.

The next day, Sunday, the mood turned a little more serious as riders rode and contemplated Memorial Day. At the end of the run, Vietnam Veteran Jim Driscoll reminded everyone that the day “is about those who didn’t come home. Live your life for them,” he said. “Every vet who fought has some degree of PTSD from it. Some more than others.”

After a closing prayer, a ceremonial cannon was fired marking a close to the festivities.  Run-A-Mucca continues to be a favorite with the Wild Bunch and somebody always walks away with a brand-new bike for $20. Butch and Sundance would be proud.

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