SACRAMENTO, CALIF., JAN. 12-13–Way back in 1969 Peter Fonda, Dennis Hopper and Jack Nicholson roared across America and the big screen in a movie that inspired many of us to take to the roads on our Harleys or whatever else had a motor and two wheels. Easy Rider became an instant hit and cult classic, even though Nicholson was bludgeoned to death in the movie instead of being the one doing the bludgeoning. Inspiration comes from many sources, and so it was no surprise when Easyriders magazine hit the stands in 1971 and quickly became the bible on the two-wheeled lifestyle. You might say they helped fill the need the movie created. It also featured some of the hottest-built bikes, products and women in the biking world.
Then Easyriders brought the bikes, products and girls from the pages of their magazine to their Easyriders Bike Show Tour proudly labeled “The Biggest, Baddest Bike Shows in North America.” The tour hits five American cities: Anaheim, California; Charlotte, North Carolina; Nashville, Tennessee; Columbus, Ohio and, of course, Sacramento, California. Each venue is filled with bikes and vendors mostly from that particular region so it retains a regional flavor in each city.
The Easyriders Bike Show Tour for 2013 came to Sacramento in January at the Sacramento Convention Center and featured 140 bikes. Their owners competed for 59 total awards, cash and a chance to have their bike featured in one of Paisano Publications’ many magazines. There were two classes: People’s Choice, where the spectators are the judges, and the Judged Class, where the editors from Easyriders are the judges. There were no entry fees for the bikes.
In addition, on Saturday you had the chance to meet Ryan Hurst, or “Opie” as he is better known, from Sons of Anarchy, Michael and Angie from TV’s Full Throttle Saloon, Paul Yaffe of Bagger Nation Customs, famed motorcycle photographer Michael Lichter and the Purrfect Angelz dance team from America’s Got Talent. Michael Lichter also had a booth set up to photograph you and your ride, and there was also a full display of David Mann “Original” paintings, which is only fitting since David and Easyriders are nearly synonymous. Add to that the hundreds of vendors on hand and you had a pretty full day… or two.
As usual, parking was a breeze for the weekend event since both sides of J Street in front of the convention center were exclusively for motorcycle parking and the parking was free. Although the sun was out the daytime temperature for the weekend never got above 49 degrees, so some chose to come in four-wheeled vehicles. If you came in a car, however, you were at the mercy of the various city parking lots, which ran anywhere from $10 to $15 for all-day parking. The best-kept parking secret for cars was the State of California Offices parking structure about four blocks away for $2 all day.
I arrived a little before the convention center opened and was able to get some breakfast at a restaurant just down the street. For the more bleary-eyed folk there was a Starbucks inside the center doing a very brisk business. Crowds moved steadily through the event, so the ticket lines outside went pretty quickly. A coat check area had been set up, too, so you didn’t have to carry your helmet and leathers around with you. Colors were also allowed at the event.
There was a backstage meet and greet event for Ryan Hurst and lines for that started right after the doors opened. It was hard to tell whom Opie was more popular with, since the men and women in line were about equal in number. Most of the guys would only admit that they were just in line “to keep their wife/girlfriend company,” but for two-and-a-half hours? After that, though, Opie came out and sat onstage while he posed for pictures with fans and signed autographs for them, both on paper and various body parts. Originally, Charlie Hunnam, who plays “Jax” on the show, was supposed to appear, but he had a shooting conflict and was unable to make it so Ryan stepped in. Since Opie was pretty dramatically killed last season (oops, spoiler alert for you Netflix folks), Ryan had a little more free time. Cheer up, though, Ryan has found new life on TNT’s upcoming show King and Maxwell playing a highly functional autistic man serving a prison term for murder.
The bikes on display were undeniably gorgeous, as were some of their owners. I talked with one such dark-haired beauty, Kelly Arana of Petaluma. She had entered her retro ’70s-style metallic light green 1962 custom-built Sportster. Although she had spent the last two years building it, she was now ready to sell it. As it turned out, though, she took second in the Old School Bobber Class. Wonder if it’s still for sale?
The Purrfect Angelz Dance Team put on three shows Saturday and one show Sunday. At the end of each show they sat down at the edge of the stage posing for pictures and signing autographs (again on paper… and assorted body parts). The Angelz are a group of all female pro dancers/models/entertainers who specialize in high-energy dance shows for casinos, nightclubs, motorcycle events and military tours all over the world. They also appeared on season six of America’s Got Talent and numerous episodes of Full Throttle Saloon. They have appeared in several music videos including Brooks and Dunn’s “Play Something Country,” Toby Keith’s “High Maintenance Woman,” and Trace Adkins’ “Honky Tonk Ba Donka Donk,” “Chrome” and “Hot Mamma.” They performed live with Trace at the CMT Awards and the ACMAs. They also perform for our U.S. Armed Forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. One of the dancers was none other than Paige Peterson, who played Nurse Shelly on the TV show Scrubs. Another Angel, Lindsay Dennis, belted out a great version of Carrie Underwood’s song “Before He Cheats” during one of the sets. These girls are limber, to say the least, and gorgeous.
I counted at least 130 vendors, but I know there were more. They included custom bike builders like Binford’s Custom Cycles, Bachman’s Custom Motorcycles, Freedom Ride Trike Conversions, Nickell’s Customs, AFT Customs, Executive Choppers and Paul Yaffe’s Bagger Nation along with local Harley dealers like Sacramento H-D.
If you were looking for parts, accessories, clothing or anything else motorcycle related, there was a booth for it. If you got hungry during your quest there were numerous food vendors, and if you needed insurance for your ride, Geico and Allstate were both on hand to supply quotes, as well.
Over in one corner of the convention center were some Bat Toys—replicas of the Tumbler and the Bat Pod from the latest Batman movie complete with a mannequin on the Bat Pod that looked just like Cat Woman. The vehicles were built by Aloha Brothers Fab-Creations of Honolulu, Hawaii, and were fully functional. The actual model names of the vehicles were the Rumbler and The Big Kahuna. The Rumbler was a tribute to America’s Armed Forces and Big Kahuna was a tribute to Hawaiian warriors.
Music was provided by a hot band called Jive Mother Mary out of Burlington, North Carolina. This old-school classic rock band played Aerosmith, Led Zeppelin, Lynyrd Skynyrd and other great ’70s music with many original tunes. What music goes better with custom Harleys?
On Sunday I caught up with a very busy Kari Roben, event manager for Easyriders. She has been with the company for 22 years, starting out in their video subscription department. Although she didn’t have exact figures, she estimated that about 15,000 people showed up this weekend and that attendance is up 12.5 percent from last year.
Sunday afternoon brought the awards presentation. Out of the 59 awards presented, People’s Choice Best of Show went to Gino and Denise Ilacqua’s 2007 Pro-Slammed Custom, and Judged Best of Show was awarded to up-and-coming builder Dalton Walker for his 2011 Split Image Kustom Shovel/Knuckle. Paul Yaffe awarded two people first place in the Bagger Nation Award category; Anthony McGinnis for his 2007 Road King, and John Shipman for his stunning 2003 FXR SPCN. Inspiration comes from many sources, and at an Easyriders Bike Show Tour, inspiration abounds.
Bike Show Results
Old School Choppers ’70s-style customs
People’s Choice: John Erickson
Judged Class: Dalton Walker
Old School Antique ’40s/’50s-style customs & antiques
People’s Choice: James Novaes
Judged Class: Brian Jones
Old School Bobber ’60s style customs
People’s Choice: Danny Collazo
Judged Class: Alex English
Modified Stock Street (Factory-titled bikes, minor modifications to the frame are allowed)
People’s Choice: Kathy Garcia
Judged Class: Erik Masters
Modified Stock Touring (Factory-titled touring bikes, no frame modifications)
People’s Choice: Joe Arizmendez
Judged Class: Johnny Ford
3-Wheel Custom (Mild modifications to factory-titled bike, or one-off custom)
Judged Class: Gary Lounsberry
3-Wheel Radical (Highly modified or one-off custom)
People’s Choice: Aloha Brothers
Judged Class: Mario Balderos
Custom Sportster (One-off custom or highly-modified stock with Sportster engine)
People’s Choice: Brian Hanson
Judged Class: Duane Jordan
Street Custom (High Performance)
People’s Choice: William Nichols
Judged Class: Steve Pedigo
Specialty Chopper (Current-styled choppers)
People’s Choice: Ronald Ramos
Judged Class: Spike Duque
Radical Custom (Full custom one-off builds)
People’s Choice: Scott Davis
Judged Class: Scott Davis
Radical Bagger (Highly-customized touring)
People’s Choice: John Shipman
Judged Class: James Deal
Best Of Show
People’s Choice: Gino & Denise Ilacqua
Judged Class: Bryce Cole
Bagger Nation Award