Las Vegas BikeFest Rally Central. While the vendors and events are situated at the Cashman Center about a mile away, the Downtown Grand of Las Vegas, formerly the Lady Luck Hotel, surrounds the outdoor rally happenings with her two glistening towers of steel. Shrouding the short street with cool shade most of the day and housing The Mob Bar and the commissary., the coffee shop/bar where we sit now. At night the street is flooded with leather clad men and women, the women far less clad than the men, all drinking and partying, in and out of the Hogs and Heifers Saloon in the pomp and circumstance that is BikeFest.
The roaring between the towers continues until the puny hours upon the clock, which is why the management provides earplugs in the room. We're often asked why we are working while everyone else is having fun and we politely answer, explaining our lifestyle in a sentence or two. Invariably, someone will want to hear more, and I try so hard to find the enjoyment in answering their questions, but when I'm trying to work, it can be disruptive. I patiently hand out business cards, refer them to our website, as the cards are shoved into pockets to be laundered later.
The sweet soccer mom who stands beside me with her Bermuda shorts and Dooney Bourke handbag smiles at the attractive, young bartender as she orders lunch for her family. Obviously not attending the Rally but just here to bring her teenagers to Las Vegas, I wonder if she is anything like I used to be. Miserable, trapped, serving her time as a wife and mom, desperately longing to climb on the back of one of these bikes and ride away from the obligations of her life. No more bake sales, no more PTA, no more teachers and bad grades to contend with, but the freedom of the road I enjoy in my life today. Her sweet, coy smile hides under her blond bob and she winks as the cute bartender. He doesn't bat an eye, as he's probably had every lonely Cougar who wanders in hit on him.
I'm not a fan of Las Vegas because I am overwhelmed by the distinct odor of desperation at every turn. Gamblers down on their luck, drunken bachelors drooling over their bar tacos, lonely women objectified for a dollar, vendors frustrated with low sales, hardworking waitstaff miserable with the tourists; folks in every walk of life running away from everything all under the guise of "having such a good time". The stench of cigarette smokers, hot and sweaty tourists, and boozed up 20-somethings bumping into elevators in the mid-afternoon remind me that I am in the center of the unholy Gods of Excess and Money Worship.
It's not all bad though, just different than most of our destinations. Prior to attending Sturgis, I had never been to a rally, so I wasn't sure what all the fuss was about. Now that I know, I find I enjoy the open road and regular city visits much more. Much like the Sturgis Rally, only a much smaller event in nicer hotels, the BikeFest is probably the stereotypical rally. The tourist spots and rallies aren't really my speed, as I would rather spend my day in an art museum or restored, historic hotels, churches or civic buildings, eating where the locals eat and sitting barside in their watering holes. Steve and I have found what works for us, what feeds our interests, and we are fortunate that we enjoy the same things, like most couples.
The loud pipes are roaring here in Vegas this weekend, saving lives and terrifying tourists and locals. The coffee shop girls confided they are frightened of the burly bikers and their tough wives, afraid they'll mess up an order and get yelled at, or worse. It's hard to convince these part-time-employed-college-students that these men and women are regular, nice folks when they are sporting vests that are covered in profanity and roaring their engines like lions vying for territory. For many riders the image of toughness is a badge they wear proudly, so perhaps they don't want me telling these girls they are really just a bunch of teddy bears.
Come Monday the motorcycles will be gone and the riders back to their regular 8-5 day jobs, the hotel will return to it's normal routine of gamblers and show-goers, and another BikeFest will be in the books. Come Monday you'll still find Steve and me here at the bar, typing away on our laptops, drinking craft beer and Sashtastics, and dreaming of the next stretch of road that calls out to us.