Photo by Hubble Ray Smith.
KINGMAN – Some 40,000 motorcycle enthusiasts will roar into the Colorado River gambling town of Laughlin April 25-28 for the 2018 River Run, one of the largest bike festivals on the West Coast.
A good portion of them will bust out of Laughlin and join the party at Mother Road Harley-Davidson dealership at 2501 Beverly Ave. for three days of live music, vendors, food trucks and a beer garden.
The party starts Thursday with music by Garlin Hackney from 1-5 p.m., and continues Friday and Saturday with Burn Unit from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., and Sidewinderz from 1-5 p.m.
Vendors include Bell Helmets, Memphis Shades, Bikers Choice and Crying Bear Knives. Grab lunch at Hog Heaven BBQ and dessert from Frank’s Ice Cream.
Mother Road is also hosting the American Heroes Poker Run from Laughlin to Kingman on Friday.
Along with enjoying the festivities, guests can look over the inventory of the award-winning Mother Road dealership, including new and used motorcycles, parts, apparel and accessories. Mother Road will set up a T-shirt trailer in Laughlin, and operates a sister store, London Bridge Harley-Davidson, in Lake Havasu City.
For Mother Road General Manager Jerry Cooper, the River Run gives him a chance to catch up with old friends.
“It means a lot to me personally,” Cooper said in his office off the showroom floor. “Working for Mother Road the last six years and coming from California, every year at the Laughlin (River) Run I see personal friends I haven’t seen in 10 years. It makes me feel good. They remember me as ‘Coop’ from Montclair. I know people from East L.A. to Oregon and that’s what cool about it.”
Some of them will visit him at Mother Road, where they can check out Harley-Davidson’s 2018 Softail line, which Cooper said is the best he’s ever seen. It’s got a new motor, new frame and new suspension and is a “phenomenal handling machine,” he added.
Cooper has been riding since he was 16 and has owned 36 street bikes over that time, including his current 2003 Harley-Davidson Dyna Wide Glide. He’d love to ride it to Laughlin for the River Run, but he’ll be too busy running the dealership and putting up tents, working until the sun goes down for three days.
“It’s hell week, but it’s fun,” the general manager said. “I think it’s so popular because people come to the river, you’ve got water, you’ve got sun, you’ve got people, you’ve got motorcycles. They can show them off. That’s what it’s all about.”
The Laughlin River Run is one of the largest motorcycle events on the West Coast with custom bike shows, vendor exhibits, headline entertainment and free live music, charity poker runs and the Miss Laughlin River Run 2018 contest.
It was founded by a group of Southern California Harley-Davidson dealers who wanted to show customer appreciation. They blocked out rooms at Laughlin hotels and started a 35-year tradition.
Among the featured events this year:
Custom bike show
Check out the hottest custom bikes at Colorado Belle’s main casino entrance Saturday and showcase your own ride with a chance to win a share of $1,500 in prize money. Judging and viewing is from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., followed by the awards ceremony.
Early bird poker run
Join the ride and line up your cards to win a share of $1,500 in cash and prizes to be awarded. It starts at 9 a.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday at Riverside Resort’s Starview Room and finishes at 3 p.m. in the Colorado Belle vendor area.
American Heroes poker run
Dalcon Promotions and Mother Road Harley-Davidson is sponsoring a poker run Friday that takes Old Route 66 to the dealership in Kingman, which is hosting a three-day bike party. Registration is at 8:30 a.m. and the ride leaves at 10 a.m. First place is a room package for the 2019 Laughlin River Run; second is a $250 gift Mother Road certificate; and third is a $100 gift certificate.
Miss Laughlin River Run 2018
Let’s see which of the gals has what it takes to wear the crown. The contest takes place at 7 p.m. Friday at the Riverside Resort outdoor stage. The winner takes home $1,000. Second place is $400 and third is $100.