Catchin’ air at Big Bear. There was no shortage of entertainment at Big Bear Choppers’ 7th Annual Ride the Mountain rally including some trials riding action.
Big Bear Choppers threw a party for 6,000 of its closest friends, converting Big Bear Lake’s Snow Summit Mountain Resort into biker central Saturday. Hordes of motorcycles rode the mountain up California’s Hwy 330, filling the streets of this small mountain community with the roar of V-Twins. What started out as a way for Big Bear Choppers’ Kevin and Mona Alsop to show a little appreciation for their customers and fans has evolved into one of the better micro-rallies on the West Coast. This year’s celebration had a ‘Hollyweird’ theme, complete with fire-breathers, knife throwers, burlesque dancers, the Globe of Death, and Shortywood’s KISS cover band.
What better way to wake up the crowd than the guitar-driven riffs of the home-grown hardcore band Phace Down rockin’ the party at 11 in the morning? The audio assault set the high-energy tone for the day, as the heavy bass and drums reverberating from under the red and white awning over the entertainment stage was only the beginning of a
steady stream of live shows. Just beyond the ‘big top,’ another local act, Randy Miller’s Predators in Action, was on hand with a Siberian tiger, trained dogs, and a raptor show. Miller’s animals have been featured in movies like ‘Gladiator’ and ‘Transformers 2,’ winning Miller awards from the World Stunt Academy.
Besides the steady stream of entertainment, Big Bear Chopper owners came from near and far to enter their factory-custom motorcycles in one of the bike show’s three classes and a chance to ride away with $500 cash. Taking home top honors in the BBC Factory-Built class was Jim Schrader for his 2009 Sled, while Jason Buchman captured first place in the BBC Customer-Built class for his 2007 Merc. The final award in the Open Class went to
The winner is…
Richard Procter for his 2001 Indian Chief Sidecar. Procter’s four-year-old son Jack stole the limelight from his dad when the event’s emcee asked if Jack had anything to say to the crowd and he replied “Ride safe,” which received a hearty round of applause.
There was also a cool $1000 up for grab in the poker run. Ed Rose from Corona, CA, had the hand of the day, four queens, which were good enough to hold off the second best hand, a full house. The weather cooperated for riders, with clouds keeping temperatures cool but comfortable. The Snow Summit chair lift was busy shuttling people up the mountain for spectacular views of Big Bear Lake, while mountain bikers also rode the lift up the hill only to come bombing down again on their bikes.
Hollywood stunt rider Monte Perlin was a popular draw with his combination of street and off-road stunts. Anybody who has seen the movie ‘Bedtime Stories’ is familiar with Perlin’s work. He’s the guy who jumped through the rail car of a moving train on a stock Harley-Davidson with a passenger on the back of the bike. Today he was riding over cars on his Gas Gas motorcycle, popping wheelies and pulling stoppies for the appreciative crowd before climbing into the Globe of Death. There, he and his son rode inside a giant steel ball on dirt bikes, a danger-filled act out whose history traces back 100 years. Precision and timing is everything as they circle inside the steel structure. At one point, his son rode horizontal to the ground in the globe-like structure while Perlin rode upside down as the crowd watched wide-eyed.
Shortywood’s Little KISS entertained the crowd with hits like ‘Love Gun’ and ‘Rock and Roll All Night.’
The Chop Tops laid down some high-energy rockabilly.
The show stealers though had to be Shorty’s Little KISS band. Imagine a four-foot tall Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley in full KISS makeup rocking tunes like ‘Love Gun’ and ‘Rock and Roll All Night.’ Shorty worked the crowd with a ton of ‘little’ jokes and jabs like “I need a girl with elbow pads.” Fans lined up after the show to have their picture taken with the group of little people who played big music despite their diminutive stature.
The troupe known as FreakShow Deluxe was also a popular draw. The Rev. Tommy Gun kicked it off with the Human Blockhead show, driving a
Crack that whip!
six-inch spike in his nose, and put a new spin on the act by doing the same with a power drill. The entourage of performance artists followed that up with hands inserted into animal traps, sword and fire swallowing, knife throwing, and more time-honored freak show fare.
The energy level reached a crescendo when the rockabilly band The Chop Tops took the stage. Drawing upon influences as varied as Johnny Cash to the Dead Kennedys, the three-member band put on one of the highest energy shows I’ve seen in a long time. It’s impressive what a talented guitarist, a gifted bassist with a stand-up bass, and a drummer with only a snare, bass drum, and two cymbals can pull off. The man banging the skins stood the entire time and also belted out vocals. The band had feet tapping to the beat and heads bobbing with the fast-paced music.
Big Bear Choppers’ Creative & Marketing Director, Andy Meadors, said he was pleased with the turnout, but attendance was down about 20% from last year. After attending both Daytona and Laughlin this year, I’ve seen that this about par for course given the current economic situation. But the motorcyclists that were able to make it this year were treated to some great roads to ride, killer live entertainment, a variety of vendors and a chance to hang with the Big Bear Choppers crew for its 7th Annual Ride the Mountain rally.