Article And Photos By: Chris Callen
Originally Published In The June-July 2020 Issue Of Cycle Source Magazine
It had been quite a while since we had visited Reno for Street Vibrations and when Mondo of Denver’s Choppers asked us to bring some of the Flat Broke Chops & Rods bikes out for his show, American Heat, we loaded up and set the compass for due west. This trip would be the old-fashioned variety that we used to do all the time back in the day. Thirty-six hours out, two days at the event, and 36 hours back. Yeah, no rest for the wicked and all that aside, sometimes you just have to step up.
As we arrived at Street Vibrations on Friday morning, the organizers couldn’t have been more gracious. They set us up with all the media trimmings, and after we unloaded the bikes, set up the booth, and said our initial hellos, we hit the street running. Now, this place has the very unique distinction that sets itself apart from other rallies because of the historical significance of the area. Towns like Carson City and Virginia City that were so important in America’s westward expansion are reason enough to go. Still, the style of bikes is another difference. While many of these cats are into the Mexican Lowrider style custom, there is a thriving segment of the Chopper culture present as well. We saw some killer bikes from builders who hail from that region.
Two examples in particular were Jacob’s “Apache Dream” and Ron Simms’ little Knucklehead that was a rolling history lesson in early Chopperdom. We shot both for features, so keep an eye peeled in the mag for their full story. Paughco, a stone’s throw away, came out in full support of Mondo’s Show, as did Charlie Brechtel with the “Golden Chopper” from his upcoming movie. You can see this bike an issue of Cycle Source very soon. Sugar Bear, himself, was on hand and gave us some free advice on cleaning our bikes. Well, actually, it started with “Just don’t do it” and ended up with “If you are, use Lemon pledge cuz you don’t have to work so hard. Bear was on hand all weekend with “Gorgeous” and this made Heather, who was back home, crazy that she missed it.
Nevertheless, this was a boy’s trip so we did what all men would when left unattended: we went on the Cathouse Poker Run of course. Well, actually, we headed out to Virginia City the morning of the run, a beautiful climb up the side of the mountains from Reno, where the town feels nearly like time stood still. Old-time monuments to Western Folklore adorn almost every building. Names like “The Bucket Of Blood Saloon” make you realize that by this point in our country’s history, the people who were still pressing on by Reno were hardcore. It makes it a little easier to understand California now, doesn’t it? Okay, maybe not. Anyway, we spent half the day looking around at the sights in this great little town before heading back down to the mountain where Street Vibrations was in full force. As you can imagine, this place has its own vibe, to coin their phrase, but seriously it does. Being so far from most big cities, it holds on to the culture of the surrounding area very well. Bikes roared around town in a nonstop celebration of the motorcycle and vendors set up right on the main streets of the town. It was like a motorcycle Mardi-Gras, and the party was in full swing.
Over in one of the exhibit halls, Mondo and his crew were hard at putting on a killer bike show. That’s where we set up for Flat Broke. We spent a good part of our time in the same spot and it just so happened that there were a shit ton of great bikes there with even better stories. Two of which you can read about in this very issue. One of the highlights for us was the time we got to spend with Aaron Greene and his lady, Melody. These two are a blast every time we get to hang, and on this occasion, he took us to a Mexican restaurant he knew would serve up some solid grub. By the time we sat down to eat, the table had like two dozen people at it. It was almost like a secret message had been sent, and at once, they converged on this spot. The people were more than happy to accommodate us all, and it was like a scene from a Viking celebration. Charlie Brechtel and the “Rough Boys” were in the house showing off the Golden Chopper that some lucky bastard will win once their new movie is premiered. The thing is an incredible old school specimen, and I wouldn’t mind pulling that winning ticket my damn self.
Just like you would expect from the high desert, it was hot, then cold, hell at one point it even snowed. They tell me that seldom happens there, but it was some serious flakes man. All in all, it was a killer weekend. We got to hang with some friends we never get enough time with like Aaron Greene, who I can say is working on a killer project we can’t wait to tell you about. In any event, I just wanted to give you guys a few quick words on what we were up to and to thank everyone from Street Vibrations and Denver’s Choppers once more for such a great time. As luck would have it our quick trip out allowed Mark and I to have a couple of short stops at places he’d never been. Bonneville was one of them and even though it was the wet season on the great salt lake, to watch his face the first time he saw the places where legends have been made throughout motor-history was worth the whole trip. And that’s exactly how it should be.