Do you ever look back at something you did and think, “yeah, that wasn’t the best idea”? I’m having one of those moments. I mean, being a biker chick for the day while riding a motorcycle through the desert seemed like a good idea at the time… Now? I’m adding it to the “glad I did it once but never again” file. It all started when a friend of mine on a recent Saturday night asked me to go the very next afternoon. We had had a bit of a cold spell, and we were suddenly thrown a gorgeous, sunny weekend. “Sure!” I committed before really thinking about it.
I have a love/hate relationship with daredevil activities: I was recently the only person to chicken out on a pole-climbing challenge and barely made it down the bunny slope while skiing in Vegas. But I loved sky-diving and zip-lining, so you really never know with me. I am also up for anything, such as hypnotherapy, mini round the world backpacking or shaman readings.
One thing I am such a sucker for: fun, impulsive activities that require zero planning on my part.
I was sold.
The next morning, I put on jeans for the first time since about Christmas, a pair of ballet flats, a top, and my toughest jacket. When Ron picked me up, he was not impressed.
“Where’s your leather jacket?”
Um, you’re lucky I own jeans. He was also puzzled by my footwear. But since I don’t have any sneakers, we soon took off. I was somehow reassured by his pink, flowery helmut that his young niece usually wears. Well, if SHE can do this…
About 20 minutes later, while tearing down the freeway at 80 miles an hour and seeing how dangerously close my thin shoes and bare skin on the top of my foot were to roaring pavement, I learned why bikers are always covered head-to-toe in leather. My wardrobe is definitely not biker chick-worthy.
We ended up very soon after getting off the highway for a leisurely ride on backroads I never knew existed.
It turned out to be an interesting subculture to Vegas.
First, the scenery was gorgeous. I didn’t take a single photo, because my camera was in my purse in some holder I was sitting on — and I was holding on for dear life. But these backroads wind through the desert with unobstructed sweeping views of the mountains and desert. Motorcycle clubs really are a fascinating way to see the country!
Only bikers were on these roads, and they always wave. Not the military-type salute I see police bikers do… Instead, they put out their left hand really low in acknowledgement.
We made several stops along the way, including Primm. I get stuck in so much traffic driving on the highway from Primm to Vegas, that I was shocked at how fast we arrived there on the backroads.
I also saw the dirt bikers. Although I’ve long heard that that’s a big hobby here in town, I never thought about where they do it. Well, I saw! There was a huge area filled with cars parked randomly all over the desert. Apparently, the dirt bikers drive out there with their bikes and spend the afternoon riding.
Our last stop was the biker bar Pioneer Saloon in Goodsprings, Nevada.
Did I mention that my coat had a ruffle on it?
Luckily, a triathalon of some sort had stopped there for some sort of post-race lunch. It was an interesting mix of people!
There was also a rough old lady wearing a chicken suit kicking up her heels to the live music. I ordered a beer, served in a mason jar, and took it all in.
The saloon was built in 1913 and has a room dedicated to old press clippings and history. It was built during the mining boom that earned Nevada the nickname of the Silver State and is made of tin — one of the last metal buildings in the country that’s still standing.
Included in the Pioneer’s history: much dedication to Hollywood legends Carole Lombard and Clark Gable. In a devastating twist of history, Carole died in a plane crash in the desert nearby. Her husband, Clark, came rushing to the Pioneer, where he waited for news for three days before returning to LA alone and brokenhearted.
I can’t wait to return to the Pioneer! (Maybe next year for its 100th anniversary — who’s with me?) Although next time I’ll have my camera ready… and arrive in a car.
If you go:
Goodsprings is about 30 miles southwest of Las Vegas. Take 1-15 South, and make a right on Exit 12. It’s a few miles up the road.