Paradise on the tip of Texas
Local charities benefit from biker fun
South Padre Island, Texas, Apr. 17–19—“South Padre Island, a town with style—a folksy, warm, inviting style that welcomes visitors from all walks of life, is located on the tropical tip of Texas just 25 miles north of the Mexican border and is the premiere resort in Texas.” Sounds like Chamber of Commerce hype. However, in this case, it is absolutely true. Throw in an early spring motorcycle rally called Beach-N-Biker Fest and it is absolutely paradise. The Magic Valley Riders have definitely found the ideal place and the right time to host a motorcycle rally. ’Course this is only my opinion, but 4,999 other riders that paid the minimal $15 registration for the entire weekend apparently concurred.
Festivities kicked off on Friday morning with a poker run. Beach-N-Biker Fest rally coordinators had planned to do a Mexico Run to Nuevo Progreso, Tam, Mexico. Unfortunately their event insurance carrier squashed that plan by their unwillingness to insure them, hence a Friday morning poker run was scheduled in place of the Mexico Run. Just to spare you the suspense, I’ll share with you that Glene Pryor drew the high hand of an ace-high flush and won a hundred bucks. James West and Yvonne Berrera tied with queen-high flushes, but James won the high card draw tiebreaker to grab the $50 second prize. Yvonne went home $25 richer.
After drawing a red four and a black nine on Friday morning, I knew it was not going to be my day for poker—as usual. My wife Carol and I had already traveled more than a thousand miles to “Texas—it’s like a whole other country.” We even got to see the bluebonnets and Indian paintbrushes in bloom, and the prickly pear cactus were displaying their yellow and red flowers, but it was still more than a thousand miles of traveling. My daughter Elizabeth and her companion Bill had joined us from Houston, so we decided to do our own Mexico Run, since “Mexico—is a whole other country,” and we had our passports ready.
Two years ago, I had the opportunity to follow Eliel Hinojosa on the Beach-N-Biker Fest Mexico Run to Nuevo Progreso, a border town about 60 miles west with a population of about 25,000. I also got to meet the Tequileros, namely Pablo, Paula, Arturo, Rosa, Jesus (Chuy) and Delia, who were having their own rally in conjunction with BNB. Their hospitality was so gracious, and their rally was so enjoyable, that I convinced Carol to ride a thousand miles with me to spend two days with them in Nuevo Progreso for their fall fiesta. It was truly a memorable time.
Crossing the border into Mexico is no big deal—at least at the Nuevo Progreso crossing. Just pay your buck seventy and keep on riding. This April, parking was a little congested since the city is taking down all of the electrical lines running along both sides of Avenida Benito Juarez (the street through town) and burying the utility cables underground. We rode on through to the south end of town, only seven blocks from the river, to the Las Flores Inn, owned by the Bautista family. As we pulled into the parking lot, we met Rosa on her way out of the Inn—lucky timing. We parked the bikes and went in for a cold drink and were invited to join the Tequileros and their families for lunch at the Red Snapper restaurant.
Chuy, Rosa’s brother and one of the owners of the Red Snapper, took the time to drive the four blocks to pick us up and drive us back for lunch. The food was as exquisite as the hospitality. I enjoyed my garlic shrimp, as well as some of Carol’s fried shrimp. There was also an enormous bowl of freshly prepared guacamole set right in front of me that was totally irresistible. Of course we had a few cold beers and a few celebratory toasts to further enhance the wonderful dining experience.
After lunch, Carol, Elizabeth, Bill and I hit the streets for a minor shopping spree. We found a small item of Mexican wall décor, a few articles of clothing to add to our wardrobes, actually picked up a few legal pharmaceuticals that were much less expensive than in the states, and a few gallons of liquor. Hey, there were four of us and two were not from Texas, so it was all according to the rules. No dental work, tattoos or shoe shines this time around.
We made our way back to the Las Flores to pack our bikes and say adiós to our Tequilero friends. They pleasantly surprised us with a few thoughtful parting gifts, including a very nice commemorative bottle of tequila. As it turned out, Arturo and Rosa were riding to South Padre for Beach-N-Biker Fest, so we followed them.
Getting back across the border into the U. S. is a little more of an ordeal, so you need to be prepared to spend a little time in line waiting for your turn to show your passport and assure the border patrol that you do indeed deserve to return to the U. S. Since we had a few bottles of liquor, Texas tax officials wanted to make sure we paid our duty on that as well. But hey, we still saved some bucks. You need to check the Tequileros web site at www.tequilerosbikeclub.com to find out about their next fiesta. An enjoyable experience can be assured.
Saturday on the Island was the big day. The events opened with about 80 vendors inside the air-conditioned convention center, a bike show, tattoo and ultimate biker babe registrations and live music from Point Blank. Motorcycle field events were a significant source of entertainment outside in the balmy, breezy, partly sunny afternoon. Events included a ball drop, ball catch, weenie bite, road kill pick-up and slow race. Two teams, Kris “Slim” Delgado and Amanda Cano, and Seth Ruhe and Anna Hearn, dominated the competition, garnering four trophies each. I’m not going to tell you who swallowed the whole weenie. You’ll just have to hope they make a return appearance at next year’s Beach-N-Biker Fest.
In between the field events and the burnout competition was the ever-popular bikini bike wash. For only $15 you could have Rachel, Liz, Sheena Lee, Courtney and Stephanie of www.glitzdolls.net get your scooter all wet and soapy. Reportedly, one gritty road warrior paid the bikini babes $75 to wash him down. He did keep his jockeys on, however.
Last year’s burnout winner, Trevan Williams, came back from Harlingen with a brand new Yokohama 205/60R16 tire on the back of his ’98 Honda Valkyrie, powered by a big 1500cc six-cylinder motor to smoke the competition for the second year in a row. Don’t know that the $300 first prize money will be enough for a new tire and wear and tear repair on the engine, but Trevan had a hell of a good time, and the crowd certainly enjoyed the visual, aural and olfactory spectacle.
This year’s bike show was a people’s choice competition. Juan O. Martinez of Mercedes, Texas, came out as the first place winner in the Stock Modified American category with $150 prize money, and Best of Show with an additional $500 cash. Juan’s sons, Jason O. and Jodie O. (notice a pattern?) accompanied him with his 2007 Victory Vegas Jackpot that was beautifully styled as a military tribute to Juan’s older brother Pedro who was KIA in Vietnam.
One of the Saturday afternoon highlights was the annual parade from Port Isabel, crossing the Queen Isabella Causeway back onto the Island, up Padre Boulevard (the main drag through town) and back into the convention center. An estimated 500 bikes were escorted by SPI motor cops along the route lined with thousands of bikers, tourists and residents waving and cheering and urging more of that rapping rpm-roaring of motorcycle exhausts. It was an interesting symphony of contrasts between the low bass roar of the low rpm Harley V-Twins and the high treble screams of the metric crotch-rockets ratcheting up to their 15 grand redlines.
While riding in the parade, I saw license plates from Texas, of course; Oklahoma, Wisconsin, New York and my own Missouri tag. If Texas wasn’t so damn big, maybe more out-of-staters could make their way down and find out how hospitable the Magic Valley Riders are. And if it hadn’t been for the dark skies and the National Weather Service warning of a 30 percent chance of thunderstorms, the total numbers of bikers, both participating and spectating, would probably have been at least 30 percent greater. However, it did not rain on South Padre Island during the weekend of this year’s Beach-N-Biker Fest. Those who packed their rain suits, or ignored the forecast and took the odds, certainly had a grand weekend.
In between the bands Presence and Texas TNT was another Saturday highlight—the Ultimate Biker Babe Contest. Not only did the contestants have to walk the walk, they had to talk the talk. There were a number of double-entendre questions such as, “Describe your best ride,” or “Do you prefer a hard tail or a softail?” and their answers were rated by cheers from the audience. Once the questions had been answered and the volume of the cheers rated by the judges, it came down to two final contestants. I would say offhand that SPI resident Jo Lynne Meader managed to win by a flash. (Once again, you’ll just have to come to next year’s Beach-N-Biker Fest to see for yourself.) The Ultimate Biker Babe Runner Up was Amanda Cano, who also scored well in the motorcycle field events earlier in the day. Amanda won a Bay Fishing Trip for two, a bouquet of roses, rally food and beverage coupons and the runner-up sash.
Jo Lynne Meader, who had just moved to SPI from Iowa a few months previously, won rally food and beverage coupons, VIP seats for the concert, a rose bouquet, the coveted Ultimate Biker Babe sash and Parasailing for two. It just so happened that earlier in the day, Jo Lynne had placed second in the tattoo competition and had won another parasailing package. First place winner of the tattoo competition was Benton Higgins. Benton won a trophy, a Deep Sea Fishing package for two, T-shirts, rally food and beverage coupons and VIP concert seats.
The Magic Valley Riders would like to thank L & F Distributors, the leading Anheuser-Busch distributor in the lower Texas region, and the town of South Padre Island as major sponsors of this year’s Beach-N-Biker Fest. South Texas Academic Rising Stars (STARS), Teach the Children, Family Crisis Center, Brian William Norris Foundation, Larissa Cavazos Memorial Scholarship Fund and Rio Grande State Center are a few of the local charities that benefit from the proceeds of Beach-N-Biker Fest. “Throughout the year we also aid families that we hear about that may have had their homes burglarized, burned down, flooded during a hurricane, or the loss of a child or parent, and even our fellow bikers that might fall on hard times,” according to Eliel Hinojosa, current Magic Valley Riders vice president.
Thanks also go to Magic Valley Rider volunteers Troy, Sheila (a.k.a. Hot Chilé), Eliel, Dorothy, David, Paul, Irene, Rudy, Marta, David, Brian, Vicki and all the others I did not have the opportunity to meet. It’s quite incredible that an organization that’s been in existence just over half a dozen years, and is comprised of only about 60 members, can pull together such a enjoyable and entertaining event that continues to grow year after year, and contribute a such a viable return to their community.
A number of this year’s vendors have already signed on to return to the 2010 Beach-N-Biker Fest, coming next April 16–18. I’m planning on returning, too. (www.beachnbikerfest.com)