7,000 bikers expected for ‘Big Blue Run’
The buzz around June’s planned motorcycle rally is turning into a roar as law enforcement, tourism officials and event organizers gear up for a many as 7,000 hogs in South Lake Tahoe.
The Big Blue Run, slated June 11-13 and sponsored by the Harley Davidson’s Northern California dealer association, may circulate more tourism dollars, noise and attention from authorities around the lake.
The California Highway Patrol plans to order a few motorcycle officers from the Sacramento division to police the roads. One road in particular may prove to be a quagmire to bikers as The South Tahoe Public Utility District will have begun work on a wastewater line off Highway 89 over Luther Pass. The route – which at times could be closed in both directions – is a favorite for bikers zooming between Markleeville and the South Shore. Motorists may endure delays of up to 30 minutes.
Within city limits, South Lake Tahoe Police Chief Don Muren said the department will deploy an additional traffic unit, along with extra patrol by Douglas County Sheriff’s Office deputies.
“We don’t anticipate any issues other than traffic,” Douglas County Sheriff’s Lt. Steve Orr said.
When the rally was announced earlier this year, letters and calls came in to the Tahoe Daily Tribune from people concerned with another biker brawl like the one in Laughlinn Nev. on April 27, 2002, which left three dead and a dozen hurt when rival gangs opened fire in a crowded casino.
The El Dorado County Sheriff’s Department will focus its regular patrols at Camp Richardson for security during the Renaissance Faire, slated for the same weekend.
“It should be interesting. We expect a lot of bikers,” Lt. Les Lovell said Monday.
“On his behalf, the organizer has been very forward thinking with law enforcement,” she added.
Organizer Ed Robinson of San Jose has made the rounds to the various agencies around the lake to provide information about the event and its residual effects.
The city and Tahoe Regional Planning Agency don’t require permits for the event, given its current structure.
“We walked through our code to be sure. Certainly, we have a concern over the noise and over the impact of the event, but (Robinson) said he would do his best to be sensitive to our environment,” TRPA spokeswoman Julie Regan said.
“What’s saved us is we’re not going in a parade and we’re not going on public lands (as gathering points),” Robinson said.
South Shore rally venues include the Brothers Place, Hoss Hoggs, Ski Run Marina and Heavenly Village, he said. Cal Neva Resort has offered a trip to Hawaii as part of the festivities.
Mainly, the ride was designed to introduce motorcycle riders to the lake and feed them to other events such as the Carson Valley Days and the Renaissance festival.
During a poker run scheduled on Saturday, riders are urged to stop off at places around the basin that grab their attention. Eighteen venues are either deemed biker friendly or have accompanying parties for the event.
“We don’t want them to just race around the lake,” Robinson said. “The main thing is, we’re business friendly.”
No definitive figure has been given, but the two lake tourism agencies estimate the pass-along business from the event could generate hundreds of thousands of dollars for businesses lakewide.
– Susan Wood can be reached at (530) 542-8009 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org