After the short meet up and gas stop in Ramona we were off. A group of maybe 50 or 60 bikes ranging from new crotch rockets to old Ironheads and everything in between headed out to ride some twisty back roads through the mountains and down into the desert with the goal of free beer and punk rock at the end of the ride.
We made our way with little incident, the group making stops every so often to top off with fuel. At one point the main group pulled off due to some front end issues with one of the bikes, at this point Pete noticed a missing exhaust stud so Pete, Jack and I left the group and continued on down the road in hopes of locating a parts store and a bolt the hold Pete’s pipes on with. After a few stops, and no luck Pete said the pipe was fine with the one stud, since he runs a 4-into-1, it should hold up ok since the other pipes were tight so we hit the road again. We rolled into Slab City around 1p.m., and for anyone who’s never been, it is quite the sight. Slab City is basically a squatter’s camp on the grounds of a WWII Marine base. There’s nothing left of the base except the slabs of concrete where buildings once stood, hence the name “Slab City”. I suggest you look it up sometime. It’s pretty trippy.
The first order of business was to set camp, which can be tricky as there are no campsites or rules in the slabs. Our first choice turned out to be no good as it was too close to a locals’ trailer and fenced in barking dogs, so we moved on down a ways. After a suitable camp was formed it was time to get some of that free PBR we were promised by the organizers, Biltwell Inc. The walk from our camp to the center stage area and the Biltwell tent was short but interesting. There were kick ass chops as far as the eye could see. There was even a campsite where the crew had brought a pallet of sod with them and laid it out so they didn’t have to camp in the dirt, haha.
Jack & Randy
Randy & Jack
As it got darker, bon fires were lit and the party was in full swing. The bands started up on the stage, which is flanked by 2 old buses used for equipment storage and green room. The seating around the stage is made up of salvaged seats from old cars, airplanes and theatres with fire barrels scattered here and there. As the sun sets in the slabs the sheriff heads into town, I’m not sure if they are a nightly presence to keep an eye on the locals or if they are there just for us but they suck! They spend the night writing tickets for guys riding without helmets from one campsite to another, not on roads but in the dirt. That’s the only downside to this event, the cops, but isn’t that the same for any motorcycle event anymore? They don’t ruin the party though as there are only around 6 Sheriff’s units there and hundreds us for them to keep eyes on. Throughout the night the bands play, old cars and boats were set on fire, the fire department comes and puts them out and a bit later someone lights them up again.
In the morning it’s time to leave. Everyone packs up and hits the road home. We stuck around a while to check out the skate park. It’s the old base pool that has a few ramps and rails added over time by visiting skaters. Jack skated a bit and then we had one more place to see before leaving slab city, Salvation Mountain. Salvation Mountain is a monument to god built over the last 20 something years by one of the slab city locals. Its 3 stories tall and covered in hand painted bible verses. Google it. After that we were off on our quick two hour high speed run home down the 8 freeway with nothing but the gas stops, dictated by my 2 gallon gas tank to slow us down. Another Slab City Riot over and now I’m counting down the days till the next one, which is rumored to be a two night event!
Randy & Adria
Words: Randy 'hellbilly' Owens
Photos: Adria (www.myspace.com/adriaphotography & http://www.nocturne-studios.com/)
Jack's blog: http://dirtyfree.blogspot.com/