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For fans of this year’s BikeFest, it’s all about life, death and choppers

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Robert Woodward of Bob’s Biker Bits and Things would throw a mean punch.
Photo: Christopher DeVargas

In the same way the patches of a well-worn jacket tell the story of one biker, the booths erected on the floor of Cashman Center show the collective spirit of a subculture. At the 10th annual Las Vegas BikeFest, held September 30-October 3, the story is intricate.

All the accouterments a motorcyclist could want to pimp his (or her) ride are here: buffers, cleaners, polishers, a generic bedazzler. Then, the kind of emblem nobody wants: “In Memory of ...” patches, at a booth devoted to them. Less solemn are baby onesies with slogans like “show me your tits” and empowering female brand RTB. That’s Real Tough Bitch, got it? Not so far away are Coffin Couches with a Harley-Davidson-theme, though they also offer a blue-and-white Dodgers one. The concept is a bit grim, especially if you think about it long enough to walk past the several attorney booths advertising services for injured or disabled bikers and families of the deceased.

It’s preserving life, honoring death. You will know someone who dies, David Miller, a longtime biker says. It’s inevitable, but you move past it. That mentality shows here too, maybe best when a Saturday afternoon shower hits and begins to sprinkle on the crowd and outdoor booths. Nobody—save the electrical crew running the stage—seems concerned. “It’s just a little water,” says one biker, laughing. A lot of rain, lightning—that’s when you worry. Until then, you do the only thing you can: Roll on.

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