Mike Corbin was easy to spot, standing in the crowd out in a wild tropical shirt that exuded the enthusiasm he felt about holding his annual Ride-In Bike Show, a magnet for bikers far beyond the city limit, after a tough 2020.
This year’s show broke its headcount capacity after COVID-19 spiked last year’s event.
“Today has been wonderful,” Corbin said at the July 3 event. “People are really excited to be out and celebrating Independence Day. The weather is perfect, America is coming back alive, COVID is getting behind us, and it could not be better.”
The show took place at his Corbin Motorcycle Seats and Accessories factory in Hollister and attracted over 2,000 visitors from multiple parts of the country. It was the highlight of Corbin’s three-day Open House July 2-4. Corbin has held the show annually since 1998 save for 2020.
The show, co-produced by “Godfather of Choppers” Mondo Porras of Denver’s Choppers and Chicano Yank, brought in bikers from around the country. Booths were set up for around 30 vendors and motorcycle clubs including the Hells Angels and Hollister’s Top Hatters.
Riders flowed in throughout the day. According to the permit issued by the city, capacity for the event was 1,000 participants, but Police Chief Carlos Reynoso placed the crowd at somewhere between 2,000 and 4,000 people.
Event vendors said they had been busy all day and the showrooms were packed with people checking out the latest Corbin accessories. Others, like Bill Ramos, just stood by his bike, talking to friends he had met at other rallies or rides.
Ramos, 78, rides a Harley-Davidson with custom leather seats, adorned with stickers and decals proclaiming his Native American heritage.
“In 2010, I went into Mitchell’s Modesto Harley-Davidson right before Christmas and saw this beautiful bike with a red bow on it,” he said. “I fell in love with it. I went home and told my wife, ‘I just saw the most beautiful thing I have ever seen, next to you, of course.’ I took her to look at it and she said ‘Yes, let’s do it.’ We’ve gone ride across the United States in it, down to Pensacola and up through the Carolinas to Niagara Falls.”
Ramos has been coming to the Hollister rallies for 20 years and enjoyed this gathering in particular.
“The rally is always a great thing and it has all that history behind it,” Ramos said. “You have so many people coming back year after year and all the different clubs showing up.”
Participant Brad McDaniels belongs to the Cross Ministries Motorcycle Club, which serves the community through outreach to prisons, homeless parks and drug rehabilitation centers.
“We began as a Christian Blues band and we go to rallies all over to perform,” he said. “I’ve been to Sturgis and as far as the Canadian Border. This is always a good one to go to. We have a lot of different groups here and they are getting along great. There is a good vibe here and it has been a great day.”
The large crowd was a point of concern perhaps only for Police Chief Carlos Reynoso, who said that there were only two security guards at the event when the permit specified 12.
“Motorcycles were blocking fire hydrants and access to the event. It would have been an impediment to emergency vehicles if they needed to go in there,” he said. “Cars were parked on dry grass, which is a fire hazard. These things will be a point of contention next year when they come to us for a permit again.”
Corbin acknowledged that improvements to event access will be a priority next year.
“We had as many people as we have always had,” he said. “The only thing that went wrong was that we had motorcycles in the fire lane. The fire marshall had to ask us to move them, and we did. There weren’t any other incidents—I didn’t see a single grumpy person all day.”
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