OCTOBER 03, 2016


David Campbell stared directly across the headlight of his bike as he drove in a straight line. Leaning forward, a bandana tight around his head, he managed to ride his silver Harley-Davidson all they way to the finish. He’d just won $100 in the Ride the Plank, one of several games at the second annual SPI Bike Rally. “That’s my $100,” said his girlfriend, Laura Salinas. They’d come from Donna for the rally at Isla Blanca Park yesterday.

Campbell and his brothers own Campbell Kustoms where they do custom work on motorcycles. They were all enjoying the rally, which included live bands, games and a bike show.
“We try to attend all the bike shows here in South Texas,” said Campbell, 33. Last year’s rally was held at the South Padre Island Convention Center. This year it was all booked up, which proved to work in favor of the rally, said Alex Hinojosa Jr., one of the organizers.
“We are 10 feet from the water,” said Hinojosa of Hino Electric. The smile on his face and the cranked-up energy in his every move showed he was pleased with the turnout. “They’ve come from Monterrey, Guadalajara, Harlingen, Dallas, Laredo, all over,” he said. “We’ve got all kinds of bikes. It’s about camaraderie, it’s about brotherhood.”
Bike enthusiasts who’d rolled in from throughout Texas and Mexico had parked in rows where they could be easily viewed. The choppers were customized in a broad range of colors and details. Red flames flashed across one gas tank, another was painted a deep blue and still another was painted in glittery emerald green.
Two bikes with curving silver detail caught the attention of Bill Kightlinger and his friend Jerry Beaird. They rode their bikes from Kerrville along with their wives. “That one would make sure I didn’t ride it the next day,” said Kightlinger, 71, mentioning something about his back. He began riding motorcycles at age 18. He admired the bike and there was a time when he could’ve ridden it just fine, but not now.
Meanwhile, other bike riders continued competing in games, one of which was called the “Weenie Bike.” Rodney Bogart tied a wiener to a length of string. “Put your hands on his shoulders,” said Bogart, the MC, as Josie Gutierrez maneuvered herself to bite off the bottom portion of the wiener.
The copper Heritage Softail, a model of Harley-Davidson, growled as her husband, Ruben Gutierrez, drove slowly beneath the wiener. Everyone whistled and clapped as Josie Gutierrez snapped off a piece of the bait.
“I have done this before,” said Gutierrez, of McAllen. “When I get close I have to be in a position to put my head up and push myself up.” James Kempfer rolled under the weenie with Rachel, a model with Glitz Dolls. She and three other models in red, white and blue bikinis had come from Houston. They were posing for pictures and socializing with those attending the rally. Rachel easily won the game for Kempfer, 40, of San Antonio, and walked away with $100 prize money. She was enjoying the opportunity to work at the rally as a model. She’s attended several such events. “It’s fun,” she said. “You get to travel, you get paid for being sociable.”
Trophies seemed to come easy, at least part of the time, to Gilbert Boza. He’s a familiar face at bike events, and he had two of this three hogs at the rally yesterday. “I like the fact they have a lot of different competitions,” said Boza, 38. “I won the ‘Slow Race.’ I could have won the ‘Ride the Plank.’” The Slow Race challenged bikers to ride as slowly as possible without putting their foot down. He explained he had some concerns about how he was evaluated in the race. Overall, though, he was happy with the event.
“It’s awesome, it’s great,” he said. “I wish more people were here.”

-Travis Whitehead