The first ever “Cool Mountain Thunder Bike Week” is set to kick off in Ely, Nev., the week of Sept. 2-11, centered at the historic Hotel Nevada and Gambling Hall, a biker friendly landmark casino that will be the sponsor hotel for the event.
Ely is situated deep in the mountains, approximately 240 miles north of Las Vegas. There are two ways you can arrive and leave from Las Vegas, both ways offering their own unique beauty and charm. The fastest way is taking Highway 93 north of town to Highway 318, which takes you through the small towns of Alamo, Hiko and Lund, all just small spots on the map. The other way, which takes an hour longer, winds you through lush green valleys and past the unique towns of Caliente, Panaca, and Pioche. Ely is also a five hour ride across Highway 50, America’s Loneliest Highway, from Reno. From Salt Lake City, it’s a four hour ride west through the mountains.
“From whichever direction you may be coming from, it’s a fantastic ride into Ely,” said Gary Cook, an organizer of the event.
While there will be many of the usual events bikers have come to expect during the course of the week, the main attraction of the Cool Mountain Thunder Bike Week is the roads going in and around Ely. The Great Basin, of which Ely is centered in, offers hundreds of miles of traffic-free scenic highways through august and monumental mountains divided by deep, far reaching verdant green valleys that stretch across the horizon under indigo blue skies, dressed with a scattering of billowy white clouds.
“This isn’t one of those counterfeit, corporate shows that exist only to deplete your wallet,” said Cook. “Rather it’s an event for people who truly like to ride. It’s for people that want to spend a few days riding the mountains without traffic in front of them slowing them down, or cars behind them rushing them off the road.”
The event kicks off on Sept. 2, and bikers are invited to join the McGill Labor Day parade in historic McGill, Nev., a mining town 10 miles up the road from Ely. Kickstands go up at 5 p.m. at the Hotel Nevada so that bikers unfamiliar with the area, can be led up there. After the parade, Brian Ward will be playing at the Rio Bar on Aultman, as will the band “8 Seconds. Providing female entertainment will be the California Dream Girls.
Saturday, Sept. 3 kicks off with the 50/50 Raffle Run to Wheeler Peak in Great Basin National Park. The run will take bikers through the pine covered hillsides of Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest to Major’s Junction. From there the ride will continue on over to Baker, home of Great Basin National Park, where bikers will make the 12 mile climb up the mountain, reaching more than 10,000 feet and overlooking the Snake Valley. Bikers will pick up their raffle ticket and then head back to Ely, where there will be a live band, food, drinks, casino gambling and vendors.
The Sept. 3 run cost is $10 per person and will benefit the local Ely VFW Post, with registration taking place at the VFW on McGill Highway in Ely and the Hotel Nevada. The VFW will be offering free coffee, donuts and breakfast burritos to registrants at the Post in the morning and the winner of the raffle will be announced at 5 p.m. at the Hotel Nevada.
After the run, there will be a Best Bike contest and Slow Ride contest at the Hotel Nevada, with the Slow Ride registration taking place between 3-4 p.m., and the Best Bike registration taking place between 3-4:30 p.m. at the same place. All winners will be announced at 5 p.m. Participants will also be able to register for the Wet T-shirt and Best Tattoo contests as well and registration will continue for those two events on Sept. 3 at the Rio Bar until 10 p.m. Brian Ward will be back for musical entertainment as well as the band, 8 Seconds. The California Dream Girls will also return for a second night.
On Sunday morning, the Bloody Mary 50/50 Raffle run to the Owl Club Bar in Eureka, also benefitting the Ely VFW Post, will continue the Labor Day weekend activities. Registration will be from 9-11 a.m. at the Hotel Nevada. The ride will travel the 77 miles down the “Loneliest Highway in America,” a highway that’s laden with cattle ranches, hills, pastures and four large mountain passes. It’s a ride that will be etched in your memories forever. The winner of this ride will be announced at 5 p.m. at the Hotel Nevada bar.
During the week, bikers can set off in any of four directions and land on a traffic-free road with adventures near and far. This will be an opportunity to explore the Great Basin and all that it has to offer; rides that will be especially rewarding to bikers of every skill level. It’s a chance for bikers to get to know the great people of Ely and the surrounding communities and visit the many historic sites that make up the local area.
“In any direction you go, it’s a great ride,” Cook said. “It’s a great biker town, very respectful and welcoming. With all of the bikers that pass through here daily in the summertime, it’s only natural that a bike week be located here.”
On Sept. 9, the action begins anew with Brian Ward starring in yet another show at 8 p.m. at the Hotel Nevada’s Postal Palace, Ely’s premier entertainment venue located adjacent to the hotel. Food and drinks will be served and there’s no cover charge to the event.
Again, on Saturday, Sept. 10 , there will be another 50/50 Raffle Run to Wheeler Peak in Great Basin National Park and the cost is $10 per person. Registration for this event will take place at the Hotel Nevada.
The run will be followed, again, with a Best Bike contest and Slow Ride contest at the Hotel Nevada, registration taking place between 3-4 p.m. for the Slow Ride with the race beginning at 4 p.m. and the Best Bike registration taking place between 3-4:30 p.m. at the same place. All winners will be announced at 5 p.m.
Wet T-shirt and Best Tattoo contests will be held on the evening of Sept. 10 at the Postal Palace, and you can register for those events at the registration booth during the day or at the Postal Palace until 10 p.m. at night.
Brian Ward will perform one final night of rock and blues at the Postal Place before Ely Bike Week comes to a close.
Hotel reservations can be made by calling the Hotel Nevada at (775) 289-6665 or on their website: https://www.hotelnevada.com/. Built in 1929, and once the tallest building in Nevada, the hotel will be offering special rates for bikers, including great mid-week rates that can’t be matched. The Hotel Nevada was ranked the number one rural hotel/casino in Nevada by Nevada Magazine. The hotel also offers ample RV parking and there are incredibly alluring campsites spread throughout the Ely area.
Vendors are still being sought and can get in on the action by calling 760-550-3943. For more information and updates on the event, check out the “Cool Mountain Thunder” Facebook page.
“Because this is our first Bike Week, vendor space is at rock bottom prices,” Cook said. “It’s going to be a busy 10 days in Ely so if you have bike products that you want to share with the public, give a call and we’ll get you a spot reserved.”