There are bikes, and then there are bikes. Trade helmets for bandannas, pedals for gasoline and chain lube for motor oil. There is Tour de France champion Marice Guarins, and then there is Jay Allen. Allen, owner of the Broken Spoke Saloon, is considered a godfather of motorcycles. He put his stake in New Orleans with the opening of a satellite saloon in the French Quarter, and with the annual New Orleans Bike Week, a motorcycle festival that kicks off Cinco de Mayo week with an event schedule that reads like a biker's bucket list — poker runs, Bob Seger tribute bands, a Wall of Death bike race and booze-heavy events galore.
Allen purchased his first bike as a preteen for $8. He bounced around as a hired hand — he landed work in New Orleans as a garbage man and hot dog vendor — and joined rallies and races up and down the West Coast. When he bought the Broken Spoke, South Dakota's motor mecca, it became a memorabilia-heavy bar/museum, with room for 4,500 motorcycle enthusiasts or curious cagers.
The annual gathering brings the saloon experience to New Orleans, with vintage motorcycles, parades, industry pros and, of course, food.
Visit www.bikeweekneworleans.com for a complete schedule, tickets and other information. — Alex Woodward
New Orleans Bike Week
Various locations; www.bikeweekneworleans.com