LAUGHLIN, NEV., APR. 24-26—After an excellent RV experience in Arizona, our logic was to keep the toy hauler ready and try our luck at the Avi Resort for Thunder on the River, held during the Laughlin River Run. We make Laughlin on the bikes a couple times a year, so taking the rig for this event would be a new experience. The Avi Resort is owned by the Fort Mohave Indian Tribe and is situated along the Colorado River just a short 15-minute ride south of downtown Laughlin and on the Nevada/California/Arizona borders.

Avi KOA RV park
The RV option provides a home away from home, yet keeps you ready to ride

We were looking forward to staying right in the middle of all the action and experience what Avi had to offer. In addition to more than 450 fine hotel rooms, they also have the Avi/KOA RV park right across the road from the casino and hotel offering full hookups that included use of all the hotel amenities: pool, golf course, theater, riverfront beach, boat launch, a variety of restaurants and, of course, the casino. There is, however, no place for tent camping at Avi/KOA, or in their “free” overnight dry camping/parking area adjacent to the casino and hotel.

During Thunder on the River you will find a biker marketplace, live music, Thunder Rolls poker run with high- and low-hand winners raking in $1,000 cash each, Thunder Big Dice Roll, and the “Lightning Strikes” slot tournament all at a very affordable rate of $125 for four nights per RV spot. All the proceeds from the Avi Thunder on the River event go to local charities for children, including the Needles High School in Needles, California, and Pillar Charter School, part of Aha Macav High School in Mohave Valley, Arizona. Also included, and what we found most exciting, is an opportunity to drag race your own motorcycle in a competition for amateurs only.

Landlubbers looking for some booty at Pirates Cove in Needles, California, on the Avi Poker Run
Landlubbers looking for some booty at Pirates Cove in Needles, California, on the Avi Poker Run

On Thursday, after unloading the bikes and taking a short ride into Laughlin to take in some of the vendors and meet up with friends, we returned for our first Avi experience on the agenda: dinner at the hotel’s Italian restaurant, Ristorante Aviano, which proved delicious and affordable. Although the Avi Hotel and RV Park were sold out, the place was lacking in party atmosphere.

The main festivities at the Avi began Friday morning with the Thunder Rolls Poker Run participants rolling out of the Avi to enjoy the beautiful weather and scenic desert roads. Stops included Hooch’s 95 Bar & Grill, Pirates Cove Bar & Grill and Cathie’z Leather, then back to Avi to announce the winners and award the $1,000 cash prizes for high and low hands. The lucky winner of the low hand was Esther Jannelli of Redlands, California, and the high hand winner was Brian Upah of Queen Creek, Arizona. Both were ecstatic with their significant bump in cash flow, especially Brian. He had gotten an expensive citation for not wearing a helmet in downtown Laughlin on Thursday. His girl Christina publicly announced she would deliver the blowjob she promised if he won the $1,000. Brian scored a double win that day. Go, Christina; way to encourage your man!

Amateurs in five classes battle it out on the Avi's eighth-mile strip
Amateurs in five classes battle it out on the Avi’s eighth-mile strip

With the threat of a thunderstorm to hit that night, it seemed as though everyone was making their way back to their home away from home to batten down the hatches. The thunderstorm hit the Avi’s Thunder on the River as well as the tri-state area with a vengeance throughout the night. Saturday dawned with intermittent downpours and brief sunshine, but the Race Your Ride at the Avi was still a go. Track announcer Liz Davis, affectionately known as “Hyper Liz,” current motorcycle drag racer for Revelation Racing out of Sacramento, California, has been the track rep at the Avi for five years, and before that was a Thunder on the River drag strip racer for five years. Coming down from her Sierra Nevada Mountain home in Northern California just to do this gig at the Avi, she loves every minute of it and gives all the credit to the crew that works with her to make all this happen in one day. Liz was full of energy and ready to get the racing started on the eighth-mile drag strip, and after a few minor glitches with the lights the racing was underway. With more than 250 motorcycles and 400 passes down the track, the end of the day concluded with trophies awarded to first, second and third place in five classes: Harley Street Racer, Harley Super Stock, Harley Stock, Metric Cruiser and Metric Racer. All the racers and spectators had a great day at the Avi drag strip, and everyone I talked to said they would be back next year to race their ride. (This THUNDER PRESS contributor/motorcycle drag racer definitely plans to be on that drag strip doing some girl-on-girl racing with Hyper Liz.)

While the Laughlin Avi/KOA RV resort is much more subdued than the Arizona Bike Week’s WestWorld nonstop party, it was a lot of fun while offering plenty to keep any restless biker busy and entertained when they weren’t out riding in the beautiful desert of California, Arizona and Nevada.


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