Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Toy Runs in Side-by-sides: Adventures in Bako

I didn't expect to be at Valley Cycles before 7 am on a Sunday. The sun wasn't really up. In fact, it was just deciding to shine. Over the course of the next hour, Polaris and Yamaha vehicles lined up in preparation to trek across Bakersfield. With our toys in the back, Christian and I hopped into a red Ranger 500 (the least powerful thing present) and started our off-roading go-cart of a machine.

As we sped down the road, I couldn't help grinning, despite the sandy wind in my face. It's not every day you get a chance to ride in a side-by-side down the road. The four wheel vehicles handle like go-carts, and with their high center of gravity, drifting around corners at any kind of speed is not only possible - it's easy.

Our first stop on the toy run, was a nearby park on Rosedale Highway. Along with our substantial line of side-by-sides, different car and motorcycle groups rallied together to check out vehicles and stage the final step of our journey. After checking out everything from T-buckets, to vintage BMW motorcycles, we made our trek through Bakersfield to the fair grounds.  What everyone neglected  to mention, was our group was a sort of parade. Every intersection was guarded by police who ensured traffic worked with our group. At every corner, business, and house, there were small groups of children, families, teens, and adults waving and smiling to us. A few people had giant American flags and vet symbols, while others had homemade signs wishing us a 'Merry Christmas.' As I waved and smiled, I couldn't help but feel warm inside, no matter how cold my toes might have been. Here we were, providing a little free entertainment in the long line of spectacular vehicles that paraded through Bakersfield. Along with that, we were all donating at least one toy for a child in our community so they could have a happy holiday season. Plus, it didn't hurt that we got to speed through Bakersfield at top speed for our side-by-side.

When we finally got to the fairgrounds, we dropped off our toys and made our way into one of the two major buildings. Inside were booths for different charities, community organizations, and local artisans. In addition, there were different food vendors and a band per building. My favorite was 1916, a band where all the members wore big black boots and different kilts. They even had a bagpiper for a little icing on their celtic-punk musical cake.

Normally I would have felt bad about skipping out on church, but the toy run was worth it. Not only did we get to do some good for the community, but we also had some time to socialize and play on some fun vehicles that are normally relegated to dirt and sand. If you're a motor-head in Bakersfield next holiday season, I would definitely make sure you show up for the toy run. It's super fun and spreads quite a bit of holiday cheer all around.

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