Back in the day, before limited-stakes gambling transformed the former mining town of Central City into a hub of casino activity, the streets were lined with bars, with a general store and a newspaper office about the only non-drinking establishments along Main Street. In the 1960s, the bars attracted local folk performers, including singer Judy Collins; by the 1970s, the town had a reputation among local motorcycle enthusiasts as the perfect place to go for a beer and some good rocking sounds after a day of cruising the canyons west of Denver.
Central City's still a great ride, and even if the casinos are no longer exactly bustling, you can still get a beer or two along Main Street and enjoy the cool mountain air on a hot summer day. On July 29, riders from all over the state will gather there for the fifth annual Show 'n' Shine/Biker Rally & Charity Poker Run.
"It's a chance for all the bikers to enjoy a ride up to the mountains on a summer Sunday, get together and maybe win some prizes while raising money for a good cause," says Janet Spain, Central City's marketing director.
Better get there early. Registration for the Show 'n' Shine, a chance to prove how much better your bike is than all the others, starts at 10 a.m., when Main Street is blocked off to all traffic but motorcycles.
"The most impressive thing about the event is seeing all the motorcycles parked along Main Street," Spain adds. "You don't have to own a motorcycle to appreciate the sight, but you may want one once you've seen it."
Visitors vote for their favorite among the bikes entered in the Show 'n' Shine, and prizes are awarded to the top three "People's Choices."
Poker-run registration also starts at 10. Each card costs $15, with proceeds going to Caring Connection for Kids, an organization that provides clothing and school supplies for children in homeless shelters and transitional housing. The run commences at 11: Participants take their cards to each of the five casinos and pick a playing card from a bag. The object is to fill the card, which must be turned in by 2 p.m., with the best poker hand possible. This year's prizes range from a $400 voucher good for travel anywhere in the U.S. to $200 and $100 in cash, with other prizes coming from the casinos and other businesses in Central City and from the event's sponsor, Mile High Harley-Davidson.
The food and other booths open at 11 a.m. In addition to a giant prize wheel that dispenses cash, dinners, free drinks and more, Dostal Alley Casino and BrewPub is hosting a tattoo artist who will give you the needle on the spot. Piercings, too.
At noon, the music begins. The Budz and Tramp Dog play until 5 p.m., and with Main Street blocked off, the party takes place in the street, as any good biker bash should.
Riders wanting to head for the hills en masse should meet at 9 a.m. in the parking lot of Mile High Harley-Davidson, 16565 East 33rd Drive in Aurora. The rest of you can join the festivities in progress.
Just in case you've forgotten what constitutes a decent poker hand, here's the official ranking, from high to low, according to Hoyle:
1. Straight flush -- five cards in sequence in the same suit. A royal flush is the highest.
2. Four of a kind
3. Full House -- three of a kind and a pair
4. Flush -- five cards all of the same suit
5. Straight -- five cards in sequence but not all of the same suit
6. Three of a kind
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7. Two pair
8. One pair
9. High card