Handlebar fun

The Moustache Ride is a moped rally hosted by Los Dorados, Reno’s premier moped gang

Photo By lauren randolph

You don’t need to be able to grow a moustache to be a part of this event. It may be called the Moustache Ride, but all you really need to join in is a working moped and maybe a sense of humor. Los Dorados, Reno’s self-proclaimed “premier moped group,” is putting on the first event of this kind in Northern Nevada—a rally for moped enthusiasts. Titled Moustache Ride: A Moped Culture Event, it will take place over three days, from Friday, July 10 through Sunday, July 12.

“You could think of it as a miniaturized version of Street Vibrations with a lot less people and tiny bikes that sound like lawnmowers!” reads the press release, which may make it sound appealing, or at least funny, whether you’re into mopeds or not. If you’re not familiar with mopeds, they won’t really be riding miniature bikes at the rally. But, compared to most street-legal cycles—Harley-Davidsons and other motorcycles—mopeds are about as basic as you can get. Think a beefed up bicycle—they have pedals—with a motor. More than that, the members of Los Dorados are promising a good time to be had by all who attend the rally. Well, maybe not promising, but they think it’s highly likely.

“If anyone has a moped and wants to ride with us, register for our rally so you get your VIP,” says Camille Torres of Los Dorados. “You can hang out for the weekend. It’ll be a ton of fun.” It’s inexpensive to register and for your registration fee of $15, you get a rally pack that includes a wristband that gets you into all of the events, entrance to the final party and awards ceremony with live entertainment, random moped related items, and a hand-screened T-shirt designed by Troy Elizares, one of the instigators behind the group.

“The best way to explore the culture is to go to the moped rallies,” says Torres, who bought her first moped helmet from a thrift store in the seventh grade.

“It’s probably the most fun I’ve had in my life,” adds MaryLiz Magee, another member of the gang, referring to rallies she’s attended.

Saddle Up!

There’s some history to how the event came to be called the Moustache Ride. The group established themselves more than two years ago when Elizares decided to find other moped enthusiasts in the Reno area who might be interested in riding together. Thus, Los Dorados were born. The name Los Dorados means “the gilded ones” or “the golden ones.” It came from the handle given to Pancho Villa’s elite cavalry, Los Dorados. They all had big handlebar moustaches, the group says, and so the moustache became their logo or symbol.

“A lot of moped crews will put a sticker on their headlight,” explains Clint Neuerburg, one of the newer members of the gang. “It’s like the moped equivalent to wearing your colors.”

Hence, the Moustache Ride. “It just sort of made sense,” says Torres.

The group likes to refer to themselves as a club or a gang. “We try to play off of other gang’s rules, but it’s all kind of tongue in cheek,” says Torres when asked about how people can join the crew.

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Elizares adds, “We’re pretty loose.”

Basically, the group gets together and votes new members in. “I think that anyone that hangs out with us for any amount of time is usually there because they’re into mopeds. And if you’re into mopeds like us, how can you not hang out?” says Torres, explaining the organic process that brought the group together.

“I kind of feel like I’ve been in this gang ever since I was born,” says the team mascot, Austin Haynes, who also likes to go by his codename, Jesus. “I was born into it.”

The moped trend has been growing over the last 10 years. A lot of it has to do with rising gas prices. With a gas mileage of around 100 miles per gallon, you won’t find anything with a motor much cheaper for getting around. And, with top speeds of 30-35 mph, mopeds are a faster, easier—and fun—alternative to the bicycle. (The anecdotal motto of Los Dorados is “Ride fast or explode.”)

“I like to think we bring joy to the roads,” Torres says. “Eight-year-old boys, their jaws just drop when we ride by.”

If you like being the center of attention, a moped might be a good transportation choice for you. The group has plenty of stories of people stopping them to ask questions and even to take pictures with them.

“When we ride as a group, everyone’s looking,” says Neuerburg.

You can compare the moped culture resurgence to the scooter craze of the ’80s, says Elizares. Los Dorados members ride their mopeds around to commute to work and run errands, but to them it is also more of a culture, not just a mode of transportation. They try to organize weekly rides—they call them unorganized rides because inevitably the schedule gets delayed due to breakdowns and other invariable quirks that come with caring for mopeds. Generally, among the members, someone will know how to fix any problem and keep the group on the road.

“If it’s running, I’m riding,” says Haynes.

Off to the races

Calling the Moustache Ride a rally implies some sort of racing event—traditionally, rallying is a form of motor competition with road legal vehicles. The itinerary mentions a McCarran loop race around Reno. However, whether or not the event will take place was unconfirmed by members of the group. The weekend event starts out with a “night lights meet/great/meat/greet/feel alright ride” on Friday night. Moustache Ride participants meet at the Sands casino for introductions and conversation then head out for a ride south of town. The rest of the first evening is spent on the “downtown ‘experience’” where rally-goers can choose various activities to partake in, including gambling, pub crawls and more—taking advantage of the 24-hour scene. The next morning—not too early for those who do choose to close down the bars—riders will meet at the Gold & Silver Inn for a hearty breakfast to prepare them for the epic 74-mile ride Los Dorados have planned for Saturday. The ride starts out in the heart of Reno and takes participants to Verdi via a scenic and circuitous route, first through Red Rock north of town and then east through Sparks before heading west. Don’t worry, gas stops are scheduled as part of the trip. Riders end up in Verdi for an afternoon barbecue then turn back for the significantly shorter ride home down historic Old Highway 40 and along the Truckee River. The night ends with a party at the Broken Spoke on Wells Avenue. The weekend wraps up with a classic late morning breakfast (10 a.m.-noon) at Super Burrito on Sunday. Then, a possible loop ride around Reno and an afternoon spent at Great Basin Brewery in Victorian Square. The festivities end with a party to celebrate the event complete with race awards, food and drinks.

“I think a lot of people are coming to this rally and expecting it to be …” starts Torres.

“Awesome,” fellow Dorado Chris Wilson finishes for her. “So, we must deliver.”