Annual Burapa Bike Week thunders through Pattaya

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A caravan of over 100 big bikes rumbles down North Road onto Beach Road near the beginning of their Ride for Peace through Pattaya.  The event kicked off the annual Burapa Bike Week promoting friendship and parties.

Bumblefoot rocks Burapa Bike Week

The 18th Burapa Bike Week rocked a bit harder when members of 50 motorcycle clubs from Thailand and abroad rolled into Pattaya Valentine’s Day weekend as Guns N’ Roses leader guitarist Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal took the stage to close out a full bill of Thai rockers.

A caravan of over 100 big bikes rumbles down North Road onto Beach Road near the beginning of their Ride for Peace through Pattaya.  The event kicked off the annual Burapa Bike Week promoting friendship and parties.A caravan of over 100 big bikes rumbles down North Road onto Beach Road near the beginning of their Ride for Peace through Pattaya.  The event kicked off the annual Burapa Bike Week promoting friendship and parties.

The Feb. 13-14 weekend kicked off with the annual Ride for Peace through the streets of Jomtien Beach and Pattaya. The project to drive awareness about the importance of wearing helmets and promote unity and friendship among Thai and foreign bikers rolled out of the Eastern National Indoor Sports Stadium, turned right toward Sukhumvit Road and proceeded north through the Thepprasit intersection, turning east on North Road. Riders continued down through the Dolphin Roundabout, down Beach Road to Bali Hai Pier and into Jomtien Beach and back to the Soi Chaiyapruek 2 arena.

Big bikers gather in front of Pattaya City Hall before riding through Pattaya and Jomtien promoting peace and adding color to tourism.Big bikers gather in front of Pattaya City Hall before riding through Pattaya and Jomtien promoting peace and adding color to tourism.

Former Culture Minister Sonthaya Kunplome opened the show with top area political, business and tourism officials attending. Burapa Motorcycle Club President Prasan Nikaji welcomed big bike clubs from Thailand and around the world, including Germany, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, the United States and Vietnam.

Sonthaya said many people may feel that big bikers are fearsome, based on the way they dress, but that was only their appearance. Members themselves know well how great their friendship and harmony is, he said.

Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal (left) from Guns n Roses hams for the camera with Richy Rhodes, one of the organizers of the Burapa Bike Week.Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal (left) from Guns n Roses hams for the camera with Richy Rhodes, one of the organizers of the Burapa Bike Week.

A total of up to 50,000 people were expected to attend the festival over the two days. Bike Week also featured many food and product stalls, entertainment, American big bikes, old-style choppers, off-road shows, coyote dancing and more.

A fireworks display capped festivities and a share of the profits form the event were donated to the Hand 2 Hand Foundation.

While many of the booths and exhibits may have looked familiar to previous attendees, that main stage did not, as organizers planned a rock-music festival Saturday featuring up to 19 acts, capped by a 90-minute set from Guns N’ Roses’ Thal, who was in Thailand on a charity and promotional tour for his upcoming album.

100s of big bikes rumble down Pattaya Beach Road.100s of big bikes rumble down Pattaya Beach Road.

Organizers Richy Rhodes said the idea to have Thal – whose given name is Ron Blumenthal – appear began in October.  Drummer Simon Wyatt, a friend of the 44-year-old guitarist, helped set up the trip and organized a backing band for his appearances in Pattaya.

“I thought that with a rock-and-roll town like Pattaya, which is full of retired musicians, this would be a simple task,” Rhodes said. “But it proved not to be so.”

The final ensemble backing Thal on lead guitar turned out to be Wyatt  on drums, Werner Theunissen on bass, Barry Upton on rhythm guitar, Nui of the Climax Band on guitar and Kent Ploog doing the vocals.

The event even attracted an interstellar alien.The event even attracted an interstellar alien.

Before Saturday’s big show, the Bumblefoot Band managed two rehearsal shows, one at the latest rebranding of the Tony’s Disco, Club Endorphin. Despite some equipment issues and an environment set up more as a dance club than concert hall, the show went off successfully to a packed house. Pattaya officials even allowed organizers to bring 40 Harley-Davidson motorcycles onto Walking Street to promote Thal’s appearance.

The group also performed a 20-minute trial set Friday night at the Burapa Bike Week opening ceremony before Saturday’s big show.

The festival began early in the day with the world-music flavor of Baantung from Nakhon Sakon, followed by the heavy-metal Harley Bang followed by Pattaya fixture and fan favorite Lam Morrison.

Vehicles is all sizes, shapes, and decorations turn out for the event.Vehicles is all sizes, shapes, and decorations turn out for the event.

Then it was Bumblefoot’s turn to take the stage. He started with his own version of “The Pink Panther Theme” and carried on with Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Freebird”.

“It was nothing short of spectacular,” Rhodes said. “His fingers actually blurred on his beautiful twin-necked French-made guitar.”

Thal then debuted a couple of songs from his forthcoming album “Little Brother Is Watching You” followed by rock classics supported by vocals from the Swedish Ploog.

The set was finished with GNR anthem “Sweet Child of Mine” with the crowd singing along.

Taxi, Pops All-Stars and Harpic wound down the crowd to end the night and Bike Week.

A beautiful Thai performance easily reminds everyone that this event takes place in Thailand.A beautiful Thai performance easily reminds everyone that this event takes place in Thailand.

Former Culture Minister Sonthaya Kunplome presides over the opening ceremony for Burapa Bike Week.Former Culture Minister Sonthaya Kunplome presides over the opening ceremony for Burapa Bike Week.

Stunt cyclists put on a show at the pre-launch press conference.Stunt cyclists put on a show at the pre-launch press conference.