Al Cinek in a happier role as an impresario of two-wheel party time
West – Two bikers, both veteran impresarios of the biker boogie down culture of benefits, beer, blues, bike nights, and weekend bashes, tell it like it is.
It could have been them, but it wasn’t.
The disaster of Twin Peaks could have stricken their businesses, Al’s Tokio Store, and Jim Pechacek’s Motorcycle Shop at Axtel.
Both recall making a decision to “get out of it” before disaster struck.
Cinek’s century-old beer bar and grocery store was known to attract upwards of half a thousand bikers for its Musicians Reunions and various benefits, all of them sporting patches of rival clubs and peacefully having themselves a good time, minding their manners.
When the Bandidos’s rift with the Cossacks reared its head, Cinek recalls, and then he just trails off, looking into the middle distance.
“I saw that place where someone wrote Cossacks on the post of the front porch with a marker. I saw that Bandido go by and hit it with his elbow.”
He shakes his head, looks at his boot tips and shrugs.
“I got out of it.”
But he’s not through. He gestures in an encompassing manner, indicating the entire building of the American Legion Post 121 in Elm Mott. “It could have been here,” he says, meaning the ill-fated COC&I meeting where bullets flew and blood spilled on May 17, 2015. “They wanted to have it here. We told them, no way.”
Quizzed further, he recalls it was a decision based on common sense, the commodity that the management of the next door neighbor bar to Twin Peaks said the franchisee was sorely lacking by hosting bike nights and club meetings where the rivals could get at each other. It’s in the first paragraph of their lawsuit against the parent company and the franchisee.
Jim Pechacek’s shop has been the scene of biker revels for decades, with bikers camped out for the weekend in a pasture beside his place of business. He was the head of the local chapter of the Texas Motorcycle Rights Association, a lobbying organization with deep ties to legislative functions at Austin.
A staunch member of the Confederation of Clubs and Independents, TMRA began to flounder with the death of its founder, Sputnik.
“When the Bandidos got involved, started collecting dues, I said the hell with it,” recalls Pechacek. He lets go with a string of expletives regarding their violent encounter at Twin Peaks on May 17, 2015, blaming the media and lawmen with an entirely negative message.
“They try to make the rest of us look like them,” he fairly shouts, standing behind the cash register of his store. “Those guys aren’t like us. We work. We pay our bills. They lay out, pimp out their old ladies. It’s not the same thing, but everyone is charged with the same offense,”
Cinek spoke just as harshly. “To be a Bandido, you don’t own your bike, your old lady – not even yourself.”
How does he know? “I asked them if it’s true,” he said. He nods vigorously. “It’s true.”
Both say they are cognizant of DA Abel Reyna’s strategy, that if he delays and delays and delays the prosecution of the 155 identical indictments he has obtained for engaging in organized criminal activity, sooner or later, the alleged offenders will cave in and plead out to a lesser offense, or accept the terms of a bargain.
Will that work with this crowd?
Pechacek shakes his head, adamantly, says, “No way!” Cinek appears not to hear, or to notice, or even to care. He is lost in his own thoughts.
Cinek remains impassive when quizzed about those prospects, diffident when he hears the news that some biker organizations such as Sons of Liberty Riders, M.C., riding out of the Mid-Cities and an active participant in the U.S. Defenders’ Legislative Strike Force, are planning to primary Reyna, the man who made the decision to arrest everyone based on whether they were wearing colors, or not.
The possibilities are very real, including boiler rooms, phone calls, yard signs, giving people rides to the polls, helping them register to vote, vote early, absentee – whatever it takes.
They both listen intently when told that the leadership of these clubs have declared they are motorcycle clubs, interested only in the benefits to enthusiasts through organized political action.
“What we saw,” says Cinek, recalling the shock of videos depicting the mortal combat of biker against biker, fighting with various weapons, many cut down by police sniper fire, “they could have cleared 20 acres and put a big fence around it, then told them to fight it out, to the finish.Why didn’t they do that?”
At that point of the interview, Pechacek let go with another string of profanity, something that is very rare with this rather refined man of the road. It is the only time in many years I have ever seen him get excited about anything. Anything! The guy is a rock.
He gesticulates, raises his voice, his face colors as he says, “Hell, they arrested mom and pops, veterans, Christian Riding Clubs, just anybody!”
To conclude, both make the universal sign of the Texas prairies, the one that does not translate from the Spanish, “¿Quien sabe?”
The gist of the conversations of these two is the same. What they do know is that something they grew up taking for granted has now slipped away into the past. Both men are not only shocked, nearly two years later, but outraged.
A barrel race at Jim Pechacek’s annual spring fling in Axtel.