Arizona Bike Week
10 Days Of Pure Party!
By Digger Dave, Photos G Rusty Childress, Digger
See the article in the Quick Throttle Magazine May issue.
See the Arizona Bike Week Photo Gallery.
If you’ve never been to Arizona Bike Week you’ve been missing out on one hell of a good time!! Everything this year started on March 23rd with the pre-parties beginning at Chesters Harley Davidson in Mesa, and ran nonstop until April 1st. The weather forecast was perfect calling for nothing but sun, and more sun. This isn’t your normal event layout where everything is concentrated into one large venue. Ongoing events are spread out, north, south, east and west all over the Phoenix area. The actual main “Cyclefest”, which started on March 28th, is held at Westworld in Scottsdale which is a sprawling complex home to many major events (Like Barrett Jackson). Complete with RV spaces with full hookups, no hookups and a nice grassy “bowl” where you can set up your tent, awnings and park your bike right next to you.
The main “tent” (which is HUGE) houses the concert stage at one end and the Handlebar Saloon at the other, which sits in the middle of all the vendors (200+). It can get pretty toasty here in Arizona even in March and the event coordinators always put huge evaporative cooling blowers at ground level, they’re easy to find, just look for a clump of riders with beers in hand hanging out in front of them, mostly the out of state visitors who came in from the snow country. Then there is the “Jager Stage” which is a little north of the main tent providing local and national musicians playing pretty much the entire day, take your pick, main stage or Jager stage or bounce between the two while doing a little shopping. The stunt bike area is south of the main tent complete with bleachers and up close and dangerous “hangin’ on the fence” views. There’s no lack of parking that’s for sure, but if you get there late you may have a ½ mile walk to the main event area and finding your bike again can be an ordeal unless you take notice of some landmarks.
Riders from all over the U.S and even from other countries start congregating in the RV/Camping areas a couple days before everything gets crazy, striking up new friendships with their camping neighbors and getting ready to party down. I met new friends from Germany, Austria, Australia, New Zealand, England and even a group from Spain. Riders from Florida, to Washington State all make the journey to hook up with friends they met the year previously. Some of these camps are decked out! I visited with people that had blow up swimming pools, pool tables, horseshoe pits, “themed” camps (the Red Cup camp was a favorite), outrageously decked out lifted “golf carts” with giant sound systems and of course scantily clad ladies riding on top. There were even a few scantily clad men around, but I never did figure out (didn’t really want to either) whether it was on purpose or they were still partying and forgot to dress. The traveling stripper poles always had a group of people following it.
The only problem with this event is trying to figure out where to go and which ride to hit up, but with a little pre-planning a rider can take advantage of any or all of the rides and any of the “off premise” events, and there’s a LOT of those! Runs that take a northern route into the mountains, (twisties) or the southern route thru the desert, which is just starting to bloom. If you don’t want those types of run (huh???) then you can opt for “in town” runs that go from strip club to strip club (yep) or Saloon to Saloon, or just go take a ride and visit as many other events as you can cram into a day. Every Harley dealership had something going on and somehow managed to not make their events overlap so you could hit 3 or 4 a day no problem. But you’ll always want to be back at Cyclefest late afternoon when it starts, to feed yourself, and yea, a little pre-party of your own, before the evening events kick in!!
As I mentioned the kickoff parties started on Friday March 23rd, a full 5 days before the main event with some big name concerts getting everyone in the Bike Week spirit of adventure. Chesters Harley Davidson “Back Stage Biker Bash” kicked everything off on the 23rd with vendors, food, raffles and the Kansas City BBQ State Championship Competition set up covering the area with the aroma of killer BBQ, I hit the aroma a mile away as I rode in. That night there was a free kickass concert with Whiskey Six and the Lynch Mob tearing up the stage.
Saturday the 24th things really started kicking in gear, with the first run of the week. The Liberty Wildlife Born To Be Wild run headed out of and ended up at Chesters HD. A 2011 Softail Deluxe was won by one lucky ticket holder and then followed by another kickass concert with southern rock legends Blackfoot & Molly Hatchet ! This was one of those days a little planning was needed. Buddy Stubbs Arizona HD was having an all day event with all day rock and roll culminating with Firehouse that evening. Once again ANOTHER lucky winner went home with a 2012 Sportster! You’d think after 40 years of buying tickets I’d win something, even a damn t-shirt would be cool, even tho at this point it would be a very expensive t-shirt! No visit to Bike Week would be complete without a visit to the Dirty Dogg Saloon in Scottsdale, which is about halfway between Chesters and Buddy Stubbs…. ahhhhh yes planning. Their outside tent complete with stage was jam packed as always, inside you’d find a Coyote Ugly atmosphere, if you could plow your way in somehow. Up north a little ways the Hideaway Bar and Grill was having their ongoing party along with the Cave Creek Taphouse hosting a motorcycle auction with some sweet bikes up for grabs!! Along with all of these happenings there were events scattered all over the Phoenix area!
Sunday the 25th, here we go again and most of us are already whooped after only two days!! 3 runs this day all military themed and heading every which way were on the menu. Packages From Home Hearts To Heroes run, Semper Fi, and the Legacy run all headed out from different locations and at times crossed paths. Flickas Cantina in Scottsdale provided a free breakfast for the Hearts to Heroes riders (thanks Flicka!!) and all the runs ended at Chesters once again gearing up for another party and concert by Van Zant!! I’m sure glad the HD dealers coordinate their events together because the scheduling allowed everyone to see Van Zant, then head up to Harley Davidson of Scottsdale to party with Bret Michaels who took the night time stage slot and rocked the place to the max!. No matter where you went it was a sea of riders rockin’ out. The Hideaway in Cave Creek had the Arizona Bike Builders bash with our very own world renowned builders showing off the best of the best! The Cave Creek Taphouse motorcycle auction, a music festival at Greasewood Flats, the Steelhorse Saloon Trifecta Custom Bike Show and a poker tournament at Ft. McDowell Casino. I don’t care who you are, or even if you’re an Iron Butt rider by Sunday night you’re going to start feeling the effects, but just think…..only 7 days to go!!
Monday the 26th we got a little reprieve. The Taphouse motorcycle auction was ongoing and my bro Paul Yaffe was having his annual “Bagger Nation” day at the Hideaway. It was nice for the riders to just kinda kick back, relax with a cold one, hang out with Paul and his wife Suzy, and gawk at Paul’s incredible custom baggers, plus get to see some of his customers ride in on their Bagger Nation creations!
Tuesday the 27th was another welcome mellow day, if you wanted to be mellow. If you were ready to party again it was easy enough to find that at the Dirty Dogg Saloon, Chopper Johns, or head up north and visit with Bridgett Bourget and Bourget Bike Works line up of killer choppers and shredders, trikes and more!! These past two days were a welcome relief, Cyclefest starts in earnest tomorrow, and we’re going to need all the energy we can muster up!!
Wednesday the 28th……. it’s HERE the first official day of Cyclefest! Buddy Stubbs HD kicked off the day with the “Riding For Kids Charity Run” with the proceeds benefitting “Camp Courage Burn Camp for Kids” and it was PACKED!! This ride consisted of a 230 mile run up into the mountains of northern Arizona, a beautiful ride thru the Ponderosa Pines and 2 lane roads filled with twisties and long straight stretches thru mountain meadows filled with White Aspen trees and clean air. Nice quaint towns where riders could stop, stretch, eat, relax and enjoy the surroundings. This was the first ride that also ended at Cyclefest, makes sense seeing how it was the first day. John Shopes Sinister Industries was showing his rad custom baggers, along with the Ariz. Bike Week Hero party happening all day at the Hideaway. At Cyclefest the Jager stage was rockin’ out with Return To Custody leading off then Pat Roberts and The Haymakers taking stage. The main Handle Bar Saloon stage had the Rock City Rebels playing all afternoon leading up to the much anticipated Miss Arizona Bike Week contest.
Preliminaries for the Miss Az Bike Week contest were held many weeks prior to the final event, narrowing it down to 10 very nervous finalists. The stress was relieved somewhat when they got to head out into the crowd and mingle before the onstage happening, it sure seemed like that Handlebar Saloon a hundred yards away from the stage got a lot of business real fast!! The contest was broken up into 4 segments with music in between. The introduction, where we got to learn a little about them, a question segment, everyone’s favorite, the bikini segment, then the announcement of the winner. It would have been nice to have been backstage for the wardrobe changes; then again, being in the “photographer’s pit” was nice also!! I’m sure glad I wasn’t a judge, there’s no way possible I could have picked one winner, and I’m sure that was the general consensus with the crowd and the tent was jammed packed! But alas, there could only be one winner, Congratulations go out to Shelley Martin Rollen for winning the crown this year!! Shelley is a very active charity fund raiser organizer and heads up the “Biker For Boobies” run every year benefitting cancer patients. YAY Shelley!! With the contest over everybody was in major party mode.
Next it was time to honor the 2012 Arizona Bike Week Hero which just so happened to be one of the offsite event organizers Buddy Stubbs. He’s a legend around here owning a Harley dealership for the last 45 years in and around the Phoenix area!! I actually remember hanging out at his dealership about 40 years ago just because it was a cool place to be. Congratulations Buddy!!! The place was really packed up now, Quiet Riot was about to hit the stage and they rocked the crowd with all the favorites!
Where am I.. oh got it Thursday the 29th, I’m tired just reliving this. The extremely popular annual TBar ride departed Cyclefest and proceeded on its way with a massive amount of riders stopping at numerous strip clubs…. errrr excuse me, Cabarets, in Scottsdale/Tempe/Phoenix. For fairly short ride in miles, it sure took the riders a long time to get back to Westworld/Cyclefest!! I went out campground wandering for awhile just to see what was happening. Here’s where I encountered the blow up pools, (some filled with water, some filled with who knows what) pool tables, horseshoes, mini wet t-shirt and bikini contests, I knew I went there for a reason. As I was wandering around, camera snapping pictures at 3 frames a second, I was also invited to eat, drink and be merry at various camps by complete strangers, but not strangers anymore. My favorite was the “Red Cup District” red solo cups decorated a huge camp and red Christmas lights adorned a (of course) red bar. It was the judges favorite also, my friends camp won the BEST CAMP trophy!! YAY, way to go!! Plus my friend Tracy won the BEST TENT CAMP trophy…. a grand slam!! Hawg Wild rocked the main stage in the afternoon and Paul Yaffe hosted a happy hour bash at the main saloon….then that night Puddle of Mudd tore up the stage! Literally..they got a little exuberant at the end because the crowd was off the hook, they kinda tossed a few amps etc, it’s all good, I heard one of them say afterwards, “sorry about that, send us a bill”
It’s Friday the 30th, or so I was told. More rides today, more music today and more party today!! Chandler Harley Davidson had their “Heroes Ride”, The Hamsters put on their “Dry Heat” run (that was an appropriate name for that day), then there was the Hideaway and Broken Spoke Gypsy Tour run. All runs left from different locations, but all ended up at Cyclefest. It was one of those days where many rode, but there were a lot of people who just mingled around event grounds, shopping, or watching the motorcycle stunt shows put featuring the YoFace stunt riders, if you ever get a chance to see their show don’t miss it, there’s some incredible, mind boggling stunts performed!! The Jager stage was jammin’ and Hardride was headlining the afternoon main stage. The campground parties and BBQs were in full swing as well with everyone gearing up to rock out to REO Speedwagon that night!!
Saturday the 31st and the people who have been staying on site are in zombie mode in the morning hours. Nothing a little food and a Bloody Mary won’t cure right? After all, guess what, there’s more runs today!! Arrowhead Harley Davidson hosted the “Hogs for Heroes” run, which benefits the families of Law enforcement officers who have given the ultimate sacrifice or are incapacitated. Then there was the 4th Annual Arizona Humane Society “Puttin’ for Pooches” ride benefitting the society, hosted by Chandler Harley Davidson. The small town of Cave Creek opened up their doors for the annual “Cave Creek Day” with happenings all over town. Arizona bike builders, Taphouse MC auction, bike shows, and plenty of food and beverage all within walking distance of each other. Paul Yaffe held his “Baddest Bagger” Bike show at Cyclefest and there were some jaw dropping bikes. Congratulations to Paul Tracy, Brian Jenkins and Tod Holley all winners in their respective class. By late afternoon people seemed to be recovered and warming up for the nights festivities. Many visited the Crusaders For The Children silent auction which was held in the main tent, while my friend Erin and I just kinda relaxed and people watched. It seemed to be the right thing to do…..TESLA was hitting the main stage in a few hours!!
Wow Sunday the 1st, I think everyone is amazed and thankful to have survived this long, it’s been a hard fought battle. Yet, it’s going to be another big day! It’s the day of the much anticipated Crusaders For The Children “Child Empowerment” ride hosted by Arrowhead Harley Davidson. I think originally it started out as just a run, then Lyla (Winter Ave Zoli) and Opie (Ryan Hurst) from the FX series Sons of Anarchy came on board to lead the ride! It went from a non escorted to a DPS/Police escorted ride in a hurry! The ride left Arrowhead HD for a short ride to Cyclefest where there was to be an autograph signing. DPS counted 1026 bikes (not sure how they did that) and most of those were two up. I was at the end spot getting ready to shoot as many pictures as I could when they rolled in, but nobody told me there were 1000+ bikes! It went off without incident and the main parking lot filled up in a hurry. “Opie and Lyla” were whisked off to get ready for the signing part. I have never seen so many people lined up in one place before, 4 abreast and as far as I could see. I’ll guesstimate that there was a minimum of 800 until the line turned the corner and out of sight. Winter and Ryan did their best to accommodate everyone, even staying longer than planned. But there was no way they could get to everyone, the line never went down! Thank you for being so gracious, fun and real, and thanks for helping out the Crusaders For The Children!! TNT an AC/DC tribute band rocked the afternoon main stage for the thousands of last day attendees, and ROCKIT they did!!
The entire 10 days of events went extremely well, riders could pick and choose what they wanted to do, ride the mountains or the desert, or town, or just hang out somewhere. The campground area was sold out a couple of weeks prior to the event, there may have been a couple of spaces in the tent area, which is where I’ll be next year! Attendance was up from last year with 60,000+ at Cyclefest alone. There some killer deals in the vendor areas and little “side shows” here and there that were quite interesting to say the least. I’d like to thank Brad Bennett and Lisa Cyr with FX Promotions in Mesa for all their hard work, and Suzy Yaffe for all your hard work!! There are many more involved of course, thank to all of you!! Brad, Lisa and Suzy seemed to be going every which way non-stop. I have to give special thanks to Lisa Cyr for taking care of us media people so well. Providing an enclosed safe haven for us to rest our weary feet, download pictures, strategize with our associates, use the wifi and enjoy the munchies. I survived on Goldfish, pretzels, trail mix, M&Ms and water for 5 days!!! Can I have a cot next year please? Oh and a golf cart would be way cool also!!
Thanks everybody for coming out and making this a memorable event it was one hella fun!! I’m looking forward to next year and visiting with all the new friends I met, and of course all my rowdy local friends!! Remember to always ride safe and watch out for the jerk who isn’t watching out for YOU!! Cya next year If not before!
Ride Safe~~Ride Free
See the article in the Quick Throttle Magazine May issue.
See the Arizona Bike Week Photo Gallery.