By Perry and Traci Nelson
Saturday morning September 16th we headed out for the Thunder Valley Rally in Cottonwood, Arizona. Friends have been telling us about this rally for years; this year we were determined to experience it for ourselves. It was perfect Arizona riding weather for our 2013 Road King, riding from Phoenix to Cottonwood. As we gained in altitude it started cooling down. Phoenix doesn’t get much in the way of seasons. Just an hour’s ride north, you can catch all of them; today we rode from 105 degrees into Fall (65 degrees).
We weren’t sure exactly where all the rally events were, so as usual, we followed the bikes leading us into the Riverfront Park. The park runs along the Verde River with shade trees and RV/tent camping. The rally has grown over the years so the town expanded it to their Riverfront Park. Vendors surround a large lawn area leading up to the Law Tigers Main Stage. Friday’s bands were: Supernatural Santana Tribute and Whiskey Rodeo, warming up for the headliner Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band. Saturday’s bands were The Mods, Mr. Skynyrd and Mogollon followed by headliner Blue Oyster Cult (BOC) — one of the main bands we really wanted to see up there.
After we first got to the Park, checked out the scene and got our passes, we rode with the flow of bikes down the street from the park to Historic Old Town Cottonwood on Main Street. In town they had two more stages; Old Town Jail Stage, and Joe Hall Stage; where bands played throughout the day. There were also vendors and exhibitors including the Law Tigers, Discount Biker Supply, Indian Motorcycles, etc.
A couple booths stood out: one had a van packed with speakers in it with the doors wide open. Let me walk you through this; I see a guy with a remote, and he looks at his buddy, looks back at me, cocks his eyebrow and pushes a button on the remote. I about got knocked off my feet by the sound waves! I swear the wheels on that van were bouncing up and down off the ground; on cue the booth next to him, also selling car and bike sound systems, cranked his tunes up…..KABOOM! BRRRRRAAAAP! …..I guess these guys were going at it all weekend…in a friendly way… imagine that.
The local shops and restaurants were open for business. Even with the thunder of bikes riding along the main strip and the pounding stereos from booths and bikes, this town didn’t lose its down home feeling.
We couldn’t help but notice “pin-ups” walking around Old Town; turns out they were buying time before heading back to the park for the annual Miss TVR PinUp contest finals to be announced at the Law Tigers (Main) Stage.
These women put their hearts and souls into being a pin-up and we’ve learned that it requires a lot of preparation to be in a pin-up contest! They have a bunch of categories they are judged on: Hair, Makeup, Demeanor, Dress, Question & Answer and Pose-Off by a motorcycle on the main stage. Double D’s Performance Indian Motorcycle from Scottsdale was the sponsor for the Miss TVR Pin-Up Contest. The winners were: Bridget Shuflin-1st place, Candice (Redbird Lady) Ward-2nd place, Christa Cave-3rd place, Rhiannon Coleman- Miss Congeniality.
The band Mogollon was on right before the pin-up finals. There is nothing that Mogollon can’t play and they really got the crowd going! Blue Oyster Cult played all their hits… with everyone’s favorite “Don’t Fear the Reaper”. This was one of the craziest crowds we’ve seen dancing and cheering to every note and for every Pinup.
Great people; this rally was put together very well, not a bad seat in the house. The police were there and not an issue, as it should be.
We rode home that night after the concert, we were glad we brought our jackets for the ride back home because the temperature really dropped!! On the way home we had to stop at a Circle K to get some gloves…the cashier was wearing a kids’ cowboy hat like Woody from Toy Story, or for you older folks Howdy Doody. So– I’m outside the store trying to talk Traci out of buying one of their hats– and some bikers who just came from TVR pull up… Thank God it was Michael from Hillbilly Motorcycles and his friend Rex– or we may have bought a Howdy Doody hat.
We heard Rex has a heck of a story; a stunt rider in several movies. We meet the most interesting people in our travels, but we’ll have to save their story for another time.
What we found about this rally is that it was huge. It was very fun at TVR and we look forward to next year…