by Smiles ~~ just because
Photos by Rusty Childress, Smiles, Digger Dave, Perry ‘n Traci, and Angela Conner
THIS is my favorite event of the year. This is one of the things that I work towards, live for, and dream about all year long. Arizona Bike Week! Arizona Bike Week 2014 proved to be the biggest and the baddest of them all, to date!
Even though it may have been confusing to some at first, Arizona Bike Week was the compilation of all the venues throughout the valley during the time period of Friday March 28th through Sunday April 6th. We had the ongoing venue of Cyclefest out at Westworld, in North Scottsdale. We had the Cave Creek Rally. We also had a brand new venue called Phoenix Bikefest out at Wild Horse Pass Casino.
With the addition of the brand new Phoenix Bikefest, there was more to do this year, than in any other year before. There was more opportunity for everyone to be selective on what vendors they wanted to visit, what watering holes they wanted to quench their thirst at, what rides they wanted to be a part of, and what concerts they wanted to see. Another part of town got to experience the feel and the patronage of all the motorcycle enthusiasts here in the valley! The vendors got to broaden their wings a little bit and set up in more than one location. More great acts were drawn to the valley to perform for us. The Cult graced Phoenix Bikefest with their presence on Friday night, and the one and only Red Rocker, Sammy Hagar made his appearance on Saturday night! A brand new ride through bar was built to provide something a little different to the whole rally scene. Just a lot of good, positive vibes all the way around with this new venue! Huge kudos go out to all those involved to make this positive change happen.
Also happening during bike week, which is ALWAYS a huge crowd draw, was the Cave Creek Rally. Thanks to Mark Bradshaw (and crew), who is the owner of both the Cave Creek Tap Haus and The Hideaway (Somewhere in Cave Creek AZ), the larger part of the main streets of Cave Creek were barricaded down with “Sturgis Style” parking. The two establishments worked in conjunction with each other to offer many different bike shows, several stages for quite a few local bands to perform, and a lot of organized rides to go on. Cave Creek is an awesome, quaint little out of the way town that has always been a draw to the bikers. It’s just far enough out of town that makes for a nice little ride on any given weekend afternoon. Sal and the Strayhounds make their second home on the little wooden stage at the Hideaway, providing rockin blues that always seems to get the ladies dancin. All in all just a very fun place to go to.
Then about 20 miles down the road, there is Westworld. The big main venue for Arizona Bike Week and the home of Cyclefest. This year the layout was changed up a bit. New to the scene this year was the Kickstand bar and grill, located in the Montera restaurant building. The addition of a restaurant on site was welcomed by everyone. Sitting up at the top of the hill with a beautiful patio and overlooking Cyclefest, a specialty menu and a happy hour provided the perfect place to come and relax for a little bit after a good long day of riding!
Also new on site was a convenience store. How perfect this was for a lot of people who needed those little things, like a pack of cigs, a bag of ice, another case of beer or bottle of whiskey, and not having to climb on the scoot to go down the road to get it and haul anything back (especially if that rally buzz had already been tailored and perfected for the day)!
Day one out at Cyclefest was a pretty nice relaxing day. Although it did get a little grey and cloudy, and a few raindrops graced themselves upon us! RV’s and tenters started rolling in at a steady pace and setting up home for the week. Kimmyz on Greenway set up their satellite bar, which happened to be right across the street from our RV..!! Party Central! Shelley Martin’s Peace Out for Prostate Cancer run was well under way. The grand unveiling of the soon to be remodeled Scottsdale Harley Davidson drew a large crowd, with hushed whispers and loud applause as it was announced this will be the largest Harley Davidson store in the WORLD (with reports stating it will be a 146,000 square foot dealership). Back at Westworld, Hawg Wild and Cadillac Angels provided us with their respective outstanding sets on the Vendor Village stage while 74th Street Band tore it up with Southern Rock in the Rockyard!! Local favorite, Jack Estes, was named the Az Bike Week Hero of the year for his outstanding contributions to the biker community through his bar The Dirty Dogg. The annual Ms Arizona Bike Week competition crowned Staci Wilson as the new reign for the year. Then providing the main entertainment for the evening was none other than Aaron Lewis from Staind. Stepping out solo and giving us an outstanding performance, he drew a bigger Wednesday night crowd than has been drawn in any recent year.
The main stage, previously known as The Handlebar Saloon, was relocated to the east end of the venue, the tent was removed (opening up the concert area for MANY more people to see and enjoy) and was renamed the RockYard! This probably was the biggest change for Cyclefest this year, and most assuredly the best. The crowds were bigger and better this year on every single night of the rally! Being up in the crowd didn’t mean you had to be subjected to an overly smoky environment anymore, and the stifling heat of crowded bodies was no longer an issue under the open stars of the sky. Great job on the Rockyard!!
Day two brought beautiful blue skies and sunshine which stayed with us for the duration of the rally. It also brought the annual T-Bar ride, which is always a huge draw for the riders to head out to the local Gentlemen’s clubs, all in support of breast cancer research! If that wasn’t quite what a rider wanted to do, there also was the Helping with Horsepower Ride n Drive, ride, sponsored by Team Diva. This ride brings in monies that provide funds to teach local kids life lessons while also working hands on building motorcycle projects. Psychobilly Rodeo Band was a new addition to the musical lineup today, playing on the Rockyard stage. The headliner for the night was none other than Big and Rich. These guys were just thoroughly entertaining!! Bringing a touch of humor and unadulterated fun to the mix, they had everyone in the house rockin! With a touch of class, they brought a Vietnam Vet on stage, who was invited to sit at their bar with a drink, while they sang a song. When asked afterwards if he had anything to say, he gave a very colorful tribute to an anti-American traitor of the female gender, and provided directions as to where her traveling wall could be found. I paid my contribution to said traveling wall.
Day three on Friday, this rally was in full swing, with no signs of slowing down! The two big rides for the day were the Saddle Up for Kids ride, sponsored by Harley Davidson of Scottsdale, and the Hamsters Dry Heat run. Saddle Up for Kids benefits Camp Courage, a camp for youth burn survivors , while the Dry Heat run raised money for the Children’s Care Hospital. The School of Rock Sugar Skulls were in the Rockyard this afternoon providing pre-concert music. This is an after school music program for pre-teen and teenage kids. They learn to play a variety of classic rock and 90’s music, and, man oh man, are these kids GOOD!
For the first time in Cyclefest history, there were TWO headliners this night. Starting it off right was someone who loves rock and roll AND has a dime for the jukebox! Yes, the iconic classic, Joan Jett! And she tore that stage up! Shortly after she finished, and after a quick set change, the one and only Lynyrd Skynyrd fed us with some good ole classic southern rock that most of us grew up listening to! OH WHAT A NIGHT!
Day four brought on another beautiful Arizona spring day. The ride for today was sponsored by a local favorite, Two Gals Events. This was the Hand in Hand ride benefitting Phoenix Children’s Hospital. Back at the venue were ongoing aerial stunt shows, demo rides, and the Busted Knuckles Stunt tour motorcycle stunts. Also on tap for the day was the inaugural BadAZ Bike Show, the 4th annual Baddest Bagger in Arizona show, bike games, the tattoo contest, and the annual silent auction sponsored by the Crusaders for the Children. On the stages for the day were The Pete Cummings Band, Organ Grinder, and Trailer Park. All of this was warming up the masses for the headlining, legendary ZZ Top! These guys are just as good today as they ever have been! Classic long beards and Texas blues rocked us into the night!
Day 5, the last day of bike week. Can it really be so? Didn’t this all just start? It really is down to the last day. A day to pack up camp for most. Wind it down, or tear it up!?! Or maybe a little of both still. Some of us are just die hards. The annual Child Empowerment Ride sponsored by the Crusaders for the Children was led this year by Sons of Anarchy cast members Tommy Flanagan (Chibs) and Kim Coates (Tig) and as to be expected, was a stellar turnout. This escorted ride brought in close to a thousand riders with the SOA boys. They settled in under a tent and signed autographs to loyal fans all afternoon long. They made sure every last fan got through and got to say hello and receive an autograph. MUCH respect goes out to the cast of this iconic TV show for always coming through to support the Crusaders and please their fans, AND to help raise money for the children. Kung Fu Grip provided musical entertainment on the Vendor Village stage this afternoon, while Don’t Look Back (a Boston tribute band) rounded out Cyclefest in the Rockyard. So much more could be said about AZBW, but there just isn’t enough time or space to eloquently express it in adequate fashion.
All I know is, another incredible Bike Week was had in Arizona and I know I can speak for many thousands of my friends by saying, LETS DO IT AGAIN!!