By Famous Jake
On March 11th the Red Cross held their fourth annual Ride for the Red Texas Hold’em Poker Run in Tucson. It was a perfect day for riding and over one thousand bikers pre registered with hundreds more lining up to sign in the morning of the event, with rides starting both in Tucson and Sierra Vista. It was efficiently organized by the Southern Arizona Red Cross without the involvement of the” Bikers, Riders, and Motorcycle Enthusiasts” who were invited to “…do what they love and Support children and families …”, according to the press release available at the registration area. And so they did. But, while attendees enjoyed to chance to gather with friends and for strangers to meet, the choice of stops seemed to offer an ambience a little different than that which most bikers would ordinarily choose for themselves. While I appreciate the need to support sponsors, stops at a window sales outlet, a financial firm, and a forklift company seemed a little off target. You could fuel up riders and machines at a gas station/convenience store, grab a cup of coffee at Starbucks, or a sandwich at Subway but these don’t strike me as authentic biker venues. Only Montgomery’s Saloon in Vail could be said to be biker friendly or offer refreshment typical for such events and the crowd was plenty hungry and thirsty by the time we arrived at Old Tucson. While hundreds of famous western movies have been filmed here, since a devastating fire a few years ago, the place survives as a western themed tourist attraction. Food and liquid refreshment were available, a live band was cranking out covers and a few park employees dressed as dance hall girls and gunslinging cowboys mingled with the bikers, but frankly I found the discharge of blank rounds to be disquieting and obnoxious – save it for the tourists who wish\ to be entertained with staged shootouts. People were more interested in learning the winners of the door prizes, 50/50 raffle, and especially the lucky new owner of a custom bike built by Lance Burns of Southwest Custom Cycles, and most were heading out soon after the winners were announced.
Bikers do love to gather together and ride and the creative route planning of some – despite excellent directions provided by the organizers – made for groups of bikers coming, going, and crisscrossing all over town. I think that most enjoyed the ride on this most pleasant of lazy spring Sundays and were glad to provide the Red Cross with valuable financial support. After all, as bikers who can say whom amongst us may be next to need disaster relief or blood transfusions?