Story by: Digger Dave, Photos: Digger Dave, Annie Cooper, Johnny Crash, Geneva Rhodes
This is my favorite Arizona run of the year, everybody gets to meet up with friends from the previous years, camp out, catch up on what’s new and of course party till we drop. Friends from Cali, Nevada, Utah, Colorado and who knows where, all gather together in the mountains of Northern Az for 3 days of fun.
This was the 21st annual TBFS put on by A.B.A.T.E of Arizona, I’ve attended 17 and each year it gets bigger. I’m not sure of the actual attendance figures this year, but judging from past events I’ll take a rough guess somewhere between 2500-3000 showed up. The campground was just about maxed out, I use campground lightly because actually it’s in a big field.
There’s a small group of around 25 of us that get together each year on Friday morning and ride up together. It’s about a 3.5 hour ride from the Desert in Phx to the 7000’ elevation in the mountains, with a stop for gas then another for some food at the Sportsmans Chalet in Strawberry who were kind enough to open early just for us..thanks!! We hit a little rain on the way up, actually we lucked out, we could see the sky turning black in front of us but it’s the monsoon and they move pretty fast, and out of our way for once. It was a beautiful ride up, but we were about to learn a new lesson about monsoons.
My friend Colleen and I rolled into the event , registered and proceeded to head for our favorite camping area. It had been raining earlier in the week and we soon found out that an unexpected downpour about 5am Friday morning had soaked a good portion of the camp. Puddles were here and there on the dirt road, but nothing to worry about. It was the FIELD we had to worry about, hidden soft spots under the field grass, which in some cases were like “quickmud” poof ya sunk. Those already camped out warned us about those spots so we didn’t experience what they already had, most of the spots anyway. THAT’S why nobody is camped over yonder!!
After we all had our tents pitched it was time to wander around and see who was here and where they were camped, little recon so to speak. First stop is always the C.M.A (Christian Motorcycle Association) camp kitchen, providing munchies, lemonade and water. THANK YOU once again for all you do and the hard work in preparing FREE breakfast to any and all who came by! Pancakes, breakfast burritos, coffee, juice for 3 days this year! Brad and Patty Peyree and their brothers and sisters from the Yuma Az. Chapter really go all out. 4 years ago it was Brad and Patty with a Coleman stove, and a small generator to power a big coffee pot feeding maybe 15 of us. Now it’s grown to 20-30 feet of tables, awnings, numerous coffee pots, gas griddles, “Gott” coolers filled with juices and a production line of cooks whipping out burritos and pancakes one after another. The line for food was at one point 50 people deep and C.M.A kept that line moving with precision and speed. If you didn’t get enough the first time around (which is hard to believe) hit the line up again, there’s no limit on what you can get!!! There’s nothing like a big breakfast and smiles from C.M.A to start your day, it seems to eliminate that hangover we snivel about when crawling out of our tents.
We’re making progress, we’ve managed to get at least 100’ before running into friends, whom of course, have a cooler full of beer and other libations along with munchies. This is going to be a long 300 yards to the arena where the festivities are beginning soon. We’re just in time to catch the new and improved Farley McDavidson traveling stripper pole! I have to admit, it’s quite a creation. What used to be a flatbed trailer now has bench seats on both sides which will seat about 20 people and of course a SECURELY mounted stripper pole in the middle, I emphasize “securely”, last year we almost broke the pole off the old trailer (yea there were inebriated guys on the thing). We climb on and I figure, “hey we can make it to the arena without stopping umpteen times!! Not…..rather than get into a position where I could leap off when I got there I found myself pinned in and after a cruise around the entire camp area I ended up right back where I started from. Oh well, not like I’m really in a hurry or anything.
After a few more stops at camps visiting we finally make it to the arena, which is actually a rodeo arena, all dirt, rail fencing, bleachers, cattle chutes and corrals, which is being transformed into a biker arena. At the southern end there is the Band stage under a huge canopy, it turned into a refuge area the next day.
We decided to check out the vendor area which is always fun, it’s a pretty crazy bunch of people occupying the booths, once again it was, ”Hey Digger how ya doing? Wanna shot, beer?” Oof, now the problem is going to be how to make our way back to camp at some late hour. Oh good, an excuse, the Miss Too Broke competition is about to start!! This is actually the start of all the fun and games, there were a lot of contestants this year, with last years winner Sara Rood Hanes in attendance to pass on the crown to this years winner. All said and done, congratulations to Teri Stanford for taking home the crown this year!!!! And congratulations to ALL of the contestants for putting on a fine show for us!! The music started up on the south stage with Phat Bastard rocking the campground!!
Let the games begin! There’s not much difference in bike games really, there’s the slow ride, barrel roll, road kill, and the infamous weenie bite contests, the only difference that I’ve ever been able to tell is the amount of riders all participating at once, and the number of “waves” of riders.. They seemed to be endless. The line snaked around the arena up to the starting line. As the day dragged on and the alcohol flowed it got quite comical to put it mildly, I’m not sure which was more fun to watch, the participants or the spectators!! The wet tshirt contest should have been renamed, “wet body” contest, the tshirts didn’t stay in place very long and it seemed to overflow into the spectators, much to the guys delight!
Saturday started off good, the breakfast line at the C.M.A camp was endless, everybody was trying to get a good meal in before the shennagans started for the day. It seemed to work, people were perking up pretty early and headed off to the arena once again for more fun stuff. More recon to see who survived and who barely survived the night, moans and groans everywhere along with laughter from whatever happened the night before, some people even remembered! The bike games started off fairly early and that’s a good thing, because we weren’t prepared for what was coming our way.
The morning went well and it a lot of riders were just kickin’ back at their camps enjoying the beautiful weather, watching the monsoon storms in the distance. Then they were not so distant. We sat and marveled at one storm to the N.E, it was immense and reports from riders on the way up that got caught in it verified that. Oh hell, it seemed to be rolling our direction but it was difficult to tell. I think it got tired of waiting and all of a sudden it just formed right on top of us, a few close lightning strikes and claps of thunder and all hell broke loose, the sky opened up.
People caught in the torrential downpour were scrambling for any available cover, including myself, in any camp that had room under a tarp. It seemed to be a moot point tho because 30 seconds in it and a person was soaked to the bone. For the first time in years, those garbage bags included in the registration kit came in handy, rip a hole for your head and arms and voila, instant rain gear. Tarps and canopies were sagging under the weight of the water, people on each side dumping it off to keep them from collapsing, some DID collapse! Riders trying to find anything to cover their custom bikes, but it seemed fruitless, the wind came along with the storm also. But it’s a monsoon, it will end soon right? Wrong…
The damn storm was relentless, not lessening in strength one bit, then the wind picked up and we had sideways rain, no escape now even under a tarp, heck with it, have another shot, we’re not going anywhere. What was dirt turned into a slippery goopy mess that you couldn’t even walk in without slip sliding away. With my garbage bag on I decided to brave the downpour and go check on our bikes at camp. They were good thanks to our friends that were near them, but other bikes were falling over on their own because the kickstands were sinking. People trying to pick them up found themselves sliding away and doing faceplants in the mud! The tactic was to get at least 3 or 4 people and do a “push pull” type of lift.
I headed back to the tarp I had started from, made it probably 50’ and hit one of those slippery spots…boom, down I went into the mud…oh well, now I looked like everybody else, riders from the muddy lagoon. Finally it let up, and people started venturing out to see if they could help lift some bikes and erect some downed canopies. Everybody (well almost everybody) were laughing at each other because of our muddy appearance, hootin’ and hollerin’, hell yea’s and whoop de doos resounding all over camp! Some weren’t so exuberant tho, $50,000 bikes planted on their sides in the mud kinda pissed a few people off. Oh well, what are you going to do except deal with it?
It was just light rain now, the “antifreeze” was pouring freely and there were a lot of “damn that was intense” discussions.
More “antifreeze” please, I’m two tone, front half mud, back half soaked. Heck with it, it’s time to head to the vendors and grab some dry food, then hit the stage area for that nights concert. The storm wasn’t done with us yet.
Some friends and I managed to make it to the arena, and the only way to get to the stage was thru that arena, which had transformed into a mud skating rink. It literally took at least two people holding hands to keep upright across that mud! Some made it safely, some didn’t, trying to hold your friend up usually resulted in both going down, chivalry died that night. We made it to the stage area and here came the rain again, people trying to RUN for cover found out that wasn’t the best idea, bodies in the mud everywhere. Everybody was laughing so hard at our dilemma that it really didn’t seem that bad. Phat Bastard took the stage again and rocked the camp, and we danced while chunks of drying mud dropped off us.
Sunday morning, and those who could make it went to the C.M.A camp again (THANK YOU) for breakfast, or at least something non-alcoholic and hot, coffee never tasted so good. The rain had gone it’s not so merry way and we were surveying the damage across the camp area. Bikes were down, tarps and tents collapsed, some in a totally different place than they were the night before, and not by choice. RV’s had sunk up to their axles in the mud during the storm, some tilted at odd angles. 4 X 4’s were trying to tow them out to the “dirt” road, but ended up getting stuck themselves. I never thought it was possible, but the only vehicles that seemed to work towing were quads! Once discovered, quads were out and about everywhere yanking vehicles out and onto navigable roads. Some RV’s were so buried it took a tandem effort, a 4×4, hooked to the RV, quad hooked to the 4×4 and at times another quad tied in, it was quite a sight. My bro Farley McDavidson seemed to be having the most fun of the entire weekend towing with his quad. Mud was flying from the tires 80’ feet back, much to the chagrin of those behind him, and he was wearing an evil sort of grin.
My bro Hagrid took it upon himself to ride 8 or 9 bikes (mine included) to the safety of dry ground. We had to cut a barbed wire fence so he could exit in a totally opposite direction, between some stored RV’s and thru a field. The other roads were clogged with RVs trying to get out. Great job Hagrid, ya didn’t even drop a single bike and you made many long treks back to camp to ride another one out!!
Now don’t let this discourage you from attending next year, all in all it was one hella lot of fun!!! This will go down in the books and be remembered for decades. We’re bikers right, and when push comes to shove we managed to pull together and weather the storm, literally this year. Next year we’ll come a little better prepared just in case, but it’s not going to keep me away, huh uhhhhh, you only live once so rack it up whenever you can!!
Thanks again to A.B.A.T.E for putting together another fine event, and thanks again to C.M.A for taking care of our hungry bellys and souls. Thanks also to the Mormon Lake Lodge for providing the event area, store, restaurant,bar and cabins, your hospitality is second to none!
I’ll see y’all up there next year, rain or shine. Ride safe, have fun and ALWAYS watch out for that bozo that isn’t watching out for YOU!!
Ride Safe~~Ride Free