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Arizona Bike Week 2008

By Nancy Paganelli

Magic number 12

The desert blooms to welcome riders

Scottsdale, Ariz., March 27–April 6—It’s a question that gets asked over and over again—what is Arizona Bike Week anyway? After all, there are “bike weeks” all over the country, so how can Arizona be different? Bikers from all parts of the country gather to enjoy friendships, drinking, eating, dancing, concerts, shopping, and most of all riding in some of the most beautiful landscapes—desert or mountain—in the country. Rain is seldom a problem and this year temperatures in the 80s were as normal as the sun rising in the morning.

Are the events scattered all over the place? You bet… and distance in most cases is a plus. After all, why are you here? Hopefully you’re here to ride and be adventurous. The beauty of spring in Arizona is often related to the few rains that occur during the mild winter months. This year, wildflowers splashed brilliant colors of yellow, orange, purple, and pink throughout the rocky desert landscape, overgrown with all varieties of cacti. Mountains surround this scene and with 10 days of pure blue sky, every rider should have been in awe of their surroundings.

Arizona Bike Week is more than just an event for bikers; Cyclefest is a superb venue to introduce motorcycling to people who have an interest in riding but haven’t taken the leap. With factory demo rides offered by Harley-Davidson, Kawasaki, Star, Spyder, Boss Hoss Cycles, and Victory, anyone leaning towards getting into motorcycling can actually try out bikes that catch their fancy. There was also a motorcycle auction this year where some people found smoking deals.

Cyclefest is also very family-friendly. Eight-year-old Amy Hanley of Phoenix learned how to ride a motorcycle last year in the TEAM Arizona-sponsored Interactive Dirt Bike rides and she was back this year to ride again. TEAM Arizona had rider coaches from Arizona Dirt Bike Schools to help with introducing the sport to youngsters starting at age 6 and going up to adults in a protected oval surrounded by hay bales. The mechanical bull was a draw to many, especially when a few young ladies tried their hand at two up!

Miss Arizona Bike Week
Arizona Bike Week began with the crowning of Miss Arizona Bike Week from a selection of 12 Southwest beauties. The pageant took place at the Venue of Scottsdale, though many ladies began signing up for the competition at various biker establishments throughout the city as early as Febru-ary and all the way through March. Judges had a tough decision with all that beauty; however, Miss Sarah Clarke won the competition. The beautiful brunette has worked for Harley-Davidson as a durability test rider in Mesa, Arizona, for more than a year. “We ride everything Harley makes so you have to be able to ride anything from a Sportster to a Buell to a touring bike in any kind of weather. It’s a great job!” Sarah was a perfect choice to represent what Bike Week is all about.

11th Annual Kickstart Party—Hacienda Harley-Davidson
A tradition during Arizona Bike Week is the initial “Kickstart” party thrown by Rick Hatch, owner of Hacienda H-D. Eight thousand people attended on Friday evening, March 28. Vendors from Big Dog, Paul Yaffee, Jim Nasi and others lined the pathway to a section of tables tucked between two Budweiser trucks and the band stage. Three bands—Roxster, Jack the Ripper (an extraordinary 11-year-old guitarist), and an AC/DC tribute band—rocked throughout the evening. It was one of those evenings to eat, drink, check out a variety of motorcycles on display, and be merry. Upstairs in Hacienda North was a special VIP party where the $1 million renovation of their new “Cleavage & Chrome” boutique was introduced with a state-of-the-art audiovisual presentation.

Another big draw was the Rage in the Cage, a mixed martial arts event with contestants there to meet and greet bikers and entertain with exhibition bouts.

On Saturday, Hacienda’s Colter Cannonball Ride Poker Run winner was Karen Strong from Glendale, Arizona. “Liar’s Poker,” a favorite of the late Colter Hatch, was a winner-take-all. Karen walked away with a $1,000 in-store shop-ping spree. Bad Boy Golf Tournament winners were Guy Hatch, Ryan Scott, and Mike McCul-lough. The Kickstart Party, Saturday’s Colter Cannonball Charity Run, and Sunday’s Bad Boy’s Golf Tournament raised over $117,000 for Colter & Associates Foundation, part of which benefits the Com- munity of Joy’s Teen Center.

Buddy Stubbs Arizona Harley-Davidson Bash
One of the largest events beginning the Bike Week activities is at Buddy Stubbs’ dealership on Saturday, March 29. Buddy was there all day to meet and greet the people as well as to give tours of his antique motorcycle collection. Thirteen thousand people attended the all-day party this year, surpassing last year’s crowd by 3,000. A section of the southbound lane of Cave Creek Road was closed for motorcycle parking only and the thousands of bikes stretched for what seemed like miles in front of the dealership. Four bands played during the day—Wall Street, Mogollon, TNT, and the AC/DC tribute band. Then Backstage Crew videotaped their performance and closed out the evening. Bikers were able to check out the new motorcycles on the sales floor, including the new Rocker and Cross Bones. All proceeds of sales went to the H.O.G. chapter 93 charity, the Wind and Fire Burn Camp, Camp Courage in Prescott.

2nd Annual Dual Sport Ride
Riding activities for all types of motorcycles are part of the Arizona Bike Week activities and this year Arizona Trail Riders and North Valley Honda’s Charity Ride was well at-tended by riders of all ages. This year Nick High, Paul Valente, Rob Beggs, Dave Valente, Robbie Watson, Steve Liwaj, and Ed Schrader, all over 50 years old (and some way over that) took the 150-mile ride through the desert to Wickenburg for lunch, and then back to the Wild Horse West starting point. “We’ll be back before dark, depending on how late the bars close!” laughed Schrader.

According to Trish Cefcolini, who also rides when not doing registration, the $50 registration fee is do-nated to the Arizona All Highway Vehicle Coalition, a nonprofit organization that promotes all off-road vehicles in the state of Arizona. The funds go to pro-tect riding rights and to educate riders on trail signage and law enforcement for off-road organizations.

Bike show and bike games
Lisa Thul and Patti Rinaldi used each other’s backs to mark their ballots for their favorite bike. “We really like the bobbers,” stated Rinaldi, “they’re cool looking—have an old-school look.” Bobbers were only part of the People’s Choice Bike Show sponsored by Hot Bike and Hot Bike Baggers magazines. In all there were 88 entries in 23 categories. Not everyone is a winner of course, but each bike entry is a piece of art. Every owner has a story about their experiences either building, painting, fabricating, or purchasing the bikes that become objects of their devotion.

Greg Rath, owner of OLT Fabrication and Manufacturing, Inc., didn’t win in this show but that won’t stop him from trying again. After riding Harleys most of his life, Greg and his brother Richard decided to build a custom bike. “My brother is a fine craftsman and fabricator and he did most of the work and I provided lots of the funding! We both designed the bike, visualizing a modern-day bike based on the Captain America Bike from Easy Rider—sort of a 21st century Captain America Bike!” With red, white, and blue flames instead of stripes, all new state-of-the-art assembly, 124 c.i. S&S engine, 6-speed transmission, 180mm tire on the rear, and a 14-inch-over Springer front end, Greg’s entry added to the entertainment of the show. “I ride it as often as I can—of course I have to share the time with my Harley!”

On the other end was the winner of the Best Overall, Mark Dunn, of DunnRite Bikes in Phoenix. This bike has been entered in other shows and is usually a winner. The uniqueness of Mark’s bike is his creativity in using all Snap-on tools to build it. “It’s got over 300 tools on it and they’re all Snap-on—you can take that bike apart with one tool—a ratchet,” stated Dunn. The gas tank, which only holds about 1.5 gallons of gas, is a toolbox, and the handlebars are actually ratchets themselves. It took Mark five years to build the bike, even making the bolts that were used in the assembly. Mark took first place and the $250 prize money for Best Overall with the Snap-on bike and first place with his entry in the Bobber class.

The Bike Games, sponsored by Grand Canyon Harley-Davidson, almost didn’t happen because for some reason, they don’t have the participation that is normal in bike rallies where riders want to show off their skills on a bike. As with Superman coming in to rescue the fair lady, Thunder Press writer Steve Austin came riding in and agreed to sign up for the games, and that started the competition. Eventually, 15 bikes entered to compete in the Wienie Bite, Slow Race, Plank Ride, and Dart Toss. Of course Steve needed a partner in the Wienie Bite and the Dart Toss, so this writer agreed to be his partner. By the way, neither one of us had ever entered into the bike games before! As it turned out, even though I threw left-handed across Steve’s back, we managed to come in second in the Dart Toss, with both of us taking home a trophy! Winner of the Wienie Bite, and the only team to even get a bite of the wienie, was Rick and Paula Sullivan of Phoenix. Greg Harris of New River won the Slow Race and the Plank Ride, while Ken and Suzi Wyatt of Phoenix just barely edged Steve and me out to win the Dart Toss.

Other events throughout the week were numerous. “Somewhere in Cave Creek,” the Hideaway Grill had daily events with many of the custom bike builders showing off their latest. Jim Nasi Customs and Roger Bourget had rides from the Hideaway to their factories for tours. John Shope of Sinister Cycles and AMP displayed their latest custom creations. Hide-away owner Mark Bradshaw, and Jay Allen, owner of the Broken Spoke Saloon, led the Hideaway Grill/Broken Spoke Gypsy Tour, with one of the stops at Eric Herrmann’s new studio. Eric showed his latest work and provided food and drink for riders. (This year I bought my first piece of Eric Herrmann art. Eric has become a friend over the years of events, where his friendly approach to people adds to his fantastic ability as an artist.) There were nightly rides to Cyclefest originating from the Hideaway Grill.

Chandler Harley-Davidson sponsored two rides, the Sunshine Acres Ride and the Autumn Bourget Ride. Superstition Harley-Davidson sponsored the Great Discovery Ride and the Fire Fighters Poker Run. Arrow-head and Chandler Harley-Davidson sponsored the AHDRA Bike Week Nationals held at the Speedworld Dragstrip in Wittmann, as well as a ride to the event. Many biker-friendly restaurants, bars, and grills in Tempe, Mesa, Scottsdale, and Phoenix sponsored nightly events for bikers. Even with the addition of Thunder Press writers Tom “Six Speed” Calvert and “Rambler” Steve Austin, both from California, every event could not possibly be attended and covered.

Part of the success of Arizona Bike Week has been the committee of local bikers who meet with the promoters—Bradley Bennett, Doc Hammett, Dennis Schafer, Ralph Wilson, and Ed Leclere—throughout the year in the planning stages. As bikers themselves, they are able to input ideas from the biker community. Anyone who would like to make suggestions can contact Jim O’Hara, chairman; Paul Bell, vice chairman; Carol Madden, secretary; and event coordinators and advisors Todd Madden, Lyman Scherer, Don Hood, Christine Bell, Linda Dahl, and Kyle Rose.

According to Ralph Wilson, early indications suggest a 20 percent increase over last year’s 40,000 attendees! Over $300,000 in total event contributions was divided among 18 Arizona Bike Week charities. “The feedback we received from attendees, vendors, the City of Scottsdale, and others suggests our long-term plan is working. As long as we hear, ‘That was the best Arizona Bike Week ever’ we are confident in our direction,” stated Wilson. “Our objective is always to provide the riding public real value for their entertainment dollar. Considering the economic times, we were amazed at the turnout from the riding community. The fact that every concert band told us how much they enjoyed playing in the HandleBar Saloon and would return in a heartbeat just emphasizes my feeling that ‘there is magic in the HandleBar’!”

Well, it wasn’t just the Handle-Bar Saloon. There was magic pretty much everywhere in this 12th year of Arizona Bike Week. (www.azbikeweek.com)

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