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Arizona Bike Week

By Nancy Paganelli

In the saguaro party zone

Ten days of two-wheeled obsession

Valley of the Sun, Arizona, March 22–April 1—Thunder, lightning, and rain; that’s the way Arizona Bike Week started out on Thursday, March 22—the evening of the Miss Arizona Bike Week pageant in Scottsdale. That kind of weather can spell disaster for most motorcycle events. But something happened in ol’ Mother Nature’s weather agenda and the next 10 days ranged in the 70s to 90s, with only a smattering of rain. (That’s not counting the snow on the Wednesday Ride for Kids, but that’s another story.) And if you ride a motorcycle and couldn’t find anything to do during the 10 days of events at Arizona Bike Week, you may just have picked the wrong sport.

Activities covered all areas of interest. Organized rides left from most Harley-Davidson dealerships, ending either at CycleFest or back at the dealership for extended parties. The Harley-Davidson Traveling Museum was on display all four days of CycleFest, as were the Factory Demo Fleets for Kawasaki, Yamaha, Victory, and Harley-Davidson motorcycles. Bands played daily at CycleFest and every saloon and sports bar and grill was in party mode all across the valley. “Go Daddy” girls were chosen at the Friday night “Kick Start” at Hacienda Harley-Davidson. Stunt shows, bike games, bike shows, tough man and tough woman competitions, Rhett Rotten’s motorcycle feats inside the Wall of Death, a 180-mile dual-sport ride, and appearances by Willie G. and Nancy Davidson are just a sample of the many activities available throughout the long week.

The five Arizona Bike Week partners, Ed LeClere, Doc Hammitt, Bradley Bennett, Dennis Schaffer, and Ralph Wilson, were more than pleased with the outcome and attributed much of the success to the Steering Committee, which is made up of members of the local motorcycle community. Chairman Jim O’Hara met monthly with Carol and Todd Madden, Lisa Cyr, Kyle Rose, Paul Bell, Lyman Scherer, and Christine Bell to discuss different possibilities to improve this year’s event. Ron Arieli of TEAM Arizona and Don Hood were latecomers to the committee. All were instrumental in broadening the scope of entertainment, bringing new activities, such as the first dual-sport ride and an area for the little kids to ride small bikes in a hay-padded area, introducing a new generation to the love of motorcycling.

The Buddy Stubbs affair
“Buddy never thought he’d beat the attendance of his past events but this year’s party was bigger than ever!” stated Andreanne DePape, general manager of merchandise and coordinator of the Third Annual Bike Week Bash at Buddy Stubbs Harley-Davidson on Saturday, March 24. More than 12,000 people passed through Buddy’s doors and into the party area for the one-day event. “People were all into the partying this year and stayed well into the evening to listen to the music.” Bands played all day starting with Back Stage Crew and Wall Street, followed by headliners Metal Head.

Two Harley-Davidson fashion shows occupied the attention of hundreds of bikers, as professional models and H.O.G. chapter 93 members showed the latest in fashion. Models danced along the stage in true entertainment style to an upbeat musical background. Motorsport artist Eric Herrmann displayed his work, showing a new piece titled “Historic” that depicts two Jack Daniel’s-sponsored, Richard Childress Racing-built Nascar race cars.

Bash sponsors Miller Lite, Patron Tequila, and SOCKO Energy Drink provided the thirst quenchers, donating proceeds to the H.O.G. 93 charities. This year’s money will assist the children attending the Wind and Fire Burn Camp in Prescott.

Party on
Of course, the party didn’t end when the weekend was over. On Monday, March 26, RideNow PowerSports, owners of Chandler Harley-Davidson, Arrowhead Harley-Davidson, and other dealerships, organized the Seventh Annual Sunshine Acres Charity Poker Run. The ride started at Chandler’s H-D and ended at San Tan Flat in Queen Creek. The 505 riders had the opportunity to stop at Sunshine Acres Children’s Home for one of the poker stops on the 100-mile scenic ride. The home cares for children who are separated from their families and has been operating for close to 40 years on private donations. Sarah Heiden, marketing manager for RideNow PowerSports, said the ride generated $11,311 for the home.

Activities continued all week long throughout the area and the following weekend, escorted by DPS and the Mesa Police, 1,650 motorcycles stretched along the highway for 16 miles as the Eighth Annual Torch Ride, benefiting Special Olympics of Arizona, rode from Chester’s Harley-Davidson in Mesa to CycleFest. According to Jennifer Cochran, marketing manager for Chester’s, the registration fee included breakfast, with food provided by Basha’s, and entrance into the Foreigner concert. The Mesa Fire Department vehicles and the Mesa Police helicopter and SWAT vehicle were on display for the kids to see and to disperse information to the public. The Special Olympics of Arizona receives 100 percent of the proceeds from the Torch Ride to help with transportation to the competitions for the athletes. This year $25,000 was raised just from the registration.

On Sunday, April 1, a change in this year’s MDA Ride took the 345 riders from Arrowhead Harley-Davidson to the Ft. McDowell Casino rather than ending at Cyclefest. The Parade of MDA Heroes included four of Jerry’s Kids from MDA, who were riding in sidecars during the event. Included in the $20 registration was breakfast and lunch, raffle tickets for some of the 50 prizes at the end of the ride, and a $10 gaming card for Ft. McDowell Casino. The ride and silent auction raised $7,500 for MDA.

Into the mystic
Logan Roberts, owner of Logan’s Valley Motorcycles, started sponsoring Logan’s Run way before Arizona Bike Week began. Held Sunday April 1, it’s been the last ride of Arizona Bike Week for the past nine years. This ride’s proceeds and those of the silent auction raise money for Arizona Bike Week charities and the Children in Need Foundation. The CINF was developed just to help children here in Arizona. Handicapped kids, Boys and Girls Clubs, and anything related to kids’ charities benefit from this foundation.

Susie Golden and I had an opportunity to participate in Logan’s Run this year. The cost was $25, which included a T-shirt for those who’d preregistered. Sunday happened to be one of those beautiful days that make you thankful to own a motorcycle, and this particular ride took riders over 120 miles, past Saguaro Lake and the mystical southeastern mountains. After a stop in Fountain Hills at the Alamo and a stop at the Spirits Lounge on Apache Trail, it was on to Iguana Mack’s for lunch, also included in the ticket. Neither of us had accumulated a hand worthy of a prize, but then it’s really about the journey, not the possible reward.

This year there were 425 riders on Logan’s Run; however, the key money raiser was the silent auction, which was loaded with some really cool stuff. For instance, an authentic Rolling Stones guitar sold for $7,500; a Blood, Sweat and Tears guitar went for $850; and a Guess Who guitar sold for $2,400. Also available were about 150 items that included autographed pictures of the Wild Hogs stars, restaurant certificates, leather jackets, and a variety of other interesting stuff. The auction raised a total in the range of $20,000.

Dual-sport crowds and rodeo clowns
Earlier that morning, 80 riders participated in the first ever AMA-sanctioned dual sport ride, sponsored by North Valley Honda and Arizona Trail Riders. Riders met for an early breakfast (also sponsored by NVH) before embarking on the 180-mile loop that took them off road at New River, Black Canyon City, and the mining town of Cleator. Riders took a lunch and gas break in Cortez Junction, then rode on to Bloody Basin, Seven Springs, Carefree, and ended up at West World for CycleFest. The all-day ride included bikers riding everything from KTM and BMW adventure touring bikes to street-legal dirt bikes. The inaugural event raised $1,600 for Arizona Bike Week charities.

The ever-popular bike games were run this year by Rex of the Christian Motorcycle Association. With just three games—Slow Race, Plank Ride, and the Wienie Bite—the competition was pretty fierce. To determine a winner for the Plank Ride they had to hold three run-offs. Gary Nadler of New River, Arizona, ended up winning first place in all three games. Second place for the Slow Race went to Gabriel Fauela of Las Cruces, New Mexico, with Enrique Mendez, also of Las Cruces, taking second place in the Plank Ride. Second place in the Wienie Bite went to Ted Parrish.

Everyone loves a bike show and it is amazing how many people enter their bikes just knowing that they have a winner. This year the Peoples’ Choice Bike Show, which was sponsored by El Dorado Bar and Grill, included 27 bikes of all makes and models. All winners received trophies and the Best of Show, a 2006 FLH Street Glide belonging to Vickie Schaeffer and designed by Matt Rislen, received $250.

Gary Nadler was apparently in winner’s mode all week; he took first place in the RideNow Rodeo, too. Everyone had an equal chance to win, as participants ride XR70 minibikes provided by TEAM Arizona Riding School. The event, sponsored by RideNow MotorSports, has been a real crowd pleaser. As the first-place rider, Nadler won a 2007 Yamaha TTR50 pit racer. Second place went to Greg Trinosky of Prescott, and third to Tim McGinnis of Avondale.

I’d like to thank the academy…
It was with great honor that Arizona Bike Week brought two icons of the motorcycle world to Arizona and CycleFest. Nancy and Willie G. Davidson greeted attendees on Saturday and signed autographs. Vaughn Beals, former chairman of the board, and one of the original 13 who spearheaded the buy-back of Harley from AMF, was also on hand to introduce Willie G. and to present him with the Tribute to Excellence award, a lifetime achievement award from Arizona Bike Week and the motorcycle community. The Davidsons spent two days attending various ABW activities, including spending Sunday at the drag races.

Arizona Bike Week also recognized two women for their lifelong association with motorcycling. Florence Cook began riding in the late 1930s, became a member of the Motor Maids, and continued riding with her husband into the 1970s, when he was unable to ride due to a motorcycle accident. She has remained involved in motorcycle activities to date. Elaine Pristo began riding in the early ’40s and continued the love of the motorcycle world up until 2004, when she was still kickstarting her motorcycle! Both ladies received awards stating “In appreciation for a lifetime dedication to motorcycling from Arizona Bike Week and all motorcyclists.”

The success of Arizona Bike Week for 2007 was definitely helped by the incredible riding weather, but also by the many dedicated people who work tirelessly throughout the year to plan and execute a flawless 10 days of fun for motorcyclists. In return, the thousands of motorcyclists who attend the event add to the prosperity of the city, state, and the many charities benefiting everyone involved.

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