Like most everything else, major motorcycle rallies have been hit by hard times. Numbers are down, people are grumpy and most of us can’t even remember what a leisure dollar is, much less spend one. But somehow, somewhere out in a blooming Arizona desert, somebody threw a party and for a few days in April everyone forgot they weren’t supposed to be having fun.
The 14th annual Arizona Bike Week, held this year from April 9 through April 18, included five warm-up “pre-rally” days that kicked off the event with signature rides, dealer hosted parties and biker queen pageant eliminations. It was a prelude to the main event, Cyclefest, which opened its doors April 14.
Organizers gave up their search for a willing Main Street years ago. No Phoenix-area city wanted the marauding herds of heathen bikers galloping through their peaceful town, disturbing the lawful citizenry and causing mischief, miscarriages and general mayhem.
The event eventually found a home at WestWorld, a 356-acre equestrian and special events facility located in Scottsdale. Cyclefest took root, gradually growing each year. In 2009, some 40,000 enthusiasts passed through the gates. This year’s attendance is still being counted, but an eyeball estimate puts the crowd at officially “bigger.”
Motorcycles in the foreground and giant saguaro cactus in the background can only mean one thing – it’s time again for Arizona Bike Week.
This edition offered nearly 200 vendors, factory demo fleets, beer girls, bike games, a silent auction, something naughty called the Jager Games, People’s Choice Bike Show, the Miss Arizona Bike Week Pageant finals and live bands performing daily under the big tent, otherwise known as the HandleBar Saloon. George Thorogood topped the bill this year.
Despite the economic gloom, Arizona Bike Week shined. The event is maturing into something special, bustling with more activity and attracting more merchants and bigger headliners than ever before. Now there is a palpable energy, a vibe that was missing before. Maybe Harley’s “Screw It, Let’s Ride” ad slogan
worked some magic on the unwashed and idling masses, but whatever the reason, it was a good year for one Miss Stacy Lanson, a former international fashion model and 40-year-old motorcycling virgin to catwalk into our world:
Motorcycles have always held a strong allure for me. Perhaps it’s the high polish of sculpted chrome, which seems to beckon me like a shiny object to a crow. Or is it the whole bad-boy biker thing? If so, that’s a bit “in theory” too, since my spousal equivalent is a gentleman biker even if he may occasionally look dastardly. It must be my wanderlust that makes motorcycles speak to me. That asphalt ribbon laid before me leading to a colder beer, hotter dance floor and the most scrumptious saddlebag picnic this ol’ girl can pack.
Honestly, this is all rather new to me, and in fact I was off to my very first biker bash with much anticipation, maybe too much. You see, I’ve recently turned “The Big Four Ohhh Shit I’m Getting Old,” which turns one to pondering about their bucket list and the big clock inescapably ticking off the time left before said bucket gets my high heel. Arizona Bike Week was on my list.
Looks like contributing writer Stacy Lanson isn’t having too much difficulty acclimating to the biker lifestyle.
I will meet this adventure with enthusiasm, trepidation, and much curiosity. Visions of motley scoundrels festooned in territorial patches crept into my daydreaming. Would the 1%ers be there? I read one of their fearsome leaders resides in nearby Cave Creek. Aside from what the spousal equivalent says, most of what I know about bikers comes from old Peter Fonda movies. Will these ruffians want to mate with me, maul me, or worse? Will the women try to lure me with tales of the sinful life of motorcycle mamas and seduce me with their titillating tattoos?
My girlfriends jest that it will be a target rich market of single men. I’ll keep my eyes open on their behalf. Would I even get a second glance with all the foxy beer vendor girls about?
And good lord, the wet t-shirt contestants!
The spectrum of women attendees will probably be infinitely vast – the girliest of girlie-girls hawking wares for the vendors to the hardcore biker broads. In case you’re wondering, let’s just say lipstick, mascara and high heels are my three amigos.
Absolutely gorgeous bikes, an eclectic cast of characters and beauteous springtime desert weather made for an extraordinary Bike Week. My face is now tanned and my boots are dusty, but I’m left with a big grin. I can’t wait until next year!
All my trepidation was for naught. I was amazed just how family-friendly the primary venue was. We spied strollers full of wee bambinos and leather-clad toddlers looking suspiciously, yet hungrily, upon the myriad of breast augmentations. There were organized rides everywhere, including the Lingerie and Breast (cancer) Awareness Run and a wildly popular T-Bar Trail Ride.
Beer girls work hard during the rallies keeping the thirsty throngs satisfied. Got to keep those lips moisturized, you know.
I wasn’t sure why the T-Bar ride was met with such enthusiasm until I was quietly informed the “T” stood for Tittie. Seems like boobs were all the buzz, and this, I’m told, is de rigueur for bike rallies. So when in Rome…Yes! I went on a tittie bar run, and I liked it!
Outlaw biker types were few and far between. Strangely enough, the most menacing were the aggressive (and quite ordinary, even pasty, in appearance) men attempting to chat me up, even while I’m with my occasionally dastardly looking spousal equivalent! Next year, I’ll wear a ring to ward off the circling sharks. Girls, if you’re looking to hook up, I think you’re at the right place!
The ladies had a much stronger presence than I anticipated. I guess that’s not to be unexpected, though. According to some demo fleet sirens, who were tempting me with silvery, chrome-splashed, sexy motorcycles, women account for about 25% of new bike sales nowadays. This was definitely reflected in the chick apparel, jewelry and paraphernalia at the event. I hold a black belt in shopping and thoroughly enjoyed their offerings, particularly the fluffy Cheeky Chaps.
More women are taking control and learning to ride than ever before. She’s not riding on the back of nobody’s motorcycle!
The ladies of ROK (Riders of Kawasaki) spoke of the multi-generational presence in both the Kawasaki biking family, and at the event. I hadn’t really pondered the thought before. But, apropos to the conversation, I came home to find my very own, barely 20-year-old daughter, Scarlett, had borrowed my auxiliary helmet and leathers. Apparently, the new boyfriend made her a convert. The apple just doesn’t fall far from the tree.
A new bucket list item for me – get my MSF course certification. Having spoken with several inspirational bikers, I feel moved to now do so. And, I will heed their advice: “Don’t let a man dictate your ride.” I must say, among a countless number of stylish bikes, the Honda Rune caught my fancy the most. It had a way of artfully
combining masculine and feminine lines, and it was oh-so shiny!
Arizona Bike Week will reconvene next April, dates to be determined. Cyclefest ticket prices are not set, but aren’t expected to vary much from this year’s tariff of $20 per day, per person, or $55 for the week. For more information, call 480-644-8191or visit www.azbikeweek.com