The magic was back this year for Arizona Bike Week 2012 as the sun came out, people were in the party mood, and the vibe overall was positive.
There was something missing from last year’s Arizona Bike Week. There was plenty of live music and vendors peddling most everything that would fit on a bike and its master, but something was askew. The same good-time feeling that had grown steadily over the years had stalled. In 2012 though, organizers rallied, fixed the problem, and returned ABW to prominence.
The issue didn’t include any of the usual suspects: bad weather, overzealous law enforcement, rival club rumbles; the event skidded on its ticket pricing.
According to ABW marketing and media coordinator, Lisa Cyr, last year’s pricing was designed to give people a break. “We offered only a five-day pass, which included entry to Cyclefest everyday and the nightly featured concert. The idea was to offer a better package for less, leaving attendees more money to join our trademark charity rides, which we thought would benefit everyone.”
The strategy backfired, turning away event goers and leaving vendors grumbling. “We realized too late that no one liked having their choices taken away,” added Cyr.
The event returned to a more conventional pricing package this year, offering a five-day pass, including headliner concerts for $45 per person, $20 for Wednesday and Thursday, $25 Friday and Saturday (a $5 bump over 2010) and $10 Sunday ($5 decrease). And just like that, the vibe was back in Scottsdale.
Undaunted, vendors returned to Cyclefest in force, expanding beyond last year’s count. Demo fleets (Harley-Davidson, Can-Am, Kawasaki, Victory and Star Motorcycles) reported more activity than ever. There was the usual assortment of muscled men in tight T-shirts, saucy women in tighter tank tops, lots of live music, cold beverages, abundant rows of biker-wear, and pretty much everything else needed to get on and stay on the road. For any regular citizen who has to ask, this is why we come out to play on Biker Opening Day.
Rumors of a scooter Shangri-La flourishing somewhere in the Sonoran Desert have spread for years, but most of us who are still somewhat sane thought it just another wild tale told by gypsies and mad biker vagabonds. But enthusiasts of every ilk, make and model rolled in from surrounding states to what felt like motorcycle Mecca. It seems like every restaurant, motorcycle shop, saloon and strip club within a 200-mile radius conspired to turn Bike Week into an endless bash.
There is a palpable excitement that spins into town with ABW. The cosmopolitan, artsy city of Scottsdale, sometimes called “L.A. East” because of its prevalence of swanky clubs, upscale restaurants, art galleries, bounty of blonde hair dye and ponderous silicone bolt-ons, is suddenly charged with the roaring energy of thousands of bikes rumbling down street and boulevard, kindred spirits hell-bent for the next good time. There are plenty to be found.
The 16th edition of AWB enjoyed ideal weather and some 70,000 enthusiasts took advantage, up from 52,000 last year, according to event officials. The drive to bust loose from winter’s grip, shake off sticky money woes and enjoy the sunshine and good times had riders galloping in from California, Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, the four corners of Arizona and points unknown.
Pre-rally days began March 23, warming things up with kick-off parties at various Harley-Davidson dealerships, custom shops, bars and eateries about town. Music festivals, Miss ABW preliminaries, breakfast socials, bike shows, poker runs, barbecues, and concerts were everywhere as Scottsdale, Cave Creek and the greater metro Phoenix area collectively turned into arguably the most biker friendly destination in the nation.
Bike Week officially launched March 28 when Cyclefest opened its gates at WestWorld in Scottsdale. Signature charity rides raising tens of thousands of dollars, scores of vendors, demo fleets, and seemingly non-stop live music pounding out from the rally’s grassy Handlebar Saloon were among the sights and sounds that have come to define this up-and-coming event. Fervent crowds poured into Cyclefest’s big tent for headliners Quiet Riot, Puddle of Mudd, REO Speed Wagon and Tesla, who appeared Wednesday through Saturday evening, respectively.
Highlights included the Hamster’s Dry Heat Charity Run to benefit the Children’s Care Hospital. Lled by master builder and local son, Paul Yaffe, the posse rode out to Greasewood Flats, a rootin’ tootin’ old west bar. Other popular benefit rides included the Chandler Harley MDA Charity Run, Buddy Stubbs H-D Riding for Kids Charity Run, and Arrowhead H-D’s Hogs for Heroes Ride for fallen law enforcement officers.
Most of Arizona is a biker’s paradise, especially in the early spring. As a free perk, organizers outlined four scenic day rides, ranging from 235 miles to 367 miles roundtrip, visiting old mining towns, river canyons, lakes, high desert, and the astonishing red rock wonderlands of the Sedona area.
If the desert wasn’t hot enough, the Miss ABW Finals were. So was the T-Bar Trail Ride, a wildly popular strip club run, and the World Famous Saturday Night Wet T-shirt Contest was guaranteed to raise your temperature. The People’s Choice Bike Show, Paul Yaffe Originals traditional Bike Week Bash, a silent auction, raffles, and sponsored bikes games rounded out the party.
Arizona Bike Week is expected to reconvene at the end of March next year, although dates and ticket pricing are yet to be determined.
Somebody came dressed for the party!
Family fun at 2012 Arizona Bike Fest.
Motorcycles weren’t the only thing turning heads
For more information, call 480-644-8191or visit www.azbikeweek.com.