Rodeos, riding and flame-throwing bikes
CAVE CREEK, ARIZ., MAR. 29-APR. 7—There’s a place in the Sonoran Desert that’s tucked amongst the saguaros and across the street from a rodeo arena that has many a biker all riled up to visit each spring. Known to locals as the Hideaway, this favorite desert watering hole for two-wheeled adventurists is famous around the world as a must-do destination for anyone visiting the state of Arizona. To residents of the surrounding town who call themselves “Creekers,” Cave Creek is a quiet little oasis in the midst of a changing metropolis that struggles with a personality conflict: Is it a biker town or a wild west cowboy playa?
The answer is a resounding, “Yes.”
The team at the Hideaway Grill and the Road House–Mark Bradshaw, Rick Stahl, Kevin Price, Taylor Bradshaw and the rest of the maniac crew–roll out the welcome mats for 10 days of pandemonium called Cave Creek Bike Week. Chock full of fun stuff like bike shows, vendors, rides and rowdy biker activities, there’s plenty to keep folks trudging the short distance between the two locations while popping in to visit the various bars and businesses centered along the main drag. There’s always a steady stream of dressed-up bikes to watch out front, but it’s not unheard of to see a cowboy saunter by on horseback or watch some guy cruise his souped-up farm tractor down the boulevard.
Arizona is thick with bike builders, and many of the best in the biz hang out with the Cave Creek crew simply because it’s a load of fun. But there’s also a lot of history here that equates to solid friendships and a familial atmosphere–as long as your family is used to flame-throwing bikes, burnouts and a bit of ribbing, that is.
California twins Gary and Alan Benzler rode out to celebrate their birthday by riding in the Gypsy Tour with Mark Bradshaw and his buddy Jay Allen, just as they had done some 20-odd years ago when the Hideaway was a tiny tavern on the outskirts of town. These days they’re joined by a sizeable pack of appreciative riders who are hosted to lunch and a good time all for the price of a smile. Local Harley-Davidson dealer Buddy Stubbs hosts a H.O.G. ride to raise cash for the Arizona Burn Foundation’s Camp Courage for kids, and the group ride ends at the Road House where swag and cash was doled out as the party raged on.
Builder John Shope hosts a bike show on the last Friday and is notorious for insulting jokes, and his antics keep the crowd well-entertained. Famous East Coast bike builder, painter and Hamster MC member Dave Perewitz, on the other hand, is as serious as they come about his paint show, with beautiful custom-painted awards that are coveted by the recipients. Awarding Dan Thrasher with the Best of Show for his “Cheech and Chong” bagger that was covered with painted pot leaves, exactly 420 of them, showed Perewitz’s sense of humor, however.
On any given afternoon you’re as likely to see a dusty pair of Wranglers gracing a barstool as you are a greasy pair of Levis. And it’s that diversity that makes for a great time during Cave Creek’s celebration of all things motorcycle. There are rodeos held across the street on Wednesdays and Fridays at either the Buffalo Chip or Outlaws, while biker antics rage at the Hideaway or the Road House and everybody welcomes either tribe to venture over to their side. Come Sunday, the cowboys hold a church service while the bikers participate in Sunday Funday with the notorious Builder Games.
For our part, we have to tell ya that there is nothing more fun than watching grown men fight to be first in a hippity-hop relay race. These are some of the most famous builders in the motorcycle world on children’s toys competing against each other for the glory of just saying they won. There is a huge trophy that’s handed down each year from winning builder to the next and all the bragging rights that stem from beating your buddy at a taco sword fight. And what the hell is that, you ask? Just imagine grown men armed with large kitchen spoons in each hand. One has a crisp taco shell over it. The point is to battle each other with one spoon while trying to knock the taco shell off the other. The first guy to break the other man’s taco wins. The whole ordeal was total chaos before Clayton Gandara from Evil Twins Customs won, holding the championship for the second year in a row. Next year’s games will be hosted by Paul Tracy’s Black Label Baggers.
Before the sun set on the 10-day funfest, there was still a custom bike to be given away. Hordes of people swarmed the Hideaway’s stage for a chance to have their ticket drawn to take home a Trask-built, $85,000.00 badass bike. As it turned out, Michelle Hajala from Orlando, Florida, bought a ticket in hopes of winning the bike for her man, Mark Evans. And she did! The spiffy Trask Assault Series, with a turbo-charged 160 hp engine and a custom finish from Liquid Luv Specialty Coating and painted by Eric Carr, will be gliding along the streets of Florida with its proud new owner grinning from ear to ear. Be sure to give him a wave.