For nearly 80,000, Arizona Bike Week in early April is the Western U.S.’s kick-off party to the riding season
Photos by Rusty Childress and Felicia Morgan
Words by Felicia Morgan
With bike shows, concerts galore, great camping, tons of vendors, flat track racing, food and drink, plenty of evening fun and some of the most scenic riding in the country, all spread out over five days in the Sonoran desert around beautiful Scottsdale, Arizona, savvy riders realize pretty quickly that the Valley of the Sun is the place to be come April.
And there were a bunch of us this year.
This is a riding rally in addition to a big ol’ biker party, so anyone mapping out their trip can be assured they’ll rack up some miles while here. Attendees saddle up first thing in the morning for any of the several charity runs sponsored during the five-day shindig, but come sundown you can bet the veteran visitors are back at Scottsdale’s WestWorld facility for the fun stuff that plays out each night.
Camping on-site is the way to go since nightly concerts and parties tend to rage late into the night. With 570 campsites spread out over the RV area and another 120 tent spots available, some 2,000-odd souls move in for the week to comprise a small city of neighbors – most of whom seem to know how to wring the most out of the event, party and concert fun.
For folks who want to head home at the end of each day, the weeklong ticket price is a reasonable $74 – and day passes are an option if you just want to see a particular band. For those who want to cruise the vendors but skip all the nighttime adventure, Sunday is free admission day and includes all the cool stuff like flat track racing, stunt riders, live music and demo rides. So, attending party central at WestWorld is reasonable no matter what the budget.
This year’s concerts ran the gamut of genres and each night the place was packed with music freaks. From the seasoned, dedicated fans who didn’t want to drink alone and came out to cheer on George Thorogood and The Destroyers, right on up to the rocking rowdies who came out for Buckcherry and 3 Doors Down, the place was rockin’. Saturday night’s Godsmack performance brought the concerts to a close with an estimated 25,000 younger fans filling the bleachers, so there really is something for everyone at Arizona’s week of badass music concerts.
On Saturday, the area known as the Rockyard was filled with shiny machines as the Miss Arizona Bike Week bike show sprawled across the tarmac. It was a gracious and giddy Samantha Millard who not only won $500 and a spiffy watch, but also walked away with the title of Miss AZBW. Sam’s award-winning bike started out as a 2001 Sportster, but was reworked by boyfriend Craig Wilson; the sexy little sled turned the judge’s heads with custom fabrications and a burnt bronze Cerakote finish that incorporated Sam’s children’s initials, Cooper and Chandler, into the paint scheme – which also matched the tattoo on their mother’s wrist. It was quite obvious there was a lot of love represented in the unique build.
Next year’s dates are April 1 – 5, so if you plan to camp, and you should, sign up early, as sites sell out quickly and you certainly don’t want to miss the desert fun in 2020. www.azbikeweek.com