Doin’ it in the desert
Cave Creek, Ariz., Oct 12–14—It’s really saying something when a business can state that they’ve been around for a decade, so when a biker bar can brag that not only have they been around for twice that long but they’ve also been celebrating the coming of fall with their own version of an October rally for 20 years, then that’s pretty huge! When you also mention that you’ve been playing host to people from around the world for decades, then you’ve got something to be plenty proud of and that’s just what the guys from the Hideaway-Roadhouse were doing when they invited the masses out for a celebratory shindig in the desert.
The Hideaway is not just Arizona’s favorite desert oasis, but bikers from countries across the pond like Germany, England and others can be found soaking up the glorious Sonoran sun just about any weekend of the year and when you start discussing famous stateside biker destinations, the Hideaway comes in third with a secure placement right behind the world-renowned biker Mecca of Sturgis, South Dakota, and Harley’s hometown of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, respectively. Yep, the dinky little dive in the city of Cave Creek has made a big-time party destination reputation far beyond its own southwestern city limits and part of that can surely be attributed to the small-town, cowboy culture of the charming community itself. Long bikes, street rides and big-wheel baggers carefully navigate their way through town along roads where sharing a shoulder with a galloping gelding isn’t a rare opportunity. Rather it’s a regular part of life in the Creek and the melding of lifestyles is part of the draw, but the warm hospitality and genuine joy of the crew at both the Hideaway and its sister joint, the Roadhouse (just down the street), is what brings bikers back regularly to rock out on the ramada. Owners Mark and Rick are stepping back into the shadows a bit more to let the next generation, Kevin and Taylor, handle the day-to-day of running the party and the fun vibe has never been more vibrant. For the Biketoberally, enthusiastic vendors packed the parking lot at both bars as scheduled activities throughout the weekend included stuff like a bike show, live auctions, biker beer games and… insert drum roll here… Nick Trask’s big custom-built raffle bike reveal! Needless to say, the joints were jumpin’.
A trip to the Creek isn’t complete without a voyeuristic stroll across the main drag to check out what life on the cowboy side of the street is like and even though we can never figure out what’s going on, it’s always entertaining. There were lots of cattle standing around with cowboys ’n’ girls gathered together on horseback but nothing thrilling so we cruised the vendors out in the dirt lot and chatted with the Hells Angels a while before circling back to find the arena busy with roping exhibitions. The game this day was for a team of two on horseback to try to beat the clock while chasing down and roping a calf’s head and heels as the announcer explains the skills and talent of the team, then they let the steer go. Nobody was racking up any points while we were watching so I’m not sure what that says about the skill level, but it was pretty cool to watch the cowboys and animals doing their jobs. They used to let bikers take a few laps of wheelies and zips around the barrels where the wild bulls run around slinging snot during the rodeo, but the city decided that the 45 minutes of biker games was just too much noise for their sedate little community so they put the kibosh on that fun stuff posthaste, which is a bummer biker; rodeos are always a blast. Whether that kind of athletic exhibition will be returning is yet to be seen but back across the street, bikers were busy with their own competition over at the Roadhouse.
The call went out to anyone who wanted a free beer to head inside, so naturally we moseyed on over to see what all the excitement was about. Contestants were lined up on stage, given a big-ass Bavarian stein of beer and directed to not drink it. Samuel Adams supplied the steins full of their Octoberfest seasonal beer and pit folks against each other to see who could hold the mugs full o’ brew straight out in front of them the longest, while wearing Tyrolean hats and generally harassing each other. One guy obviously misunderstood the rules and as his arm started to waver, he’d slam a slug or two in order to lighten the load while the gal next to him had a spotter who’d step up to help her hold up her mug, which answered the question of how many girls does it take to hoist a heavy beer stein. The comical on-stage shenanigans proved out the theory that there are no rules in Cave Creek beyond showing up and having the most fun you can possibly stand. It was Jeff who finally won out and folks happily stepped up to make short work of the remaining mugs full of beer. By the time John Shope’s bike show was ready for the awards ceremony, the fun had reached the zany zone.
Artist extraordinaire Eric Herrmann was invited to judge the bike show and this was a responsibility that had the bike-riding paint slinger seriously stressed since his goal was to be fair to everyone. “You know, there are so many really great guys in the industry here that it’s tough for the home builder to be noticed. I mean, just look at all those beautiful machines over there… it’s impossible to pick just one… but I made sure the regular guy got noticed, too. A couple of those guys really outdid themselves.” And Eric was right; there are some exquisite machines coming out of home garages, which is largely possible because of the vast market of one-off parts available in the valley. The Phoenix area has a heavy concentration of well-known bike builders and there’s a lot of politics here, but those in the industry all tend to converge in Cave Creek since the Hideaway-Roadhouse is where builders come to press flesh and all the cool kids come to see and be seen. Case in point would be the very popular young local builder Jesse Rooke who took the time to chat after I pointed out that I thought we should all go riding. “You know, there’s a bunch of bike builders in Arizona; I mean a lot of us, and sometimes there’s some posturing, but I really think relations would be better if we all just went riding. I like most of these guys here and we need to take the time to get out in the wind. Like this guy here,” he says as he grabs John Shope for a bear hug. “I love hanging out with this guy! I always enjoy him, but we need to get out there and hit the hills.” The guys joke around and it’s obvious that though competitors in the business of building motorcycles, there’s a mutual respect between the two. Yes, competition is stiff, but camaraderie is king in Cave Creek.
John handed out awards for his bike show quickly, which included a stack of cash, and poked fun at most everyone who received a trophy. At one point, a winner wasn’t responding to the page to come to the stage so Shope announced that if the guy didn’t come fetch his prize money in two minutes, he was going to give his cash to the kids hanging out by the stage. And he did. Two boys who appeared to be brothers were ecstatic as they opened the envelope to find two crisp $100 bills, which were quickly cashed in so they could split the greenbacks with another boy who had his dog, Tank, hanging around his neck. Blake’s mom stepped up to explain that last time they came to the Roadhouse the band had given Blake a guitar pick and now, his cash score meant they were chalking up a 100-percent great time every time they came out for lunch at the Roadhouse. Turns out that everyone’s favorite biker destination is kid-friendly, too.
The sun was sinking low on the saguaros by the time folks gathered at the Hideaway for the big moment we’d all been waiting for: the chance to see Nick Trask’s custom build bike that is scheduled to be given away during Cave Creek Bike Week this spring. On April 7 some lucky ticket holder will claim the fruits of Trask’s intense labor. The six months’ worth of raffle sales will go to the very respectable Make-A-Wish foundation and you’d be hard pressed to find a better cause than to make some sick child’s wish come true, so you can feel good about tossing some cash towards this build because the reward could be twofold. Not only do you get to kick some money towards a good cause, but you could walk away with an immaculate Trask-built new ride that clocks in at 200 hp and is valued at $85,000. This bike isn’t one of those doggy old pieces of crap that are often raffled off. This bike started life as a Road King but after Nick gave it his own personal makeover, which included cutting the motorcycle in half, it stands proudly as a Trask ASSAULT bike and it’s going to some lucky rider come spring. Who knows, it could be you! Tickets are one for $20 or six for $100. (hideaway-usa.com)