CAVE CREEK, ARIZ., APR. 1-6—Cowboys, Indians, outlaws and miners. That pretty much sums up Cave Creek’s history and heritage. Gold was discovered in 1874 on nearby Gold Hill, which caused a gold rush to the area displacing the Indians who lived there. Although the gold has played out, the town remains like an echo in time. The buildings, although none stand from the 1800’s, still look like the original ones. Western saloons, restaurants and stores line the main street as they always have, and many of the locals can be seen riding their horses to town. There are even hitching posts in front of some of the stores. Music can be heard nightly blasting out of the doors of the saloons, and there are numerous galleries and antique shops commemorating the town’s heritage. In case you still doubt their Western heritage, in a town that numbers about 5,000 souls, I counted at least four gun shops within two miles of each other and one was having a 10 percent off sale.
Aside from the Hohokam, Apaches, settlers and the U.S. Cavalry, Cave Creek is also a favorite hangout for bikers from around the world. Its cooler temperatures, Western flair and remote location in the Sonoran Desert make it a natural destination for us cowpokes riding our iron steeds.
One of the aforementioned saloons is the well-known Hideaway Grill, owned by Mark Bradshaw for almost 16 years. Mark is one of the main people responsible for the doings in Cave Creek during Arizona Bike Week.
For me, the Hideaway has always been party central in Cave Creek during Bike Week, and with Mark’s recent purchase of the Cave Creek Tap Haus, the party just got bigger. Other places in town like Harold’s Corral and the Buffalo Chip Saloon were also working hard to spread the party around. As Mark pointed out, “No matter what goes on during Bike Week, everyone eventually comes to Cave Creek.”
Bike parking was provided along both sides of Cave Creek Road and through traffic used the two center lanes. With the weeklong assistance of the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office, this arrangement kept everyone safe, although moving slowly.
On most days Cave Creek is a quiet town even with the rumble of V-twins cruising through. With only around 60 crimes reported each year, Cave Creek is safer than 70 percent of all other American cities and therefore a safe place to come during a motorcycle rally. Lots of local bands like Sal and the Stray Hounds, Loud House and others perform while merchants and artisans display their wares. Motorcycle dealers display their bikes; custom builders and riders alike display theirs. Two brand-new bikes were even given away. Since Arizona roads cover only approximately one-tenth of the entire state, there are a lot of off-road areas for the ORV boys and girls to show off their steeds as well. Additionally, on Saturday, the last weekend of Bike Week, the Cave Creek Auction Company held a classic car show and vehicle auction. Harold’s Corral even had a surprise guest appearance Sunday night by country recording artist Harry Luge, who sang some old songs and a couple new ones as well. With temperatures in the 70’s and 80’s and a minor shower on Wednesday, you would have been hard-pressed find a better place to spend at least part of Bike Week.
For those who have never been to Arizona Bike Week, it’s a lot different than most. Up until this year the central point always seems to have been Cyclefest at WestWorld in Scottsdale, but the activity has been spread out among the cities of Mesa, Scottsdale, Phoenix, Glendale, Cave Creek and more with businesses and groups in each of those areas scheduling their own activities. Over the course of the week, that’s hundreds of events to try and get to. Talk about choices.
This year, due to some internal disagreements, Cyclefest was split in two, creating Phoenix Bike Fest at the Wild Horse Pass Hotel & Casino at the Gila River Indian Community outside Chandler. The benefit presented some stunning entertainment including Joan Jett, Big & Rich, Aaron Lewis, Lynyrd Skynyrd, The Cult, Sammy Hagar and ZZ Top, though many of the performances were in conflicting time slots. Again, talk about choices.
Mark Bradshaw said that he thought the new choices gave bikers ownership of the events they attended, along with better options. He said, “There are plenty of events to go around. I don’t see why a biker needs to pay money to get in and spend money at the vendors, go on a bike ride or to a concert. I don’t charge for my events or rides. Everything is 100-percent free and I don’t charge for anything, other than my normal prices. I do this for the bikers and I do it 365 days a year, not just four or five days.” He wanted people to look at Cave Creek as the destination to be during Bike Week. There were close to 100 venders between the Hideaway and Tap Haus locations.
Late afternoon Wednesday, the thirsty riders in the Buddy Stubbs Ride for the Kids rolled into the Tap Haus after a 250-mile, six-hour ride through the desert via Payson, which is situated just a little shy of a mile above sea level.
On Friday Bradshaw and Len Edmondson, owner of Azzkickr Custom Cycles of Canada, headed up a group ride from the Hideaway to Azzkickr’s new facility in Phoenix. About 60 riders participated, and once there, Edmondson gave a tour of the shop. He said, “All of our pieces are form-finished to fit Harley-Davidsons.” You can customize your own ride or Azzkickr’s can build a full custom for you from the ground up. Edmondson provided a free lunch, and Jay Allen was on hand as well to conduct bike games.
On Saturday Buddy Stubbs H-D raffled off a 2014 Sportster Forty-Eight at the Tap Haus and the winner was Tim Mellor of Phoenix. There was also a bike show at the Tap Haus that saw Stan Neentz score Best of Show with his 2005 Suzuki Intruder. CLS Cycle of Cave Creek sponsored the show and built all the trophies, each consisting of a chrome SAE wrench in a holder. The owner, Cameron Smith, told Stan to come by the shop and he would swap out the SAE wrench for a metric one.
The Buffalo Chip Saloon held some very entertaining bike games on Saturday as well. There was only one Harley that entered, so the games were modified slightly. Remember that this is a cowboy town. There was target shooting from horseback and the only entry was a cowgirl who shot the crap out of the targets. There was barrel racing featuring an ATV against horses, pickup versus pickup, pickup versus ATV, ATV against a Softail (the ATV won) and the same Softail versus a Corvette, in which the Corvette won. There was also rock crawling in the parking lot with off-road trucks.
At the Tap Haus on Sunday, a red 2014 Indian Chieftain was raffled off by the Combat Vets MC Association to benefit homeless veterans. Greg Consolo of Glendale held the winning ticket. Consolo said he bought $100 worth of tickets and gave them to his dad to hold because, “He’s always lucky.” Guess it worked. Greg currently rides a Dyna Super Glide, although he’s always wanted a bagger. He’s putting his daughter Ashley through college so he was saving money by riding the Dyna. The $23,000 bike was bought at Scottsdale Indian and Victory Motorcycles, owned by John Raniolo. Raniolo told Consolo he could come by the shop and pick out any color he wanted.
So next year during Bike Week sample all of the activities if you want, but don’t forget to hitch your ride to a post in Cave Creek and live the rally cowboy style because eventually you will end up there.