Band of Gypsys

Tradition lives on at a birthday celebration

Cave Creek, Ariz., Apr. 15—The day had come for the traditional and mandatory Gypsy Tour, led by Mark Bradshaw, owner of the Hideaway, and Jay Allen, owner of the Broken Spoke. This free-form ride doesn’t cost anything, benefits no charity, requires no registration, offers no pins or T-shirts, and you don’t know where you are going until it starts. You do, however, get a lot of fun and a few surprises. All the activity starts at the Hideaway before the departure hour of 1:00 p.m.

This event also corresponds with Jay’s birthday, this year his 56th. There is a lot of tradition with the Gypsy Tour and one of them is signing Jay’s shirt. This year he wore a sparkling white shirt and all his old and new friends took turns signing it. At the end of the day, Jay removes the shirt and Mark displays it in the bar. It’s another tradition for both men to stand on a small stage and talk about each other, relating details both good and bad, and then at the witching hour of 1:00 p.m., the riders head for their bikes and prepare to follow Jay and Mark helter-skelter across the countryside.

This writer jumped ahead of the 200–300 bikers to catch some photos. I caught them coming up and out of Cave Creek, which was tough because there is so much road construction going on. After I had been told where they were going I headed out to New River Road to catch them riding through. I could see a large van sitting some distance away and I thought it was another photographer waiting to do what I was doing. However, as I saw the dust in the sky and heard the roar of the motorcycles and readied my camera, the bikers all pulled over by the van and stopped. Not knowing what was happening, I ran down the hill to see. Walking up and down the line of bikers were Mark and Jay, carrying a cooler filled with lemonade. The van was actually employees from Arrow­head Harley-Davidson, who had brought the drinks out on Mark’s request. Arrow­head Harley-Davidson was the destination where Jay was to hold the traditional slow race games that are also a big part of the Gypsy Tour.

At Arrowhead, Jay and Mark chide bikers to vie for $100 dollars and a trophy doing the Slow Race. When there is a winner, Jay competes with the winner and, traditionally, beats him. This year it was really close, but he pulled it off. Winning the Slow Race was Boogieman, a usual suspect in the biker games. He and wife Lori also came close in the Egg on the Post but were beaten by Louie Hall and Karen Portocarrero. After the games were over, everyone headed their own way, mostly down to Cyclefest for the Dierks Bentley concert.


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