Bikers Raise Money For Make-A-Wish

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Cowboys and their pickup trucks were squeezed out of the Sportsman's Chalet parking lot Wednesday by more than 500 bikers. The rumble came over the Rim stopping at the popular bar and eatery before heading through Pine, Payson and Rye.

The leather-clad crowd spent the day riding 250 miles in the name of charity.

The local watering hole in Strawberry has been a stop on the Make-A-Wish Poker Run for the past three years. Motorcyclists from all over the Southwest come to Arizona for Bike Week -- a chance to show off their custom ride and fraternize with other bikers.

For an entry fee of about $60, each rider got a map and a game card. Starting in North Phoenix, the riders picked up poker cards in Mayer, Camp Verde, Strawberry, and the junction of Highway 87 & 188. The final card was picked up at Cyclefest at Westworld. Winning hands take home prizes.

Southern, Central and Northern Chapters of the Make-A-Wish Foundations in Arizona will share the money raised, Geraldine Birch, the executive director of the Northern Arizona Chapter said.

Tattooed and hardcore Harley Riders like Scott "Snakeman" Brough rubbed elbows with the more trendy rich-urbane-bikers -- RUBS, they are called.

Brough has been biking for more than 30 years, "cause I don't know any better," he said. He has never missed an Arizona Bike Week.

While Brough looked more like the stereotypical biker of the late 1960s and '70s, folks who have picked up the biking bug in their later years for entertainment and travel standout as the majority on this run.

"This gives my husband, Andy, and I something to do," Charlotte Ramos said. She and Andy traveled from Palmdale, Calif., to participate in the Arizona Bike Week. They traveled with three other couples and say it is a bonus to help the children of Make-A-Wish.

"After 27 years of marriage, it is about time we started doing something for ourselves," she said.

Inside the Chalet, riders ate, joked and rested up for the remainder of the ride.

Greg Layne and Ron Sharp of Mesa talked about children and motorcycles.

"This is stress relief," Layne said. "I'm enjoying the weather in Northern Arizona and getting to know my buddy a little bit better."

"This is the last ride for me before my new son is born," Layne bragged. Normally his wife would be with him, but she was due any day now. Layne has been into bikes for years and has six at home including a custom he is building, his pal Sharp brags. Sharp was riding one of Layne's bikes for the day.

After 3 p.m., the stragglers finally hit the pavement. Bursts of mufflers sound off, as groups of three to eight bikes roared out of the parking lot in search of their next card and some more miles with the wind in their face.

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