Payson Police Chief Don Engler is not worried the inaugural Thunder Mountain Ride will attract to Payson the stereotypical dirty, leather-clad cyclists with shaggy beards that ride around the country getting into barroom brawls.
In fact, he’s relatively certain the cyclists that will be arriving will be mostly professional men and women who are members of mainstream motorcycle clubs.
“We’ve talked to the promoter and we’ve been assured that that type of situation (outlaw cyclists and gang members) will not happen,” Engler said. “But we will have a strong law enforcement presence and we have been assured of having assistance from the (Gila County) Sheriff’s Office and DPS.”
Engler and those staging the event say Thunder Mountain will be a rally where cyclists can socialize and get to know one another.
Some of those cyclists expected to participate in Thunder Mountain will be American Motorcycle Association members who also are members of other groups such as the Patriot Guard Riders, who provide funeral escorts for military veterans; Rolling Thunder, which advocates for troops missing in action and prisoners of war; and the Christian Motorcyclist Association, which is a biker ministry.
The rally, to be held Oct. 8 to Oct. 10 at Green Valley Park and on roadways around the Rim Country, is being co-sponsored by town tourism department along with Fargo’s Steakhouse, Mazatzal Casino, Majestic Mountain Inn, Arizona Public Service, Crabdree Insurance, Mogollon Health Alliance and others.
All proceeds from the ride benefit the Gracie Lee Haught Children’s Memorial Fund, American Legion and Mogollon Health Alliance.
Prizes, raffles and giveaways
Thunder Mountain will be highlighted by live entertainment, fireworks shows, “Ride in the Pines” day runs, local and national vendors, stunt shows, food and beverage concessions, wild and fun contests and an array of prizes that include 11 Harley-Davidson motorcycles, two Yamaha motorcycles and $5,000 in cash prizes.
There will also be two special raffles, to be held at 2 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 10 at GVP for a 2010 Yamaha TR50 and a 2010 Polaris 500 ATV.
The day runs, which most likely will be a huge attraction for the hundreds of bikers expected to show up, will take place Saturday and Sunday and be about four hours each in duration.
The events include Zane Grey Ride, Devil’s Sidewinder Ride, Thunder Mountain Ride, and Make My Day Ride.
Most begin in or near GVP and proceed along some of the Rim Country’s most scenic highways and roads before wrapping up back at the park.
The Make My Day Ride includes a catered lunch hosted by Outback Steakhouse.
Before and after rides on Saturday and Sunday, there will be drawings at GVP for the 13 motorcycles.
The days will also be highlighted with a custom bike show, ride and show contests and stunt shows.
For the younger set, Country Health Care will host a Kids’ Fun Park at GVP.
Basic entry fee into the ride is $60, which includes drawing tickets for five of the motorcycles to be given away.
The all-inclusive entry fee is $120 and includes tickets for all 13 motorcycles and a souvenir T-shirt.
The rally will be the first of its type to be held in the Rim Country where horseback and quad riding on back-country trails has long been a popular recreational attraction
Bikers will have the opportunity to tune up for the weekend in Payson at three kick-off parties to be held in the Valley. From 3 p.m. to 8 p.m., Oct. 2 a shindig will be held at Buddy Stubbs Motorcycles in Phoenix. Another bash is from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m., Oct. 3 at RideNow Power Sports in Peoria and the third is on the calendar for 3 p.m. to 9 p.m., Oct. 7 at Superstition Harley-Davidson in Apache Junction.
Tickets will also be available over the event weekend from Sawmill Crossing Shopping Center merchants, Bill Luke Chrysler Dodge in Phoenix, ERA Young Realty, the Payson Main Street Merchants Guild and other Payson merchants who display the wagon wheel logo at the front of their stores.
Cyclist riding up from the Valley have the option of stopping by Jakes Corner on the way north to pick up a bonus drawing ticket for the Mogollon Health Alliance drawing, which has as a prize a 2010 Harley Davidson XL883L Sportster.