Thunder Mountain Roars Into Town This Weekend

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The Rim Country will rumble with the roar and thunder of motorcycles Friday through Sunday, Oct. 8, 9 and 10 as bikers from all over converge on Payson for the Thunder Mountain Ride.

“Native Air’s Thunder Mountain Ride is the fall motorcycle rally in Arizona,” said Judy Baker, executive director of Mogollon Health Alliance. Baker and the staff and volunteers of MHA have spent the past six months organizing this first-ever Payson event, in hopes that it will become an annual fund-raising staple for local charities.

The Thunder Mountain Ride is a multi-faceted event with activities for all ages and lots of opportunity to win fabulous prizes. Those taking part in the event can:

• Participate in fantastic day rides leaving from Payson.

On Saturday choose from the pines and hamlets with The Zane Grey Ride or the twisty, winding roads of the Rim Country with The Devil’s Sidewinder Ride.

Sunday’s Outback Steakhouse “Make My Day” Ride is through the breathtaking vistas of the Mogollon Rim.

Most begin in or near Green Valley Park and proceed along some of the area’s most scenic highways and roads before wrapping up back at the park.

• Enter to win 11 new 2010 Harley-Davidson motorcycles, two Yamaha street bikes and a Polaris 500 ATV, plus more than $5,000 in cash prizes.

The $120 entry fee includes drawing tickets for all 13 motorcycles plus a free T-shirt. Additional tickets for specific bikes are $20 each. For more details, visit www.thundermountainride.com.

• Compete for cash prizes and strut the stage in the Best Dressed Couple and Best Leather contests.

There will be live entertainment at the event, including Amanda Overmyer, Mogollon, The 74th Street Band, Rondavous, and the John Scott Band.

Stunt shows and a motorcycle display will all be part of the excitement. Local and national vendors will have everything from bling to sidecars to cigars.

Noted mural artist Susan VanNess Hopper is taking appointments to paint a wondrous sight on your ride.

Baker said Thunder Mountain Ride is a family-friendly event. Children can bounce, rock climb and have fun in the play area.

Organizers hope that roughly 5,000 bikers will come to the park each day, drawn by the bands and dancing, the Kid Fun Zone, motorcycle stunts, vendors, day rides and contests.

If all goes well, the weekend will turn into a mini-Fourth of July finale for the tourist season — complete with planned fireworks.

“This is going to be really exciting to see how this all works — and the knot in my stomach I guess is excitement, not an ulcer,” Baker said.

The town’s 700 hotel rooms are reportedly already rented and campgrounds in the area are filling up fast.

Proceeds benefit the Mogollon Health Alliance, Gracie Lee Haught Children’s Memorial Fund and American Legion Family Charities.

Native Air, Outback Steakhouse, Bill Luke Chrysler Jeep Dodge and Budweiser are major sponsors of the event.

Everyone is invited to be part of the thunder at this inaugural event. Visit: www. thundermountainride.com or call the Mogollon Health Alliance at (928) 472-2588.

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