Centennial Ride: Bentley roarin' to go

Posted on by az100

by Larry Rodgers – Feb. 6, 2012 12:00 AM
The Republic | azcentral.com

Dierks Bentley loves his Harley-Davidson, and he’s a veteran of motorcycle events across the country.

But the Phoenix-born country star says the Centennial Ride that he will lead in the Valley on Saturday, Feb. 11, may bring the biggest charge of all.

“I’ve done some pretty cool rides in the past, but this will definitely be the coolest one,” the 36-year-old singer says. “The feeling of pride (in) Arizona, the centennial, motorcycles, being out in the desert — I’m getting more excited about it every day.”

At least 2,000 motorcyclists are expected to participate in Saturday’s ride from Mesa to Arizona Best Fest, held on the grounds of the state Capitol in Phoenix in celebration of the state’s 100th birthday, which falls on Tuesday, Feb. 14. The festival will continue Sunday, Feb. 12.

Law-enforcement officers will guide Bentley, other VIPs and fellow motorcyclists on the 16-mile ride from Mesa Riverview Plaza, at Loop 202 and Dobson Road, into downtown Phoenix.

The riders will have reserved parking at the Capitol Mall, and a Vendor Village will be set up to offer motorcycle products and accessories, says Mandi Wimmer, deputy director of the Centennial Commission. Arizona Best Fest will include entertainment, arts and crafts, food and displays.

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime ride,” says Barry Caraway, who has promoted hundreds of motorcycle events through his Valley-based website, cycle rides.com. “I’m 55, so unless I live to be 156, I won’t be able to go on a ride like this again.”

Mark LaResche, who owns Superstition Harley-Davidson in Apache Junction with his wife, Beverly, says, “You will have every flavor of motorcyclist out there — all across the spectrum.”

Asked to describe the appeal of a ride this large, LaResche, says, “It’s a rumble. It really gets your juices flowing. Your adrenaline is pumping, even though you are not riding that fast.”

Helping Bentley lead the event will be Valley bike designer Paul Yaffe, who created the Copper Chopper, a $140,000 motorcycle that is the mascot of the Centennial. Yaffe will ride the chopper, which will be given away through a raffle at the Best Fest.

“This ride could be ridiculous (in a good way),” Yaffe says. “You may see as many as 4,000 people.”

With about 1,000 people signed up two weeks before the ride, LaResche says, that number could double or triple, given the walk-up traffic that other large motorcycle events in Arizona and nationwide tend to draw.

Bentley, who in 2009 led a Miles & Music for Kids ride in the Valley to benefit Phoenix Children’s Hospital, says he is not nervous about having thousands of fellow bikers roaring behind him.

He explains: “There is pressure, there are a lot of bikes behind you, but usually, I’m riding next to a guy from the local Harley-Davidson dealership or a police officer.”

Centennial Ride

When: Departs 2 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 11.

Where: From Mesa Riverview Plaza, Dobson Road and Loop 202, Mesa, to the state Capitol, 1700 W. Washington St., Phoenix.

Price: $25 per person.

Details: 602-364-3713, az100years.org.

Arizona Best Fest

When: Noon to 10 p.m. Saturday and noon to 6 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 11-12.

Where: State Capitol Mall, 1700 W. Washington St., Phoenix.

Admission: Free.

Details: 602-364-3713, az100years.org.

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