Tuesday, July 26, 2011
Too Broke for Sturgis is an annual get-together of Harley riders that meet at Mormon Lake, Arizona, about this time of the year. The original idea was to have a rally close enough for most Arizona motorcycle riders who couldn’t afford to travel to the huge rally in Sturgis, South Dakota, to be able to (in some small way) duplicate the “Sturgis” experience in Arizona.
The event at Mormon Lake has grown into a good-sized rally, with riders from all over Arizona joining in the fun. The draw to this place is beautiful pine trees in the high country and a chance to get out of the scorching heat of the lower deserts. Mormon Lake has a saloon, lodge, restaurant with good eats and a country store. There is plenty of room to pitch a tent or even pull in motor homes. There are vendors selling leather goods to jewelry and everything in between. It reminds me of the Buffalo Chips Campground in Sturgis, only smaller.
There will be no more Too Broke for Sturgis. Friday night’s partying was suddenly interrupted by gunfire. No, it wasn’t rival bike chapters shooting it out like the incident that happened at a casino in Laughlin, Nevada, some years back. This deadly shooting was of domestic violence in nature. A drunken, irate man opened fire on another man and his wife, killing them both. He then also shot another woman six times in the chest and she was air-lifted to a hospital and is in critical condition. The gunman then pulled the trigger with the gun pointed under his chin. Three lives violently taken and no more July party in the pines at Mormon Lake.
I don’t blame the residents of this small, historic community for being up in arms. I always found it strange that the town would allow a motorcycle rally in their back yard to begin with. During the day, there are children riding bicycles and young people riding quads around town. There are many cabins and small houses, and the people who live in them are not bikers. The families who own cabins at Mormon Lake have the same idea in the summer; let’s get out of the heat!
It will seem strange not to have Too Broke for Sturgis anymore, but I suspect the organizers will come up with a different venue next year. After all, Harley riders bring in a lot of money to small communities and businesses that desperately need revenue for survival.
I personally will continue riding in the area. The cool pines and fresh air remind me of the Colorado Rockies and the Black Hills of South Dakota. I can’t go to the more exotic locations every weekend, but riding our own high country is a close second!