By Darrell Todd Maurina: CNJ Staff Writer
Organizers of the Badlands Motorcycle Rally say their rally, in its fourth year this weekend, draws bikers from all over New Mexico and West Texas.
However, few visitors came from as far away as Deonne Wright, who rode her vintage 1979 Harley-Davidson Shovelhead on a solo trip from Melbourne, Fla., through Clovis on her way to visit the Grand Canyon and later the nationally known Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in Sturgis, S.D. She learned about the Clovis rally this week from a trucker in Amarillo, she said.
“My husband just retired after 26 years in the Coast Guard, and he said, ‘Honey, go have some fun,’” Wright said. “My husband asked me a couple days ago, ‘Are you at a point where you are going to stop and turn around,’ and I said, ‘No way!’”
For other participants, riding to the downtown rally isn’t much different from what they do daily.
“I just ride to the courthouse on nice days,” said 9th District Judge Stephen Quinn, who said he’s been riding motorcycles since the age of 14.
Quinn said Clovis is a motorcycle-friendly town and many residents prefer the Harley-Davidson make.
“When I bought my BMW all my neighborhood had Harleys and I wondered if I was violating some sort of zoning code, but my neighbors have been nice about it,” Quinn joked. “I like Harleys too. I love to hear them roar.”
Sarah Zufelt, general manager of High Plains Harley-Davidson in Clovis and organizer of the Badlands Motorcycle Rally, said local appreciation for motorcycles is what makes it possible for the city to close off Main Street and receive major support from the Clovis/Curry County Chamber of Commerce and funding from area businesses.
“The reason why I do it is I want to provide a reason for people to ride and a place for them to gather and renew friendships,” Zufelt said. “I would say we’re now over 375 bikes registered and it’s safe to say we’ve had a lot more people than that here.”
Ernie Kos, executive director of the Clovis/Curry County Chamber of Commerce, said community support was demonstrated by the decision by many bikers to come to Clovis despite the rainy weather. Organizers estimated about 500 to 1,000 people had attended the festivities by Saturday afternoon with more expected for the night’s music and street party, even as rain clouds hovered on the horizon.
“It doesn’t seem to dampen anyone’s spirits here; actually, we’re pleased with the turnout considering the weather,” Kos said. “We had a huge crowd here for the (Friday night) kickstart party, more than any other year. It’s still a lot smaller than it would have been if the sun were shining.”
The motorcycle rally continues this morning with a free breakfast on Main Street for registered participants at 8 a.m., an 8:30 a.m. “Blessing of the Bikes” ceremony in the same area, and a 100-mile group ride leaving at 9 a.m.
Doug Douglas of the Christian Motorcycle Association said about 90 bikers chose to participate in last year’s Blessing of the Bikes.
“Each one of them always has something they want us to pray about,” Douglas said. “They don’t really sign up for the blessing, they just come to us.”