IGNACIO – They come from everywhere: Dallas, Albuquerque, Phoenix, Denver, Taos, Santa Fe, California, Washington, Oregon, Indiana – even Durango.
It’s hard to miss the steady stream of bikers from all directions thundering around Durango and the vicinity for the 2014 Four Corners Motorcycle Rally this weekend, and Ignacio, its epicenter, is flat-out overrun with them.
Mel Silva, rally coordinator for the Ignacio fairgrounds, where much of the action has occurred, said they are beyond the 2013 attendance of 10,000.
“Organized chaos is what this is,” he said. “Much bigger than last year’s.”
Silva said there was something for everyone – motorcycle or not.
“You don’t have to own a bike to come to a rally,” he said. “They’re just so much fun.”
While running back and forth between best-bike contests, tattoo contests, raffles and live music, Silva stopped by the pavilion where a biker rodeo was in full swing.
And so were the live bulls – rowdy, moody bulls that were in no mood to have anyone on their backs. They bashed the gates and horned corral fences as they were led into the arena. Sixteen brave souls signed up – half cowboy, half biker, all daring – to ride angry beasts bigger than the bikes outside. The bleachers were packed.
As of 3 p.m. Saturday, the leading bull rider was hauled off on a stretcher, unconscious.
That didn’t help calm the nerves of James McWhinney, a first-time rider from Bloomfield, New Mexico.
“It’s not the getting on the bull,” he said. “It’s getting off of it.”
A few seconds later, McWhinney made it back into the gates safe and exhilarated.
“That was so cool,” he said. “What a major, major rush.”
Next door, people sat or laid still as tattoo artists guided their buzzing guns over their skin. Above the leather-clad crowd’s commotion, zipliners hurled by.
Lynette Wilson took third in the Loudest Pipes competition, where bikers could let it rip in a contest of whose bike rang the most decibels.
Having ridden from Montrose to Ignacio, she said motorcycles make her feel free.
“It’s nice just to be able to ride,” she said.
Kurt Radford of Aztec melted a brand-new rear tire for the big crowd in a Burn Out Pit display, where his stationary spinning wheel hit 147 mph, emitting a cloud of smoke that hid both man and machine.
“This is just letting the kid out,” he said. “We all work our (butts) off. Why not have a little fun?”
While authorities noted the presence of a few outlaw motorcycle gangs, Loveland’s Ross Lampshire of Soldiers for Jesus – sporting shades, tattoos and piercings – said the outlaw image can be misleading.
“We’re here preaching to our brothers,” he said. “You can’t judge a book by its cover.”
The rally will continue today, with a deafening parade slated for 11 a.m. on Main Avenue in downtown Durango and a full list of other events.