~Since 2004~
A site about memories, thoughts, photos, and unrepentant opinions about motorcycles and motorcycling after four decades of twisting the throttle.

Monday, March 28, 2005

800 Miles of Flowers - Enough Already

on the road between Casa Grande and Coolidge

Wildflowers are a good reason to ride. Even rough, tough bikers are impressed by the display nature puts on during Spring in the desert. Last weekend I went wandering a bit with Darin and his Caponord and this past Friday it was me & Angrybob and our Capos burning up the back roads between stops to smell the flowers and take pictures. Is it ok to for guys to stop an admire flowers if you rode 120 mph to get there?

Between flowers and pictures we managed about 200 miles including some triple digit sweepers and a tasty lunch at Raul & Theresa's Mexican Restaurant in Goodyear. R&T have right-up- front parking spaces for motorcycles and that alone makes them worth visiting for lunch or dinner. Try the House Special, very tasty.

Saturday I decided the Kawasaki 1600 was feeling neglected so I rolled it out for a short run around. First stop was the Kawasaki shop to browse the '05 models on the show floor. The 1600 is over two years old now and that means it's time to think about replacing it with something else. Why you ask? Well...because...uh...because. No logic, no justification, just want a new scooter (again). I guess if I don't loose my shirt selling a newer bike too soon every couple of years life just doesn't make sense. I wonder what that Vulcan 2000 is like?

After the shop visit I wound my way back to Casa Grande and then over towards my familiar haunts in Coolidge and Florence. I say haunts with a bit of dry humor because once again I found myself stopping at the old Adamsville Cemetery. This time I wanted to see how the place looked in it's spring greenery. When last I was there it was desert dry and forlorn, a somber place. With all the flowers and rain it's now green and forlorn but not quite as somber. I need to rustle up the pictures I took a few months ago and post it here with the most recent one.

As always the big Kaw was trouble free to ride, a starkly different bike than the Aprilia but still a very pleasant ride, especially when one wants to think about things other than late braking and speed limit breaking. Despite the fact that I didn't actually go anywhere in particular I still rolled up 200 miles in the course of the day.

Sunday I got up and for some reason didn't really feel like riding. I sat in the big comfy chair in the living room pondering this and decided that since it was Sunday, a holiday, little traffic about, and a perfect blue sky day with kind temperatures, that I'd be as dumb as a box of rocks to waste such a day. So off I went to see Kitt Peak National Observatory and points there about.

The Aprilia was rolled out of the garage rather than the Kaw because for traveling and winding roads the Aprilia beats the Kaw hands down. Just based on thought of listening to the exhaust all day the Aprilia wins. The Italian v-twin makes the most wonderful sound when you roll off the gas for a curve, blip the throttle once for the downshift, shift and then start the roll on after the apex. I know with modern gearboxes there's no need to blip the trottle for a downshift like we did in the old days but it just sounds so darned nice. I don't even care that much if I'm fast or slow in the corner, whether my line and apex is corrent, or my braking was clunky. I just love to listen to the motor work up and down.

Kitt Peak is worth a visit for the ride, the view, and the observatories

Kitt Peak is about 100 miles or so southwest of me and the observatories are located at about 7,000 feet. As much as anything I wanted to see what the desert looked like from above since down at ground level the foliage tends to block a lot of the view of the small flowers that are carpeting the Sonoran Desert right now. The road up Kitt Peak is one of the better know rides in Arizona with about 12 miles of winding road and spectacular views. Unfortunately the road surfaces is less than ideal, rough and cover everywhere with tar strip repairs. During the cooler temps that just makes for a rough ride but when the weather warms the tar strips become slippery and invite catastrophe.

The ride up the mountain was real fun, I rode in shall we say "a sporting fashion" and there were only about three cars to be dispatched on the way up the mountain. I'm pretty sure I didn't do anything real unsafe or whatever but the sightseers in the SUV and station wagons might have seen it differently. I've wondered sometimes what car people think or say when a bike blows by them on a mountain road at several times their speed and in a blink disappears around the curve in the road clearly marked "30 MPH." Probably best not to know. I like to imagine that the kids are amazed, mom is horrified, and dad is annoyed but secretly envious.

After Kitt Peak (went there, got the t-shirt) I looped around and did Aravaca Road, again at a sporting pace (for me). I did stop of course and shoot some pictures at a favorite spot before doing the second half of the road. I noticed this time that there seems to be more houses out there now...and I use the term "house" in a loose sense. "Forty acres and mule" is still some people's dream and they are trying to living it out with 3 acres, a singlewide mobile home, and a faded 1990 Chevy Malibu with 900,000 miles on it. There's a story hidden in that last sentence but I still need to calm down when I think about it before I can write it out. Let's just say for now that some moron came within a hair breadth of ruining my day and probably the rest of my life.

east of Aravaca, just off the road a ways

OK, so I did Aravaca which is a fun, fun road on the eastern half, and then found myself at the little town of Amado and I-19. Yuk. What to do? The little town of Tubac, which has been there since 1750-something is about 15 miles to the south and I know for a fact has a good deli so off I went down the slab. As always Tubac is interesting in a touristy, artsy, historical way. Whenever I stop there I see amazing Southwestern art goodies and copper and steel metal sculpture that would look great in or around my house but as I'm always on the bike with no room for such things I've saved a small fortune in money not spent.

After a late lunch in Tubac I hopped back on I-19 and headed north with the intend of slabbing it the 100 miles or so back to home. Yuk. Rolling up the freeway I was mildly bummed at the thought of riding the freeway home but what else to do? The Aravaca exit loomed and without thinking a whole bunch about it I took the exit and headed back up Aravaca Road running it east to west for the first time. I have to say that the road, as fun as it is, seems more fun when ridden east to west. I was riding into the now lowering sun but the road was highlighted in a way that made the long dips and curves look even more pronounced. Running east to west there's even a downhill curve that when I hit it reminded me of the "Corkscrew" at Laguna Seca. Maybe not as dramatic as Laguna but still a whale of a lot of fun to drop into and around at 80 mph+.

After Aravaca road it was time to just sit in on the straight desert roads and kill bugs until I got home. I still couldn't bring myself to get on the freeway so when I got back up to Marana and I-10 I stuck to the access road that parallels the freeway and made nearly as good a time back to Casa Grande and without the traffic and unpleasantness of the freeway. Arrived home just after sunset, my butt a moderately tired, the rest of me a little tired, and another 400 miles rolled up on the Caponord. Sure glad I didn't waste that day, it really would have been dumb, especially in July when it's 110° and that particular ride would be undoable.

Odd thing, despite riding 800 miles this weekend I didn't take all that many pictures. When the riding is good and there's a choice between a sweet road and taking pictures, the motorcycle still wins the argument over the camera. A few pictures from the weekend are here if you're interested.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Love it! Some of my rides are so "flowery" they're painful. Last August I wrote about a ride in CO, which was supposed to be a macho dual-sport ride (and was) but I ended up waxing poetic about the wildflowers almost more than the ride (which was great!). http://www.carlaking.com/transamtrail/dispatch1.html

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