Was I just writing the other day about the heat while on a ride? I was! And now here I am with a story from the other end of the weather spectrum – cold and snow!
A few weeks before this, we rode in Death Valley where it was almost 100° F., and then we roasted in the unseasonable heat here at home. This time I put my jacket liner and pants liner back in. The forecast said highs in the 40°s F. for Flagstaff, with a small chance of rain. Oh gosh I hope so, I thought.
Hal and I headed out of town and soon got on the Beeline Hwy. Just past Fountain Hills after our first fuel stop, we were attempting to get back on the Beeline when we saw that a big plastic cooler had fallen out of a pickup truck into the roadway. The man who had dropped it was trying to pick up the mess before traffic smashed it. All the stuff that was in the cooler fell out, too, and the guy was trying to pick that up as well. He was blocking the left lane, and his vehicle was parked on the right side shoulder. Then an SUV stopped in the left lane to keep traffic from the hitting the first man. Everyone slowed down.
Hal and I were waiting at the light to turn right. Hal started to go, but still being very “gun shy,” I thought to myself, I am not getting into that mess. Our intercom system was still not working, so I wasn’t able to tell Hal to wait. He pulled out, and just then a young woman driving a silver car came barreling through the scene, not paying any attention. I don’t know how she managed not to hit anyone. If she’d hit that SUV from behind, she could have killed the people on the roadway in front it.
As it was, she came very close to Hal as she slithered through the small space between him and the right shoulder. I don’t know how she didn’t hit him. She was completely oblivious to the whole thing until she got past the scene. Then, as realization washed over her, she slowed way down, like maybe she figured out what just almost happened and actually cared about the people she might have hit. It made me freak out again about what happened to me.
When we got to Payson, we pulled in at a Circle K so Hal could put on more clothing layers since he was already getting cool. I asked Hal if he knew how dangerously close that woman in the silver car had come to him. “Yep,” he said in a flat voice, “about four inches.” I shuddered.
We left Payson behind and climbed up on the Mogollon Rim. It was in the 50°s F., not too cool yet. We pulled over again at Clint’s Well to turn on the video cameras. I thought again about how I should always have a video camera on while in the car (if I ever drive again) or on a bike in case an accident happens. Today I could have caught that “almost accident” in Fountain Hills.
Lake Mary Rd., when we got to it, was as pleasant as it always is. It is one of my favorite roads. There were many piles of snow on the sides of the road, evidence of last week’s storm. The snow was melting, the water running merrily from the snow banks, racing along the sides of the road. Before I knew it, we had reached the east end of Mormon Lake – a beautiful sight on any day, but today especially so. I saw that it was wet and marshy, not dry like it usually is. There were clouds building to the west, over the mountains and Flagstaff. I had hoped to get into some rain, and the presence of clouds made me happy (or as happy as I get these days).
By this time we’d ridden 170+ miles, and we stopped at the usual place to fuel up before riding into Flagstaff. I found that my F800ST got 67.7 mpg, which isn’t unusual for that bike. Then we rode into Flagstaff, to the Indian restaurant that we like. Yes, we rode all those miles just to have lunch at that particular restaurant (and enjoy our bikes, of course). As we pulled in to park, clouds blocked out the sun and it started to rain, and with the rain there were a few flurries of snow.
Hal and I had a nice leisurely lunch at the Indian buffet. Foods like Chicken Tikka Masala, naan bread, and then to finish it off, the coffee was excellent, too. We took our time, talking and planning future road trips. Soon the restaurant emptied, and we knew it was time to leave.
Outside, it had been sun and clouds while we ate, but now a dark squall line advanced on us from the south. We saw it as we walked out to the bikes. We’d better gear up and get out of here, I thought, even though I secretly wanted to be IN it.
Just then, a young guy got out of the pickup truck that was parked right next to us. “Hey, that’s the exact bike I’m interested in!” he exclaimed to Hal, looking at his F800GS. The two guys got into a big conversation about the GS while the rain got heavier and heavier, and soon turned to snow. The sky was getting darker by the minute. I was getting wet because I couldn’t put my helmet on. I ride with earplugs and it is difficult to hear people talking with them in, unless it is Hal on the intercom. While I was standing there, I put my rain gear on so the rest of me wouldn’t get wet. I couldn’t believe that the guy was making us stand there talking to him while we got wet. Obviously he was not a rider!
The snow was getting heavy, and piling up on the seat of my bike. It was also starting to stick to the ground, and I began to think about riding on ice. Finally, the conversation ended, I was able to get my helmet on over my now-wet hair, and we got on the bikes. I carefully negotiated the parking lot maze, but by the time we got to Lake Mary Rd. again it wasn’t snowing so much. Then it re-intensified as we rode past Lake Mary, which was very full.
The storm was hot on our heels, as they say, coming up behind us. But we had planned to stop at the overlook to take pictures, so we did. Especially since the sky, the colors, and the rain were so beautiful.
My dashboard temperature readout was flashing, warning me that the temperature was 37° F., close to freezing. The storm was catching up, so after we finished taking photos, we got back on the bikes and rode out of the storm.
Soon we were in sun and clouds again, but the temperature stayed low. I was not cold or uncomfortable at all, surprisingly. My hands/gloves had gotten wet while the big conversation in the parking lot was going on, but I’d found a pair of old gloves in the bottom of my travel bag and put them on, replacing my wet pair. With the heated grips turned up, I was comfortable.
It was a lovely ride back through Clint’s well, then Strawberry, then Pine, then Payson, where we stopped for coffee again. My hair was still wet in back where it was pulled into a ponytail! I sipped my coffee slowly and sadly, knowing I would soon be riding back into the heat.
I was a little tired, mostly from all the stress in my life lately.
The sun was sinking by then, we’d gotten kind of a late start on the day, but the clouds were golden at the horizon. We rode together from Payson, winding down the Beeline into the hot city, then Hal left me and we each rode home in the dark. Our total mileage was about 350+ miles, and about 80 miles more for Hal.
It was a wonderful day, and I’d enjoyed the crazy weather. Now all we have to do is figure out the intercom issue that we are having. It is so difficult riding without communication now that we’ve gotten used to it. I don’t know how Hal and I rode together all those years that we weren’t able to talk to each other whenever we felt like it!