Yet another end of a trip goes (slightly) awry


Thanksgiving weekend, usually a weekend that my riding partner and I plan some kind of escape from drudgery. However, with both of us approaching mega-mile status this year, we were looking for alternatives to long trips. With that in mind, we planned a quick overnighter to Prescott, AZ just so we could shoot night photos of the courthouse and surrounding square. We are “into” this night photography thing lately, with Hal putting together a calendar of night photos for this coming year.

We left mid-morning on Friday so it wouldn’t be so cold (for people who live in the Phoenix area, temps. in the 50s and below is cold!), and set out through Payson, then up on the Rim, toward Camp Verde on the 260. I have to say all of the riding on this trip was spectacular. I had the best time, starting with when I rolled out of the driveway, to Fountain Hills, then onto the 87, through Payson, Pine, and Strawberry, and the 260 to Camp Verde, one of my favorites. We did not stop through that whole leg. It is one of the things we share as riding partners – hating to stop until we have to for fuel or need a break to stretch our legs. The latter usually comes sooner than having to fuel up!

For this trip, I was on my 2006 F650GS. It is not my choice lately as a road bike, but with the F800ST in the shop waiting for parts, it was my only choice. Except to stay home, but we know that is not an option for me. I was fortunate to have the larger Cee Bailey’s windscreen for this trip, borrowed from Victory BMW. Here’s how night and day that is for me: about halfway up the Beeline from Fountain Hills I finally realized that it was windy. Behind the Cee Bailey’s, it is absolutely quiet, and it sends the air right up over my helmet. Usually I have the disconcerting feeling of my head about to be torn off.

We stopped in Camp Verde for coffee, then I attached the GoPro camera to my helmet in Cottonwood as we were about to ascend to Jerome. I got some good footage of that, and I saw once again why I do not like riding very much while in Jerome. It is narrow and scary, and there is not one level spot in the whole town on which to safely park a motorbike, especially for a “petite” (short) person like me. It’s a crazy little place. I hate when pedestrians jump out in front of me and I have to stop fast, then hold the bike on a hill with my right foot on the brake and then twist the throttle to gently accelerate out of the stop on a steep hill. But I do like the scenery and enjoy twisting through the streets, so as long as I don’t have to put my feet down too many times, I am good with it.

The real fun begins after Jerome, on Mingus Mountain. It was lovely and curvy, and as we went up, there was a dusting of snow on the side of the road, like confectioners sugar blown from a bag while making Christmas cookies. Off in the distance to the north, I saw the San Francisco Peaks covered in snow from last week’s storm. So beautiful, but I didn’t dare take my eyes off the road for too long.

The little F650 went along willingly and happily, carving through the turns, both of us enjoying this rare experience. The sun dappled through the leaves, casting flickering shadows that sometimes made it difficult to see. With the sun slanting low in the sky at this time of year, the shadows can be very long. I certainly was not complaining, though, and loved every moment.

Soon, we came to Prescott and parked our bikes for the night. Later, we had a nice dinner at Gurley Street Grill, a favorite of ours, then we bundled up to be out in the frosty air for our photographic expedition. After my learning experience at Tortilla Flat the other night, my photos turned out much better this time.

Courthouse at night

The magic of the night

Everything looks different after dark

Overnight, the temperatures dipped into the 30s, or maybe even less, and we awoke cozy in our hotel on the square. We went to late breakfast, and took our time loading up. We had very little ground to cover to get home, so we waited until it got warmer. Still, both bikes were not too happy about the cold and it took a little extra urging to get them going. Then, it was on to the White Spars area for some more twisties. I tried to capture this on video as well, but something happened and I only got a few minutes of it. Sometimes these little problems, even though I try my hardest to prevent them, get tiresome. I am still not sure why I did not get the video for this section.

These turns are perfect up near White Spars, and Hal is good at riding them. He was soon far ahead of me, but I was enjoying my bike. I had the thought that I’d have to come back soon and bring the ST because Pearl would love these turns. I think I’d be faster on her, too. They are all rhythmic and consistent, with almost no decreasing radius turns to worry about, although there are a few tight ones to keep your concentration focused.

All too soon we were descending Yarnell Hill, and then it was just blah old flat straight road all the way into Wickenburg, then on to the 74 past Lake Pleasant. As we passed Boulders OHV area, I could feel the magnetic pull of it, a little voice saying, “bring your dirt bike back here soon!!” I loved it when I rode it with Jim G. and the guys. Hard to believe it was a year ago that I did that on my TTR-125.

We stopped at the famous Chevron station at Carefree Hwy. to get juice and say good-bye, our trip coming to an end already. It was too short, as always. We got back on the bikes, and we parted at the 101/I-17 split to go our separate ways home. But, as I was to find out, that was not the end of my adventure.

I sailed down the 101, keeping a good pace, but still not keeping up with traffic. People always want to do 90 on that road, but with the little bike, I was not going to match that. So, I stayed in the diamond lane almost until the 60 split, then stayed to the right on the 60. All was well until I exited at Gilbert Rd., and then as I made the turn onto Gilbert Rd., I heard a “clunk” and knew my chain had either broken or jumped the rear sprocket!

I coasted into a gore point at the next left, then turned on my flashers. I shut the bike down and got off to take a look. The chain was sitting above the rear sprocket, but nothing looked too bad since I had pulled the clutch right away and not asked any more of it. A man came running up to help me, talking about riding and bikes the whole time he was helping me push. I really appreciated that because I was tired and not sure I could push my 400 lb. bike very far, although I was ready to push it the two miles home if I had to. The man who helped me is a rider as well, so he was more inclined to help me than the typical cagers. He left me when we got the bike to safety, and I immediately got on the phone.

Hal was apparently not home yet as he didn’t answer his phone, so the next place to call was Victory BMW. Jim at first thought I was calling to bug him about if my parts came in on the F800ST, but then promptly sent Charlie to rescue me with the trailer. As luck would have it, Charlie was in the area. He graciously delivered me to my doorstep in about 10 minutes. Only I could be that lucky, as Hal always says.

So, I had a great trip, but now I realize I have managed to “break” both my BMWs, although both situations should be fairly easy fixes at this point. The plan for Sunday was to go dirt riding since I only have the Yamaha left as two-wheeled transportation, but with the rain, Hal and I decided to go two-up to coffee, then have the rest of the day for catching up on “doing stuff” that needs done around the house.

You know how that is: pleasant time spent on the bike always has to be paid for dearly with tasks of drudgery, like laundry, cleaning, visiting, and of course the all-time most dreaded, thinking about work rearing its ugly head on Monday morning. Ugh.

When’s that next trip??

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