For a day ride, today’s ride turned out to be one of the best ones in recent memory because it held many of the things we live for as motorcycle riders.
Hal and I met up at one of our usual meeting places and soon we were on the way to Road Runner restaurant, a favorite breakfast spot. Except today all they had was “breakfast buffet,” which I hate, because for me it isn’t worth it since I don’t eat much. So, we paid nine bucks for basically eggs and toast, but were assured by the waitress that this wouldn’t be a normal Sunday thing.
After breakfast, our plan was to ride to Camp Verde, then ride the 260 toward Strawberry and Pine. We cruised up the 17, and soon it began to get cooler, but we reached the General Crook Trail exit way too soon. I got Hal to pull over and after a quick discussion, we decided to go on to Flagstaff. The lure of cool temperatures and the building clouds was too much for us.
One thing I have come to realize as time has gone by is that there simply is never enough road in front of me. I wanted to go up to the cool air and maybe, I thought, if I were lucky enough, I would run into rain. How prophetic my desires turned out to be.
We rode toward Flagstaff, and as we rode, the temperature dropped. It was an absolutely beautiful day up north, with the cool air and brilliant sun, and to the north were dark silver clouds that we knew probably contained rain. Indeed, by the time the San Francisco Peaks should have come into view, we realized that they were obscured by a wall of rain!
As we reached the exit for Mountainaire, I could see the rain on the road up ahead. It was splashing up and making a silver mist near the surface of the road. I stopped to put on my rain jacket. I was going to do with that, but I looked up the road to where Hal had finally stopped and saw him putting on rain pants. I thought then that I probably should, too, even though I was hot and thought that the rain would feel good!
We got into the rain immediately, and it rained quite hard! We exited at Lake Mary Rd., and soon turned into the Chevron gas station to fuel up. While there, the rain let up a bit, but I could see that black clouds were coming our way from the San Francisco Peaks. I attached the GoPro camera so it would be easy to turn it on when I got down the road, out of town where it was pretty. I also took my rain pants off because I was hot!
We no sooner got back on the road than it started to rain – hard. As we went through an area where there was a running race going on, the SUV in front of us slowed down to 30 mph, and we were stuck behind it. The runners looked soaked and some seemed like they wanted to get out of it. Meanwhile, we were going slow in the heavy rain so my legs and feet got absolutely soaked, but on top I was still warm and dry under my rain jacket.
The rain was so beautiful! Heavy at times, it fell from lowering black rain clouds overhead, and I was happier and happier as we went along. I loved feeling warm inside my raincoat, my helmet was not leaking (I was wearing the X-Eleven), and the visor was cracked open at the bottom and not fogging or leaking, and I could see through it! It’s been a long time since I could say that. My hands, wet inside my gloves (I refuse to wear anything but thin Moto-cross gloves), were a little cold, but I resorted to the old trick of turning on my heated grips. It kind of has the same effect as holding a hot cup of coffee, and it made me feel comfortable. We rode for miles this way, and all I could think of was how great it was. The day was so dark, the foliage so green, the rain was pelting down, and I was on my bike. Comparing notes later, Hal and I found we’d had the same thought (probably at the same moment, too, which is typical of us) which was “this is what I live for!!”
I finally pulled over near the end of Lake Mary when it was safe to do so and turned on the camera. We were mostly through that rainstorm, and behind me, I saw the black clouds closing down.
The sky overhead was still dark and I hoped to run into more rain, which we did. We were in and out of it in varying intensities through Clint’s Well, and into Strawberry and Pine, where we finally pulled over to get a cup of coffee as the sky began to clear as we went south. We stopped at Randall House, which was just closing for the day, and although they didn’t have any coffee left, they had tea and pie. I really wanted something hot, though, so it was a bit of a disappointment.
We sat outside and relaxed, watched the sky change in myriad ways, and soon it was time to mount up again for the journey home.
The rain did follow us all the way to Payson, and it advanced toward us even as we left Payson on the 87. A wide silver veil of rain sat in the valley to the northwest of Rye, and I had to stop and take a photo. I should have stopped farther up, but it wasn’t safe to do so in the heavy traffic. I’ve missed this shot twice now because of the traffic.
Soon we were back in the heat and had to return home, but it was a great riding day. Every day that I ride is a great riding day, but today was especially so.