Sunday, October 2, 2011
After much deliberation, (Kearny? or Flagstaff?) my riding partner and I decided to ride our original plan for the day, which was to go north to Flagstaff. The biggest consideration was mileage. The BMW motorcycle owners group runs a mileage contest from April to October, which is outside our best weather for riding, but I enter the contest anyway. Also, it is the start of our local club’s Rider’s Cup Challenge, which challenges participants to ride to different destinations, each worth points, and at the end prizes are awarded. So, today we went north to find three of the destinations for the local contest, and also ride some more miles for the national contest, which ends at midnight next Sunday. I plan on doing a good weekend’s worth next week as well.
I reached a milestone with my bike, which I’ve owned for almost three years now. On the way to breakfast, I reached 50,000 miles on the odometer! I was excited because every mile on this bike is mine, I bought this bike brand new.
After breakfast we headed up toward Flagstaff, AZ. I hoped we’d get into some nice cool rain, and as we approached town, it looked like I would get my wish. We pulled over here so we could put on at least our rain jackets.
The clouds darkened as we went through Flagstaff. We exited the freeway at Hwy. 89, and the sky was very dark. A couple of miles down the road, the rain began to fall heavily. Luckily, we were only a couple of miles away from the gas station that we always stop at. We were getting wet so we pulled in and stopped at a pump under the canopy. We filled up, and hung out there for a while as we waited for the storm to pass. Some other riders pulled in. They were going south and said the rain didn’t last too long up the road, which is what we figured. I went inside to get a chocolate bar, and I also found one of those cool/goofy hats that I’ve been wanting for a while. It was blue and had white snowflakes on it, so I had to have it.
It was my souvenir for the day. It also ended up being the perfect thing to put my camera in when I put it inside my side case for easy access.
Up and over the hill, the rain tapered off, and soon we turned off at the Sunset Crater/Wupatki National Monument, which was our first destination of the day.
I had been to Sunset Crater with my schoolkids (field trip) one year, and found the lava fields fascinating. It was beautiful today, under a cloudy sky and light rain. We rode through it slowly.
Soon after this photo was taken, we wound through more of the park, and came to a breathtaking vista of the painted desert in the distance while we, miles away, remained under darkening skies.
It wasn’t long before we came upon the marker that bore the name of the monument, the object of this part of the ride. I posted my photos for the contest where appropriate.
The sun was still in and out of the clouds with the clouds darkening once again and dominating the day. This is why I went north again today, I wanted to find some cool air and rain in which to ride, and I got to enjoy that several times during the day. As we left the park loop, lightning flashed almost overhead, and I felt the spattering of the first fat drops of rain. I rolled up to the stop sign at Hwy. 89, and when I saw there was no traffic, I quickly made the turn and headed north. Let’s get the hell out of here! I thought, then laughed inside my helmet, and I opened the throttle.
The wind was blowing from the west, as usual, as we got on the 89, and it was cool and pleasant. We made good time and soon we turned into Cameron Trading Post, the second destination of the day.
We took a break at Cameron after the photos, had some coffee and the chocolate bar as we listened to all the different languages being spoken by various tourists, mostly, it seemed, German. Guess this pokey little place is big on the list of “must sees” for Europeans.
Then we were back on the bikes, headed to Flagstaff. Where the road began to rise toward Flagstaff, we once again put on rain gear. The San Francisco Peaks were all but obscured by black clouds and I was getting cold. As we got closer, we could see sheets of rain advancing toward us, and almost in the same exact spot where the rain started when we were riding north, it happened again as we rode south. It was a cool rain, heavy in some areas, and it rained off and on as we got onto I-40, then I-17 toward Phoenix.
We came off the I-17 at Camp Verde for fuel, then found the Crazy Kokopelli Trading Post, another destination for the contest. It boasts the world’ largest Kokopelli, and after I took my t-shirt photo, I took one of the giant Kokopelli:
At this point, we decided to take I-17 south to Phoenix. Our original plan called for us to ride the 260 east toward Strawberry and Pine, then Payson, then take the 87 to home, but it was getting late in the day and since we both have to work Monday morning, we wanted to get home as soon as possible to get some “down time” in the evening.
By the time we passed Sunset Point rest stop followed by the final descent into the Phoenix area, I was back in the heat. Really? I thought, we still have to have 100° temperatures at 6 p.m. on October 2??? I am ready for this miserable heat to end for the year. The heat stayed with me all the way in, hovering around 98° the entire time until I got to my neighborhood where the presence of big trees and lots of lawns made the temperature drop to 85°. I am so very sick of sweating.
Another great riding day came to and end as I rolled the bike into the garage, 468 miles to the good, and then got all my gear off. I was tired, but it was a good tired! More adventures to come next week!