Monday. Felt like Sunday.
I bundled up before I got on the bike this morning, thinking about last week when I ended up cold and wet. No rain today, but I still did not want to be cold. After putting on actual winter riding pants and an extra layer under my winter coat, I left the house and felt comfortable. As I passed a nearby corner, I saw an empty Christmas tree lot. Yes, the Christmas madness is over for this year. That lot started out in October as a pumpkin lot for Halloween. How could it be after Christmas already? The best four months of the year are over, and now I will have to wait until next September for everything to be great again, although the next few months should be nice and cool. If we’re lucky, there will also be plenty of rain and snow storms to enjoy.
I met up with Hal, my riding partner, and after breakfast we decided to go get some points for our contest. So, we headed up to Tonto National Monument, a destination for the contest, which features some cliff dwellings. I’ve been to the cliff dwellings before, so we just stopped at the sign at the entrance to get the requisite photo. Besides, we had other places to go
I had chosen to ride my dual sport bike, my BMW F650GS, today because we were going to ride Apache Trail, an easy, but unpaved, road. We had to backtrack a little bit from Tonto National Monument to get to Roosevelt Dam and the Apache Trail, but only a few miles. Before we hit the dirt, we hit the bathrooms at the far side of the dam, aired down my tires a little, and got on the dirt. I’d forgotten how much fun I used to have riding this bike on unpaved roads. I didn’t have much fun with those horrible tires that I finally got rid of last week. It was an expensive lesson, but I am glad I got rid of them in favor of the stock Tourances, the brand and type of tire that had originally come on the bike.
After about 10 miles, we reached the road to Apache Lake. At the overlook, this was the view:
The blue of the lake was stunning from this perspective, so we stopped. Then we got back on the bikes and rode to the lake. It was a photo destination, and I had never been down to the lake before. That road is very steep and I had always thought it was unpaved, but it turned out to be paved! We quickly descended to the lake, and took our contest photos. Here is mine:
The road was a little “marble-y,” with gravel on top of packed dirt, but I never even slipped once with my new tires. The road was in great shape, and it looked like it had recently been graded. Here is part of the road:
At last we got to the last big climb, up Fish Creek Hill. It was beautiful at the bottom, and we stopped to take photos. I hadn’t been down, or up, the hill for years, so I was a little apprehensive, especially after what I’ve been through the past months with those tires. They made me afraid to ride anything, even simple, easy roads, so I was hoping this would work out okay.
The road is narrow, and up on top there is no guard rail with a several hundred foot drop on the right. I was going to be on the outside of a single lane road with fairly heavy traffic. I started up, and whispered to Jewel, “please help me make it up this unscathed!” However, as I rode up, I didn’t know what I had been worried about. There was plenty of room, and there was a berm graded to the right as well as a metal strip that passed as a “guard rail.” It wouldn’t have stopped anything from happening, but the psychological effect was priceless. I have always been able to put Jewel into tiny little slots and ride right through, and I was not scared to do so this time either. We met some fairly large vehicles who wanted to take up the whole road, but I just smiled as I squeezed through. When I got up on top, I thought, “well, that was easy!” and the next thing I knew I was back on pavement. I was so elated because as I said earlier, I had forgotten how much fun I used to have on this bike.
Traffic was heavy as the road wound toward Tortilla Flat and Canyon Lake, and no one was courteous enough to pull over. There were too many of them, and if they’d gone any slower, they would have been in reverse. I enjoyed the ride, though, and soon we were back in Apache Junction. After a quick run down the freeway, we ended up in the usual place for coffee.
It was another great day of riding, but as usual, it was over too soon. At least I don’t have to go to work tomorrow!