Long riding day, part 2

Above: My F650GS bike in Death Valley. I am on the left, Hal is on the right, on a BMW F800GS.


(continued from yesterday’s post)

At the breakfast table at Crosswinds Grill on Sunday, the talk was about – bikes! Ours, other people’s, dream bikes, bikes we’d had, bikes we’d wrecked, you know, the usual. Places we’d gone, adventures we’d had. And speaking of bikes, the phone call was from a guy that Hal had contacted about a Suzuki DR650 that was for sale. Previously, they’d tried to arrange a meet-up to see the bike, and it was difficult because the bike “lives” in Dewey, near Prescott, Arizona. The bike’s owner was offering to meet us at 5 p.m. at the Cordes Junction exit of I-17. But I didn’t find this out until after we’d eaten, stood around talking for half an hour, and then Hal and I were the last to leave.

Of course we decided to see the bike. We debated about going home first, or finding a way to kill four hours up there in Payson. I eventually came up with the idea of riding Lake Mary Rd. to Flagstaff, a ride that is a favorite of ours. “That sounds great!” said Hal, enthusiastically. My mind started to take stock of what I had – my bike, Jewel, that I didn’t really want to put too many miles on (that’s what the F800ST is for), and possibly not enough clothes to be warm. But, then I thought, what would I rather be doing? Messing around with stupid logistics in the hot valley, or riding in the cool air, and possibly feeling deliciously cold on a nice long ride? It was a no-brainer. I hadn’t been on a long, carefree day ride in very long time, much less one on Jewel. If we kept the pace to around 70-75 mph, depending on where we were, she would be perfectly willing to go.

We left the Crosswinds parking lot a little after 12 noon or so, and rode north out of Payson on the 260. We were also hoping for the crafts fair in Pine to be on, but it wasn’t, it was still two weeks away. A couple of miles out of Pine, the odometer on the GS turned over to 47,000 miles! It was literally a great milestone, especially since a year and a half ago I wondered if I would ever ride it again. As we passed through Pine and Strawberry, I could already feel how much cooler it was getting. We kept going up, climbing up onto the Rim, and once we were up, the temperature had dropped significantly.

It was absolutely beautiful up there. The air seemed washed clean by the storm, the sky was bright blue and full of big white or gray-ish clouds, and the sun was golden. The pines had the jaded late-season look, and there were hints of autumn to come in the plants low to the ground, which are always the first ones to change colors.

I was wearing the “Evanescence” jacket with a couple of layers underneath it. I think because it fits me closely it keeps me warmer, and I was not uncomfortable at all in the cooler temperatures. I also had the liner in my new mesh pants (the zipper finally broke on the old ones). It had to be in the low to mid 50s F., and normally I would want my heated jacket liner at that temperature, but I didn’t today, I was very happy to be cool, bordering on cold. Every time I felt more towards “cold,” I turned on my heated grips. It is amazing how holding onto something warm can make the rest of me feel warm as well.

We rode along, and I felt how wonderful Jewel was. Gosh, it’s been a long time since I’ve enjoyed this bike so much, I thought. She was flowing along happily beneath me, purring contentedly. I also thought how she had never felt this good, even before the engine failure and rebuild. I don’t think the engine was ever put together as “right” as it is now. We turned onto Lake Mary Rd., a lovely road that runs through the tall evergreen trees. In fact, it seems that Lake Mary Rd. is mainly a way to get to the hundreds of dirt roads that radiate from it. Every time I am on it I wonder where each dirt road goes. Hal and I have even talked about staying somewhere up near Flagstaff, use that as our base camp as we have done with Alpine the past few years, and explore every one of those roads. The idea is an intriguing, exciting one for me.

When we got to the far east end of Mormon Lake, which is a vast dry lakebed, it was so pretty, as it always is this time of year. The grasses were turning golden in the fall weather, and they made a carpet of gold-green that seemed to lead to the mountains in the distance. The wind was blowing very hard, as it always is, but it wasn’t quite as cold as I’d thought it would be. I was still very comfortable, though I thought I’d be cold by now. The wind was coming at us from an angle, from the left front area, but Jewel’s windscreen seemed to protect me enough. I love the seating position on this bike because I feel like I am sitting down into the bike, and protected by that big awesome windscreen. Remember, this is the bike that I rode through the raging winter storm 2-1/2 years ago on the way home from Death Valley.


Tomorrow: Whose new bike are we going to look at?


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