Hal and I were with our friend, Don S., riding to Young, AZ. It was the first ride for me on my new-to-me 2001 Suzuki DR650.
We descended on the last dirt switchbacks into the south end of Young. As usual, there was no one else on the road, and soon we were in the Antlers parking lot, parking the bikes. I will be honest, I was cold enough to want a hot cup of coffee despite my pleading for the cold weather to begin. I should have been better prepared with warmer clothing, including my heated jacket liner. Don got off his bike at the restaurant and said, “Please tell me I’m not the only one that’s freezing!” Hal said, “No, I am freezing, too!” We parked in the sun, and left our gear on the bikes, hoping that it would be nice and warm when we put it back on.
We went inside to the warmth of the restaurant. The Antlers is a restaurant literally resurrected from its ashes. It burned to the ground a few years ago, and after that was re-created under new ownership, and with a new building. Good thing, the old building was old and funky. Also filthy, and made of wood, which explains why it went up in flames so quickly. Now, the beautiful new restaurant mocks the old, but in a good way. The food is good, the building is clean. I know I’ve said it before, but it’s worth the trip from the Valley. Hal and I split a sandwich, and Don had a full lunch. Hal and I saved room for dessert, which was peach cobbler served with ice cream that was absolutely heavenly.
Then it was time to get back on the bikes, and it wasn’t any warmer outside. In fact, it seemed even colder, even in the sun. The cold wind was still blowing hard, clawing at the warmth we’d stored up from inside. We quickly geared up and set off into the wind. Before we left Young, we fueled up at Buddi Gas because it was going to be a long way back to the Valley, and we already had over 120 miles on that tank of fuel. Then we were on the way.
The 512 north out of Young is paved – for a while. First, it rises out of town past Poco Dinero Ranch, and then twists through the area that was ravaged by the Poco fire a couple of summers ago. Once we got up to the flatter, higher area beyond that, the road turned to dirt once again. It used to be a trauma for me to be in the dirt on the GS bike, now I wish I could always be on the dirt. It took getting the KLX to find out what a real dirt bike felt like, and how the suspension is supposed to work. The DR is the same comfortable ride, especially since I had Tom, the suspension expert, set it up right for me. He does it once and does it right.
Me as blur:
We flew along, stopping once for a photo op. Hal wanted to stop more, I am sure, but I knew Don was cold and wanted to get home reasonably quickly. I wanted to get home, too, to watch Sunday Night Football, but I also wanted some IR photos. I was thinking of the area near Christopher Creek, the loop that goes north of the 260, but we didn’t stop until we got close to home.
The dirt road was over way too quickly, and then we were on the last paved stretch, about five miles of it and the most recently paved, that took us up to Hwy. 260. We turned left then, and we were on the 260, one of my favorite roads on the Mogollon Rim. Before I knew it, we were descending off the Rim, and I thought it would get warmer. It always does in the summer. Not today. At least it didn’t get appreciably warmer. I was enjoying my day, loving every moment, but I was shivering. It was okay, though, it was nice to be cold!
As we went through Payson, it got warmer, and then as we descended through the four turns on Hwy. 87 going south toward home, we got to Rye, where it is always hot in the summer. It was a little bit warmer still, but by then I had “embraced the cold,’ and was simply enjoying my first day on the wonderful DR. I could hardly believe that it worked out for me so well. And to think that on the day that I officially bought the bike, I was having second thoughts.
The night before I got the bike, I had been looking on CL at horses, yes, horses, and there was a paint half-Arabian that looked like the perfect horse for me. I was almost thinking that this was the point at which I should decide, is it going to be horses, or bikes? I’d already told myself that there is no way I can have another horse of my own, but yet there I was, thinking of it again. But, I had already said I would buy the bike, and it was too late to back out. I knew at the time that I was just being ridiculous, and I should enjoy the fact that I was finally getting the DR that I wanted. In hindsight, I am glad I stayed with the decision that I did. I suppose it’s time to accept that that part of my life is over, much as I never wanted it to be. The time to be strong and hold onto the horse dream is long past, and it is also long past time to move on.
When we got to Fountain Hills, almost home, we ran into a huge cluster of traffic created by a local triathlon race. It was horrible, and it delayed us a good half an hour. Because of the traffic mess, we’d missed the turnoff to Fountain Hills, which had been an important stop to look forward to. I’d envisioned stopping at the Circle K to get some good coffee, and fuel up the bikes one last time. Hal has 40 more miles to ride than I do, and the fuel tank on his DR is smaller than the one on mine. But, it was not to be, and we had to stop at a Chevron back in Mesa. By that time, it was kind of stupid to get coffee, and anyway there was no good place at the convenience mart to relax and hang out for a few minutes. Don had already left us and was on his way to home and warmth via the 202 loop.
At last, I rode into my neighborhood and rode my DR into the garage at home. It was an amazing day. It isn’t just the bike, it is the hope of where it will go with me in the future. As Hal said, “It was a nice day, and it felt like a new beginning, just like you said it would. So many new adventures (to come)!”
Now that is a dream to hold onto.