“Some riders are riders who are only temporarily off the road, and some riders are people who get on a bike occasionally. I am one who is always only temporarily off the road. My head and my heart are always out there.”
Ingredients jar – a little spice, something sweet, and something to hold it all together, just like a good ride:
Cold air, a glimpse of snow, antique-ing, and maybe a cup of good coffee were in my thoughts as Hal and I planned our ride for the day on Saturday. We had agreed the night before that a sleep-in day was needed (too much work stress and crazy-ness), so we didn’t meet up for a late breakfast until 11.
After breakfast and before we started to gear up, we finally got our “comm. gear” set up, meaning we finally got our Christmas gift to ourselves set up and usable. It took a few moments, but finally our ScalaRider communication system was set up. It is Bluetooth-based, and the headsets had to “discover” each other
Once we got on the bikes and got going, we were able to talk to each other! It was so amazing. We stopped for fuel, and then got onto the interstate, chatting away. We laughed because we thought we’d probably talk non-stop for a while, at least until the novelty of the communication capability wore off. As it turned out, it was the right combination of conversation and silence throughout our riding day, but it made the miles go super-fast. After riding together for almost eight years, it was nice to be able to talk about things we were seeing as we saw them. We are going to love having this gear next summer when we are on the road!
We took I-17 north to the General Crook Trail exit at Camp Verde. The plan was to ride this loop, one we’ve done many times before and enjoyed, climb up on the Mogollon Rim, and then descend in elevation to Strawberry and Pine, stop in Pine for a few photographs, and then head back through Payson to home. Before we exited the interstate, we both remarked on how close the San Francisco Peaks looked, in reality, far in the distance near Flagstaff.
On the General Crook Trail, we enjoyed the calm road, the clear sunny day, the relatively warm temperatures. I was on my F650GS, Hal on his R1100RS (my F800ST is still in the shop). Most of the leaves on the trees are now gone, no golden glory to delight me. We still have a combination of fall and winter here in Arizona, and it is beautiful.
Then we began to climb toward the higher elevations of the Rim, following the sinuous road that we’ve enjoyed riding for years. Along the south side, in the deepest shadows, were piles of snow that grew deeper the higher up in elevation we rode. I was wearing plenty of layers, but I did not have my heated jacket liner plugged in. I would guess the temperatures were in the 40° F. range, but I was still comfortable.
At the highest point, I started feeling a little cold, but soon we were descending to warmer temperatures. In Pine, we pulled into the parking lot of one of the antique shops that lined the road. We soon were inside the cozy shop, amid small dogs underfoot and a big furry cat taking up major real estate on the main part of the floor. He let me pet him – for a while. Then he started biting me lightly and thumping my arm with his back feet. Luckily, I had on a long sleeve shirt because he got a little intense! I withdrew my slightly battered arm and gave him one last pat on the head (so I could have the last word).
I found a lot of pretty jewelry, and I should have bought one of the sets on display. It was chunkier than what I normally wear, but I still liked it for some reason. I left it there even though it was reasonably priced. I have way too much stuff as it is.
A basin of spikes:
We walked outside and around the back of the shop to an old barn, where I got a few interesting photos. Then Hal and I went back through the shop and up the street to a restaurant that we thought we’d try for pie and coffee. The woman there smiled indulgently at our touristy request for coffee and pie (the restaurant was mostly a bar), said she had coffee but no pie, but we could find an actual coffee bar and bakery down the street at the market. What? I thought. We’ve been through Pine many times and never knew there was such a place. We walked south – and made the “find” of the trip.
Inside, in a wing off to the left side of the store, was the bakery with a full-blown coffee bar that featured Boyd’s coffee. There were three choices, and I let Hal make a “concoction,” blending a couple of the flavors. He’s excellent at fixing me the perfect coffee. Then, as we perused the brownies, pies (no individual pieces, unfortunately), and Danish, we found GIANT eclairs! We had to have one. We split it (roughly), and went face down in the lush chocolate and silky filling.
“I won’t have to eat for a week!” I remarked later as we left the store, or should I say “rolled out” of the store. Now that we know that place is there, it’s going to be a must-stop from now on.
The sun was getting low by then, we switched to the clear visors on our helmets, and geared up. It seemed to take less time for the comm. system to hook up, and off we went toward Payson. We fueled up there, and then we headed home.
As we rode, the conversation drifted toward how much we’d missed being on the road. It’s been a few years now since we’ve done any long road trips, like the week or more ones we used to do on the road bikes. The past three summers we’ve been favoring dirt rides. As I thought about it, I’ve felt recently that a switch has been flipped, and I am longing to be on the road. My desired perfect bike for the long distance road trips has evolved, and I am thinking of selling both my BMWs to get one BMW that will be a combination of the two I currently own. I think I would like another F650GS, but this time a newer one with the reliable, powerful twin engine that my F800ST has.
Hal and I also talked about how trapped we both feel in our jobs, and how quickly the days that we ride seem to go. We want to ride around the world, or at least experience the places that are “bucket list” places for us, and we want to have endless miles in front of us. “I guess there just aren’t enough miles for me,” I said. “Today is over so quickly, and it seems like we just left.” I didn’t know if that was because we were finally able to talk as we rode, which made the miles go by so fast, or if it was the usual looking-forward-to-summer-riding feeling. But, I have always loved riding long miles with minimal stopping, and that was what I wanted to do now. Some riders are riders who are temporarily off the road, and some riders are people who get on a bike occasionally. I am one who is only temporarily off the road. My head and my heart are always out there.
Hal and I both fell silent, thinking about the miles we hope lay ahead of us. Meanwhile, the sun had set and a spectacular dusk was unfolding. The sky glowed orange, and as we came into town we saw the mountains and cacti black against the orange at the horizon, the purple overhead, and the twinkling of city lights in the distance as well as Venus prominently glowing, gem-like at the edge of night.
The next thing we knew, we were passing the garbage dump with its methane torch thrashing in the strong wind that had accompanied us all day, and soon we were at the freeway where we go in different directions to get home. It was difficult to say good-bye for the day and sign off. Happily, Sunday was half a riding day, too, and it brought the total mileage for the weekend to about 400 miles. For most people, that would be a weekend full of miles. It was not nearly enough for me, though, not by a long shot.