Leaving the cool country:
Sunday, June 21, 2015
“We have to be rolling by 7:30!” Hal warned the night before.
Since I am not a morning person, I set my alarm for 6:00 in case I needed extra time to get up, packed, and the motorbike packed as well. I had plenty of time. In fact, I managed to have time to grab a cup of coffee and a muffin at the hotel’s continental breakfast because I hate getting on the road with an empty stomach. We were rolling by 7:14 a.m.
As we left the Flagstaff area, it was deliciously cool. In some places on I-17, there were pockets of air that were actually cold. I was so happy, and tried to make my body hold that memory for later when I would be roasting in the heat. Jewel was feeling good, too, probably reveling in the cool air as well. She never has trouble with her cooling system, thank goodness. I absolutely never have to worry about that, or oil consumption, since she has never used an ounce of it.
Hal and I made it to Camp Verde by 8:30-ish, and it only took a moment to fuel up. We were going to arrive in Phoenix early. Indeed, we did, because we were due to meet up with Hal’s elderly parents at 10:30, and even with time to de-gear and make ourselves somewhat presentable, it was 9:50. It was hot already, and we were lucky to be able to park our bikes in the shade.
Brunch was lovely, and we ate many wonderful foods. After we were done, Hal’s parents went home, and another friend who had joined us, Boyd, was going to stay with us on a day ride.
Hal and Boyd:
The plan was to go back up to Camp Verde, take General Crook Trail, then ride to the coolness of the Rim before returning to Phoenix via Payson. But the plan didn’t work out too well.
As we left town, again on I-17 but this time heading north, an electronic sign board warned of a crash 20 miles ahead, with long traffic backups. I knew we would not be out of the heat by then, and I did not want to sit in an indefinite delay. Hal’s bike overheats quickly, too, and would not be able to last too long and he’d have to pull over and shut it down. So, Hal raced to catch Boyd on his Goldwing, and the two exited at the New River exit, me not far behind.
There, we modified our plan. We would take New River Rd. to Hwy. 74, to Wickenburg, then ride up Yarnell Hill, have a cold drink at the little restaurant in Yarnell, then return home the same way. As we rode, I realized that I was going to be riding in heat the rest of the day. I tried not to think about it too much because it was already way too hot.
We only made it to Wickenburg. All across the desert as we rode west on 74, it was already starting to become unbearable, and by the time we reached the edge of Wickenburg, Boyd, who was in front, turned into the parking lot of the Burger King. He’d had enough. We parked our bikes and went inside for cold drinks.
It actually was quite pleasant to sit and talk for about 45 minutes or so, and cool down. But, after a while, there was no putting it off any longer – we were going to have to go back out into the heat and ride home. The guys had only about an hour to ride, but as I live on the east side of town, I had an additional hour after I left them. Before I left the restaurant, I soaked my shirt so I could be cool at least for a little while. After I left the guys, I was going to make a run through the heat for home!
As we turned back onto 74, I glanced down at my left leg. It was so hot from the wind blowing through the engine that I thought the shin of my pants was on fire! Liar liar, pants on fire! I thought. Except I wasn’t lying about anything. I kept having to hang my foot out in the wind every few minutes to cool it down. Then the wind shifted and I had the same problem on the other side for the rest of the way. The heat was terrible all the way across the open desert on Hwy. 74 back to the interstate. I wondered again how I had come to find myself riding on the hottest day of the year, at the hottest time of the day. Me, the person who hates sun and heat almost more than anything else in the world.
Once we got on the interstate, it felt a bit cooler, but cooler is a relative term, in this case. The guys left me in a few miles, and I was left to suffer through the rest of the ride to my house by myself. It wasn’t nearly as bad as going across the 74, but I was “done” by the time I got home. I unpacked Jewel and got her put up for the day, and I went inside to blissfully cold air conditioning.
The good little ’06 GS ran perfectly the whole time, and was so pleasant to ride, I caught myself thinking, why did I think I needed anything else? There were the inner arguments with myself about the relative fragility of the ’06 GS, and the fact that it won’t last forever. But maybe I should have decided to ride it until it dies, then get a new “G” series, the G650GS, which is essentially the same bike.
What’s done is done, and I am going to find out the hard way if I made the right decision.