Sunday, February 23, 2014

Connecting with friends on the motorcycle

Spending time with people riding a motorcycle is a wonderful way to make lasting friends. Today we reconnected with Barb and Jay, people we met on the 5 country tour in Europe in 2011. Barb and Jay live about 1 hour south of us in Phoenix, and they brought along three friends for a ride into Bagdad, a copper mining town where the houses and commercial buildings are owned by the mining company.

The trip to Bagdad is a motorcycle rider's dream: 2-line paved road with very little traffic, winding sweepers, tight turns, and open countryside in all directions.


Mike and I headed out from Prescott at 9:45am, planning to meet Barb, Jay, and their friends Patty, Steve and Doug in Kirkland. We rode southwest on Iron Springs Road through Skull Valley and met up with everyone at the intersection of Route 96 across from the Kirkland Bar. Iron Springs is a popular road for people on two wheels:  motorcycles and bicycles, but today we had the road almost to ourselves.

The temperature was in the low 60's when we left Prescott, but when we reached Kirkland I was ready to shed one of my jacket layers and switch to lighter-weight gloves. By the time we rode into Bagdad the temperature was over 70 and the light clouds over Prescott gave way to clear and sunny blue skies.

Saguaro cactus are found only in the Sonoran Desert. They don't grow in Prescott due to the elevation and colder temperature, but we see them as we head south into Phoenix or west into Bagdad. Saguaros live to be 150-200 years old, and it's amazing that these 40-60' tall cactus thrive for so long in the desert.

Route 96 is the only paved road into Bagdad, although periodically a dirt road snaked off to the side. It's about 30 miles from Kirland to Bagdad, and along the way we saw isolated ranches, dry streams, piles of huge granite rocks, and a rolling countryside backed by mountain peaks and mesas.

We ate lunch at the Bagdad Diner where the hamburgers come with two meat patties and a huge pile of French fries. It's a favorite stop for motorcycle riders who always seem to plan their rides around places to eat.

The Diner is the kind of place where the waitress jokes around with the customers and everyone immediately feels at home. Today is Jay's birthday, and everyone in the Diner joined in as we sang Happy Birthday.
We sat and told motorcycle stories after finishing our meal, and then continued the conversation outside talking about future motorcycle trips, the twistiest roads in Arizona, past bikes we've owned, and bikes we dream about owning in the future.
We retraced our route back home, enjoying the twisting, climbing roads and the warm February day. We'll stay in touch with everyone and look forward to more days spent riding our BMW through Arizona.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Motorcycle ride on an Arizona winter day

We've been planning a ride to the Roadrunner Restaurant and Saloon in New River, Arizona for over a month. Finding a free Sunday for four motorcycle-riding couples isn't easy, but everything came together today.

The ride south to New River took us along familiar roads as we left the mountains behind us and descended into the Valley of the Sun. This winter has been warmer than usual, and even with a cloudy sky temperatures in the 60's and 70's felt wonderful.

We pulled into the Roadrunner's parking lot, full of Harleys and Harley-type cruisers. Our group included our BMW R1200GS, a Kawasaki Concours, a Victory, and a Harley. A 2-person band played country music while we enjoyed lunch in the sunshine. We'll have to come back another day to see someone ride the mechanical bull in a bull-pen off to the side.

We took the old route north to Prescott, riding on twisty 2-lane roads instead of the 1-17 Interstate.

A warm February day, good friends, a motorcycle-friendly restaurant, and roads that wind through the mountains. It's too bad February is a short month; we're ready to ride this trip again.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Morning hike and afternoon BMW motorcycle ride to Sedona, Arizona

With a day promising blue skies and sunshine, we decided to start with a hike on the Constellation Trails in Prescott and then join our friends in the Prescott Star 511 motorcycle group for a ride north to Sedona. The trails took us on smooth, sandy paths through manzanita and then up and over the granite rocks that look like hardened sand castles. I stopped and turned in circles several times to take in all of the views, not wanting to miss a thing.

Standing on top of the rocks we looked north toward the San Francisco peaks in Flagstaff, looking forward to the afternoon ride.

45 minutes after we finished hiking we met Brad, Mike and George to ride north to Sedona. With temperatures in the mid-50's and bright sunshine, I stayed warm on the BMW by wearing all of the jacket layers and my heaviest gloves. We stopped in Camp Verde for coffee and hot chocolate, and I switched to lighter-weight gloves as the temperature climbed into the 60's.

Only 7.5 miles long, Route 179 into Sedona is the Red Rock Scenic Byway, passing through the stunning red/orange colored sandstone that is unique to this area.

The road sweeps and winds through the rock formations, giving us the fun of zooming along on a motorcycle with one-of-a-kind views. We stopped for lunch in busy Uptown Sedona and then left the traffic for Dry Creek Road, heading into Boynton Canyon.

We didn't have time today for another hike, and instead relaxed in the mid-afternoon sunshine on the outdoor deck at the Enchantment Resort. Boynton Canyon is home to one of the vortexes, or sites of concentrated energy, that draw people to Sedona.

Maybe it was the sunshine, or Sedona's energy, or riding on twisty, curving 89A south over Mingus Mountain, but I found myself nodding off on the back of the BMW as we wound our way toward home. When we first visited Prescott we drove to Sedona in our rental car, and Mike couldn't wait to ride this mountain road on the BMW. Each time we travel this route I notice something different:  the snow and ice on the edge of the shady side of the road at 7200' elevation, the old mining roads that snake through the pine forest, hawks that soar on the wind currents.

We love to hike through the granite rocks near home and explore the twisty asphalt roads that wind through Arizona's deserts and mountains. Motorcycle friends and a sunny winter day made it perfect.