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postheadericon Welcome Scooter Enthusiasts!

Update: January 2014

Welcome to the new Sky Island Riders LLC (SIRs) BLOG! There is no need to register here, as that option has been deleted due to spammers and bots. You can, however, still comment in our guestbook or at the end of any of the blog entries.

If you are looking for Ride Maps, Club Calendar or Information about exploring southern Arizona by scooter or any other vehicle, you are in the right place. If, however, you are looking to interact with local Tucson scooterists, you will need to navigate to our FACEBOOK GROUP. There was no conscious decision to move there, that is just the way it happened. Our forum here, is essentially Read Only.

If you do not use Facebook, you can still track club events either on our calendar section, or go to our Yahoo! group.

  • Sign up for SMS text messages (bottom left)
  • RSS feeds are also available
  • Club patches available for $4.00 each plus postage

Howard

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postheadericon State of the SIR’s 2013

Well, November 8th marked our 5th birthday as the SIR’s! Yay us!

 

With two of my kids getting married in the near future, I haven’t had as much time to sit back and formulate our annual “State of the SIR’s Address” but I will post an abbreviated version.

 

“Membership” continues to grow. Of course, by membership, I am referring to anyone who takes the time to register on one of our internet locations or who takes the time to ride with us.

 

The number on the Yahoo Group and Google+ are essentially unchanged. Due to so many potential spammers registering on skyislandriders.com, I closed it to registration. (For anyone concerned about this, registering really didn’t do anything and we had about one real person for every 500 spammers.)

 

The Facebook group continues to be our most active location. Last year there were 144 members, this year we have 184. There some of those who aren’t active on Facebook at all, some are just lurkers and there are a few who are very active.

 

I’m not sure how I counted events and activities for the 2012 address, but in counting from December 2012 til the end of November, 2013, it looks like we had 24 events/rides. This is about the same as last year.

 

Rallies:

For A Few CC’s More III – Attendance at this year’s rally was about the same as last year. Thanks to our sponsors and all those who purchased raffles tickets, we were able to donate $784 to Ben’s Bells. This is up from $752 last year.  Thanks to Sean for making those wonderful, collectible cards that we used for our Poker Run.

 

El Scoot de Tucson V – We had a record number of riders show up this year. We did have one injury crash at the beginning of the ride but the rest of the ride went well. I think there were 33 bikes start this year’s El Scoot. (For those wondering, there was a big foul-up at the patch place and El Scoot patches are still forth coming. We will announce when they are available.)

 

**On a serious note: 2013 was a bad year for crashes. We have had at least 5 significant crashes. 3 of these resulting in visits to emergency rooms. There were 2 hospitalizations and 1 person had to have surgery. Not all of these crashes occurred during a SIR’s event, but they all happened to one of us. Please, be careful out there, my friends.

 

Other 2013 notes:

  • We have had an increasing number of interactions with other area clubs. We have had riders going to Phoenix to ride with VespaAZ and the Phoenix S.C. We also had riders meet with the Prescoots of Prescott. Phoenix and Green Valley riders have been coming to some of our events as well.
  • Stan Scott rode in the inagural “Real Cannonball” from New York to L.A. He didn’t finish, but made it further than any of the other riders. Stan has been active in several events held by the MSLSF (Motor Scooter Land Speed Federation)
  • Several of us represents the SIR’s at this year’s Amerivespa in San Diego. We had a great time.
  • Chaeri & Randy met on a SIR’s ride, fell in love and they were married in November! Our first club wedding.
  • A new Ride Rating System was released. in November. Time will tell if this is helpful, or not.

Looking toward 2014:

  • For A Few CC’s More IV – The 2014 edition is hitting the road for the ultimate AZ scooter adventure. We are hoping to ride AROUND the state. This will be an 1800 mile, 5-day trek.
  • Stan is planning to ride in the 2014 Scooter Cannonball. They will be “racing” from Hyder, Alaska to New Orleans! The race is scheduled to end during Amerivespa. Should be great.
  • We are hoping to have a few of us make it to Las Vegas for High Rollers.
  • We’re looking forward to more interclub events with our friends in Phoenix.
  • We are planing to create a club roster. More info on the soon.
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postheadericon Ride Rating System

Ride Ratings System

Before I started riding scooters, I was somewhat of a bicyclist. I was a member of the greater AZ Bicycling Association (GABA) and on a number of organized rides with them. They also kept a list of good rides with maps and descriptions (sound familiar?) as well as a rating system for their rides that gave you an idea of what to expect before you got there. When I first started posting ride maps, I wanted some kind of way to rate the rides but couldn’t come up with anything I liked……. until now.

I think I have devised a decent, although somewhat subjecting, system for assigning a difficulty level to the rides which is better than what I have been using. Not only will I be going back and assigning scores to those rides already listed in the “Ride Maps” tab, I will also assign a score to each ride we do in the future to give newcomers an idea of whether or not a ride is appropriate for their current skill level.

Creating this system required that I look at a number of things besides just the ride. For example, if I say a ride is appropriate for advanced riders only, what does that mean? I need to create “levels” of rider skill and then definitions or descriptions of what, in my opinion, constitutes each level. This is a work in progress and is not meant to offend or malign anyone’s riding ability. I welcome suggestions regarding improvement of anything in this post.

Skill Levels

Becoming skilled at riding is something that takes time, effort, education and most of all, miles, miles, miles. Therefore, I am basing my skill levels primarily on miles ridden. I have created 5 skills levels. One thousand miles, IMHO, is what is necessary to go any one level to the next. We, at SIR’s, highly recommend attending the MSF course and recognize it’s value. Accordingly, successful completion allows you to add five hundred (500) miles to your actual number ridden. e.g. if you ridden 621 miles since you got your scooter and then complete the MSF, you can now make your total 1121 which moves you from “Newbie” to “Advanced Beginner.”

By the way, this system is just to assist people in SELF DETERMINING their own readiness for any given ride. No one will be asking for anyone’s mileage numbers to prove their readiness for a ride.

  1. Newbie                                – 0 to 1000 miles

  2. Advanced Beginner  – 1001 to 2000 miles

  3. Competent                       - 2001 to 3000 miles

  4. Proficient                          – 3001 to 4000 miles

  5. Adventure Ready        – 4001 miles and up

Rating Criteria

I came up with a point system where the total number of points determines the overall score, Score is based on points scores assigned in each of 3 criteria. Generally each is given a score between 1 and 5, with 1 being the easiest. Exception: An extreme score in any one of the criteria can push the ride to the highest level regardless of it’s scores in the other areas.

Ride Distance – The longer (time and/or distance) you are in the saddle, the more tired you become. A tired rider has slowed reaction times. However, the more long rides one does, the more accustomed you are to it, therefore, higher level riders are not as affected (up to a point) by distance as less experienced riders. After a bit of thought, I chose 75 miles (roughly 90 minutes) as my unit of measure. Therefore:

  • < 75 miles              = 1 point

  • 76 to 150 miles    = 2 points

  • 151 to 225 miles   = 3 points

  • 226 to 300 miles  = 4 points

  • 301+ miles              = 5 points (add 1 pt for each additional 75 miles)

Road Quality – This is a very subjective category. While the distance between two or more points doesn’t change, road quality can, and does, change. I will assign a score to a given road. However, it may get re-paved and upgraded at some point, or it may get damaged in a storm and down-graded. Any significant stretch of dirt/sand/gravel (I have no idea, yet, how I will determine when it is “significant.”) will result in a score of “5.” This number will be further adjusted by the speed limits of the roads on which the ride takes place. In other words, a rough road in a 25 mph residential street may only get a score of “3” where the same degree of roughness on a 50 mph street would get a score of “5.”

Twists, Hills and Grades – Another subjective category. I think the definition is self explanatory. Like “Road Quality” raw score will be adjusted by the prevailing speed of the road being ridden.

Using the above system will render scores from 3 to 15+.  Following the name of a ride, I will post its score in the following format:

Ride to XYZ: Score RD-2, RQ-1, THG-3 Total = 6

This lets people see why it’s score was given and if they aren’t proficient in a certain, they can avoid rides with high score in that criteria.

 Now to break the points down to match our skill levels:

Ride Score

Minimum Suggested Skill Level

3 or 4

Newbie

5 or 6

Advanced Beginner

7 to 9

Competent

10 to 12

Proficient

13 or more

Adventure Ready

The ride score is determined by the ride leader of that ride. I encourage anyone posting any future rides to use this scale and prominently post the score somewhere in your description of the ride.

If you have constructive criticism of this system, place send me an email, phone call, text or set up a time to meet with me. As I mentioned before, this is not aimed at anyone and is something I’ve wanted to do since I created the first ride map. Your input is appreciated.

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postheadericon 2013 Scooter Haiku Winners!

I received 30 or so haiku from our participants and submitted them, without names, to our 2 judges. The results were sent back to me, where I rejoined each haiku to its writer. The winners were announced at our meet up tonight and now I am publishing them. Who knows? Maybe some literary person will “discover” just how talented us scooter folk are and want us to submit more of our amazing work to them. Or not.

I will first post the winners and honorable mentions in each of our four categories: (Please forgive the awkward spacing, I tried cutting and pasting everything and no matter what I do, it still comes out a bit weird. Deal with it.)

Best Haiku Including Nature-

Floating on a cloud

Smooth passage over the road

Pavement becomes jade – Sean Lynch

Honorable mention for nature haiku-

Riding! Hot in summer

Cold in winter, monsoons? Wet!

Riding! It’s still great! - Howard Rains

 

Most Humorous-

Can’t sleep, 4am

Scootering verse in my head,

I hate Howard Rains – Stan Scott

 

Honorable mentions for humor-

Rumbling Down the Road.

no mercy from the saddle.

Poor aching kidneys – Carol Voeller

 

Best Word Choice-

entomology

on two wheels in the springtime

what a lot of guts! - Tracy Adair

Honorable mentions for word choice-

Failed to move away,

errant hair under face shield

distracting my ride! - Anita Tourigny

Like river Mekong

While traveling Vietnam

I saw scooters flow - Jerry Hamel

Pure serenity

Rubber on the hot flat road

For love of Freedom – Doug Hoover

 

Conveys Joy of Scootering-

Scooting home from work

de-stress, re-charge, re-lax, ride.

Do I smell oranges? - Howard Rains

 

Honorable mentions for joy of scooters-

Feeling the warm air

Sting my face and take my breath

Is the price for fun – Amy Thomas

 

Red flash races by

Girl on scooter flying high

Harley boys – jealous – Cheryl Dickson

Scooter riding

My senses have awakened

Cleansing of my mind! - Penny Palmer

The open road calls

Scooter is full and ready

Why am I waiting? - Stan Scott

The judges told me that it was difficult to choose the winners listed above because there were so many good haiku to choose from. I will let you judge that for yourself. Here are all the haiku that were submitted:

Jerry Hamel

Like river Mekong
While traveling Vietnam
I saw scooters flow

Douglas Hoover

Pure serenity

Rubber on the hot flat road

For love of Freedom

Anita Tourigny

Failed to move away,
errant hair under face shield
distracting my ride!

Carol Voeller

Rumbling Down the Road.

no mercy from the saddle.

Poor aching kidneys

Try to catch a breeze.

Lift shoulders, angle elbows.

Ah, a cooling blast

Penny Palmer

Scooter riding
My senses have awakened
Cleansing of my mind!

Howard Rains

Buying a scooter

best purchase I ever made

rides, friends, fun, awesome!

 

Scooting home from work

de-stress, re-charge, re-lax, ride.

Do I smell oranges?

 

Riding! Hot in summer

Cold in winter, monsoons? Wet!

Riding! It’s still great!

Tracy Adair

entomology
on two wheels in the springtime
what a lot of guts!

S-curve ’round the bend
leaning behind my legshield
big smile on my face!

Vespas in a row
Means only one thing tonight
Great friends having FUN!

Jack Loudermilk

Scooting at fifty
Got friends waiting patiently
Throttle wide open

Ninety miles an hour
Warning signs are flying by
Down this dead end street

Look my way, you smile
From behind I hear his voice
I talk to myself

Cheryl Dickson

Lonely stretch of road
Riding in the bright moonlight
Will we make it home?

Red flash races by
Girl on scooter flying high
Harley boys – jealous

Amy Thomas

Feeling the warm air

Sting my face and take my breath

Is the price for fun

 

Rushing past pavement

Around corners over hills

Blood pumping through veins

 

Alone, no traffic

Early morning no sun yet

Me, road warrior

Stan Scott

The wind in my face,
Scooter on cruise control,
Good to be alive.

Down to Sasabe,
My favorite ride near town,
with wind in my face.

Riding my Helix,
only open road ahead,
I hate to go home.

Riding the scooter,
Arizona highways call,
and I will answer.

Big group ride today,
Variety of scooters,
all out to have fun!

The open road calls
Scooter is full and ready
Why am I waiting?

Scooter riding
A serious affliction
So what is your point?

Arizona June
Scooter is calling my name
Can not wait to ride.

Honda and Vespa,
Kymco, Genuine and Sym,
All great scoots to ride.

Can’t sleep, 4am
Scootering verse in my head,
I hate Howard Rains! 

Sean Lynch

Curvy metal shape
Bending early morning sun
Great time to go ride 

 

Open the petcock
Stroke the kickstart lever twice
Sleeping engine wakes 

 

Clutch lever to grip
Twist the shifter to first gear
Gone in a smoke puff

 

Smooth shape bottle nose
Long flowing lines blue and grey
But not a dolphin 

 

Insert key press Start
Stubborn beast will not breathe fire
Another day then 

Floating on a cloud
Smooth passage over the road
Pavement becomes jade


Flies along the road
Blue-black with a pointed beak
Yet not a raven 

Smooth purr from below
Numbers dance on soft blue field
Calming evening ride

 

There really are some great haiku here. Well done, Sky Island Riders. Next time, I think we may do Scooter Limericks.

Howard

 

 

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postheadericon Scooter Haiku Contest

SCOOTER HAIKU CONTEST!!!!
I’ve been thinking this over for a while, and decided I would spring it on everyone as we begin our summer.
I would like to see how creative our group is and give everyone a chance at writing a haiku, having one of our esteemed scooter writing members judge them all and then give out a few prizes. I’ve seen a few scooter haiku in the past and it looked like there was a lot of potential fun there.
**First, what is haiku? Haiku is a simple “poem” consisting of exactly 17 syllables. The syllables are arranged in 3 lines of 5, then 7, then 5 syllables. Rhyming is not usually found in haiku. For the purist, haiku is usually about nature or the seasons, but in this case, each haiku is supposed to be about scooters or riding scooters, although you may get bonus points with our judge if you manage to include nature/seasons in addition to scooting.
Example #1 (Real Haiku)
Spring morning marvel
lovely nameless little hill
on a sea of mist

Example #2 (Scooter Haiku)
Twisted throttle – rush
Curvy road – lean
Troubles and worries – gone (borrowed from a Modern Vespa thread)

**All poems must be received by me no later than midnight on Wednesda, 6/12. Please email or facebook message them to me. Please DO NOT post them directly to the page, so that we can have them all published at the same time.

**There is a limit of 3 haiku per entrant.

**I will collect all the poems, remove the names of the writers, so our judge does not know who each poem came from. I will then email the poems to our judge, who will have the results back to me by Monday, 6/17.

**Who is eligible? All SIR’s and friends of the SIR’s.

We will have a SIR’s Social night on Wednesday 6/19, where the winners will be announced and prizes awarded. I am not sure what the prizes will be yet, but if an out of towner wins a prize, I will make sure they get an appropriate (i.e. useable) gift certificate or something.

I am looking forward to seeing how creative you SIR’s can be. Let the writing commence!

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postheadericon The Eight (8) Best Ways to Cross Tucson

I’ve been asked multiple times about how best to get across Tucson. I’ve been meaning to write a piece about it and it looks like I am finally getting around to doing so.

 

The first things we have to do is establish what we mean by “best.” For the purposes of this article here are the criteria (in no particular order) I will be using to decide what “best” means when it comes to roadways in Tucson.

  1. Road Quality – A road where you have to dodge potholes or that is so rough you have to hang on with a death grip will not make the list.
  2. Length – There are some very nice road that only run for a couple of miles. For this article, roads considered must cross a significant portion of the city. As you will see, it is okay for the road to merge with another and change names, as long as it continues in the same direction.
  3. Amount of traffic – a good quality road that has extremely heavy traffic is going to be less safe, especially as far as scooters are concerned.
  4. Intersections – I checked some some Pima County and City of Tucson sources which listed the most dangerous intersections in the city based on numbers of cars and numbers of accidents. This was factored into my choices. The ideal route will not pass through any of the most dangerous interstions.
  5. Personal Opinion – After riding around most of the city for the past 4 and a half years, I have my own opinions on which roads are good or bad for scooters and their riders. Feel free to add a comments and vote for your favorite.
  6. Construction – I realize that construction comes and goes. For this piece, I considered major construction work that will continue for months. This article will, therefor, be accurate only until another major construction project comes along and either spoils one of the “best” roads, or converts one of the bad ones into a “best” one. Maybe I’ll review this and update it every year or so.

 

One thing I DID NOT take into consideration is scenery. I plan on writing a piece in the near future about Tucson’s most scenic rides. Stay tuned for that. I also plan on adding a “Worst Roads” piece soon as well.

I had originally planned on calling this the “10 Best Roads,” however, after doing a little bit of research and applying my criteria, only eight roads made the cut. I have chosen four roads running north/south and four running east/west. I will finish with a couple of honorable mentions.

 

NORTH/SOUTH

Silverbell/Mission – I am aware that these are separate roads and that have to travel about 3 blocks on Congress to fuse them together, but, hey, I claim writers’ prerogative. This is the only road on our list on the west side of I-10. Combined, Silverbell/Mission runs more than 20 miles, from Twin Peaks Road, in Continental Ranch, to Valencia where the road leaves Tucson and enters the reservation. With the exception of about 4 miles, from Ina to Camino del Carro, road quality is pretty good. Traffic can be heavy around St Mary’s at times. There are some “speed tables” and a couple of small traffic circles on Mission between Congress and 22nd St. as well. Silverbell/Mission also gets special dispensation because it’s really the only road that runs for any significant distance on the far west side. We have used this route on a number of different club rides. There are a fewer than average number of stoplights as well.

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Stone/6th Ave/Nogales Highway – Stone is one of the few streets that pass all the way through downtown and are 2-way. On the down side, Stone will only get you as far north as River Rd, however, it makes it up on the south side where it merges with 6th Ave at 5-points. Further south it becomes Old Nogales Highway and will take you as far as Green Valley. Yes, traffic will be heavy as you pass through downtown, but I have found it to less congested than some of the other downtown streets. Road quality is pretty good along most of the way.

View Larger Map
Craycroft – 5.5 miles to the east is Craycroft. Most of the streets between Stone and Craycroft suffer from congestion, construction of roughness. On the north end, Craycroft actually goes up into the foothills then does a big U-turn near Ventana Canyon Resort and comes back down as Kolb Rd. On the south end, it goes into the main gate of Davis-Monthan AFB. Immediately after Golf Links Rd. Road quality is good to very good along most of this road, with the exception of the short section just north of Sunrise which is just fair.

View Larger Map
Harrison – The eastern most road on my list is Harrison. The southern section of Harrison (It stops at Wrightstown then resumes again at Catalina Highway and runs north for 2 miles to Snyder.) is only 5.5 miles long, but crosses the east side from Wrightstown to Irvington. Road quality is good and, because it doesn’t run all the through, traffic is much less than Houghton, which also has poorer quality.

View Larger Map
EAST/WEST

Irvington – The southernmost road on this list is Irvington. Truth be told, I almost forgot about this road. Irvington runs for more than 15 miles across the southern part of the city and that is minus the 3 miles that are occupied by Davis-Monthan. The western section runs more than 11 miles between Sunset Blvd and Swan. Road quality is good and except for the section immediately around I-19, traffic isn’t too bad. The 4 mile long eastern section only has fair road quality, but is an excellent alternative route between Kolb and Houghton.

View Larger Map
Glenn – We have to go almost 6 miles north before we come to the next road on our list. I think Glenn is my favorite way to cross town east to west. It runs almost 8 miles from Sahuara Ave, east of Craycroft, to Flowing Wells, which is right at I-10. Glenn has a 35 mph speed limit, which keeps those people in a big hurry off of it. There are also as many 4-way stops as there are stoplights. It is my opinion that 4-way stops are considerably safer for those of us on 2 wheels. Road quality is good and traffic is generally light.

View Larger Map
El Camino del Cerro/Ruthrauff/Wetmore – I know, another one of those combination streets. Well, Ruthrauff and Camino de Cerro are the same road, but separated by I-10. Thanks to some creative roadwork, Ruthrauff and Wetmore merge at Romero and Wetmore continues all the way to 1st Ave. Other than the intersection with Oracle,which gets congested at rush hours, I have found this to be a pretty decent road to travel. Road quality just east of I-10 is only fair, but otherwise it’s pretty good.

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Orange Grove – If you have to travel east/west a little further north, I recommend Orange Grove over Ina. Orange Grove runs almost 7 miles from I-10 to Skyline. I was tempted to add Skyline and Sunrise as part of this but traffic is just too heavy to give that part “best” status. Road quality is good and traffic is moderate. Except around La Cholla and Northwest Medical Center at change of shift times.

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HONORABLE MENTIONS

North/South – The Park/Euclid/1st Ave combo runs almost 15 miles across mid-town. The southern terminus is at Valencia and the northern end is at Ina. It doesn’t make “best” status because road quality between Broadway and Speedway is abysmal. Also, the intersection with Grant can be difficult. Road quality from River to Ina is very good, but it has a 45mph speed limit and is uphill, so this can be a little dicey for small displacement scooters to stay with traffic.

View Larger Map

East/West – It is probably because I ride it almost everyday or because it is where Scoot Over can be found, but I really like Broadway. It is very wide and has that wonderful bus lane and bus pullouts that keep traffic from suddenly jumping in your lane to get away from a slowing bus. Other than the section from Camino Seco to Houghton, road quality is good. Of the “Big Three (Speedway, Broadway and 22nd St) Broadway is probably the safest. It does, however, have one of the most dangerous intersections, which is at Wilmot. I recommend avoiding it if you can.

View Larger Map
I will follow this entry with one about the “Worst Roads in Tucson” soon. Do you have a road youy think should have made this list, please make a comment.

 

Safe Riding Everyone

 

Howard

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