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.
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Sky Island Riders (SIR’s)
Long Rider Award
Here are the inaugural winners of our Long Rider Award (In alphabetical order)
- Tracey Adair – Grand Canyon (solo), San Diego and Mexico (solo)
- Thomas Burrick – Crossed the USA on a 50cc Ruckus
- Randy Hays – Saddle Sore 1K, Pie Town Ride
- Lou Kelly – 2 of 7 Corners (1000 miles/3days)
- John Kiniston – 7 Corners (2000 miles/6 days), Pie Ride, Salton Sea Endurance Race
- Craig Liesegang – 7 Corners Plus (Mostly solo)
- Lori Powers – Tucson to Roswell and back (1200 miles/3 days), Route 78 Ride (515 miles)
- Howard Rains – Saddle Sore 1k (IBA certified), Route 78 Ride (515 miles), Tucson to Roswell and Back (1200 miles/3 days), 7 Corners (2000 miles/6 Days) Pie Ride
- Stan Scott – The Real Cannonball, AZ to NY, Salton Sea Endurance Race, Saddle Sore 1k (IBA certified motorcycle, 7 Corners + Lake Tahoe Race
A “member”* of the Sky Island Riders is awarded the designation of Long Rider when he/she has exhibited one or more extraordinary feats of riding. That means a ride that most people would be unable, or unwilling, to attempt. This feat may be organized or witnessed by the SIR’s, or it may be submitted by the rider, to the SIR’s for consideration.
What does it take to be a Long Rider? What kind of ride would be considered extraordinary?
- The qualifying ride can be solo or with a group. Generally speaking, group rides would need to be longer than a solo ride to qualify.
- The ride can be done in a single day, or it can be a multi-day ride. Multi-day rides would generally need to be longer than most single day rides to qualify.
- Engine size relative to distance is a consideration. In other words, Miles ridden per CC of displacement is figured in.
- One day rides should generally be longer than 500 miles, multi-day rides should generally be longer than 1000 miles to be considered “long” rides. Scooter displacement could mitigate this.
- Distance may not be the only consideration. The destination or particular roads ridden may also count toward the designation of “Long Ride.” In other words, a 300 mile ride which contains 100+ miles of unpaved/off road riding may qualify.
- Any ride earning an “Iron Butt Association” award qualifies.
- In the future, occasional club rides may be labeled as a “long” ride. Riders completing it would, therefor, be awarded the decal.
* – A “member” is someone who is an active participant in, at least, occasional club activities.
I have different reasons to take rides to different places. Sometimes I read about about a certain road that is fun to ride. Sometimes I hear or read about a particular landmark. This time it was a bit different. I was scanning Google Maps around the Coolidge area and saw a peculiar design made by a couple of roads near someplace called 11 Mile Corner. The roads made a pair of “nesting” hexagons (i.e. one inside the other.) Weird, right?
This is what I saw.
I then went to satellite view and saw a couple of buildings, but couldn’t really make out what this place was. I tried street view and only half the streets were viewable (I know, “viewable” isn’t actually a real word, but you knew what I wanted to say.) and even then, I couldn’t see enough to tell me what is here. I could tell that it is currently inhabited, as there were quite a few cars around.
A couple a friends and I were planning on taking a ride on that Friday, but we hadn’t decided where to go. I sent John a text with a link to the map location and said “Let’s ride here.” He replied with an understandable “What is it?” I said that I had no idea, to which his response was “Okay, let’s go.” And so, it was settled.
Had it been later in the year, we probably would have left early and had breakfast somewhere on the road, but the low temp that night was in the high 30’s so we decided to meet for breakfast and ride out a bit later. We met at the venerable “Hungry Fox” for some tasty breakfast. If you like S.O.S. theirs is very good.
After eating the temperature has warmed up to the mid-40’s, so we donned our cooler weather gear and hit the road. There are 2 basic options to get to the Coolidge/Florence area from Tucson. One is to go north on Highway 77 (aka Oracle Rd) then take Highway 79 to Florence then Hwy 287 to Coolidge. Traffic on 77 and 79 tends to be a bit busy and fast on both roads, so we tend to avoid them. The other route is to take the I-10 access road (aka the Casa Grande Highway) through Tucson, all the way to Picacho, where we briefly hopped on to Highway 87, then a quick left on to the Casa Grande-Picacho Highway (aka Frontier St.) Three miles later we go to the tiny burg of Eloy, where we turned north on 11 Mile Corner Rd. Now all we had to do was to ride until we go to the mysterious hexagon.
Our Route to The Hex
I knew that there was a large skydiving complex somewhere around Eloy, but had never seen it. Well, no sooner did we make the turn on to 11 Mile Corner Rd, that the sky was filled with parachutes of many colors. We watched them float toward the ground as we rode along. We also saw a lot more houses than I expected to see in this rural area.
We continued north and I almost stopped at the 11 Mile store and Post Office, but decided to continue to the Hex. Oddly enough, we arrived at the hexagon approx 11 miles after turning on to 11 Mile Corner Rd. We turned on to Sheppard Dr and immediately saw the long, low building I had seen on the Google street view. They look as if they have been plucked from a Soviet block housing complex and dropped here.
We weren’t sure where to explore first but decided that since it was the hexagonal roads that brought us here, we should probably ride them. we made a left and started around the “loop.”
When we got to the end of the second section of the hexagon, we saw why some of the streets weren’t available on street view. There are no longer any buildings there and the road has been encroached by desert shrubs. The asphalt has degraded and is now little more than a trail. So, naturally, we rode through a gap in the brush and took off. We didn’t ride 65 miles for a hex ride and stop after 2 sides.
We dodged the open manholes and made it around all six sides. Just before finishing it, we got a good view of the front of that big building in the middle of the hex. This looks like it was the front.
As Sean said, “Curiouser and curiouser.” We really didn’t know what kind of place this originally was. There are no Historical Markers present, either. We decided to ride over to Yandell’s New Camp Store and Post Office and see what they could tell us.
We walked in to the Camp store and were impressed with the presence of the old post office in the front of the store. There were 2 ladies working the counter. We asked them to tell us a bit about 11 Mile Corner, the store and the weird hexagon. The were quite friendly and told us a lot of interesting stuff. The store has been in the same family for almost 50 years. The post office parts came to 11 Mile from Red Rock, AZ, but they were told that Red Rock had gotten it from Tombstone.
11 Mile Corner got its name because the nearby intersection is 11 miles north of Eloy, 11 miles east of Casa Grande and 11 miles southwest of Coolidge. It is now an unincorporated part of Casa Grande. We asked about the strange hexagonal road pattern. That, they said, was probably part of the 11 Mile Prisoner of War Camp from World War II. I did a bit of research when we got home and did confirm that there was, in fact, a German POW camp in 11 Mile Corner. It housed approximately 300 prisoners. I couldn’t find any pictures of it.
The ladies also told about the upcoming gourd festival. They said that if we wanted to get a taste of what it would be like, we could drop by Wuertz Farm. They raise gourds there and have a small gift shop / gallery containing some gourd art works. That sound interesting, so we said good-bye and headed southeast and prepared for “the Wuertz.”
We had a great time checking out the gourds. Mr Wuertz was a great host and showed us around. We didn’t have time to look around, but there are Burros and miniature horse there as well. Oh, if you are interested, you should go to the “13th Annual Running of the Gourds” coming up February 12-14.
We finally turned around and rode back to Tucson. The trip back was uneventful, but riding is good. Riding with friends is better. I noticed when we got home, that I had ridden 10 miles of mostly straight, mostly flat roads and still had an absolute blast.
The Sky Island Riders did a lot of riding in 2015. I put together a video of pics of our year. I hope you enjoy it. Feel free to share it with your friends:
I enjoy research. I enjoy riding 2-wheeled vehicles. I don’t recall what, exactly, caused me to start contemplating how much protective gear the riders of different types of motorbikes were wearing, but I did. I started thinking about it, a lot. I started wondering how one could objectively measure who was wearing the most and or best gear. Both my wife wife and I hypothesized that sport bike riders probably wear the most gear. Cruiser riders, including Harley-Davidsons, Goldwings and other “Baggers” are known for their lack of gear, particularly helmets. Would they fair better or worse than riders of scooters?
I started by thinking about the most common and most important pieces of protection we wear. I came up with five categories: helmets, jackets, gloves, leg-wear and footwear. I figured that by observing different riders, I could give each a score of zero to five that would represent how protected they were as the rode. It occurred to me a bit later, that this would not be entirely accurate. A guy wearing boots, pants and a pair of gloves, for a score of 3 in my simple system, is probably not as well protected as a rider wear only a helmet and leather jacket (score: 2.)
I then further subdivided my five categories into a few more areas, allowing me to refine my protection observations. Helmets I divided into full-face, other than full-face and none. Jackets are divided into armored or leather, other and none. Gloves are still yes or no. I can’t really get close enough to know how good a pair of gloves are. Leg-wear is divided into riding specific pants or chaps, plain street pants or none, which doesn’t mean that the rider is bottomless, just that they were wearing shorts or a skirt or something other than long pants. Footwear is similar. The best protection is a pair of boots, followed by shoes that cover the entire foot, but not the ankles. The zero score includes sandals, flip-flops or anything that does not cover the entire foot.
This allowed me to make a weighted scale. I increased this to a 10 point scale and weighted each answer consistent with the overall importance of each category. The number of points for each item is as follows:
Item – Points given
Full Face – 3
Other Helmet – 2
No Helmet – 0
Armored Jacket – 2
Other Jacket – 1
No Jacket – 0
Gloves – 2
No Gloves – 0
Riding Pants – 1.5
Plain Pants – 1
Other than Pants – 0
Boots – 1.5
Shoes – 1
Other Footwear – 0
All that remained was to get out and make some actual observations. I did make some “rules” for this as well:
- Observe at a variety of places around town.
Observe at a variety of times and days of the week. Thus I could grade commuters and the casual riders.
Don’t observe around the airbase. The Air Force requires a certain amount of gear. This would artificially inflate the numbers.
I didn’t want to observe scooters at any of our club events. There is a certain amount of peer pressure to wear gear. Again, this would artificially inflate scooter scores.
I wouldn’t make observations at any group ride of any type of bike. Again, peer pressure or group dynamics may artificially increase or decrease scores for that particular group.
I took note of weather and time of day. This first group of observations took place with temps in the 90’s. I will endeavor to do another set when temps cool a bit and see if there is any shift in the numbers.
I wanted to get a sample of at least 20 bikes in each of the three major types of bikes: Cruisers, Sport Bikes and Scooters. (I didn’t quite succeed.)
I took observations on 71 different bikes (27 cruisers, 25 street and 19 scooters) on about 20 different days, in about 15 different locations. Temperatures at the times were between 82 and 102 degrees. I only charted the numbers on bikes where I could clearly see the entire body of the rider. I especially liked parking at intersections so that I could visualized the riders’ feet when they stopped.
So what were the results? Well, with only a relatively small sample, my hypothesis is spot on. Using the weighted scale, the numbers look this this:
Sport Bikes – 7
Cruisers – 4.69
Scooters – 3.42
As a scooter rider, I am appalled, but not surprised. Some time ago, when I was writing an article about hot weather riding, I took random pics of riders on a hot day to put in the article. It was then that I noted so many scooter riders not wearing gear. I know a lot of riders crying ATGATT (All The Gear, All The Time) on forums and on Facebook, but my “on the street” observations tell a different story.
I also looked at averages on the individual pieces of gear. Helmet use (the single most important piece of gear) was the only in which scooterists were not dead last. (Numbers in the table below are percentages.
% Full Face
Sport Bikes – 88
Cruisers – 41
Scooters – 32
% Other Helmet
Sport Bikes – 0
Cruisers – 15
Scooters – 37
% No Helmet
Sport Bikes – 12
Cruisers – 44
Scooters – 32
Total % with a Helmet
Sport Bikes – 88
Cruisers – 56
Scooters – 69
So, we scooterists came in second place, but still almost 20 percentage points behind the sport bikers. Also of note is that we are the smallest wearers of full face helmets. I’ve seen it reported that 40% of all injuries to the head in motorcycle crashes, occur to the face. Some of us in our Tucson club have personally seen what happens when someone crashes wearing a ¾ helmet. Also, 1/3 of us, aren’t wearing helmets at all.
How about the other areas? Here are the highlights of the other areas I was monitoring:
% Wearing Jackets
Sport Bikes – 48
Cruisers – 15
Scooters – 11
% wearing Gloves
Sport Bikes – 76
Cruisers – 41
Scooters – 11
% wearing NO leg protection
Sport Bikes – 36
Cruisers – 15
Scooters – 58
% Wearing NO foot protection
Sport Bikes – 0
Cruisers – 4
Scooters – 26
More than of us wear shorts? More than a quarter of us don’t even bother putting on a pair of shoes? If I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes, I would have a hard time believing this.
As I was acquiring the data and as I began to note the patterns, I began to wonder what conclusions could be made from this. Quite frankly, I haven’t thought of one yet. However, I hope this does cause us to think about our choices of what we wear when we ride.
What about you? What do you think about the above? I am looking forward to your comments.
***Call to Action – I would like to expand this research and get numbers from YOUR neck of the woods. If you would like to help out, please send me an email or private message.
For two or three years now, I have been trying to take a ride on Route 191, formerly Route 666, aka “the Devils Highway.” The part I was interested in covers about 90 miles between Morenci and Alpine, AZ. Those 90 miles are some of the most remote, least traveled miles of any road in the US. They are also twisting, turning, climbing and descending miles of fun for those people on two-wheels.
Route 191 is on the eastern edge of AZ, very near the New Mexico state line. Because of how twisty it is, much of the speed limit is 25mph and many of the curves have suggested speeds of 10-15mph. That means that it takes 3 hours or more to cover that 90 mile stretch. Therefore, I needed at least 2 days to get from Tucson, ride 191, then get back home. I looked for other things to see/do and other roads to ride since I was going to be out for a couple of days.
I learned of a place called Pie Town, NM a few years back. It is a wide spot in the road along US 60, between Socorro, NM and Springerville, AZ. Pie Town has been around for a long time, and for much of that time, there has been someone there serving pie to weary travellers. What could be more fun than getting a piece of pie in a place called Pie Town? I wanted to include Pie Town in my ride, but it is quite a ways (70 miles east of Route 191) out of the way, meaning an additional 140 miles of riding. Could I find another fun road in New Mexico and use Pie Town as a “way point?” Of course I could.
In 2012, I rode my scooter to Roswell and back, to see my grandmother. I was trying to avoid as much interstate as possible and NM Route 152 which runs between Caballo and Silver City was suggested by a friend (thanks, Sean.) I rode it and found it to be equal to, or better riding than Rt 191. In 2011, I had discovered Route 78 between NM 180 and Route 191. It was another excellent road to ride.
Putting these together allowed me to ride three superb motorcycle roads in one 3-day, 900 mile ride. I figured Day #1 to Springerville, AZ or Quemado, NM via Route 191. Day #2 hits the Pie-O-Neer in Pie Town during business hours, then finishes in Truth or Consequences, NM. (I found out that several hotels there have natural hot spring baths/spas making it an obvious stop for folks that have just ridden 600 miles.) Day #3 hits NM 152, Silver City, then Route 78.
I came up with this plan in late 2012 or early 2013 but carrying the plan out was fairly hard. One reason was because the route climbs as high as 9000 feet in places and snow or freezing temps are common much of the year. Another reason is that much of the route crosses serious desert terrain with 100+ degree temps likely from late May through September. Basically, there were 2 small windows of opportunity to do this ride as safely as possible; Mid-May or early October. We tried to do this a time or two, but something would happen and it would delay the ride by 6 months.
This year, I had planned a 7 day scooter tour, which included most of the above. Life happened and I had to postpone the tour, but at the last minute, I was able to to take 3 days off. I decided to give the original plan a try. A couple of friends were able to come along. A huge thanks to my long time ride buddy, John Kiniston and to Randy & Cheri Hays for accompanying me.
Here is my account of the “Pie Town Ride”:
Day #1 – Randy and Cheri have a cabin in Lakeside, AZ, so we changed made our destination for the first night. We would be riding with me on my 250cc Honda Helix, John on his 250cc Hyosung and Randy piloting his 400cc Burgman, 2-up with Cheri. I decided to take I-10 as far as Willcox to give us additional time to spend on 191. (If you want to repeat this but avoid interstate entirely, take US 70 from Globe to Safford, AZ. US 70 adds miles and time from Tucson.) We met at my newest, favorite coffee shop, Yellow Brick. We were on the road by 8:00am and stopped for breakfast at the Reb’s Cafe & Coffee Shop, in Benson, AZ. From there is was another 45 miles mile of I-10 til we exited onto Route 191, (the flat, straight part) then through Safford to Clifton/Morenci and the base of the good part of 191. Since there are no services and few other vehicles on this road, we all topped off our tanks on Clifton. We found Clifton to be a really neat little town and hope that we can return there sometime to explore.
The road begins to climb rapidly through Morenci, which is a town which owes its existence to one of the world’s largest open pit copper mines. There are some spectacular views of the mines as you begin the first major climb of the ride. If you do a You Tube search for Route 191 or Devil’s Highway, you can watch video of various people riding this ride. None do it justice. The camera just doesn’t catch the steepness of the grades or how tight some of the corners really are. That said, you should watch a couple anyway. There are three climbs in this 90 miles stretch. The first takes you rapidly from about 3500 feet, in Clifton, to about 7400 feet. Then it descends to about 6000 feet for a few miles and the switchback carry you to around 8000′. Another descent to around 7000′ then some more switchbacks and cliffhangers take you to over 9000′ prior to reaching Hannigan Meadow. There is a lodge there, but I don’t think they are open year round. They may, or may not, have fuel. If open, you may be able to get a meal there if you arrive when they are serving. We didn’t.
Important note: we found the condition of the road surface to back a bit dangerous. The top layer of asphalt is wearing done and, in many corners, has turned into a fine, black sandy material. If you have a fear of heights, there are no guardrails. Also, there is almost a complete absence of caution signs for sharp curves, turns etc. This is in stark contrast to NM 152 which has great signage.
Temperatures dropped throughout the ride. Each time we stopped, one or more of us put on another layer of clothing. We arrived at Alpine, AZ about 4:00pm, with temps in the mid 50’s and a blustery wind blowing. We stopped in for food and hot drinks at the Bear Wallow Cafe. Because this ride was all about pie, I ordered a piece here. It was pretty good.
From Alpine, it was another 70 miles to Randy’s cabin. Temps dropped a bit more and the winds continued. Fortunately, we were in the forest much of this last section and the wind wasn’t too bad. We arrived at the cabin with electricity, for charging our devices but no gas for heat. We got a roaring fire going, which Randy stoked intermittently during the night, grabbed a bunch of blankets and went to bed.
Day #2 – The forecast had called for a low of about 30 degrees, so we planned on a late start, to allow temps to climb a bit. After a leisurely breakfast, we rode out around 10:00am. The problem with waiting until it was warmer, was the fact that John and I still had over 300 miles to ride. (Randy and Cheri would ride to Pie Town with us, but had to return to the cabin to fix the gas issue.)
The wind was with us again this day. Fortunately, it was, mostly, at our backs for the ride to Pie Town. There is some beautiful scenery along US 60, but not much in the way of fun riding. It is mostly long and straight. Pie Town, though, did not disappoint me. As I mentioned earlier, I had known of Pie Town for a few years. Randy and Cheri, though, have known the proprietor for a while. Earlier this year, I was privileged to see a documentary about Kathy Knapp and her pie shop, the Pie-O-Neer. It’s called “The Pie Lady of Pie Town” and it is a wonderful film. I got to meet Kathy at a showing of the film in Tucson, so it was nice to see her and the place the film is about. Business was brisk, but we ordered our pie and enjoyed some time at the pie shop. The pie isn’t the best I’ve ever eaten, but it is very good. If you combine the good pie and the “Pie Town Experience” it is well worth the trip, from where ever you started. By the way, there are two pie shops in Pie Town: The Pie-O-Neer and the Pie Town Cafe’. Rather than competing with one another, they compliment each other. They are open on different days of the week so that there is always pie in Pie Town.
Happy to be in Pie Town
John and I rode out of Pie Town after pie and coffee with about 170 miles of road and wind ahead of us. One, very interesting thing between Pie Town and Socorro is the VLA, the Very Large Array.
At least the temperature increased as the elevation decreased. The 85 miles to Socorro is unremarkable. We were both a bit hungry, but didn’t see any place to eat as we rode through the south end of Socorro. The gas station attendant told me that we were only about 10 miles north of San Antonio, NM. San Antonio isn’t much larger than Pie Town but it, too, has something for which it is well known: green chili cheeseburgers from The Owl Bar and Grill. We turned south and stopped at The Owl. I don’t think it was the best burger I’ve ever eaten, but it was good and the service was very good, too.
The main route south, out of Socorro, is Interstate 25. If you are traveling out that way and aren’t in a huge hurry, I recommend driving NM State Road 1. It is the old highway and mostly parallels I-25. Again, there is nice scenery along here. SR #1 takes you through a wildlife refuge and by several ranches. The wind was very difficult. It was very strong with harsh, sharp gusts. At times, it felt as if the wind was trying to rip the helmet off of my head. My scooter would shudder and shake as gusts slammed into me. The worst part of the ride was a 2 miles segment of I-25 from the end of SR #1 to the exit for NM 181. We had to ride through a deep, steep ravine with the wind howling through it. Both of us had “death grips” on our handle bars, but we blew in to Truth or Consequences unscathed.
If you ever get the chance to stay in T or C, I recommend staying at the Pelican Spa. Rates start at $45 and guests get unlimited use of the hot mineral baths from 9:00am until about 11:00pm. The hotel itself is quirky and fun. If you can’t stand bright colors, this isn’t the place for you. We got some tasty ice cream at a little mom and pop shop, spent some time soaking in hot springs, then enjoyed some night air before retiring.
Day #3 – We awoke with more wind forecast but with highs in the desert in the 70’s. It was in the mid-50’s when we got up, but we still had a lot of mountain riding ahead of us. We had a very nice breakfast at a really neat coffee and pastry shop, downtown, called The Passionate Pie Café. (Another pie reference.) We didn’t have pie, but the eggs, bacon and bacon waffle were delicious. I highly recommend this place if you pass through T or C.
After looking at all the wonderful old buildings downtown, we headed away from town via NM 187. It roughly parallels I-25 as well and has more twists and turns than SR 1 did. You also get a couple of nice views of Caballo Lake. We turned onto NM 152 at Caballo.
The first 15 miles pass through rolling hills with gentle sweeping curves. Just prior to the tiny, yet interesting, hamlet of Hillsboro, there are some tighter sweepers as the roadway drops into the Percha Creek Valley. Spend some time looking around Hillsboro if you pass through.
The road follows Percha Creek for the next few miles, until you reach Kingston. Kingston has an interesting history (don’t all towns?) but there isn’t much left of the town, now. There is, however, beautiful little cemetery less than a mile from town as you continue on 152. It has the final resting place of the only Congressional Medal of Honor winner I’ve ever “met”: 1st Sergeant James McNally. RIP, sir.
After leaving Kingston, Rt 152 leaves the creek bed and starts climb up the Black Range mountains through a series of switchbacks and very sharp turns. In 7 or 8 miles it climbs more than 2000 feet to Emory Pass (8228 feet.) John and I got off the bikes to take a few pics from the viewing area. The wind was till blowing quite hard and, as I was taking pictures, my scooter was blown over. The 1996 Helix was in near mint condition and now has 2 cracked lenses and multiple scratches and rubs on her left side. I mourned briefly, for my scooter’s lost beauty, hopped on and continued down the road.
The road down the west side of the mountains is as beautiful and fun as the east side. We stopped for more pictures and a quick rest at the Chino Mine. It is the second largest open pit mine in the world with the first being in Chile. The last time I was through here, I had seen a sign for Fort Bayard. This time we decided to check it out. I am so glad we did. It is an interesting, though eerie place. (Abandoned hospitals seem to be spookier than most other buildings.)
Route 152 ends at its junction with US 180. 180 goes south to Deming. If you follow it north, it ends at Route 191 at Alpine. We followed it into Silver City, where we got fuel and lunch at a little downtown diner. At this point, we could continue on Route 180, or turn southwest onto Route 90, to Lordsburg and I-10 home. We weren’t in a hurry and chose to continue on 180 to Route 78 for our last fun piece of road.
It’s about 45 miles from Silver City to the Route 78 junction. About half of that is along the Gila River Valley, which is beautiful. You pass the two tiny towns of Cliff and Buckhorn along the way.
Route 78 is only about 35 miles from start to finish. The first half is very scenic through rolling hills with some fast sweeping turns. You gradually climb back into the trees until you reach the AZ state line. Once in AZ, the road begins to descend. It starts with many tight turns and switchbacks. A few miles later, the sweepers return. There are some spectacular views as you return to the desert.
At Three Way, we got back onto Route 191 (about 10 miles south of Clifton) and rode into Safford. John was on fumes by the time we got there.
There are no direct ways back to Tucson from Safford. You can either go northwest on US 70 to Globe, then south on Route 77, or you can go due south on route 191 to I-10, then take it into town. Both have advantages and disadvantages. Going south is shorter, but you have to go on the interstate. We chose to take I-10 even though the wind continued to blow. (I am okay with riding in the wind OR riding on the interstate, but I really don’t care for the combination.)
Traffic was light down 191 and on I-10. We headed west and made out last fuel stop just past Benson. We talked about it and decided to stay on I-10 all the way to Tucson unless the traffic got bad. It did, so we exited the interstate at Marsh Station Road and then were able to, leisurely, ride the rest of the way. Upon arriving home, I checked my trip odometer and it showed 998.3 miles since my first stop for gas prior to starting the ride on Day #1. Not bad for 3 days on a scooter.
May is a very windy time of year. I think that I will try to conduct future long rides later in the summer or in early fall. We had an amazing time and I am glad to be able to tell people that I rode 1000 miles for a piece of pie.
Here are a few other pics from the ride: