Posts Tagged ‘Arizona Highways’

postheadericon The Great Southwest Scooter Fiesta – Anatomy of a Rally Part II


When we ended Part I, we Sky Island Riders had made it to the main event at Joe’s Farm Grill on Ray Road. We had been scoping out the bikes and talking. All three of us really enjoyed talking to the AZ Ruck-Stars, the local Honda Ruckus club. They had some really sweet bikes, several of which had been stretched and now had 125 – 150cc motors.

The AZ Ruck Stars – The won “Best modern” and “Most Unusual” scooters.

A little after 2:00pm, we left out for the South Mountain Ride. The first two years of Scooter Fiesta this ride was done on Sunday morning. We had opted to skip the Sunday ride and had ridden home, so we were glad we finally got a chance to ride South Mountain.

On the ride to South Mountain

At Dobbin’s Point, fixin’ to check out the view.

Cool stone house in the foreground, Phoenix in the background.

This is another excellent, though short ride. Central Ave, heading south from downtown Phoenix, goes straight into South Mountain Park. From the gate, to Dobbins Point scenic view point, is just under 6 miles. This isn’t as twisty as Route 88, but it is still a pretty sweet little ride. The reward is when you get to Dobbins Point. The view of the Phoenix metro area is amazing. You are high enough to see a long ways, but low enough that you can still make out a lot of detail.

I positioned myself on the corner where I had a clear view of at least 3 curves.

Sean and his Riva 180 carving the curve.

Sean and I took off ahead of the group for this ride back, so we could get some action photos. I’m no photographer, but I think a couple of them came out okay.

They took great care of us at La Famiglia

Enjoying fine food and fellowship with scooter people

Since it takes so long to move around Phoenix via surface street, it was just about dinner time by the time we got back into town from South Mountain. Dinner was at La Famiglia Italian Restaurant in Chandler. This another good venue. There was plenty of outdoor seating and the service and food were wonderful. They let us park out scooters right on the sidewalk in front of the restaurant.

The Sugar Bowl. Go There!

When dinner was winding down, the Sky Island Riders, again, felt the night for more riding. “How about a dessert ride?” we asked the group. There were no takers, but that didn’t stop us. My brand new, November, issue of Arizona Highways (I just love this magazine.) has an article entitled “Retro Arizona.” In it, the 40+ year old ice cream joint called The Sugar Bowl, is mentioned. Ice cream? After a hot, sunny day AND it’s recommended by AZ Highways? Say no more!

It was a simple route from La Familia: Straight north on Alma School Road, west on Indian School Rd, left on Scottsdale Rd and “presto!” there it is. This worked mostly according to plan until I missed the turn onto Indian School and took us a few extra miles into the reservation.

I don’t have the equipment for decent night pics at AZ Falls.

Look Ma! I’m in a tube thing!

This downtown part of Scottsdale is quite lovely. There are many sculptures in and around the road. The ice cream at the Sugar Bowl was superb. We decided to make a slight detour to GR Herberger Park, aka Arizona Falls. John and I had gone here earlier this year for the Scarabs “Rapture Ride” and really liked it, so we came back.

Here I am in front of part of AZ Falls back in May, for the Rapture Ride.

It was getting late, so we took the easy way back to the hotel. We went south on 52nd St (with Billy Joel songs in my head) then east on Van Buren and kept following that as it turned into Mill St. From there, we retraced our steps from the previous night, through the Mill st District and back along the amazing Apache Blvd.


This year, we decided not to skip the Sunday ride. The ride was to Saguaro Lake. We had ridden this on Saturday the two previous years, so we new it was a good ride. Breakfast was to be held at the lake, so we met up Vespa of Chandler, drooled over some new Vespa’s and some BMW’s, and hit the road. Tyler, the manager there, is very nice and is a good host as well.

There was a rumor the Ellsworth Rd/Usery Pass was under construction, so we went in via Power Road which goes all the way to the lake. I had never been this way before, so it was a treat. I always love riding a road on which I’ve never been.

Scooters near the lake.

The Lakeshore Restaurant at Saguaro Lake is just what you would expect from the only restaurant located in a popular recreation area. It is pricey and the food is mediocre. The location and view from the patio almost compensate for those shortcomings. The company, though, made it worth it though. We had more great conversation with scooter people. That makes any dive into a 5-Star Bistro.

We still had over 120 miles to ride before our rally was over, so we said our “Good-byes” and our “See you at the Fall Classics,” jumped on the bikes and headed south. We initially thought about gong home via US-60 to Globe and down, but we had ridden the bikes pretty hard for 2 days, so we selected something a little more sedate.

“Insert lewd caption here”

From Saguaro Lake, we went to Usery Pass and turned south. Usery Pass becomes Ellsworth and we were able to take this all the way to Hunt Highway, south of Queen Creek. Road quality was good and there aren’t too many stop light that far east. Still wanting to avoid Route 77 and Oracle Road, we turned south onto Attaway Rd outside of Florence then west onto Route 287 and from there we back-tracked our Friday route back through Coolidge, to Picacho and back to Tucson.

Sign at Joe’s Farm Grill.

Here is the Google Map detailing Part II. Click on the icons to see what they are.

View Scooter Fiesta Part II – The Anatomy of a Rally in a larger map

Scooter rallies are different things to different people. We chose to make this a time of food, exploring, making/renewing friendships and, of course, riding. I think rallies are important part of attracting new scooter riders and networking between various individuals and organizations in the scooter community. I hope you check out the Sky Island Riders’ Calendar and make plans to attend an upcoming rally. You will be glad you did.

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postheadericon Arizona Highways – From Article to Actuality

I have subscribed to Arizona Highways magazine for years. The pictures are phenomenal. One of the parts I most enjoy is the “Scenic Drive” segment located near the back of the magazine. I get some great ideas for rides from it. This month (October, 2011) there is a full piece entitled “One for the Roads.” It details ten scenic drives located in various areas around the state. Number 5 is Mescal Road.

Any road deemed “scenic” by the staff of Arizona Highways is one I want to ride, especially if it is fairly close to home. So, I decided to give it a go. The Accessibility part states “A high-clearance vehicle is recommended” so, naturally, I knew I would be fine. (I know, Ron, these scooters weren’t made for this, but I can’t help myself.)

Mescal Road starts at Exit #297 off of Interstate 10, approximately 40 miles east of Tucson. Anyone who has read more than a couple of blog entries here, knows how I feel about travelling via interstate, so my first planning act was to plot a route to Mescal Rd that used little or no interstate. Doing this, also helped me find another great road.

I knew that I could take the access road near Vail to the Route 83/Sonoita Highway Exit. That would get me 15 miles from Exit 297. I looked closer and saw that the access road become Marsh Station Road continues all the way to the Marsh Station Exit (#291) of I-10. That got me just 6 miles from Mescal Rd, with the added bonus of riding a stretch of road I had never ridden before. Excellent!

I packed up my camera and the Go-Pro and headed out on a recent day off. I rode out to Vail, fueled up and bought an extra large gatorade. (I forgot my hydration pack at home and wanted to have SOMETHING in the scoot in case I broke down in the middle of nowhere again.

great Bridge on Marsh Station Rd

Marsh Station Road is a hidden treasure. Road quality is fair. There are lots of cracks and a few potholes, quite a few of which were recently repaired. Marsh Station is a winding road with a lot of rollers. It also takes you over a beautiful old bridge, where you get a view of the railroad. I was fortunate to catch a train going past, just as I got there.

Agua Verde Castle

A little further along Marsh Station, you get a pretty good view of Agua Verde (aka DuPont) Castle. I have seen the castle from I-10 and have wanted to get a closer view, so this was a treat.

The Marsh Station overpass is brand new, so about a half mile from the bridge, I was riding on brand new asphalt. I hopped on I-10 and cruised the 6 miles to Mescal Road. By the way, the road quality of I-10 in this segment is appalling. It has many potholes and it is generally rough riding.

This is the movie set “town” of Mescal

Closed to the public, bah!

The community of Mescal is located at Exit 297/ I think it is unincorporated. there is gas and food available here if you need it. The name, Mescal, can be misleading though, because it is also the name of the old west movie set three miles north of I-10 on Mescal Road. The set is owned by Old Tucson Studios and has been used in quite a few western movies including The Quick and the Dead, with Gene Hackman. This is another place that I have seen from I-10 and always wanted to get a closer look. Mescal Road gets you within about a half mile from the set. There was a big sign stating “Closed to the Public” the day I was there, so I took a few pics and continued my adventure.

That is sand piled up on the side of the road, and it’s still deep on the roadway.

The pavement on Mescal Road, ends at the road to Mescal, the movie set. For the first mile or so, the dirt road is wide, smooth and well maintained. That quickly changed. I crossed a couple of very large patches of deep sand. Road width fluctuates drastically and quickly. I started thinking that this ride would take a very long time since there were place where I was going less than 10mph and was dodging large rocks.

Some Riparian area for your enjoyment

About 8 miles along, I pulled off to the side of the road and attached the Go-Pro to the front of the bike. I figured dodging big rocks and “swimming” through deep sand would make for decent video. As luck would have it, road quality improved quite a bit as I rode along. I was still dirt road, but the large sandy areas were gone, as were big rocks in the road. The scenery was very nice, though. The road climbs about 2000 feet, to a max elevation of about 4500 feet.

Once I entered the Coronado National Forest boundary, I began seeing tents and campers. Most of the people I saw were dressed in camouflage, so I assume it was hunting season for some kind of critter or another.

Desert or Prairie?

The road follows a couple of stream beds (none of which were flowing) which create some nice riparian areas with unique flora and fauna. There were entrances to a couple of ranches as well along with some horse and cows.

I followed the road for about 20 miles and enjoyed the sights, sounds and smells of this high desert area. The road began getting more and more narrow. Eventually I came to a gate and turned around. The gate had a sign that read “Please close the gate behind you” so I could have kept going, but the road beyond the gate looked more like trail than road.

I was more confident in my riding on the way out, so I pickedup my speed a bit and tried to get up “on top” of the washboards. I did smooth out the ride a bit, but slowing down to make the sharper corners was interesting. so I kept my speed around 25mph. I took the exact same route back home as I had used on the way out.\

I got a little too confident, however. I was zipping along around 30mph, hit the bottom of a little hill and the Go-Pro popped off the bike and into the dirt. I quickly turned around to survey the damage. The camera had come out of the protective case, the back cover came off and the battery flew out. It took me a couple of minutes, but I found everything. I was afraid the camera was damaged, but it worked fine when I got it home.

Here is the edited video and some pics that I shot during this ride. You may have seen this before. It’s the same video I posted about a week ago.

This was an enjoyable ride. I don’t know that I would “highly” recommend it though. I seen prettier scenery in quite a few places. If I’m going to punish myself and my bike, I can think of better dirt roads to ride as well. Marsh Station is a pretty cool little ride, but it goes nowhere and it’s not very long.

Here is the ride map of this little ride.

Info from My Tracks:

  • Total Distance: 75 miles
  • Avg Speed: 31 mph
  • Max Elev: 4,470 ft
  • Min Grade: 8.5%
  • Max grade: 19.8%
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