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postheadericon Fellowship of the Scoot – Part II (Changes in the plan)

We saw many rainbows on day #1. we knew all would turn out okay.

In Part I we had made it through wind and rain to our destination in Cottonwood, AZ. As night fell, so did the rain and the temperatures. I checked area forecasts (I love smart phones) and found that 1-2 inches of snow were forecast for Flagstaff and the top of Oak Creek Canyon. Rain with below freezing temps, followed by snow seemed like a potentially dangerous combination for save riding so I started looking at alternate routes.

The thought of skipping the ride up Oak Creek was saddening, but safety had to be taken into account. My fellow riders were gracious and said they were willing to ride whatever route I created. I didn’t want to just turn around and go back the way we came, but I needed to try to keep us to lower elevation, at least until we had gone south a ways. Once again, I came back to the trip I had taken the previous August, except that I wanted to make sure we at least rode through Sedona.

We awoke to this scene. This is looking east toward Sedona, from Cottonwood.

My route idea had one area of concern. It would require a 7 or 8 mile sprint down I-17 from Highway 179 to Camp Verde. I had to check with the other riders before committing us to riding interstate, especially  where there is heavy traffic with lots of trucks and RV’s concerned. I asked and we all agreed that we could handle it. I did a few more checks and came up with this route back to Tucson:

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This route still took us up to 7000 feet, but at a point about 40 miles south of Flagstaff, plus it would be later in the day before we got there, thus giving the, inevitable, warming temperatures a chance to melt off any precipitation of the frozen persuasion.

Our intrepid adventurers roughing it at The Coffee Pot

To give it a chance to warm up a bit, we took our time getting on the bikes in the morning. We left Cottonwood around 8:30 and rode to Sedona for breakfast. The temperature was about 40 degrees and it was still windy and it looked like it would rain any minute. The drive/ride along Route 89A into Sedona was beautiful. As we were coming into Sedona, the sun was breaking through the clouds and “spotlighting” various rock formations. It was hard trying to catch it with my camera as were riding, but I gave it a shot.

The sun was shining out in various places and “spotlighting” different rock formations. The effect was gorgeous.

We went to Sedona’s famous Coffee Pot Restaurant (Home of 101 Omelettes) for breakfast. There was quite a wait to get our table, but we all enjoyed our food. It was about 10:30am before we pulled out of Sedona but we were warm and full of tasty food. We went to Highway 179 and turned south toward the Village of Oak Creek. Hwy 179 is another very scenic road and is part of the Red Rock Scenic By-Way. It’s only 15 miles but there are many, many places where you will want to stop and take pictures.We pulled off at one such place and took a few pics.

Scooters on the Red Rock Scenic By-Way

At the base of that red mountain is the Church in the Rock.

We arrived at the junction with I-17, took a deep breath, opened our throttles and merged. I put Warren and his PCX in front so could set the pace. His little Honda had impressed me the day before and continued to do so on this day. We zoomed down to Camp Verde as fast as that little scooter would go.

This is some of the rugged country east of Camp Verde.

At Camp Verde, we turned east, onto Route 260, aka the General Crook Trail. From here we climbed from 3600 feet to almost 7000 feet over the next 25 miles, until we were up on the Mogollon Rim. Although we still hadn’t been rained on, it was still cold and  windy and once on the top of the rim, there were patches of snow on the side of the road. Brrrr! (You’ll have to trust me. It was too windy to try and take pics of the snow as we were riding.) Snow and wind aside, road quality on Route 260 and Highway 179 is very good.

Route 260 joins with Route 87 about 33 miles from Camp Verde. This was where we joined our originally planned route.After just a few miles on the top of the Rim, we began the steep descent toward the villages of Strawberry and Pine. Even though the sun had finally shown itself, we were getting pretty chilled, so we stopped in Pine to get fuel and something hot to drink.  We stopped at HB’s Place where I had my first ever piece of Oatmeal Pie. Wow! It was exceptional.

This was my first piece of Oatmeal Pie, but it sure was good.

Now that we were warm again, the sun was out and lower elevations were ahead, we rode out with smiles on our faces and hopes of a bit more adventure before getting back home. We followed Route 87 through Payson until we reached the Junction with Route 188, where we turned toward Roosevelt Lake. We made a brief stop in Pumpkin Center just prior to getting to the lake.

Nearing Lake Roosevelt on Route 188.

Once to Roosevelt Lake, we stopped at the dam for a rest and some pics. One of these days, I will ride down Route 88 from Roosevelt into Apache Junction. It is unpaved most of the way, so this day was not the day to do it. From the dam it is about 30 miles to Globe, where had decided we would eat our afternoon meal.

            

Gathered to rest and take pics of the bridge, lake and dam.

 

If you look very near the center of this pics, you can see a faint horizontal line. That is AZ-288, aka the road to Young, AZ.

After a bit of hunting, we decided to eat at De Marcos, which is right off of  Us-60 in Globe. It was dusk as we left the restaurant. One thing I have learned about myself is that I don’t like riding mountain roads at dusk or at night. Every shadow starts looking like a deer preparing to leap out at me. This can be quite terrifying at times.

Two huge tunnels going into the mine near Globe

Darkness fell as we turned onto Route 77 for the final stretch toward Tucson. Only 100 more miles to go. I had Warren take the lead again so I had tail lights to focus on rather than shadows. We took a break at Winkelman and had an uneventful ride the rest of the way into Tucson.

From door to door, my odometer showed a total mileage of about 640 miles over the two days. I had a blast and would do it again in a heartbeat. As a matter of fact, since we missed out on Oak Creek Canyon and Flagstaff, we are trying to figure out when we try this again.

Good friends and good rides make life good

 

Howard

 

 

 

 

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postheadericon Never too Old to go to Young, AZ

A lot of my friends, both riders and non-riders, read this blog from time to time. One of the things that is really great about that is that I get occasional suggestions on places to go or roads on which to travel. This installment is the result of one of those suggestions. (Thanks, Craig.)

It’s not often you see a state highway marker on a dirt road.

Have you ever heard of Young, AZ? Odds are that you haven’t, even if you’ve lived in Arizona for a very long time. It’s not because Young is small, although it is. It’s not because Young is located is micro-suburb hidden inside a city, quite the opposite. It certainly isn’t because Young is a forgotten ghost town or that it is “buried” under the waters of Lake Havasu. It is a living, thriving little community. This post is about how I found out about Young as well as how I got there and back.

One day, I got a Facebook message, from my friend Craig, asking me if I had ever been on AZ-288 from Roosevelt to Young, AZ. He was asking how I thought the road conditions would be for a street bike, since he had heard that the road was unpaved to Young was unpaved. I had to confess that I had never been on AZ-288. Actually, I had never even heard of it or this town called Young.

I quickly Googled it, found Young and AZ-288 in the middle of the Tonto National Forest. I mentally plotted a couple of potential routes there and back. My route to Young looked like this. Craig actually rode there 2 days later and told me a little about how beautiful it was, thus making sure that I would be riding there soon. It took a month before I could do it, but on a beautiful Thursday morning, another friend, Stan, and I headed out of Tucson headed for Young.

In Globe, looking west toward Miami. You can see the sign for Route 188 coming up on the right.

Young is located almost due north of Globe, so we took Route 77 out of Tucson. We have had decent rains this summer, so the trip up the San Pedro River Valley was absolutely beautiful. Once past the little town of Winkelman, Rt 77 begins to get more interesting. Over the next 24 miles, the road narrows, gets twisty and begins to climb. You will climb about 3000 feet until you reach Pinal Pass. From there it is a steady 8% down grade for about 9 miles until you reach the junction with US-60 about 3 miles east of Globe.

Globe is a really neat little town with a lot of great history. One of these days I will go there and take a bunch of pics just so Globe gets a proper write up. If you have the time, I recommend a little sight-seeing around the town.

 

The Highway 288 junction is a mile or so from this point. You can see Roosevelt Lake in the distance.

We went through Globe until the turn-off to Route 188/Apache Trail. This is also the road to Roosevelt Lake. About 15 miles after turning onto Rt188, in the middle of a long downhill where there is an incredible view of Lake Roosevelt, we made the turn onto Route 288, also known as the “Desert to Tall Pines Highway.” (Much like the ”Florence-Kelvin Highway” the word “highway” here is being used in a very liberal sense.)

 

You probably can’t see it in this pics, but there is an SUV on the top of that round, grassy area. We almost turned around to ride out there.

Route 288 is a scenically, fantastic road and is “paved” for the first 30 miles. Some of the “paving” has been recent, but they appear to have put down the world’s thinnest layer of asphalt. There were some new pot holes in the newly paved sections and the asphalt appears to be well under an inch in thickness. So, road quality for the first 30 miles is only fair, but it is well worth the trip.

Highway 288 goes from this

 

 

 

… to this…

 

 

 

 

 

 

… to this . . .

 

 

…. to this.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you want to turn around at the end of the pavement, you will still have taken a beautiful journey. Those first 30 miles climb about 3000 feet and there are beautiful views of Roosevelt Lake and inspiring mountain vistas as you continue to climb.

Malicious Gap? Great name

From the end of the paved area to Young, is about 18 miles. The road is fairly well maintained but it is far from smooth. Much of the road is over granite surfaces that cannot be grated smooth by heavy equipment. If it has rained recently, there will be a lot of debris in the roadway, so take the necessary precautions. Route 288 reaches a maximum elevation of almost 6400 feet before its descent to Young. Snow is not uncommon at this elevation during the winter.

ADVISORY – There is virtually no vehicular traffic along Rt-288 and patchy cell phone service. Make sure sure you and your vehicle are prepared for this journey.

You won’t have any problems with noisey neighbors out here.

 

If you enjoy camping, there are frequent pull-outs where people pull off the road and set up camp sites. I saw no notices regarding fees, so it may well be free, since there are no services. Do NOT, take my word for this.

 

This marker is located at a scenic overlook of Pleasant Valley

A mile or two from Young, you will experience the return of asphalt and will experience a new appreciation for it.

 

This is looking northeast as we entered Young.

Young is located in the middle of Pleasant Valley and it is, indeed, pleasant to look upon. When we visited, there was lush, green grass about as far as the eye could see, with stunning mountains in the distance, on all sides. We were hit by a rain squall as we dropped into the valley but it quickly dissipated and the sun returned.

 

I don’t see this as a crumbling heap. It’s a building with character that is maintenance challenged.

Young may be small (population 666 in 2010) and isolated, but still has an interesting history. It was originally named Pleasant Valley and it wasn’t always very pleasant. From 1882 to 1892 a series of gunfights, ambushes and lynchings took place that collectively are known as the Pleasant Valley War. This “war” resembles the Lincoln County Wars of New Mexico because it was based on the conflict between cattlemen and sheep herders concerning water and grazing rights and maybe a little bit of rustling thrown in to add fuel to the fire. Like Lincoln County, the Pleasant Valley conflict included the use of “hired guns.” In this case, Tom Horn, later immortalized in a movie of the same name, was hired by one of the two sides.

 

The Pleasant Valley conflict was especially tragic because it resulted in the complete destruction of two local families, the Tewksburys and the Grahams. Grave markers and some places of note from the conflict can still be seen in and around Young. Pleasant Valley was renamed Young in 1890 in honor of the town’s first postmaster, Ola Beth Young.

 

Another interesting fact I learn about Young, is that they didn’t have outside electricity there until 1965. Isn’t that weird to think about? There is only one school in Young, appropriately named Young Public School. It is K-12, in one school and my source says that it is not unusual for there to be zero graduates in a given school year.

 

A quick internet search (good thing, because you’re not going to get data access in Young) indicated two restaurants in the city. I saw a fellow working in his yard and asked which of the two (Antlers or Alice’s) he preferred. He said “Antlers” so off we went.

 

On our way in for some delicious food.

Antlers did not disappoint. I cannot compare it to Alice’s, but I can say that the food I had at Antler’s was exceptional. I can honestly say it was the best chicken-fried steak I have had in the state of Arizona. The sides were very good and my dessert, peach-rhubarb cobbler was outstanding. The service was as good as the food. I don’t know if I will ever get to young again, but if I do, I will go back to Antler’s.

 

Here is the main building for Young Public School

I hope you go to Young’s website during or after reading reading this piece. While there, read the entries on their guest book. One I found very interesting is by Phil Cody who says that he was in Young as a Hotshot fire fighter in 1975. At that time there were only three phone in the valley and two of those belonged to the forest service. Really? In 1975?  I thought Roswell was behind the times. Oh, if you sign the guest book, please let them know you found it from the Sky Island Riders.

I would really have liked to have spent a bit of time exploring Young, but we were still planning another 300 miles of riding. If you come here and decide to stay, there is at least one little hotel, the Pleasant Valley Inn, at which to stay.

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postheadericon Of Prescott Twisties to Jerome to AZ Rim Country and Home

The scenery as you approach Prescott on Route 89 is beautiful

In addition to our Sedona trip the past June, my wife and I also went there in May of 2010. On that occasion, we got there by going through Sedona via AZ Highways 89 and 89A from Wickenburg to Prescott then through Jerome and Cottonwood to Sedona. At the time, I talked about how awesome it would be to ride some of those roads on a scooter, knowing that it would probably never happen. It just seemed too far to ride from Tucson and I would need to rope someone into coming with me if I were going to bring it up in the back of my van.

I recently decided to ride it anyway. Since I am writing in two slightly different blogs, this one will be the technical aspect of the ride. This will include road conditions, speeds, etc so that if someone wants to replicate all or part of this ride, they will know some of what to expect. My other blog (In The Desert Scootin) will be more about how I felt, the fun parts, scary parts etc. I shot some video and will try to put some video in both posts.

Looking up at Jerome when it’s NOT raining.

The sections of road I most wanted to ride were Route 89, from Congress to Prescott, and Route 89A, from Prescott Valley to Clarkdale. The shortest route from Tucson to Jerome (the furthest point away) is just over 225 miles and that is taking I-10 and I-17 and does not include any of “the good parts” that I wanted to ride. so, no matter what, I knew I was looking at at least a 500 mile ride, but how to get there? We’ve already established that interstate travel is not generally my preferred method of scooting from point A to point B.

I love Google Maps. I put my start points and desired ends points, then started “pulling” then lines around to various streets, trying to find the most efficient route as well as one that helped me avoid trouble spots, like the entire Phoenix metro area. Additionally, I love to ride or drive roads that I’ve never been on before. There are few options when leaving Tucson going north, but once you get as far as Case Grande or Florence, you options open a bit.

I decided to do a clockwise loop, heading toward Prescott first. Here is the what the first segment of my journey, from Tucson to Prescott, looked like. I initially planned on riding the access road from Tucson to Picacho, but looked over at the interstate and traffic was light. I decided to make up time where I could, so I hopped on the interstate and rode to the Toltec exit then moved over to Arizona 84 into downtown Casa Grande. If If you want to go to Casa Grande, but don’t or can’t take the interstate, do this.

Picacho Peak, impressive, but looks the same as in my Kelvin highway post.

I had decided that the best way to avoid Phoenix traffic was to skirt around to the southwest, then find my way to US Highway 60. I saw that 51st St goes very far to the south. In order to get there I made my way to Maricopa, AZ along the Casa grande-Maricopa Highway. This road is straight and flat, but if you like agriculture and/or livestock you’ll have an interesting and odor-filled ride. From there it was to AZ 347 to Riggs Rd. 347 was probably the the fastest road I rode on. The speed limit is 55-65, however, most folks were driving closer to 75. It’s only about 10 miles to Riggs, so hang in there if you want to try this route.

Riggs turns in to Beltline, which becomes 51st. I took 51st, toward Phoenix, up to Buckeye Rd, then turned left, to get to the west side. This part of town is filled with warehouses and traffic was very light. There aren’t very many stoplights either so I moved quickly. I didn’t realize Buckeye went all the way to Cotton, aka Loop 303, so I turned north on Dysart to Van Buren then west again to Cotton.

Check out the sign at the base of this massive climb.

Click on the pic to make it bigger, then look in the middle and you can see the road climbing along the face of the mountain going from left to right.

Cotton quickly changed from warehouses back into farm land, but I moved quickly to US60, then northwest toward Wickenburg. I hadn’t done thorough research on fuel stops before heading out this time. I had filled up in Casa Grande and it was about 110 miles to Wickenburg, so I filled again. I was now getting very close to the first section of road that was my goal.

Elevation increased steadily and rapidly as I left the Phoenix area. I climbed 1000 feet in the 15 miles along US60 to Wickenburg, then 1000 more  in the 10 miles from Wickenburg to Congress. As I left Congress (Now on AZ-89) I saw a formidable range of mountains, the Weavers, rising before me. This climb reminded me of the early climb of Mount Lemmon. The road climbs about 1500 feet in about 5 miles. AZ89 is divided highway, 2 lanes each way, during this climb and is fairly scooter safe.

Here is how i set up the Go-Pro.

After reaching the top, I stopped in Peeple’s Valley and attached the Go-Pro. I had never put it on the RV250 and it was much more difficult than I anticipated. With it placed as good as I good get it, I set off again. Once I saw a road sign that said “No vehicles more than 40 feet long 7 miles ahead” I knew I was about to reach the first stretch I had been anticipating for over a year.

I started shooting 1 minute long videos after passing Wilhoit. This 15 mile stretch of road is some of the twistiest I have ever ridden. The curves come fast and furious. As soon as I exited one corner, it was time to set up for the next. It was great! I passed several motorcycle along the way.  The clouds had been thickening as I rode and, by the time I got to Prescott, it had started to sprinkle.

A Simba, electric stand up thingy and a Mad-Ass all in one place.

As I was crossing Prescott, a scooter store caught my eye and I stopped at Scooter & Auto Source and talked with Mark Tetreau for a bit. If you live anywhere from Phoenix to Flagstaff, you ought to go check them out. He had a great selection of scoots and, uh, other things.

Black storm moving in on the Black Hills

Rain looked like it was moving in, so made my stop brief and rode toward the next stretch of highway I was looking forward to crossing the Black Hills to Jerome. The hills were especially black because an enormous thunder storm cell was moving in there as well. I knew I was fixing to get wet.

Looking through the rain toward Jerome, down into the valley

This section is as good as the earlier one, even if dry. It not as twisty and it climbs from 5000 to 7000 feet, then descends steeply, so speeds are kept down. Add the fact that it was raining steadily so I was being pretty careful. It was still a whole lot of fun. By the time I got to Jerome, it was pouring. I would have liked to have seen a bit more of Jerome but I just cruised on through, trying to see where I was going. From the cliffs above Jerome, I could see sunlight down near Cottonwood, so I was looking forward to getting down there and drying out.

I had completed riding my goals and now just had to get home. The shortest route was to take interstate. As established, I don’t care for interstate and I-17 from Camp Verde to Phoenix is some of my least favorite. High speeds, steep downhills and some tricky curves make for dangerous riding. No thanks. I noticed, though, that taking AZ-260 to Payson, then 188 to Globe and back to Tucson, only added 30 miles to my total. I had never been on most of 260 and none of Route 188, so my choice was simple.

Even little Camp Verde has a Starbucks

I had hoped to dry off in Cottonwood, but every time I slowed down, the rain caught up with me. I decided to continue to Camp Verde. I knew I would fuel by then as well. I gassed and grabbed a snack and it had just started to rain as I pulled out.

I was surprised at how much climbing I did coming out of Camp Verde. CV is right at 3000 feet and a few miles down the road, I was back at 7000 feet. I was down to 35 mph at times as well.I made it to Strawberry and was relieved, because I knew it was mostly downhill from there. I had a great time exploring Arizona Rim Country on my last trip this way, so I enjoyed this trip as well.

Storm cell near Roosevelt Lake

AZ-188 was new to me as well. I was tired and a bit hungry at this point, but the ride past Roosevelt Lake was inspiring. Road quality remained high. There a bit more climbing from the lake to Globe. I stopped for fuel and food again in Globe. By the time I started on the final leg toward Tucson, it was dusk. I HATE riding at dusk. I would have pulled over and stopped to wait until full darkness, but I had been on the road too long.

A scoot, a bridge, a lake and a storm

The worst road quality I hit on this ride was between Winkelman and Oracle on AZ-77. Heavy trucks and rain had created debris in the road and small sections where the asphalt was crumbling and rough. This was made worse by the darkness.

Edit: Here are the “official” stats according to My Track – Android app:

  • Total Distance – 556 miles
  • Max Speed –           75.03 mph
  • Avg  Speed –           47.98 mph
  • Total Time –            15:09
  • Elev Gain –              23,025 feet
  • Min Elev –                       951 feet – In Goodyear, AZ
  • Max Elev –                 7,071 feet – Mingus Mtn
  • Min grade –                      -12.3%
  • Max grade –                       10.8%

Sorry for the length of this post, but it was a long ride. I hope you have the opportunity ride some or all of this ride. It was amazing.

Howard

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