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postheadericon Never too Old to go to Young, Part II

The previous post had Stan and I in the quaint little town of Young, full of excellent food from Antler’s Bar and ready to leave town.

 

This is the view of Pleasant Valley as you step out of Antlers.

I have mentioned in the past that I like loops, vs going to a place, then turning around and coming back home the same way. There are at least two ways in/out of Young so we left to the north via Forest Service Road 512. This would take us  to Route 260.  from there we would turn west and go to Payson.

 

There is fuel in young. This little place is on the north side of town on FR512

Look to the left and you can see the charred trees. A lot of sand has washed down into the roadway.

From Young it is about 25 miles to Route 260. The first 8 miles of FR-512 are paved. The rest of the way is dirt/gravel. I believe this is the main route in and out of Young, so it is well maintained. Be advised, because of deforestation from the recent fires, a lot of debris had washed into the roadway even on the paved section.   The worst problem with the dirt section was stretches of some serious “washboards.” Make sure your gear is well secured.  One additional note: about one mile outside of Young, there were a pair of signs pointing toward Highway 260. One pointed left, toward a road called Chamberlain Trail; the other point straight ahead at FR-512. In looking at Google Maps, Chamberlain Trail will get you to 260 and it’s about the same distance, but I don’t think it’s as well maintained. There are also several intersections to navigate and I wouldn’t gamble that they are well marked. Your choice, but maybe someone familiar with both roads will read this and leave a comment.

Not my photo, but you get the idea.

The other issue we had was the occasional car or truck barreling down at us at 40-50mph. (I have nightmares of people sliding into me while they are out playing “Rally Car Racer.”) We would have to pull over a bit until the dust had cleared.

 

As you go north out of Young, you will climb about 2000 feet, up onto the Mogollon (muggy-own) Rim, one of Arizona’s defining, though lesser known, geographic features. This escarpment separates the lowers, hotter, desert from the high country. The rim is about 200 miles long and there are campgrounds and hiking trails all along it’s length. If you’re lucky, you may even seen Rim Country’s own version of Bigfoot, the Mogollon Monster.

 

Take note: a lot of this is also open range. This guy was standing in the road until we got fairly close to him.

As with the southern approach into Young, there were more pull-outs for camping along the side of the road. There were some burned out areas from last year’s forest fires, but there are still many beautiful places to camp, hike and take pictures. One of the many things I love about riding through forest, is the smell. The pine trees always smell so good.

 

About 2 miles from the FR-512 junction on Route 260, there is a beautiful parking area where you can look over the edge of the Mogollon Rim and get a real appreciation of what is called “Rim Country.”

 

Is is about 30 miles to Payson from FR-512. This includes one rather steep descent. Road quality is, however, as of this writing, the road is under construction and there are places of force lane changes and active construction. Again, there may be snow and/or ice present in winter months.

 

Storm clouds were moving in as we got fuel at a Circle K outside of Payson.

Payson is a wonderful little town with a population of about 15,000 people. Is has numerous restaurants, services and places for lodging. If you need any services or supplies, you should be able to find them here. On this particular trip, there were some serious looking thunder storms approaching Payson, so we chose to get fuel and head south ASAP.

 

If you ever go on Route 188, next to Roosevelt Lake, you get to cross this groovey bridge

We had two main choices from AZ-87, to return to Tucson. The first was to take 87 until we hit Route 188 and take that around Roosevelt Lake, back to Globe and back to Tucson via Route 77. The other was to follow 87 until we hit the Phoenix metro area and take one of many roads south. I had looked at this prior to departure and thought Gilbert Road looked like a possibility.

 

This is the western edge of a thunderstorm that extended toward Roosevelt. We stayed on the Beeline.

I talked it over with Stan and we decided to let the weather be our guide. We finished gassing up and headed south on Highway 87 (aka the Beeline highway). As we reached the Route 188 junction and looked toward Roosevelt Lake, all we could see was a huge thunderstorm parked a few miles east of us. Gilbert Road it was, then. We continued south.

 

This is afternoon sunlight streaming over mountains northeast of Phoenix

If you ever have to cross the eastern side of the Phoenix metro area and hate busy, crowded, highways as I do, I recommend Gilbert, Power or Ellsworth Roads. Power and Ellsworth both connect with Bush Highway, which connects to the Beeline Highway about 50 miles south of Payson. Both roads continue all the way through the suburbs and terminate at Hunt highway, which takes you to the north side of Florence and allows you to return to Tucson via Route 77. Bush Highway has some nice, twisty sections and road quality is good, however, we were still running ahead of the storm, so I chose to continue to Gilbert Rd.

 

Gilbert Road is less than 20 miles from the Bush Highway intersection but it is still on the edge of the city, so there is only light traffic. It runs due south and 25 miles later, it dumps you out onto AZ-87. That’s right, the Beeline highway. Yes, you could have stayed on 87. It become Country Club Dr at McDowell in Mesa, then becomes Arizona Ave in Gilbert then turns back to the southeast where it, again, crosses Gilbert Rd before going into Coolidge.

 

The skies weren’t as dark as we got close to finishing our crossing of the Phoenix metro-plex. I did see as dust storm (aka Haboob) to our west as we were leaving the south end of Gilbert. I was glad we were going southeast.

 

As with many things, the pic doesn’t do the storm justice. We didn’t want to stop until we were through the worst of it.

We made the turn onto Highway 87 and ran smack into . . . . the dust storm. I have been in one dust storm worse than this one, but it was still an adventure. The wind picked up at the same rate that visibility decreased. I was debating on pulling off to the side of the road and waiting it out, but had images of a dust-blind car careening into us. We kept going.

 


We wanted to pull over just to get pictures of what we were experiencing. It was difficult, for the same reason as just mentioned. As we reached to tail end of the storm, I did manage to find a place to get off the road. We took a few pics and resumed our trip.

 

Darkness fell as we passed through Coolidge. A beautiful full moon rose over the mountains. you can still see some of the dust in the air.

Highway 87 gives you two main options to get back to Tucson. You can continue east at Coolidge and go on into Florence and take Route 77 or you can continue on 87 into Coolidge and on to Picacho. As I believe I have mentioned before, I hate coming into Tucson on 77, aka Oracle Road. Likewise, I really enjoy riding into Tucson on the I-10 access road between Picacho and Tucson. It is in good condition and has very little traffic until you hit Marana.

Edit: Here is a link to a map of the exact route we took from Young back to Tucson.

This brings this two part post to an end. I hope you enjoyed it and that this prompts you to get out and explore a bit.

Howard

 

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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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