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postheadericon Rally Report – Great Southwest Scooter Fiesta IV

Rally Report – Great Southwest Scooter Fiesta IV (GSSF)

11/30 – 12/2/2012

The Sky Island Riders have now been present at all four of GSSF’s. This is my second rally report on attending this rally and, although there are many similarities between the events of this year’s rally and last, there are also some interesting differences. As it would turn out, getting there and back would wind up being the most memorable parts of the rally.

 

We initially had 12-15 SIR’s that were planning on going to Phoenix to the rally, but life happens and as we approached the end of November, we were down to 9. Because of work schedules and the like, we weren’t going to be able to all ride in as a group. As a matter of fact, were would go to Phoenix in three groups: I would like the first group, leaving Friday afternoon, that would arrive in time for the first ride of the rally. Sean would lead a late Friday group that would arrive later Friday evening and, because not everyone could spend one or two nights in Phoenix, Warren was to lead a group that would leave early Saturday morning and return to Tucson that evening.

Here are Lee (with his back to the camera) Craig, Warren and Kat enjoying the Fiesta

The first group ran in to trouble early on in our trip. First, we found out that Randy had a flat tire on his Burgman and wouldn’t be able to make it at all unless he could find a tire somewhere. That left just 3 of us riding: me, on my Stella, Craig, on his vintage Vespa and Lee, a Buddy 170i. Outside of Marana, the Buddy developed mechanical problems and quit. Lee still has roadside assistance, so once he was in touch with them, he urged Craig and I to get on the road, so we did. The rest of the ride was uneventful.

 

One group of riders passed another

We pulled into Chandler Vespa and began visiting with old friends and making some new acquaintances. We then had a group ride over to Joe’s Real BBQ where eating was added to the visiting. As with last year, the rally had a large section reserved outside for us.

Joe’s serving line closed at 9:00 pm and the second contingent of four SIR’s arrived at about 8:50 pm. The great thing about this second group was that Lee (of the Buddy 170) was with them. I talked before about how cool scooter people are. Well, when Sean had found out the Lee’s scooter wasn’t working, he loaned him one of his for the duration of the rally! Now Sean, John, Annie and Lee were added to our ranks.

We talked and joked with the Phoenix folks until late, then headed to our hotel. During the evening, we had mentioned that, like last year, we were going to do a ride early Saturday morning. Last year one non-SIR joined us, this year there were several.

 

A fun thing about twisty roads is being able to turn around and takes pics of your friends on the road behind you.

Here we are, crossing one of the many one-lane bridges around the lakes.

Saturday morning, we got up early and rode to Hacker’s Cafe‘. 9 of us had breakfast, then we rode out to Tortilla Flat. Last year we turned around at Canyon Lake , so this year we decided to ride all the way to Tortilla Flat. It made us late getting back to the rally, but it was worth it. Apache Trail (aka AZ-Route 88) is a great riding road. The road quality of Apache Trail is only fair because of the many potholes, but the scenery and many tight curves still make it worth the ride.

 

That’s Lee behind me with the rest of the Saturday morning group behind him.

The scooter posse takes over Tortilla Flats. This is a great ride.

As mentioned, we were late returning to the rally and missed the chance to ride in the slow drags, but we were in time to enter our bikes in the scooter show. Sean entered his vintage Vespa P-200 in the “Ugly But Still Runs” category and won! That’s the second year a SIR has taken that particular award. We also met up with the Warren and Penny.

 

Here is Sean claiming his “Ugly But Runs” trophy.

Like last year, the next rally event was a ride out to Saguaro Lake. The road isn’t as twisty as Apache Trail, but it’s still fun. Once there, we spent the entire time out in the parking lot talking scooters. There was a lot of mutual admiration of scooters and eventually, the admiration turned into people taking test rides on each others’ scoots. I got to ride a new Vespa 300 Super. Wow! That is a great bike.

 

I was feeling a strange vibration in my Stella, so that is Sean, in front of me, test riding her on the way to Saguaro Lake. Craig is on the right.

Like last year, the SIR’s had planned an evening ride around central Phoenix as well as dessert at the Sugar Bowl. Guy, from VespaAZ, suggested we meet him for dinner at a place called Carlsbad Tavern. We rode back to town via the Beeline Highway and had dinner. I think we all loved Carlsbad Tavern. The next time you’re in Scottsdale around lunch or dinner time, you should go there.

 

This is at Carlsbad Tavern.

We finished dinner, then rode to GR Herzberger Park (aka Arizona Falls) walked around and shot some pics, then took an adventurous ride along the steep, narrow roads of Camelback Mountain. From there, we rode into Old Town Scottsdale, to the Sugar Bowl. We had a great time there then returned to our hotel.

 

The owners of PCroissant and Crepe Bar were very welcoming

Sunday morning was a nice change from the earlier rallies. We went on a tour of four noteworthy coffee shops. At the second one, we got a very nice class on several different brewing methods. After the four coffee shops, the next event was to ride up South Mountain. Since we SIR’s were riding back to Tucson after South Mountain, we hijacked the rally and made them stop for lunch prior to the ride.

 

Stopped at the top of the South Mountain road.

We went to Matt’s Big Breakfast, enjoyed that, then continued the rally and went up South Mountain. Last year, we stopped at nice scenic overlook, but this year we road all the way to the top. Like Apache Trail, South Mountain is very twisty and scenic. Road quality is good, although it is well traveled by law enforcement, so keep your speed down.

 

It was mid-afternoon when Sean, Craig, John and I said our goodbyes to the Phoenix group and headed toward Tucson. We didn’t want to ride back through town, so we rode west until we hit 51st Ave, then turned toward Maricopa and would return home via Maricopa, Casa Grande, Eloy and Picacho.

 

Riding as the sun sets. I wish I had a slightly better angle on the camera but I still like this pic.

The sun was setting as we left Maricopa. That’s when Sean tells me “Things just got a bit more interesting. My headlight quit working.” Oh boy! Stella’s headlight is fair. Craig’s Vespa’s is anemic at best and it gets very dark out in the desert. Fortunately, John was on his Big Ruckus which also has big headlights. We positioned him at the back of the formation and he lit the way for all of us.

 

Sean took apart the headset then diagnosed, then repaired the problem.

We stopped at Auto Zone in Casa Grande, where Sean bought a soldering iron, found the short in his wiring and repaired the headlight. I took the opportunity to replace the brake light bulb that had burned out on Stella on Friday. We then continued our cold, dark ride home. Everything seemed to be going okay until Craig’s Vespa lost spark and died between Picacho and Marana.

 

The problem was quickly diagnosed and we started making repairs when an ambulance stopped to see if we were okay. We said we were fine and the driver asked if we needed some additional lighting. We said “sure” so he went back to the ambulance, turned their spot light and bright lights on so we had had plenty of light to work in. They also turned on their flashers so cars would see us. Big thanks go out from us to Southwest Ambulance.

 

Here is our Saturday night group cutting up at AZ Falls.

The Great Southwest Scooter Fiesta IV was a memorable one. We got to see riders helping each other and sharing their expertise and even their bikes. We met some new friends and also took the opportunity to pass out flyers for our own rally, For A Few CC’s More III, which will be held in the spring of 2013

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postheadericon The Fellowship of the Scoot (Apologies to Tolkien) Part I

Scooters, along with a good ride, have a way of bringing people together. An excellent example of this happened earlier this month when a few of the Sky Island Riders decided to do a 600 mile, overnight ride. First, a little about the ride.

There are a couple of places a number of us have been wanting to go that will require at least two days to complete. Riding AZ Route 191 and NM Route 252 are a couple. Unfortunately, these require riding in some remote areas and not all of our scoots were ready at this time to do either of those rides, so we decided to look for a long ride that would have a bit more support available in the event of problems.

This is a section of AZ Route 89 south of Prescott.

The club had never ridden up to the Sedona region, so we started looking at that. I had done a similar ride in the past, so the plans started falling into place. It was decided that we would ride around to the west side of Phoenix by way of Maricopa and make our way up to Prescott via Wickenburg, US-60 and AZ-89. From there, we would climb over Mingus Mountain, stop in Jerome, then spend the night in Cottonwood, AZ. We chose Cottonwood because hotel rates there are about half of what you will pay Sedona. Also, the way our ride route was coming together, Cottonwood was almost exactly halfway.


View Larger Map The ride was supposed to look like this.

Day 2 would have us ride to Flagstaff by way of Sedona and the beautiful ride up Oak Creek Canyon. From Flagstaff, we planned to take Lake Mary Rd to Route 87 and take that to Payson. Then we would ride past Roosevelt Lake, up to Globe and back to Tucson. This worked out to about 300 miles each day. Vacation days were requested, time off arranged and hotel reservations were made.

Once we got within a week of departure (Thursday, Oct 11th) we started watching the weather, to help us dress appropriately. This is Arizona. Temps were still in the 90’s in Tucson, but you never know about the northern part of the states where elevations are much higher.  The long range forecast was calling for a significant cold front coming into the state Wednesday or Thursday. There was a cold wind moving in from Mordor.

We saw a lot of storm clouds, especially on day 1.

I was hoping that as the day got closer, the forecast would improve, or the front would slow down by a day. It remained unchanged. The sad part is that the weather was only supposed to be bad the two days we were riding. Sunny with temps in the 80’s the days before AND after the ride. Oh well. I began warning all potential riders of the forecast and the fact that it looked like we would be riding in temperatures in the 30’s with rain and a lot of wind.

I went all over town looking for thermal stuff. Found these at Target. Ooh! Pretty colors.

I went out and bought more cold weather gear, specifically a thermal shirt and as many chemical hand-warmers as I could find. It wasn’t easy because cooler weather hadn’t arrived in the desert yet. Stores that usually sold the hand-warmers told me “We carry them in the winter, but we haven’t ordered them yet. Check again in a month or so.”

The day arrived. I was first to get to our meet-up point. Given the weather conditions, I wouldn’t have been surprised if no one showed. As it turned out 2 more scooter and one rider in a car turned out. There was Warren and his PCX 125, John in his Honda Fit, me and my RV250 and a new rider, Jim, on his Kymco 250. When asked why he chose this as his time to join us on a ride, Jim said, “It sounded like fun.” Yes, scooters and bad weather (apparently) have a way of bringing us together.

The Tucson Sky over the QuikTrip where we met prior to leaving town.

It was raining lightly as we left but that stopped within about 15 minutes. We made our way up the I-10 access road to Picacho. Then we took AZ Route 84 through Eloy and into Casa Grande. We did a little zig and a zag through town and wound up on Cottonwood Lane, which becomes the Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway. That took us into Maricopa for our first fuel stop. Road conditions of the access road, Route 84 and the Maricopa-CG Highway were all very good.

Here we are after breakfast at the Waffle House. Photo by Guy.

Our next stop was in southwestern Phoenix where were meeting another friend of the SIR’s for breakfast. Guy is part of the Phoenix scooter community and founder of VespaAZ. He found out we were coming through Phoenix and took a bit of time off work to come eat and visit with us. Thanks, Guy. It was a pleasure introducing you to your first Waffle House experience.

Yes, this is a corn field in a Phoenix suburb. That is a shopping center in the background.

For those interested in getting between Tucson and Phoenix using alternate roads, we took Route 347 north out of Maricopa, then turned west on Riggs Road. Riggs become 51st Avenue. If you’re going to Glendale, stay on 51st. We were wanting to avoid more of town than that, so we went west on Baseline until it ends at 91st Ave. Other than stopping for breakfast and fuel, we took 91st St north until we hit US-60, aka Grand Ave. We had initially planned on going further west to Loop 303, but there is a lot of construction there and when that is done, 303 will no longer be suitable for smaller scooters, so I would recommend the 91st Ave route for those wanting to go to Wickenburg and beyond.

Here are Jim, Glenn and the Silverwing.

After meeting with Guy, it was on to Wickenburg to join yet another new friend of the Sky Island Riders, Glenn Mason. Glenn rides a Honda Silverwing. He found out about our ride after joining our Facebook group. He met and rode with us all the way to Prescott. He even led us through most of the twisty parts of  AZ Route 89 between Congress and Prescott. This, he did,  in spite of deteriorating weather and rain. Another fine example of fellow “adventurers” being brought together by scooters, a great ride, oh, and the internet, of course.

Part of the climb up to Yarnell. As you can see, the road is in good shape.

We rode US-60, through Wickenburg, then took Highway 93 north toward Las Vegas for 6 or 7 miles north of Wickenburg to the Route 89 junction. 13 miles later you start an amazing climb (1200 feet in 4 miles!) up the White Spar Highway to Yarnell, AZ. Road conditions on White Spar are very good and the steepest part of the climb is 2-lane divided highway, so it is pretty safe for slower vehicles, because it is easy for people to get around you.

Can you see all the twists in the road over there?

From Yarnell it is only 35 miles to Prescott. The first 20 of it are flat and mostly straight as you go through the beautiful Peeples Valley. The last 15 miles are mountainous and twisty with great places to put off the road and take pictures. Our ride was pretty nice. It was a bit windy, so we had to be especially careful in the twisties. We could see rain clouds over Prescott, but it stayed dry all the way there.

Here I am, trying on a Ural at Scooter and Auto Source.

They even have a Harley-Davidson Topper on display.

We stopped in Prescott to visit at Scooter and Auto Source. They are very nice and have a great selection of vehicles: Jeeps, lots of scooters, Ural sidecar rigs, mopeds,  even electric bicycles. Stop by and check out the vintage bikes that they have displayed.

The rain started in earnest while we were checking out the bikes at Auto Source. It was raining pretty hard as we left Prescott. Fortunately, it stopped shortly before we got to Route 89A where we had to climb up and over Mingus Mountain. It was still windy but the road was dry. Road condition on 89A between Prescott and Cottonwood is fair to good. There are some rough parts in some of the corners.

Scooter Trash is a biker shop. “I we don’t have what you want, then you want the wrong stuff.”

We stopped in Jerome to get a few obligatory pics in front of the Scooter Trash sign. We looked down toward Cottonwood and saw a huge storm rolling toward us. We cut our visit to Jerome short and raced down the hill in an attempt to beat the storm. We didn’t make it. The storm slammed into us as we came out of the first traffic circle. There were high winds and heavy rain all the way into Cottonwood.

Don’t you just love classic, old neon signs?

Our hotel was The View Hotel. It is older, but it is well maintained. It’s only 20 miles to Sedona, where room rates are extremely high, but at the View, rates (as of this writing) are as low as $50 a night. They have wi-fi, a pool and a hot tub. Our rooms were pretty basic, but clean. The staff was nice in our dealings with them.

We walked down the hill and went to Renegades Steakhouse for dinner. The service was excellent and we all really enjoyed our food. TIP: Try the nopalitos appetizer. It was superb.

I hadn’t planned on making this a two part episode, but it looks like that is what it will be. Part I recounts the Sky Island Riders’ trip to Cottonwood, AZ. It shows how our love for scooters brought people from several different communities together and how our love for the ride wouldn’t let something like bad weather keep us from it.

Stay tuned for Part II. After that, I will be writing about the 25th annual Fall Classic Scooter Rally.

 

 

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