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

What is a scooter rally? What do people do there? What is the rally’s purpose? Well, every rally different, as are the people who attend them. Four Sky Island Riders went to Phoenix, recently, to attend a rally. In the following two posts, I will dissect this rally and give you an idea of what we did, where we went, how we got there and what we saw.

Our Patch for the Fiesta

The Great Southwest Scooter Fiesta III was held Oct 21-23, 2012. As with GSSF’s I & II, several of us Sky Island Riders decided to ride up and support another Arizona scooter club in their rally. In this case, the club is the Phoenix Scooter Club.

One of the nice things about this rally is it’s distance from Tucson. It is far enough away to feel like you got out of town, but not so far that you can’t ride your scooter to get their. Four of us headed out on Friday, 10/21. We left town a little after 3:00pm. One of the most frequent questions we get when we ride to the Phoenix area is “What route did you take to get here?” I’ll answer that question now. Friday evening’s rally festivities were on/near Gilbert road in Gilbert, AZ. That decided our route for us.

FRIDAY

Oracle Road is one of my least favorite roads on which to take a group. We decided to take the I-10 frontage road. It now runs from Tucson, all the way into Picacho. Road quality is good and there is very little traffic. The scenery is lacking, but you can’t have everything. At Picacho, we turned north on Route 87/287 to Coolidge. We stopped for a few minutes to top off with fuel and rest our bums. We followed Route 87 out of Coolidge as it turns west. 21 miles later, we turned north onto Indian Road 28, which is also Gilbert Road. From this point we just had to keep going til we got to out destination.

The rally kicked off with a meet-up at Chandler Vespa, followed by a ride to Joe’s Real BBQ. Unfortunately, we knew we wouldn’t make it to the Vespa dealership in time for the ride, so we went straight to Joe’s. As luck would have it, we actually passed the scooter group shortly before arriving at the restaurant.

Great Food can be found here.

A little bit about Joe Johnston, owner of Joe’s Real BBQ and Joe’s Farm Grill as well as Liberty Market. Joe is not only a wonderful restauranteur and great guy, he is also a scooterist and loves restoring and riding vintage bikes. Each year, the Scooter Fiesta has been held at both the BBQ and the Farm Grill. Both have great food and the Farm Grill has to one of the most amazing venues for a scooter ally, EVER! Joe has made us feel welcome and part of “the family.” Thanks Joe. I wish we had someplace like this, and someone like you, in Tucson.

It’s Joe!

There is always a line at Joe’s BBQ on a Friday night and waiting in that line is always fun when you’re in line with a bunch of fellow scooter folk. On this occasion, I got to visit with a couple of old scooter friends, Monica and Andy Shirk. I met a lot of new scooter folk as well.

As were discussing the Saturday activities, it occurred to us Tucson folk, that we had time for a morning ride, since rally stuff didn’t start until 10:00am. We asked around and decided to ride out to Tortilla Flats. We invited everyone around to go with us and had one taker, a fellow named Tony, who was riding a 50cc, 2 stroke scooter.

As we finished making plans for the Saturday morning ride, we realized it was still early and we didn’t have any place we had to be, so we decided to take a night ride as well. Sean, John and I don’t really know Phoenix very well, so we decided to go exploring. Sean wanted to get a picture of Sun Devil Stadium, so, as dinner wound down at Joe’s, we said our good-byes and started riding toward Tempe.

It was a pretty simple ride. We went north on Gilbert, until we hit Main St, aka Apache Trail. We turned north on center St and went by Fitch Park, winter home of the Chicago Cubs. We then made our way to 8th St west, went by Frank Kush Field, aka Sun Devil Stadium, and took a couple of pics. From there we took 8th to Mill Ave. The Mill Avenue District is a hapenin’ place on a Friday night. We cruised along, enjoying the sights and sounds of Mill. We followed Mill to where it merges with Apache Trail, followed that back to Gilbert Road and went to our respective beds.

Formerly a root beer stand, now Mexican food

NOTE: Let me just say that if you are in the Phoenix area and have some extra time, drive down Apache Trail/Main St/Apache Blvd and back. It is also Old Highway 60. There are still many buildings, signs and things to see left over from it’s heyday of the 50’s and 60’s. Beautiful neon signs are frequent. There is a taco stand in a building shaped like a beer barrel. There is the Buckhorn Museum and Mineral Wells. You should check it out before these things are gone forever.

SATURDAY AM

Friday night, we had asked around about good breakfast places. Sean, John & I enjoy “greasy spoon” cafe’/diner kinds of places. No one had any suggestions, so we flipped out the smart phones and started looking. I found a place along our way to Tortilla Flats. It got nice reviews on Google and was right on Apache Trail on the outskirts of Apache Junction, AZ.. It’s called Hacker’s Grill and I highly recommend it. I don’t think there is anything on the menu more than $6. I got chicken fried steak, 2 eggs, hash browns and homemade raisin toast for $5.25! The food and the service were great.

Hacker’s Grill. You Gotta Try This.

From breakfast, we continued northeast on Apache Trail which is now Route 88. It is less than 20 miles from the restaurant to Tortilla Flats, but it is an exciting ride. There are numerous tight twists and turns. There are also a lot of places to see in this short distance as well.

The SIR’s at Canyon Lake

Starting at the start of Route 88, you come to the Superstition Mountain Museum, Goldfield Ghost Town and Mine Tours, the Lost Dutchman State Park, Canyon Lake with several recreation areas, the Dolly Steamboat and finally, of course, Tortilla Flats. That’s a lot of stuff.

We needed to get to the main event back at Joe’s Farm Grill, so we were unable to explore these places, but I plan on doing so someday. Well, we enjoyed the ride back down the twisties and made our way back through town to Joe’s. Thanks to the fact the we were all new to Phoenix, we kind of took the, uh, “scenic” route to Joe’s. In other word, we got a little lost, but we made it.

As mentioned earlier, Joe’s Farm Grill is a fantastic venue to hold any kind of outdoor event. There is the restaurant itself, as well as a coffee shop. This is still a working farm, so there are fields and outbuildings. There is a lot of grass and tree as well as plenty of indoor and outdoor seating. As a scooter lover, there is also Joe’s scooter shop where he works on his scoots.

I didn’t take the time to count the scooters, but I would guess there was a respectable 40 or 50, which is a very decent turnout. There were bikes of every make, model, size and era. We cruised around, checking out scooters, meeting new folk and renewing old acquaintances. I love scooter people.

Here is a Google Map Summary of Part I:

View Scooter Fiesta I in a larger map

This post has exceeded my usual 1000 word limit, so I am going to break it up into two entries. Stay tuned for Part II where we ride South Mountain and create another spontaneous night ride.

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