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postheadericon Rally Report: El Scoot de Tucson IV

Well, El Scoot IV has come and gone and what an event it was. We had more bikes and riders on the ride portion than for any other ride in club history!

El Scoot is a little hard to describe. It’s not just a “ride” because we have a big dinner at the end, followed by a raffle. It doesn’t exactly feel like a “rally”, either, although I don’t really know why. We are calling this a one-day rally from now on, though.

From Foothills Magazine. This is what the start of the bicycle race looks like

We started El Scoot because of the annual bicycle event here in Tucson: El Tour de Tucson. It is a ride that takes cyclists on a 109 mile circumnavigation of the city. I have ridden in El Tour a couple of times and really enjoyed it. After I started riding scooters and planning rides, I decided to try doing the route on scooters. We can’t ride it exactly because there are two “river/wash” crossings and part of it goes through a private, gated community. Instead of 109 miles, ours was more like 120.

Creating the route was relatively easy, but I didn’t want to have just a ride and nothing else. I talked with my wife and my local scooter shop (Scoot Over) and we decided to have a sponsored stop or two along the way, just like the cyclists do, then finish with a barbecue. (I enjoy cooking on my wood smoker and decided it would be fun to make a special meal for my scooter friends. My wife agreed to make the rest of the meal and away we went. I’ve yet to get all the stops “sponsored” but I’m still working on it.

Check out the variety of scoots as we ended the ride at my house for BBQ and fun.

El Scoot I was well received. We all had a good time, so it was decided that we would keep it on our annual list of events. El Scoot I was actually the precursor to our annual spring, 3-day rally. Doing El Scoot gave us the confidence we needed to do the May Day Rally, now known as “For A Few CC’s More.” I think there were 16 bikes that first year. Shelby and Scoot Over sponsored one of our stops and provided coffee and donuts.

16 riders heading south on Houghton Rd near Catalina Highway

El Scoot II also had 16 riders, but a new group participated: the green Valley Scooter Club. We felt very good about having another regional group join us for an event. We had a good time. Scoot Over was there once again to provide us with some coffee and pastries along the way.

Different faces and different bikes, but still having a great ride on El Scoot III

El Scoot III was a little different. Due to non-scooter related issues, we were unable to host the barbecue, so chose to do the ride, then have the barbecue at a local BBQ joint: The Hog Pit. We did a long ride, and the route was altered just a little bit for variety. We all had a good time, although comments were made that the homemade meal would have been preferred. A review of pics from the event indicates there were a total of (care to guess?) 16 scooters on the ride. There were a lot of new faces, including two riders who came down from the Phoenix Scooter Club. The Green Valley guys didn’t make it, but Phoenix did. We were so stoked about this ride that one of our riders even had patches made to commemorate it. below, is the route as we rode it this year:


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Along comes El Scoot IV. Leading even 10 or 15 bikes through city traffic can be a bit trying. I was ready to alter our route rather significantly. After all, I am not affiliated with the bicycle event, so I have no obligation to keep to their route. Also, Tucson has very nice riding roads very near the city, so a new route was created that would keep us more rural, into more twisty, fun roads and away from stoplights and traffic.

2012 has been a good year for scooter sales, which has meant that the Sky Island Riders have been experiencing growth as well. We were still quite surprised, however, when  the RSVP count a few days before the ride was in excess of 40! Through their meetup.com site, we took note that there were even 16 riders scheduled to ride down from Phoenix. There was a little bit of scrambling as we made sure that there would be enough food to feed 50. I have been involved with scooter events long enough to know that RSVP’s are rarely an accurate count of how many folks turn up. You never know whether the actual number will be much more or much less than predicted. We did all the preparation we could, then plunged into Sunday morning and El Scoot.

Eight riders got up early to ride the “Ride to the Ride” ride.

We added additional segment to the long ride this year. We added a “Ride to the Ride.” The start of the official ride was on Tucson’s northwest side, which made it easier and closer for the Phoenix riders. The official ride also started on the edge of town so that those who didn’t want to ride as much “in town” would be able to skip the metro riding. The “Ride to the Ride” started early and we stopped in three different places so that those who didn’t want to ride to the start alone could join the group someplace close to their home and arrive at El Scoot en masse.

The Green Valley contingent was waiting for us. We had another motorcycle this year, too.

Working together to get everyone’s bike ready to ride.

We had eight riders join us for the Ride to the Ride. We arrived at James Kriegh Park, joined several who were already there and counted at scooters began to gather. Shelby and the Scoot Over Suburban arrived with coffee and donuts and riders were renewing old acquaintances  and making new friends as they enjoyed some breakfast.

Here are the nine riders from Phoenix who had to do a lot of riding to join us at El Scoot. Big props to them.

Ride out was scheduled for 10:00 am and at 9:55, Glen and 8 other riders showed up from Phoenix. We gave the Phoenix crew a few minutes to rest and as we pulled out around 10:15, there were 32 bikes behind me. 33 was not only a record for El Scoot, but a record number for any single ride in SIR’s history!

Here’s the dweeb cutting into our formation of scooters.

Here is our formation snaking around what we call scooter killer curve.

The ride itself was relatively uneventful. Early in the ride, we had some knucklehead in a white car cut right into the middle of the formation at a stoplight. The group quickly reformed and we were on our way. I really enjoyed the site of all the bikes as they snaked their way up Picture Rocks Road as well entered Saguaro National Park west. One rider (thanks Randy) estimated that the single file line of bikes was approximately a half mile in length.

You can’t see all of the bikes, but here we are at Saguaro National Park Visitors’ Center

We rode through the park down Sandario Road, turned east on Kinney and made our first stop at the national park visitors’ center. After a few minutes to rest and visit some more, we rode the rest of Kinney Rd, then weaved our way down to Mission Road. We rode past San Xavier Mission. From there it was to the least scenic portion of the ride: Hughes Access Road to Los Reales past the city dump (oh boy.)

This is on Mary Ann Cleveland Way, in Vail

We arrived at our second stop about an hour ahead of schedule. We did have one bike run out of fuel just as we got to the TTT truck stop, but otherwise the group was still intact. We stopped at Thomas Jay Park, in Little Town, which has been a stop at all the previous El Scoots. Here we had more refreshments and fuel was available.

It was a beautiful sunshiney day with some interesting cloud formations

From Little Town, we made our way to Valencia and east to ride to Pistol Hill Road and back along Old Spanish Trail Rd. We lost a couple of bikes as someone else needed fuel. Other than that, the rest of the group successfully pulled in to my house to enjoy some BBQ and the raffle.

Gathering together to eat and have some fun

Nothing builds up an appetite like a long scooter ride

I know I sure had fun hosting this event and I hope everyone had fun. Stan Scott won the raffle’s grand prize: a hand-made quilt. I would also like to thank Cycle Gear and Ride Now Power Sports for providing raffle items. Of, course, a big thanks goes to Scoot Over for providing breakfast and for driving behind us the whole route as sag wagon. I am thankful that no bikes needed to be hauled away from the ride. Finally, the biggest thanks and appreciation goes out to my wife. Without her help, i would be unable to do much of what I do with SIR’s.

 

 

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postheadericon Patrolling Picacho

My apologies for not posting something sooner. It’s been 2 months since my last post, but life gets in the way of blog posts sometimes. Now we’ve got the High Roller rally coming soon, plus our own For A Few CC’s More II” coming up soon, so I don’t know that I’ll be any better about more frequent posts, but I’ll try.

On January 26, last month, I went for a ride. My original plan was to ride out to Coolidge, AZ, to verify ride times and route for our February 4th club ride to meet the Phoenix Scooter Club for lunch, but the road called for something a bit different.

Along the frontage road, north of Marana

I rode across town to the I-10 Frontage/Access (Is there a difference, or are these terms synonymous?) road. This is a great way to cross Tucson, is you need to do so on the west side. The big issue now is that there is construction being done at and around the Prince Road area. The frontage road is nice because there is little traffic and few stoplights. Once you get past Marana, there is virtually no traffic. Road quality is above average.

I rode out of town, enjoying the sites and sounds. 22 miles from Ina Road is the Red Rock exit and overpass. Red Rock is an unincorporated village which, according to Wikipedia, had a population in 2010 of a little over 2000 people. The only functioning business that I have seen there is the “Red Rock Bar.” There are a lot of homes being built there and I suspect that some additional retail will be there before too long.

That’s one BIG puddle!

In September of 2008, my son and I rode out this way, in an attempt to explore what’s left of Sasco, AZ. We came this same direction, and were confounded by a huge puddle (at least 100 feet across) blocking the road. We couldn’t tell how deep it might be and didn’t want to risk crossing it. As I was riding along the frontage road, I recalled our trip and decided to change paths and see if I could find another ghost town. After all, a puddle that was there two and a half years previously would be there now, plus there hadn’t been any rain recently.

From the frontage road, go across the overpass and turn left onto Sasco Road. This will take you through the middle of the tract housing, past the skate park, the pool and the elementary school. 4.3 miles after passing the school you will see and smell a large cattle “feed lot” to the right. Coachway Rd branches off to the right here as well. From this fork in the road, it is another 7.5 miles to the Sasco Cemetery. Off I went to do some exploring, glad that I wouldn’t be blocked by a water hazard.

Well, I was wrong. That “puddle” isn’t a rain puddle. It is actually the Santa Cruz River and at this point, and it flows directly across the road! It wasn’t as wide as on my previous visit and I could see recent evidence of cars or trucks crossing, but I still couldn’t tell if there were any “sippy holes” or other hidden obstacles. I debated on scooting across but I was alone and if I dumped the bike, it would be a long, cold ride home.

“Now what should I do?” I thought.

I remembered that Coachway Rd was paved and went in the same general direction as Sasco. I thought that Coachway might have a bridge across the Santa Cruz or that the river may have gone back under ground a bit further north. Either way, I still might be able to find a ghost town.

Wrong again.

Coachway took me on a nice ride, but it never got me back to Sasco. Coachway runs due west along the southernmost border of Picacho Peak State Park. The road becomes well-maintained dirt after a half mile. Another mile and the road turns north and becomes and Cripple Creek Rd. About two miles later, the road turns west again and is then called Baumgartner.

At this point, I was directly south of Picacho Peak. The view was great and I should have snapped a couple of pics, but, alas, I didn’t. I was actually considering what I would do if I broke down. The RV-250 was running great, but after breaking down in the middle of nowhere in the not so distant past, I was having those terrible “what if” scenarios running through my head. Mostly, I was trying to figure out how to give someone directions to my location and who that “someone” might be.

I continued along Baumgartner. Even though it remained dirt, road quality was remarkably good. I think it’s because they are doing construction on the canals but the road is very wide, smooth and free of significant sand patches. A little more than 4 miles in, I reached a “T” intersection. If I kept straight, the road would become Wheeler Rd. Baumgartner went left and I could see asphalt. I went left.

What community is this? The “store” is on the right.

There were a number of houses at this intersection. There were no signs indicating a town, nor is there any indication on Google or any of the maps I’ve got. The reason I thought it may have been a town or village is that across from a large house on the north side of the road, is what appears to have been a store. There is even an old gas pump in front of it.

I like the way the farmer used this old bridge to hold up his irrigation pipe.

A quarter mile west of the house and the “store” is an old bridge next to the current road. It is in poor repair and is clearly unsafe, but I did snag a couple of photos.

Two miles later, I reached the intersection with Picacho Highway. Although I had never been this way on Picacho Highway, I knew exactly where I was and how to get home from here.

A good photographer could have made something out of this.

It’s only about 9 miles from Baumgartner Rd to I-10 and our favorite frontage road. Even though this is a straight piece of road, there are still some points of interest along the way, As may recall from earlier posts, I not enjoy ghost towns, but any old, ruined buildings. About a mile north, I saw a burned out hulk of a building at Curtis Road. I pulled over and snapped a few photos.

Rest in Peace.

A quarter of a mile further, was a roadside marker. The friends or family of this person had built a small building as a memorial. I stopped and took a few more pics.

Guess Your Weight?

A littler further were the ruins of an old weight station. I think it was probably part of  a cotton gin. It doesn’t seem so interesting now, but there was a swarm of bees nesting in one of the walls.

Three miles further north, is the Picacho branch of the Florence States Prison. I didn’t take any pictures in fear of them thinking I was going to help with a breakout, but it is an interesting looking place.

A mile further, I saw what looked like one of those Border Patrol observation towers in the desert a half mile off the road or so. A little while later, I saw the following sign:

A pilot friend told me this is used for national Guard helicopter pilots.

I was intrigued, so I pulled off the road and followed the dirt road. I came up to a gate and could see at least one runway. There were no aircraft, but there were 2 cars and a neat little control tower.

Three and a half miles further, I passed the campground where my parents used to live, turned east on the frontage road and was astonished. If you haven’t driven past the town of Picacho lately, you’ll be surprised. It seems a large portion of the town was razed to the ground sometime in December or January. Remember those vacant, dilapidated hotels? They are gone now. There is only dirt remaining. Several of the remaining buildings have notices posted on them indicating that more demolition is imminent. I would have taken a picture, but an empty field of fresh dirt doesn’t make for good photography.

I stopped at the Dairy Queen at the Picacho Peak exit and checked in at home. I then had an uneventful ride back to Tucson.

Ride Map: http://g.co/maps/5ydqd If you’re interested in doing this ride, it is about 85 miles in length, from Ina Road, to Picacho, via the back way, and back. The dirt portion accounts for about 8 miles and it is in good shape, but remember, it is dirt. Take your time and ride within your ability and you should be fine. I rate the difficulty of this ride as moderate.

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