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postheadericon State of the SIR’s 2012

State of the SIR’s 2012

It is time, again, for the (hopefully) annual report on our Sky Island Riders. Now that I’ve done one of these before, this one should be a bit easier since I will (more or less) use the same format as the last one.

First – Happy Birthday SIR’s. 11/8/12 was our 4th birthday. From my limited research of scooter clubs nationwide, we are about 3 years older than average

MEMBERS

Let’s take a look at how our membership has changed over the past year:

tucsonscooters – The yahoo group number declined from 309, last year, to 2scooter club.90 as of this writing. Traffic there has also declined dramatically. In 2009, right after the SIR’s were formed, there were 1493 message posted there. In 2011 there were only 191 messages and this year only 139. I will continue to post club rides and info there, but it is clear that the majority of action has moved on.

skyislandriders.com – As of 11/21/12, there are 184 registered users on the SIR’s homepage. This is an increase of 44 users over last year, or about 30%. Unlike the Yahoo group, I periodically go through the names and delete accounts with email contacts like “cheapskate@dirt_cheap_canadian_pills.com.” As with the yahoo group, forum traffic is virtually dead, but like last year, overall visitors to our homepage to view the various articles continues to increase. At this time last year we were averaging 60 unique visitors per day. As of today, that number is 137 visitors/day. A change of over 100% over last year. Traffic is such that I have been contacted by a couple of companies about advertising on the site. Nothing definite on that has happened, yet.

Facebook – Our FB page now has 147 members, which is up from 114 last year. I am very pleased at the amount of traffic present on the page right now. There are people organizing there own rides and a lot of great chatter. This means that we don’t just have a bunch of lurkers. People are feeling comfortable enough to join in the conversations.

Google+ – I think there are now 3 people in the SIR’s circle. Nothing happening here.

RALLIES

Last year I reported that the SIR’s had conducted two rallies. Let me do a correction to improve accuracy. The fact is that we had conducted two SPRING rallies (For A Few CC’s More), now three. I would like to add that we have also conducted four FALL rallies (El Scoot de Tucson.) That means that as of November 2012, we have actually conducted seven rallies.

For A Few CC’s More – Our third spring rally was, again, a success. We were a little disappointed because the number of riders was slightly lower than the two previous spring rallies, but there were a couple of huge, positive differences this year. First, we had almost triple the number of sponsors for this year compared to last. 60 businesses participated! (Check out the list here: http://skyislandriders.com/?page_id=1293 then go by and patronize some of them.) Second, we actually finished with money on the positive side – a club first! Finally, we were able to donate $742 to Ben’s Bells, up from $545 last year.

El Scoot de Tucson IV – This was a banner year for El Scoot. Look back and read my report ( http://skyislandriders.com/?p=1610 .) In a nutshell, attendance surged over 100% for this years ride! It was very exciting.

*** Planning for For A Few CC’s More III will be starting soon. I hope you will consider bringing your time and skills to help.

RIDES/EVENTS

I didn’t do as good a job tracking rides and events this year, but it looks like we had 29 rides or events and our 3-day rally. This is a huge increase over last year’s 18 rides/events plus the rally. I don’t know that our average number of attendee’s per event has increased much, but we are certainly offering plenty of opportunity for people to participate and that means an overall increase in the number of people who have rideen with us.

In 2012 we also had our first official “Night Ride” as well as our first 2-day ride when we rode to Cottonwood and back.

LOOKING AHEAD TO 2013

  • We have more members who are interested in actively participating in the organizing and maintenance aspects of the club. That means we should be able to increase the quantity and, hopefully, the quality of next year’s events.

  • We are planning at least one multi-day, long distance ride.

  • Although we slacked off as the year went on, I want to plan to resume our “Social Nights.” For those who don’t know, these are just simple gatherings for us to get to know one another and enjoy each other’s company. You may have friends who just “don’t get” your desire to ride a scooter. We do. Look for those to start again in December after the Phoenix rally.

  • We have already started “marketing” For A Few CC’s More III. We are hoping for a great turnout. We are very excited about this rally as we already have some fun ideas in mind.

  • I’m not sure how we’ll top this year’s El Scoot de Tucson, but we’ll try to think of something.

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

SATURDAY PM

When we ended Part I, we Sky Island Riders had made it to the main event at Joe’s Farm Grill on Ray Road. We had been scoping out the bikes and talking. All three of us really enjoyed talking to the AZ Ruck-Stars, the local Honda Ruckus club. They had some really sweet bikes, several of which had been stretched and now had 125 – 150cc motors.

The AZ Ruck Stars – The won “Best modern” and “Most Unusual” scooters.

A little after 2:00pm, we left out for the South Mountain Ride. The first two years of Scooter Fiesta this ride was done on Sunday morning. We had opted to skip the Sunday ride and had ridden home, so we were glad we finally got a chance to ride South Mountain.

On the ride to South Mountain

At Dobbin’s Point, fixin’ to check out the view.

Cool stone house in the foreground, Phoenix in the background.

This is another excellent, though short ride. Central Ave, heading south from downtown Phoenix, goes straight into South Mountain Park. From the gate, to Dobbins Point scenic view point, is just under 6 miles. This isn’t as twisty as Route 88, but it is still a pretty sweet little ride. The reward is when you get to Dobbins Point. The view of the Phoenix metro area is amazing. You are high enough to see a long ways, but low enough that you can still make out a lot of detail.

I positioned myself on the corner where I had a clear view of at least 3 curves.

Sean and his Riva 180 carving the curve.

Sean and I took off ahead of the group for this ride back, so we could get some action photos. I’m no photographer, but I think a couple of them came out okay.

They took great care of us at La Famiglia

Enjoying fine food and fellowship with scooter people

Since it takes so long to move around Phoenix via surface street, it was just about dinner time by the time we got back into town from South Mountain. Dinner was at La Famiglia Italian Restaurant in Chandler. This another good venue. There was plenty of outdoor seating and the service and food were wonderful. They let us park out scooters right on the sidewalk in front of the restaurant.

The Sugar Bowl. Go There!

When dinner was winding down, the Sky Island Riders, again, felt the night for more riding. “How about a dessert ride?” we asked the group. There were no takers, but that didn’t stop us. My brand new, November, issue of Arizona Highways (I just love this magazine.) has an article entitled “Retro Arizona.” In it, the 40+ year old ice cream joint called The Sugar Bowl, is mentioned. Ice cream? After a hot, sunny day AND it’s recommended by AZ Highways? Say no more!

It was a simple route from La Familia: Straight north on Alma School Road, west on Indian School Rd, left on Scottsdale Rd and “presto!” there it is. This worked mostly according to plan until I missed the turn onto Indian School and took us a few extra miles into the reservation.

I don’t have the equipment for decent night pics at AZ Falls.

Look Ma! I’m in a tube thing!

This downtown part of Scottsdale is quite lovely. There are many sculptures in and around the road. The ice cream at the Sugar Bowl was superb. We decided to make a slight detour to GR Herberger Park, aka Arizona Falls. John and I had gone here earlier this year for the Scarabs “Rapture Ride” and really liked it, so we came back.

Here I am in front of part of AZ Falls back in May, for the Rapture Ride.

It was getting late, so we took the easy way back to the hotel. We went south on 52nd St (with Billy Joel songs in my head) then east on Van Buren and kept following that as it turned into Mill St. From there, we retraced our steps from the previous night, through the Mill st District and back along the amazing Apache Blvd.

SUNDAY


This year, we decided not to skip the Sunday ride. The ride was to Saguaro Lake. We had ridden this on Saturday the two previous years, so we new it was a good ride. Breakfast was to be held at the lake, so we met up Vespa of Chandler, drooled over some new Vespa’s and some BMW’s, and hit the road. Tyler, the manager there, is very nice and is a good host as well.

There was a rumor the Ellsworth Rd/Usery Pass was under construction, so we went in via Power Road which goes all the way to the lake. I had never been this way before, so it was a treat. I always love riding a road on which I’ve never been.

Scooters near the lake.

The Lakeshore Restaurant at Saguaro Lake is just what you would expect from the only restaurant located in a popular recreation area. It is pricey and the food is mediocre. The location and view from the patio almost compensate for those shortcomings. The company, though, made it worth it though. We had more great conversation with scooter people. That makes any dive into a 5-Star Bistro.

We still had over 120 miles to ride before our rally was over, so we said our “Good-byes” and our “See you at the Fall Classics,” jumped on the bikes and headed south. We initially thought about gong home via US-60 to Globe and down, but we had ridden the bikes pretty hard for 2 days, so we selected something a little more sedate.

“Insert lewd caption here”

From Saguaro Lake, we went to Usery Pass and turned south. Usery Pass becomes Ellsworth and we were able to take this all the way to Hunt Highway, south of Queen Creek. Road quality was good and there aren’t too many stop light that far east. Still wanting to avoid Route 77 and Oracle Road, we turned south onto Attaway Rd outside of Florence then west onto Route 287 and from there we back-tracked our Friday route back through Coolidge, to Picacho and back to Tucson.

Sign at Joe’s Farm Grill.

Here is the Google Map detailing Part II. Click on the icons to see what they are.

View Scooter Fiesta Part II – The Anatomy of a Rally in a larger map

Scooter rallies are different things to different people. We chose to make this a time of food, exploring, making/renewing friendships and, of course, riding. I think rallies are important part of attracting new scooter riders and networking between various individuals and organizations in the scooter community. I hope you check out the Sky Island Riders’ Calendar and make plans to attend an upcoming rally. You will be glad you did.

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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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