Posts Tagged ‘scooters’
The Sky Island Riders did a lot of riding in 2015. I put together a video of pics of our year. I hope you enjoy it. Feel free to share it with your friends:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
In Part I we had made it through wind and rain to our destination in Cottonwood, AZ. As night fell, so did the rain and the temperatures. I checked area forecasts (I love smart phones) and found that 1-2 inches of snow were forecast for Flagstaff and the top of Oak Creek Canyon. Rain with below freezing temps, followed by snow seemed like a potentially dangerous combination for save riding so I started looking at alternate routes.
The thought of skipping the ride up Oak Creek was saddening, but safety had to be taken into account. My fellow riders were gracious and said they were willing to ride whatever route I created. I didn’t want to just turn around and go back the way we came, but I needed to try to keep us to lower elevation, at least until we had gone south a ways. Once again, I came back to the trip I had taken the previous August, except that I wanted to make sure we at least rode through Sedona.
My route idea had one area of concern. It would require a 7 or 8 mile sprint down I-17 from Highway 179 to Camp Verde. I had to check with the other riders before committing us to riding interstate, especially where there is heavy traffic with lots of trucks and RV’s concerned. I asked and we all agreed that we could handle it. I did a few more checks and came up with this route back to Tucson:
View Larger Map
This route still took us up to 7000 feet, but at a point about 40 miles south of Flagstaff, plus it would be later in the day before we got there, thus giving the, inevitable, warming temperatures a chance to melt off any precipitation of the frozen persuasion.
To give it a chance to warm up a bit, we took our time getting on the bikes in the morning. We left Cottonwood around 8:30 and rode to Sedona for breakfast. The temperature was about 40 degrees and it was still windy and it looked like it would rain any minute. The drive/ride along Route 89A into Sedona was beautiful. As we were coming into Sedona, the sun was breaking through the clouds and “spotlighting” various rock formations. It was hard trying to catch it with my camera as were riding, but I gave it a shot.
We went to Sedona’s famous Coffee Pot Restaurant (Home of 101 Omelettes) for breakfast. There was quite a wait to get our table, but we all enjoyed our food. It was about 10:30am before we pulled out of Sedona but we were warm and full of tasty food. We went to Highway 179 and turned south toward the Village of Oak Creek. Hwy 179 is another very scenic road and is part of the Red Rock Scenic By-Way. It’s only 15 miles but there are many, many places where you will want to stop and take pictures.We pulled off at one such place and took a few pics.
We arrived at the junction with I-17, took a deep breath, opened our throttles and merged. I put Warren and his PCX in front so could set the pace. His little Honda had impressed me the day before and continued to do so on this day. We zoomed down to Camp Verde as fast as that little scooter would go.
At Camp Verde, we turned east, onto Route 260, aka the General Crook Trail. From here we climbed from 3600 feet to almost 7000 feet over the next 25 miles, until we were up on the Mogollon Rim. Although we still hadn’t been rained on, it was still cold and windy and once on the top of the rim, there were patches of snow on the side of the road. Brrrr! (You’ll have to trust me. It was too windy to try and take pics of the snow as we were riding.) Snow and wind aside, road quality on Route 260 and Highway 179 is very good.
Route 260 joins with Route 87 about 33 miles from Camp Verde. This was where we joined our originally planned route.After just a few miles on the top of the Rim, we began the steep descent toward the villages of Strawberry and Pine. Even though the sun had finally shown itself, we were getting pretty chilled, so we stopped in Pine to get fuel and something hot to drink. We stopped at HB’s Place where I had my first ever piece of Oatmeal Pie. Wow! It was exceptional.
Now that we were warm again, the sun was out and lower elevations were ahead, we rode out with smiles on our faces and hopes of a bit more adventure before getting back home. We followed Route 87 through Payson until we reached the Junction with Route 188, where we turned toward Roosevelt Lake. We made a brief stop in Pumpkin Center just prior to getting to the lake.
Once to Roosevelt Lake, we stopped at the dam for a rest and some pics. One of these days, I will ride down Route 88 from Roosevelt into Apache Junction. It is unpaved most of the way, so this day was not the day to do it. From the dam it is about 30 miles to Globe, where had decided we would eat our afternoon meal.
After a bit of hunting, we decided to eat at De Marcos, which is right off of Us-60 in Globe. It was dusk as we left the restaurant. One thing I have learned about myself is that I don’t like riding mountain roads at dusk or at night. Every shadow starts looking like a deer preparing to leap out at me. This can be quite terrifying at times.
Darkness fell as we turned onto Route 77 for the final stretch toward Tucson. Only 100 more miles to go. I had Warren take the lead again so I had tail lights to focus on rather than shadows. We took a break at Winkelman and had an uneventful ride the rest of the way into Tucson.
From door to door, my odometer showed a total mileage of about 640 miles over the two days. I had a blast and would do it again in a heartbeat. As a matter of fact, since we missed out on Oak Creek Canyon and Flagstaff, we are trying to figure out when we try this again.
Good friends and good rides make life good
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.)
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.
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.
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.