Posts Tagged ‘Tortilla Flats’

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 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.


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.


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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