Saturday, November 21, 2015

"Born to be Mild"


You'd expect buzzards in a tree like this wouldn't you?

By Steppenwolf
Get your motor runnin'
Head out on the highway
Lookin' for adventure
And whatever comes our way
Yeah Darlin' go make it happen
Take the world in a love embrace
Fire all of your guns at once
And explode into space
I like smoke and lightning
Heavy metal thunder
Racin' with the wind
And the feelin' that I'm under
Yeah Darlin' go make it happen
Take the world in a love embrace
Fire all of your guns at once
And explode into space
Like a true nature's child
We were born, born to be wild
We can climb so high
I never want to die
Born to be wild
Born to be wild

The White Tank Mountains west edge of the city, outside Surprise
Unforgettable lyrics if you are a motorcycle nut like I am... I cannot tell you how many times while I was riding my 350 Rebel, BMW 600, 850 Special, RZ 500, Triumph T Bird and dozens of other bikes I've owned over 47 years of riding, I've sang this song (badly) at the top of my lungs, hoarse with a dry throat, while riding to somewhere... or to nowhere. 

Almost new...


Sure I wasn't on a chopped Sportster or Panhead this day, but what does that matter.  It's not what you ride but that you ride.  

ALL motorcyclists feel this feeling of Freedom, just you and your machine, in tune with the road... wind on your face, sun shaded by cool RayBan's hand on the throttle.

I've been to the Moon and back on freeways, autobahns, autostradas, autopistas, twisting two lanes in the desert, in the Rockies, in the Alps, on the plains of Spain. I've ridden from the wilds of Baja California, to the wilds of L.A. yes splitting lanes on the Hollywood freeway,  and again in crowded Athens or rural France.  

I've frozen literally, dealt with flats, run out of gas, picked up girls/women, enjoyed sunsets and sunrises while on the road.

Interstate 10 heading from L.A. to Phoenix and beyond.
TODAY... I was riding my Adventure to adventure west of my Phoenix home on a coolish morning, on a day that would see nothing but sunny skies and temperatures climb into the high 20's (80'sF)  I bought my Adventure scooter new from a local dealer several years ago.  She's been my mistress, my pack mule, my run about, my smile chaser... loyal and reliable.  Her hair color is like an H1 Kawasaki triple, lazer blend blue, she's 150 cc, 9.35 hp and has gorgeous lines, like a runway model.


I'd planned a route of 270km (that's 170 miles) across the N.W. corner of the city.  Peoria, Surprise and Sun City to the Sun Valley Parkway that circles the White Tank mountains on the west side of the city.  The PW is a fine road, divided four way with little to no traffic, except for the odd pedal cyclist.


Once the road turns south, you eventually cross over I-10 into Buckeye.  I found my way to OLD US 80, a highway I'd first ridden in 1998 on my XT600 with Deb on her's on our way to the trip of a lifetime, the length of Baja and not always on paved surfaces.  In fact we'd ridden up the mountain in the shadow of El Diablo, a substantial peak over 10,000' in elevation in and out of Mike's Sky Ranch, to the Cortez and eventually Cabo, before turning the loop back north.  

Valuable water channeled to the City.

TODAY I rode flat agricultural land, past old farms and homesteads to the Salome highway into new territory.

Once I'd crossed onto the overpass of the busy I-10 I stopped for a drink of ice water, a sandwich and to strip clothing now that the temperature had risen substantially.

As cool as it was in the morning, it was hot like only the desert can be in the afternoon.  I was next to a fence that enclosed one of the massive solar collector farms you see often down here.  Thousands of solar collectors motor driven to align with the changing sun, sends power through a grid to the metropolis beyond the White Tank mountains.

Tracks going off into the mountains.

Vulture Mine road would take me all the way to Route 60, known locally as Grand Avenue, to the impeccably cozy community of Wickenburg.  How many times had I driven through this little but growing town coming from or going to Calgary.  


Apart from the truck traffic that cuts off from Kingman or Flagstaff towards Yuma and the occasional big rig RV, there is literally NO traffic.  There is no town from here to Wickenburg and I spent the next couple of hours soaking up the ambiance of the flowering desert, riding at speeds rarely exceeding 70 kph.  I stopped often to take a snapshot, the heat immediately warming me through my black jeans and jacket instantly.  There was Jack Rabbit wash, the Aguila road I'd ridden a few years ago on my XT 350, Vulture Mines ghost town. 

The OLD Vulture Mine Ghost town.  Tours on Saturday's.

I was riding the Vulture mountains, absolutely beautiful with the sun blasting their faces as it has done for tens of thousands of years.  This volcanic land was uninhabited by man until fairly recently, and then as it is now, unforgiving and utterly dangerous.  Summer temperatures can easily exceed 130F, water is no where to be found (except in modern concrete irrigation channels) and little traffic if one was to have any breakdown.  Except for modern cell towers, this land is much like is was 2000 years ago.

Solar farm outside Tonopah.
Does the sky get any bluer that this?

More of the old buildings at Vulture Mine.


I was having yet another "time of my life."  The little scooter comfortable, just fast enough not to get run over on those freeway stretches I was doing today, economical to run.

Curve after curve after luscious curve.  More curves than a decade of Italian movie stars put together, gently climbing and then falling on pavement so perfect, you'd swear it was made just for you.  

Vulture peak in the mountains by the same name, west of Phx.
Downtown Wickenburg

As I approached the outskirts of Wickenburg, my scooter ran dry.  I had used up 6 liters of fuel to travel 170 kilometers or 106.25 miles.  Except for that 5 mile detour earlier
Home
today, I would have made it on fumes, but made it into Wickenburg's downtown and gas.  I pulled off the highway just short of a crest on the hill I was on, to the barking of three vicious looking dogs across the road luckily behind a sturdy 6' high chain link fence.


Ignoring the yappers, I unloaded my Jerry can and filled the tank.  The scooter started with a short stab of the electric leg and I was off, smiling like a Cheshire cat.

Wickenburg is a contradiction of old and new.  There's the old west feel of downtown and the modern feel of a new age roundabout on the major route 60, passing through as you cross over the dry and dusty Hassayampa River.

From here on in I had a choice of taking the Carefree highway (rte 74) or sticking to the divided route 60.  I chose 60 and followed it in increasingly heavy traffic, which traveled well above my 50 mph pace in the right hand lane.  I saw signs announcing "Shoulder work next five miles" and I was going to pull off to deal with the cramp between my shoulder blades.  Too bad it was the wrong kind of shoulder work!

Another look at Vulture peak.

On the outskirts of the city I took ring road freeway 303 the 6 miles or so to the Olive avenue turn off, fueled up for the second time at the same QuikTrip as I had done leaving the city.


In 20 minutes... I was home once again.


That's 1.2 gallons for a fill up.


The little Chinese Adventure 150 had covered 270 km or 169 miles, used 8.5 liters of regular (that's 2.2 US gallons) for an average of 74 mpUSg or 90 miles per Imperial gallon.  My road speed averaged between a fairly steady sightseeing 60kph/35mph to around 90kph/56 mph while I was on the freeway.

My total fuel cost for the day was... are you ready... $4.50 usd!

I had a great day, not a cloud in the sky, saw Wile E. coyote cross the road probably after a Road Runner, took some fabulous photos and once again, proved without a doubt, that there is no way in 10 lifetimes you'll see or feel or experience it all.

So... what are you waiting for...


                                                   Get your motor runnin'
                                                 Head out on the highway
                                                   Lookin' for adventure
                                            And whatever comes our way!


                                 I love doing this and will do it until I can't anymore.


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