AND Brappp, shifting into sixth gear!
I was accelerating on the I 17 on ramp at such an acute angle I felt I wouldn't actually "be" on I-17 until I passed Black Canyon City, heading towards Flagstaff.
The bike was running really well and I settled into a sixty mile per hour rhythm in the right lane. Not because I was particularly slow after all I was traveling in excess of 90'/second!
On the other hand, traffic was rocketing by dual purpose single cylinder standards.
|Table Mesa west|
It's not unusual to see Americans and yes indeed, tourists as well, traveling at velocities that not that long ago would have been setting records on the salt flats of Bonneville, but the USA is such a large country well serviced by a most excellent road network of Interstate freeways and state highways and even secondary roads, that they are almost compelled to travel as velocities (thumbing noses at the early 80's National 55 speed limit) unheard of in many countries of the World with the exception of those that mark their auto (pronounced like O T T O the name of the German that designed the concept) routes with any word beginning with "auto". For example, there are Auto Pista's, Auto routes, Auto Strada's and of course Auto bahns!
Yes during my half year riding the Yamaha Diversion around the "continent" I had the opportunity to ride the loaded Divvie I affectionately named "Little Red" (as in the character of childhood story fame, and while on that I will add, what a scary story to tell your children...) on many such roads once actually topped out leaving Berlin for points south, at 190 kph!
That folks, was in the middle of three lanes. The outer lane was reserved for BIG Mercedes, Audi's, Porches, BMW's and Hayabusa's that whooshed by me like, well... like the Audi's and Mercedes and Porches and BMW's and Hayabusa's with the occasional Ford thrown in to represent the 'poor' folk in the valley... were doing right now!
Yes, these are the types of thoughts one has when 'droning along' at third world speeds well under the ton.
It's all relevant of course, my 60 mph ride on the XT 350 would be scary in Calcutta for example!
Before I arrived at the off ramp to Table Mesa road I could see where I must have gone wrong 2 hours earlier. Following the same dry riverbed I had been on initially there was the odd glimpse of the Old Stagecoach road. When I had made that initial right hand turn and stopped to survey the route, the road must have continued directly "through" somebodies front yard. One thing I have found riding around in the SW, often people in rural communities many take a wee bit of liberty and post what is obviously a public road, with NO TRESPASSING or KEEP OUT or YOU WILL BE SHOT ON SIGHT IF YOU DARE TO ENTER signs. One of these must have 'fooled' me resulting in my unintended detour!
Pulling off I immediately had a Deja vu moment. Okay... three moments.
|Late November a couple of years ago 7000'|
|New River Jeep trail|
On a whim I had taken the exit ramp found the entry gate (State Land) and spent the next several hours riding some incredibly remote and gorgeous trails on some extremely difficult terrain. There were some mountains switchbacks that would have been extremely difficult for a Jeep to negotiate in a single turn of the wheel!
This is where I came across the guy dressed in shorts with a Glock on his hip!
That day I was riding mostly east by south east, not getting home till after dark given my 4 hours detour!
That was Table Mesa Road east.
Today, after leaving the Interstate I headed west with the intention of riding across the top of Lake Pleasant where Google map shows some gray lines if you zoom in about a hundred times. I should point out that some lines on my laptop screen may NOT actually translate into anything even remotely ride-able and the route did have some short blanks spots but I did have an alternative option if I could not make it. If there was an issue I could still have some "fun and exercise" well it would be mostly exercise, catching the Powerline road that again, showed up as a gray line of slightly larger dimension on my trusty Google earth map.
This could take me along the mountain range, nearly all the way back to the Carefree highway 74.
HAVE I even mentioned you have to be pretty fluid riding back here? Well... you have to be pretty fluid riding back here.
It was Sunday, December 11th. Now normally I don't ride anywhere on the weekend, too many crazies flying around the corners on their UTE's and ATV's thinking they are Parnelli Jones 990 miles into the Baja Mille! One of my biggest concerns riding the back country (and I have several) is getting center-punched by a Side by side coming around a cliff!
|Sign says "NO SHOOTING" or something like that.|
This Sunday as I quickly found out, I happened to be in a "shooting allowed" area. There were high clearance Jeeps, Buggies, family vans and yes even sports cars, that had conveyed thousands of people into this particular area today to try out their marksmen (or markswomen) shooting skills.
Off Table Mesa road several parking areas gave directions and rules for discharging weapons. Many of these target areas were designated but of course most people just pull off the road back dropped by an slight incline or dry wash and have at 'er!
Now having been to Cabela's, and being the owner of a 1942 Lee Enfield .303 plus a CIL single shot .22 that was last fired by Holly at age 11 "somewhere" north of Fort Mac, so I understand that Arizonan's LOVE to shoot! I could see rifles of every stripe, large caliber, small caliber... AR's, AK's, single shots or doubled magazines, pistols galore and discarded shell casings by the gazillion!
Although the Arizona desert is huge (you could fit Europe in here easily enough!) it's a little too small for me when hordes of militia types and grannies wearing coke glasses, and children are firing live ammo come hither and yon! To say it was a little creepy wouldn't be misstating the truth.
I rode the length of the Table Mesa west road coming to a stop at a rather substantial closed gate!
|Eagles must have arrived early, road closed and it was only the 11th! I was pissed.|
The sign read something to the effect that the road would be closed from December 15th to June 15th inclusive for Bald Eagle's doing it, you know, making little bald eagles!
Now having lived around Calgary when a major portion of highway west of town is also closed for seasonal animal migrations, this did not come as a surprise, yes... a disappointment but not surprise.
'Cept... it was the 11th of December.
And yes, the gate had a substantial padlock barring the way with wire fence on both sides, so unless I could get ahold of Chris Angel to levitate XT over the barrier, my trek across the top of the reservoir wasn't going to happen!
|Well pretty much says it all!|
Anyway, the sun was hot by my standards, there was no amount of wishful thinking going to do it so I had no alternative but to put PLAN B into effect.
Somewhere in the last half hour I had passed by the Old Mine road. I would find it and take it home.