Sunday, October 12, 2008

400 Mile Saturday

Saturday dawned to a cool 68 degrees here in the Phoenix area. A quick check of the computer showed that several groups had cancelled their rides today because of a wind advisory. The group I was going to ride with was down to three riders willing to go. A half hour before departure time and it looked like they were still up for the trip, so I was off to gas up.

The wind advisory was because of Hurricane Norbert. At 5AM Saturday it was a Category 3 Hurricane, 90 miles off of the Baja coast down in Mexico. Our forecast called for winds in the 20 - 30 mph range with gusts as high as 60 mph. It is amazing that something so far away can have that much impact here in Arizona.

I arrived at MS Hogs Pen to find that Ms Hog, Patty, and I would be joined by Gary for the first leg of our trip. The wind was already blowing and it was cool, but when you ride a motorcycle, I reasoned, you are already in 70 - 80 mph wind. We were off to meet up with Gary on the Beeline Highway.

The ride to Payson was perfect. Very little traffic for a Saturday morning and the wind wasn't noticeable. As we increased our elevation it did begin to cool off. It was at this point that I started to wonder if I still had my jacket liner in Petunia. A gas stop in Payson, a check, and no jacket liner. Well, a guy can't remember everything. We continued our assent into the high country. At 7000 feet it was down right nippy. The warmth of a nice little restaurant and hot coffee wasn't much farther up the road and would make it all better. We arrived at the Long Valley Cafe with 20 minutes to spare to still get breakfast. This place has pancakes that have to be 14 inches in diameter. When they show up at the table peoples eyes just about pop out of their heads.

The temperature in Long Valley was a brisk 56 degrees. Walking outside after breakfast it was noticeable how hard the wind was blowing. Gary was heading back to the Valley and said he wasn't sorry he wasn't going North with us. We continued with our original plan.

Heading toward Flagstaff through the Coconino National Forest we hit the 7,571 foot elevation while crossing Buck Mountain. The cross winds here felt like they would rip the helmet right off of my head. A couple of blasts pushed Petunia to the other side of the lane I was riding in. Passing Lake Mary the white caps were very noticeable and Ms Hog remarked later that she had never seen white caps on this lake.

As we turned toward Sedona the wind was blocked and while it was still chilly the riding was better. Of course the twisties of Highway 89A always make riding better. Traffic in Sedona was bad as usual and it was bursting with people. Once we got through it we had a great ride into Jerome where we had to make a candy stop for Ms Hog. Leaving Jerome our elevation was dropping and it was starting to get a little warmer. A little, not much. We headed toward Prescott, to Skull Valley, to Kirkland, to Yarnell, to Wickenburg, and into the Phoenix area.

Even when I got home I was still cold. A check of TV showed me all of the upsets in college football that I missed and that ASU died against Southern Cal. I thought Dennis Erickson's second season was the National Championship year, but I guess not at ASU. There are no pictures from this ride because all we did was ride. I did make a couple of videos, but they didn't turn out very well. I still need to work on the editing portion before I can post them.

Wind and cold included it was a terrific 400 mile Saturday. This morning in Phoenix it is 53 degrees and I hear the wind chimes on my back patio, so there will be more wind today. I need to go get that jacket liner and put it back into my jacket just in case the road calls me after while.

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