Thursday, February 24, 2011

Riding in the Rain

Another weekend, another Freewheeler's ride.  The weather man kept repeating rain in the forecast, but this is southern Arizona. You never believe the weather man when rain is involved.  It's just a fairy tale they keep selling to help you forget about the dust in your throat.  And as Sunday morning rolled around..lo and behold another sunny morning.  So I threw on a warm jacket, kissed the wife, and out the door I went.  Unlike previous Freewheeler rides, this was a mystery run.  Meaning I had no idea where the group was headed except for the fact we'd be back in town by 4pm.  Not many photos of this trip, so take your time on the ones I did take.:)

We met at one of our usual breakfast spots, Sunny Side Up Cafe.  I had an egg burrito and coffee.  We spent a little too much time chatting, and the hostess had to ask us to leave since there was a huge line of people wanting to eat.  We quickly grabbed our stuff and made a quick get away.  I grabbed a shot of a Harley heritage soft tail that belonged to one of our riders.  Really nice looking bike.  Not sure about the tassels though.  No bike of mine will ever have tassels.

We headed up state hwy 79, then cut back towards I-10 and took the frontage road past Picacho Peak and north into Eloy.  We stopped for gas and use of bathrooms.  Then we were off again.  Up until this point we'd been dodging any nasty looking clouds.  But as we headed northwest out of Eloy, straight in our path, was a dark mean looking cloud. I confess I was a little upset with the fact that of all the directions we could be headed, our road led directly to doom.  Up until this point I'd been able to keep the Bonnie out of any serious rain.  Now she'd be de-flowered.  The showroom sparkle would be gone forever.  She'd never be the same.  I tend to stress out about a lot of stuff.  Anyway just as the sprinkles started to fall we pulled into the Francisco Grande Hotel & Golf Resort.

I had never heard of the place, but apparently it had been built in 1959 by the then San Francisco Giants owner to be used as a spring training camp.  It looked pretty sharp.  Maybe the wife and I will ride out some summer night and get away from the hustle and bustle of the city.:)  Anyway, we had lunch in their dining room.  I should have ordered the chili.  It looked really really good.  Don't you hate it when you know you ordered the wrong thing, before you even start eating?

As a side note, apparently the Portland Timbers soccer team was using the resort as their spring training location.  A lot of their players were coming in and out of the dining area wearing their spiffy green outfits.

As we left the resort, I wish I had taken a picture of the bike.  It was still sprinkling, and water was beading up on the tank in a neat pattern.  I had grabbed a bunch of paper towels from the bathroom to wipe off my seat.  Reminder for next trip, take a small hand towel along for drying off the seat so we don't have to steal towels.

We headed south into the Tohono O'odham reservation.  The road made a small loop before heading back towards I-10.  It seemed to get colder as the ride went on, and we would go into and out of small rain pockets.  The highlight of the trip was when the sun was at our back and the road headed up into some small hills.  There was a small rainbow right in front of us that framed the road.  I don't have any pictures of it but I grabbed the section of road from Google maps.  Just picture cloudy skies and a rainbow going right over the road.  It's one of those fleeting moments in life that are there and then gone.  You either experience them or you don't.

From here we jumped onto I-10 and high tailed it back to Tucson.  We would continue to hit small pockets of rain.  My first experience of riding in rain at 75Mph.  Not heavy rain, but pretty heavy for me.  I snapped a picture of the bike once I got back home.  I'll be doing some detailing this weekend.  Another 220 miles added to the bike and now I'm over 3000 total. 

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Ride to the Ruins

View Case Grande Ruins in a larger map

The Freewheelers had a ride last Sunday to a national monument just north of Tucson.  I've included a map of our ride above.  The monument is called the Casa Grande Ruins.  Casa Grande is Spanish for 'great house' which was the name given to the structure by the very first European to see it, Father Kino back in 1694.  It is/was a 4-story, 11-room building built about 700 years ago by the local natives.  Pretty impressive considering the lack of building materials at hand at the time.  But enough of my park ranger tour skills.  Just read up on it yourself:

National Park Service Website


As usual we met up at the local Starbucks.  It's not a real ride unless you're fueled up on caffeine and scones.  We're talking tough as nails bikers here.  I hear Hells Angel's always stop at Starbucks when possible.

This was a much smaller group then the weekend before.  We probably had 11-12 bikes total.  The ride up was uneventful except for one moment when I almost dropped my bike at a stop sign.  We were about half way into the ride, when the group came to a halt and I quickly put both feet down to lift myself off of the bike for a stretch.  I got a little over eager with the leg bends and the bike started listing to one side.  It took every ounce of strength to keep it up right.  Would have been pretty embarrassing dropping the bike at the front of the pack with everyone behind me rolling their eyes at the noob.  Here we are at the parking lot of the ruins.

 The Bonnie can be seen dead center in the photo below.  What a sharp looking bike!

It was five bucks per person to get into the monument.  I didn't have to pay as some of the other older members bought national park passes which allowed the younger crowd to get in for free as "guests".  I guess the passes really work out in the summer if you intend to tour the states and camp at the various national parks.  Paying every time you arrive at a park tends to get a little pricey from what I hear.  The visitors center had tons of various displays with information on the site.  Here are a few photos of what you can see.

Then you get to go outside and explore the ruins.  The large metal structure was built back in the thirties to help prevent weather erosion.

Nice self shot if I don't say so myself.  How did Kiri ever hook up with someone as handsome as I am?

One of our fellow riders.  His name is Kenny and he rides a Harley Sportster that only has a 2 gallon tank.  It's sort of the running joke at all the rides, as he can only go 90-100 miles between fill ups.  He loves the bike though, so we just make sure we plan the gas stops accordingly.

There was graffiti etched all over the walls of the ruins.  Some of them quite old.  Man's eternal quest to be remembered.  Here's an example of one that seemed to read 1887.

The building was made with mud and Caliche.  If you've ever lived in the Southwest and tried to dig a hole you find out what Caliche is pretty quick.  You can click on the photo below to make it readable.

Time for the group photo op!

After the ruins we drove over to a Chinese restaurant for lunch.

Another great ride.  I believe it was roughly ~170 miles round trip.  This weekend I'm on-call so no rides for me:(  Let's hope for a quiet week pretty please.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Two's company, Thirty is a crowd.

Last weekend the riding club had a get together for one of our fellow riders. She had gotten her bike back from the garage, after a nasty run in with pavement a few months back.  What better way to celebrate getting your bike back then riding with a few friends.  When I first signed up for this ride there were only eight people going.  The day the actual event was upon us there were 30+ sign ups.  I prefer riding in small groups. But since this was a short ride around the Tucson mountains, and the weather was beautiful, I said what the heck.  After a safety talk to get everyone on the same page, we were off.

We had a few bikes that still needed to fill up.  So we stopped by the gas pumps on our way out of town.

I talked Tuyen into coming.  Nothing like starting out on your first group ride with a huge mass of motorcycles making you nervous.  I like this picture though.  I'm sure he's thinking "lets go people, I've got laundry to get back too!"

A quick shot of myself and we were off.

I wouldn't want to lead a large group of bikes through town.  Keeping everyone together through lights and stop signs would be a nightmare.  Luckily we just did a quick loop around the Tucson mountains, where there are very few stops.

We pulled up for lunch at a small airport outside of town called Ryan Airfield.  There's a restaurant at the entrance called Todd's Place.  I had never heard of it, but the food was good.  Here are the bikes in the parking lot.

And the view from inside the restaurant looking out at the planes.

Here's the final shot of the day.  We got everyone together for a group shot.  A waitress took the picture.  I'm in the back, eighth head from the right.  Overall a fun day.