Trips & Tales

Leapride 2000

by Arthur "Living Legend" Einstein • March 3, 2000

The guy who suggested it dropped out early.

The guy who named it never showed at all.

The guy who organized it bailed at the last minute ( something about a banking crisis in Frankfurt ).

And so it was a diminished group of hard-riding road warriors who gathered on February 29th for the first Flyer adventure of the new millennium.

Present and accounted for were: Frank O’Connell on a borrowed Moto Guzzi Quota. Barbara O’Connell on a scrumptious new BMW R100RT. Walt Lynd on a “found” R100RT with Utah plates. Bill Karry, Larry Klane, and your faithful correspondent (YFC) Arthur, on rented BMW R100Rs.. Peter and Karen Brine riding two-up in a scarlet Jeep Cherokee. (Peter, it is rumored, had been winged in a shoot-out in downtown Sedona and had a cast on his six-shooter arm, the one that ordinarily operates the throttle of his BMW. It’s also rumored that he started the rumor.) And Deb Wells piloting the combination chuck wagon, luggage van, massage platform.

Up, up and away. The party started early Tuesday evening at the home of friends of the O’Connell’s. A lapse in scheduling judgement put YFC into town too late to participate but as the group stumbled into the Scottsdale Hilton about 11PM, all signs indicated that wined had flowed freely, and that the traditional ‘wheels up at 7:30 AM start’ might be delayed.

In fact we launched at about 10:30 AM after rental bikes were picked up at Western States MC Rental, and a flurry of last minute cell phone calls were made. With Phoenix traffic in our rear view mirrors, we proceeded, mostly onback roads, through Oracle, to Tuscon, beautiful downtown Sonorita where serious wine growing is going on, then to Tombstone and Bisbee. Copper Queen hotel was sighted well after the cocktail hour had begun, and we quickly repaired to a steak joint around the corner where we celebrated Uncle Sam’s approval of the Gibson/American merger. Frank ordered champagne for all and for a tense moment had locker room visions of being doused with it. But glasses appeared shortly and Flyers partied on.

Mutiny at the Copper Queen After being cooped up all winter a Flyer can get real ornery. No surprise then to walk into the breakfast room next morning smack and find an insurrection in progress. Maps were spread across tables, spanning cereal bowls and trailing ends into the fruit cup. In the absence of the guy who created it, the plan to stay 2 nights at the Copper Queen quickly died. We would sleep with the Ramadas in Safford that evening.

In early March Southeast Arizona is a low traffic ride with straight roads flanked by distant Mountains that rise to 8000 feet and beyond. Cochise, the last great Apache chieftain and renegade, holed up in the vastness of these hills. High desert makes for a cool ride and scenic ride. In the new Flyer spirit of stopping to smell the roses every so often, we turned off 191 and spent luxurious hour in the spectacularly beautiful hills of the Chiricahua National Forest.

Culinary highlight of the trip was this day’s lunch stop at Rodney’s in Wilcox. Five will get you ten that in a town bigger than Wilcox the health department would shut Rodney down in a nano-second. In wide-open Wilcox, however, Rodney soldiers on providing ample grub for hungry traveller’s who are willing to cut his deep fryer some slack. Nobody complained about the hot showers, telephones, and swimming pool at the Ramada. Or about the evening meal at Chalo’s, home of Safford’s largest, water-based margaritas.
The road to Show Low. If grub was Thursday’s high spot, the road was Friday’s hero. Out of Safford we headed east toward Clifton, a copper town with a working mine that cuts across the hills for miles. At one point, in Clifton proper, the road took us through the mill itself. Ugh!

Leaving Clifton, however, we passed a “100 miles no services” sign, which signified better things to come. Route 191 began to rise through the Apache National Forest. It’s a tight two-laner, with plenty of switchbacks and 2nd gear turns.

We moved first through mountains and enough gravel strewn “esses” to last a lifetime. Then miles of delightful sweepers and high desert quite like some of what we’ve learned to love in Utah, but even more isolated with fewer buildings and lighter traffic. It’s a road to return to.

After lunch in Springville, our posse hit the road for the Best Western at Show Low which we reached at about 4:30. Not the longest Flyer day on record, but one spectacularly satisfying ride.

Walt entertained us all at dinner by telling Barbara scandalously dirty jokes which he refused to tell in mixed company, but which Barbara promptly repeated for the group when Walt’s head was turned. How nice to have a gent with such tender sensibilities among us.
Home again. Saturday dawned cool and sunny. Peter and Karen pointed their Jeep toward Sedona and the rest were on the road, before 9AM. The blue-hair set at the Best Western had told rte 260 had plenty of curves. No disappointments there. Walt, riding Rich’s R100RT, had been leading the ride most of the trip. It seemed clear that some of Rich’s DNA had rubbed off on the BMW and that the bike was actually leading with Walt astride, powerless to intercede. We were in fat city! Until, in the steep and winding road around Salt River Canyon our leader encountered one of Arizona’s finest headed our way as we were waltzing through a series of 75 mph down hill sweepers. Walt threw out the anchor immediately. But not fast enough. About 90 tense seconds later the gumball machine started flashing, and Walt, on a borrowed bike, with no proof of ownership, was pulled over while the rest of us were waved on. After a looooong wait during which Walt compared tattoos with the arresting officer and charmed him into “65 in a 55”, we got back on the road. For several miles an atmosphere of strict observance prevailed. But soon the speed limit signs said 65 and “10 over” became the order of the day.

The milk run back to Phoenix was planned to give plenty of time to return the rental and borrowed bikes. With that done we went for dinner to the Pinon grill, and on a very pleasant verandah had a forgettable meal and a wonderful time, looking forward to Sunday departures for all.

• Arizona was a good pick. Nice roads. Good weather. Glad I remembered my jacket liner, though.
• Frank, unable to control himself in the wake of the Gibson sale, returned his borrowed Guzzi and on impulse bought new Guzzi VII sport in about 4 minutes
• Barbara’s comment “sometimes he’s such a fruit-loop”.
• Larry Klane back after long absence. Brenda next!
• YFC recorded 963 miles in four days for a 240 mile-per-day average
• 191 between Hannagan Meadows and Springerville AZ is world class.
• Though Rich had to cancel Deb showed anyway. A generous move on both their parts that was duly noted.
Leapride 2000 was intended as an aperitif to start the season. It couldn’t have been better.

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