Congress, Yarnell, Wilhoit, Prescott, Jerome and Cottonwood; it’s like the recipe to the best SR-89A cake you’ve ever tasted. Just throw everything in the oven for about four hours at 75 degrees Fahrenheit and you’ll have a nice fluffy batch of pure joy.
Last week the weather broke and the general mood of the Valley of the Sun lifted. The highs were going to be in the mid 80s for the next couple weeks which meant even more gorgeous weather up North at higher elevations.
Leather jacket: check.
Allergy meds: check.
Leather chaps: check.
A good nights sleep, a decent bowl of cereal and some coffee and I was off. I’ve been looking forward to this road for a while. Going up to Prescott a few weeks ago wasn’t bad but this time I’m on my own and really taking advantage of the twisties and sweeping turns on the route
Life is so short. Days like this don’t come often and to pass on them seems like a waste of an amazing opportunity. How lucky am I that God has seen fit to award me the chance to soak up the air, the scenery and the ideal temperatures. I find myself like a little kid waiting until we got out of the store to open my toy. I tolerated the Highway 74 straights and was full of anticipation for the curves. I’ve spoken about it before but it is amplified when you get perfect conditions like this day– you can’t help but feel more connected to your moment in time, your environment, and your place in the world as your cruising down a road. The traffic was light today because I started early enough and it really gave me time to be in the moment. I started out listening to my Spotify radio until I took a quick bathroom break right outside of Wickenburg and switched to my iPod.
This time there wasn’t any other traffic. People just gave way to open road. This time, as I attacked Yarnell Hill, it was as if the road belonged to me. I shifted actively ensuring I had enough power to carry me through the curves. Something about leaning over into a turn and you really feel connected to the road. Driving a car you’ll never understand unless you get on two wheels. And the VXC loves to eat up the changes in direction. I am extremely biased but I’m also not alone. One of the big things you’ll hear Victory riders talking about is the balance of the bike with the increased power when compared to the Model Ts. Up the hill felt effortless and moving such a heavy bike around wasn’t a challenge at all. In fact I would go so far as to say, the balance of the bike enhanced the curves. You’ve read the about the other bikes I’ve ridden in the history section of this site and the amount of contentment I have for the VXC is in direct proportion to my joy and confidence.
Could it get any better? Sure, let’s throw in some changing Fall colors. Add hues all over the red, orange, yellow, brown spectrum along side the roads like runway lights. The air is just cleaner and the cacti surrounded by the red and brown clay has taken a back seat to the rolling hills of green and the conifers.
I filled up the tank in Prescott and got right back on the bike to head up the 89A. Now the day was later and the locals in the area where starting to fill up the roads. Past the fair grounds heading back into the twisties, I was behind three cars. The first car moved out of the way without any prompting almost immediately as I caught up with them. I was right behind a Toyota pick-up for a while until he did the same by pulling off to the side and letting me by. Then there was the new Honda Accord with the paper license plate. I don’t have any problem with Accords as a whole. They’re great cars. But I’m on a motorcycle. And any motorcycle is going to handle a twisty road better than a car unless that car is a Nissan GT-R. But the Accord driver didn’t subscribe to that philosophy so for the next 15 miles until we got to Jerome, I was stuck in second gear respecting the distance for safety’s sake as we slowed to a crawl around hairpins and passed one safety pull-out after another. So please take this as a public service announcement: if a motorcycle is following your car on a twisty backroad, do both of you a favor and just let the bike pass.
Jerome is gorgeous. It could be a destination all its own. I wasn’t stopping here on this particular day except for a few choice photos but this is a place full of personality and character. Other motorcycles lined the streets. I laughed as I was approached by a stranger who asked me about the ride today. We exchanged small talk and I got THE question again: what do they call that color? It brings a smile to my heart every time I answer, “Suede nuclear sunset, sir.” The listener repeats the phrase back to me in disbelief and then tacks on his personal comment. I do love it when people stare.
A little less than 10 miles out of Jerome is Clarkdale and Cottonwood past a few miles of roundabouts along the 89A. I’ve never been to Cottonwood and I’ve been missing out. Along Old 89A is the downtown area which has a wonderfully classic Route 66 historical vibe to it. The great places to eat and shop are punctuated by the wine tasting rooms of Arizona vineyards. I’ve never been a huge fan of real small towns but in this case words like quaint and peaceful take on a higher value. Not sure if I would like to stay more than several days in a place like Cottonwood but a short visit would do a lot for resetting my compass. On this lazy Sunday in Cottonwood the old town had a simple pace that was magnetic.
I’m not a huge fan of the I-17 in general and I’m even less of a fan after the sun goes down. As dusk approached I switched out my sunglasses to clear lenses and headed south back to Phoenix. By the time the 260 had led me back to the 17 I was about 86 plus miles from home. Now the traffic was thick. It felt like being part of a cattle herd marching down the highway and that crowded feeling at 80 plus MPH is uncomfortable on a motorcycle — even in a car for that matter. But the ride home is quick and I pulled into my garage with plenty of time to watch the football game and take my dog for a walk. Today was just a little day trip but it was just what the doctor ordered to reset myself. I love this bike.
Now we’re going to have to take a trip South to Tombstone and Bisbee. Until then, take care.