I’ve said it before but it deserves to be said again: October is the best month in the state of Arizona. And that applies state wide — especially when you’re riding.
I was fortunate enough to get together with a group of about 10 other riders on the way to a Men’s Challenge Retreat with Central Christian Church. The destination to a camp/resort in Williams, AZ isn’t more than a few hours straight up the I-17. Unless you decide to make a day of it. If you make a ride day of it, then you meet early in the morning and take the long scenic route.
We began in Mesa and went North East towards Payson via SR 87, the Beeline Hwy. There we decided to fuel up. It was a great chance for me to get an energy boost. Since the retreat went from Friday through Sunday, it was a perfect chance to try out the new blacked out backrest WITH a Victory luggage rack. This is the first bike I’ve had with a legitimate luggage rack. I had to go with the Vic rack because I really like how the blacked out look and design carries through. It’s so funny how it’s more than just the performance of the bike. It’s also the attitude and the look. I laugh at myself but the look is definitely part of being a rider. After this trip I’ve decided I am definitely in the market for a new set of soft sided riding luggage.
From Payson, we took the 260 west through Pine, Strawberry, on the General Crook Trail across to Cottonwood, AZ eventually taking the 87A before ending up in Jerome. We took a great break in Jerome to grab some food and enjoy a gorgeous view over a picturesque valley.
From Jerome we twisted to North of Prescott before connecting with the 89 North towards the I-40 which would speed us on to Williams. I’ve lived in Phoenix for over 18 years now and I’ve been to Flagstaff countless times but have never driven through the city of Williams. This is another part of Historic Route 66 and they’ve done a great job of making the Main Street down the center of down town look like it is frozen in time. The evening is dotted with neon from the diners. The shops along the street have cowhide rugs and metal decorative street signs for sale. The more time I spend in this part of Arizona the more I love it.
All in all the day was about 262 miles over the span of five actual hours riding. We started about nine AM and landed at the camp around three in the afternoon. This was the first chance I’ve had to use the revised version of the Victory ride app on my iPhone. The company partnered with RiderX so even thought it’s not as aesthetically pleasing it functions better. I tracked the entire time on the ride and was able to put in way points.
The next day offered a few hours to break free so a pair of other riders and myself escaped the camp and took off North towards the Grand Canyon. According to the nav, the ride was about 50 to 60 miles one way. It was a direct shot and the traffic for a weekend wasn’t bad in the least. When we got to the park, it was a $12 entry fee (which was good for an entire week oddly) and we were in. Approaching the Canyon from the entry roads felt a lot like when you’re traveling towards the ocean and you summit a rise and see the water for the first time. Except, instead of water it was a vast crevice.
I’ve been to the Canyon several times and hiked and camped down inside, but seeing it is a powerful experience for me every time. For me, I cannot help but realize my own insignificance against the spectacle of one of the Seven Wonders Of The World.
And when you have landmarks you gotta have pics. The guys I was riding with were great about humoring me. We rode along the various roads in order to find a great picture spot — one not interrupted by other cars or busses or people and that would capture the day and the amazing scenery. We were like kids. But the result was fantastic and one of my favorite photos with the Vic XC.
After I got home from cruising down a boring and crowded I-17, I settled in to watch the Cardinals finish off the Eagles in the final seconds. And grab a beer. My right boot turned out to be a graveyard for some unlucky bug as I was at speed on the highway. But that didn’t look nearly as bad as my windshield. The odometer passed 10K so it’s time to bring the Pumpkin in for maintenance.
Rides exactly like the one I took this particular weekend are exactly what having this bike is about. The ride was scenery, comaraderie, discovery and spirituality. And the weather was perfect.