May in Phoenix has been simply amazing this year. I’ve been taking full advantage of the weather by riding as much as I can so naturally for a long weekend, some buddies of mine planned a nice ride to soak up these pre-Summer temps.
Originally, three of us were going to ride but the one guy who wasn’t riding a Victory had to cancel. So it was just my buddy Jacob and me along with his passenger, Echo and my girlfriend, Jenn. Jake rides a Victory Hammer. He loves the bike but admits the creature comforts I get along with my Cross Country like music, and saddle bags are really appealing to him. He hated it every time I plugged my phone into the bike so listen to my tunes. He was able to attach his windshield and put some saddles bags on but he told me it wasn’t the same as having a fairing like I have on my VXC. I will say this though, that fat rear tire on his Hammer is pretty boss and like the majority of Victory’s bikes, I think they can be proud of that design.
We got a late start but it didn’t matter because the day was so beautiful. The high in Payson was going to be 75 degrees. You typically see me write about the cities along the 89A but today was all about the other side of the state and the 87 straight up to Payson, AZ. The 87 is also known as the Beeline Highway and it takes a North Easterly direction out of town past Scottsdale, Mesa, and Fountain Hills.
I set up my Victory app off of my iPhone before we took off. The app has been taken over by RiderX and all in all I give it a “b”. It’s a good app, better than average which is why it didn’t get a “c” but still needs to get the kinks worked out. The tracking isn’t bad and it’s fairly easy to attach a picture to a waypoint but little annoyances like unresponsive buttons and the counter intuitiveness of labeling things make the app cumbersome.
There wasn’t much traffic as we began to head East. Jenn has always told me she really enjoys how comfortable the detachable back rest / luggage rack is for her passenger seat. She has no problem being the envy of other passengers who don’t have that comfy seat. There was just little wind and the skies had a few clouds with plenty of sunshine. It’s two lanes all the way up. The majority of the road is about 65 mph and curvy at spots. There is only one major curve where you need to mind your speed but the most part I was able to cruise comfortably at about 75 mph up the hill and pass the majority of other cars. We were able to climb the 77 or so miles to Payson in about an hour and 20 minutes according to the Victory app.
Riding with another bike in your crew is something I take a little seriously. I am conscientious about spacing and speed. I try to lead by maintaining a line on the left side of the whole lane which is easy when you’re just going straight. But throw on a passenger which adjusts your typical center of gravity and some high speed curves and I wan’t able to be quite as disciplined as I would’ve liked. But Jake was very cool about it and a great rider so we worked well together as we climbed the hill.
Our destination was The Pinon Cafe in Payson. I belong to a Facebook closed group of Victory riders who live in the Valley. The group is made up primarily of people who bought their Victorys from Arizona Kawasaki Victory in Mesa which is a sister business to the store I bought my bike out of in Apache Junction. I posted a question to the group about which restaurant to hit in Payson and got few responses. Other non riding residents of Payson said Pinon was the best so we decided to save the Crosswinds restaurant at the airport for another time. As we arrived and walked in, it felt cozy, and very much like a traditional small town diner. I knew I was in the right place when I saw two metal signs on different walls for Indian Motorcycles. Breakfast was delicious, conversation was great, and soon we were headed back out to find a gas station.
The ride back wasn’t nearly as open as the ride up because other travelers were heading back to the Valley with their toy haulers. And you could certainly feel the 90+ degree heat as the elevation dropped getting closer and closer to Fountain Hills. The heat off of my engine wasn’t bad at all unless I was stopped. Then it was an oven but that’s just the way it is when you have a 106 cubic inch engine between your legs. One thing I did notice which I thought was cool was on the way back down the 87, as we were cruising through a left curve on the highway, I noticed I could hear the sound of my exhaust pipes as the rumble bounced off of the concrete highway divider. The sound reflection brought a smile to my face.
As the heat of the end of our ride caught up with us, Jenn and I ended up taking a quick detour to a gelato place in the San Tan Marketplace called Frost. It was an almost perfect end to a long, hot ride. I finished my peanut crunch and cookies and cream combo in record time.