The Best Ride of My Life…Till the Next One

When I told the guys at The Bench about my day trip out of Alpine, Arizona on a rented Harley ‘Fat Bob’, a few wisecracked, “How could the best ride of your life have been on a Harley?”

Interesting question.  If the rewards of our sport can be experienced only on a particular kind of bike with state-of-the-art capabilities, then Ted Simon, Robert Pirsig, D. H. Lawrence, George Bernard Shaw (all notable bikers) missed out.

So, what made the ride exceptional?


Nicknamed “Wild Bill” during his drinking days–but he doesn’t remember why

Encounter   I was rolling south on Highway 191 at dawn.  Twenty miles from Alpine, Hannigan Meadows Lodge would be my last contact with civilization for 70 miles, so I stopped for coffee.  “Wild Bill”, a friendly and talkative local horse wrangler suggested I heed the 10 and 15 mph signs on upcoming curves, “The red thing you’ll see ahead of you will be your tail light.”

imgresDiscovery  This 220 mile loop is a popular motorcycle route but was all new territory to me (I went the opposite direction than shown on this internet map).

The Unexpected  Part of the route is open range.  I yielded as two cows with calves crossed the road.  A wild turkey glided from the roadside into the pines on stubby wings.  Another calf in the middle of the road, on approach, turned out to be a reddish-brown bear…good sized.  I tried to recall the southern extent of grizzly territory as we studied each other.  Slowly, it seemed, he gave way.


Ride in Beauty

I rolled from night into sudden morning as I reached the crest of the mesa.  The blades of a lonely windmill launched golden spears in every direction, and its long shadow turned on the pavement ahead.  My own long shadow bounded over scrubby desert to my right.

Yesterday’s ride persuaded me to start early.  At 5:00 AM the sun was rising a little above my left hand.  Despite dark sunglasses, I had to squint.   I was entering Hopi lands east of Tuba City and knew that the desert would quickly begin to warm.  I felt the urge to hurry–hurry like that fat guy in “Lawrence of Arabia” who fell off his camel during a night desert crossing then, glancing nervously at the rising sun, walks a little faster to catch up


SPOT Test in Arizona’s Rim Country


SPOT Satellite GPS Messenger

I enjoy taking long motorcycle trips on my own.  I like to set my route and schedule as I go without needing a conference to see what everybody wants to do.

To give Rosalie (and me) added peace of mind during these trips, I recently bought this KTM-colored SPOT Satellite GPS Messenger.

You’re invited to participate in my first trial.

I’ve rented my usual ‘Fat Bob’ from Chester’s Harley Davidson in Mesa Arizona.  I plan to amble around the northeast corner of Arizona, spending several days over the weekend at Rosalie’s family reunion in Alpine, AZ.  The seven-day trip starts Thursday morning, June 13th.   You can help test this new technology by following my progress at CarpeMoto Track.

(6/24/13)–As a track is maintained on the above SPOT public page for only 7 days, the screen shot below illustrates the tracking feature.


Why We Ride

The first of many laps around this topic:

1.  Adventure
Someplace new with a whiff of danger?   Go!
Into situations……..#@*!……..and out
Vulnerable on purpose

 2.  Beauty
Follow the river      Chase fall colors     Cross the Cascades
The earth expanding right hand and left hand, the picture alive, every part in its best light” (Whitman)