Southwest Adventure 2015… Day 3

Steve Kinchen, Sr/ May 29, 2015/ BMW R1200RT, General Rants & Raves About Riding, Southwest Adventure 2015, Touring/ 0 comments

Departure Location: Iraan, TX (not a misspelling!)

Time: 0717

Odometer at Departure: 4716

Weather Conditions: 62 and clear skies

Daily High Temperature: 96

Destination: Show Low, AZ

Arrival Time: 1930

Daily Miles Logged: 691

Total Trip Miles: 1769

State Visited: Texas, New Mexico, Arizona

As I begin writing this entry, I now realize that today, our group has encountered three different time zones.  The effects that this has taken on our group, but more specifically me, is real.  We left Texas this morning in the Central Time Zone, and before noon, we had crossed into New Mexico and entered in to Mountain Time.  Later in the day, we left New Mexico behind for the next stage of our adventure… Arizona.  Back home it is two hours later than where I sit writing this post.  All of my family has long since retired for the evening and will not read this until tomorrow morning.

After a paltry breakfast offering at the hotel, we left just a few minutes past our agreed upon time as we still had over 80 miles from yesterday to add to our ride today in order for us to get back on schedule.

Our morning consisted of just over 400 miles on the super slab I-10.  After today, I have now travelled all but just a couple hundred miles on I-10 from East to West coast, so I was excited to attack these miles.  The legal speed limit in this area was posted at 80mph, so one can imagine what the actual traffic flow rate was.  Traveling at this speed seriously compromises the fuel economy of all of our bikes and our fuel stops seemed much more frequent today than in years past.

A quick subway lunch was sufficient to address our nagging hunger from the inadequate breakfast offering at the hotel.  Each of us seemed to be in the zone today, each in our own way.  We were all quite focused on the days goal, but we are all suffering from fatigue to a degree as we are finding our trip groove.

Long days in the saddle do not really bother us as we each have addressed specific challenges in our own unique ways.  For my concerns, a custom seat by Seth Lamm, LD comfort riding shorts, and ilium highway pegs have proven to be the secret sauce for my needs.

Our real goal for the day was to ride the Coronado Scenic Byway and to take in all that it has to offer.  Here is a terrific description that Jon found from www.openroadjourney.com:

A favorite of motorcyclists and driving enthusiasts, the Coronado Trail Scenic Byway is an adventure of switchbacks, steep grades, and hairpin turns and is known as one of the best driving roads in the nation. In some parts of the road, drivers may not travel at more than 10 to 15 miles an hour. The road is steep and winding, and many sharp curves lack guardrails. With travel primarily through mountain ranges and passes with elevations as high as 9,148 feet, travel at night and weekends during winter storms is ill advised but not prohibited. Plows are stationed near each end of the Coronado Trail for seasonal snow storms and the occasional rock slide. The majority of the Coronado Trail Byway is open range (no fences). Big Horn sheep, mule deer, white-tail deer, elk, javelina, cattle, the occasional bobcat, black bear, wolf & mountain lion may be seen along or crossing the highway. Motorists traveling the higher speed sections should use caution. The average daily travel for the heart of the byway is less than 100 cars per day although fall color and hunting season visits increase fourfold. Over 400 Switchbacks!

I must admit that I was a tad apprehensive at the beginning of the route from the description, and wouldn’t you know, the first thing we encounter was a posted speed limit of 25mph, then a “Rough Road Ahead” sign, and then a strip of construction filled with gravel…  All I could think was “what have we gotten ourselves into..!”  Riding the byway was not too bad, except for the fact that most of the hairpin turns have no guardrails and feature a distinctive sheer face cliff drop if you underestimate the turns. The route truly lived up to its expectations…

Coronado Scenic Byway

As a southern boy, I have not had much experience in the way of mountain riding.  At best, I will have a chance to ride in the mountains once or twice a year.  My skill set in the twisties has vastly improved in the last year as I meditate on the process, I rehearse it in my mind with my eyes closed and imagining the curves and my coordinated efforts guiding the bike successfully through the turn.  Today was going to be the day that I put all of that to practical application, and hopefully live to tell the story to my kids…

I got off to a marginal start, and at the first sign of a 10mph switchback turn, I reverted back to my old tendencies of over-braking, not managing the throttle and clutch properly, and not looking in the right place.  I made the call to wave the rest of our group on ahead and pulled off to collect my thoughts.  Matt circled back to see if everything was ok, and I told him I needed to proceed at my own pace and that he should just go on ahead.  He did, but he wound up coming back a second time to check on me… a thought that was greatly appreciated at the time as I traveled this beautiful, but nearly deserted road.

 

this is how abandoned this roadway actually is, there was time for a photo like this!

 

and then also time for version two

 

The goal for today was to undo the old the old tendencies and replace them with the new programming.  This was not going to happen in the context of a group ride.  ( A concert pianist spends months, if not years, preparing a concerto by himself before he ever plays it with the orchestra as it was meant to be heard!)  By the end of the first half of the byway, my confidence level was at an all-time high and I was ready to take on the next half with the rest of the group.  (with over 400 switchbacks, this was like practicing your c major scale 200 times…)  I was delighted by the fact that I was able to keep up with the pace for most of the rest of the ride…  I attribute this to a book I once read called “The inner game of music” which talked about visualizations in your practice sessions that aided you to achieve the desired results from your practice.  It always amazes me to witness a Biblical principal at work…

We linked up with a group of riders for roughly the last 30 miles of the Byway as it led us into the town of Eager.  This would be our last fuel stop and we decided to press the rest of the way on into  Show Low, Az for the night as originally planned.


Dinner was at a local joint within walking distance and it was truly the first really good meal that we have enjoyed since our journey began.  I had a sampler plate consisting of a tamale (fair), a taco (good, but I prefer ground beef to shredded), an enchilada (excellent) and the best spanish rice and beans I have ever had.  Everyone else seemed pleased with their selections.

Tomorrow, we pick up Jon and Randall’s wives for the next leg of our adventure.  They are a delight to be around and their contributions to the smooth flow of the trip is always missed when they depart.  That is all for tonight.  Tomorrow we ride to Seneca Lake, the Salt River Canyon, and ultimately Sedona.

-Steve

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