|Arizona roads are magical.|
Soon enough we're out of the urban sprawl of Phoenix and feeling the cool desert breeze as we head north on Highway 87 through scattered saguaro cactus. I have that realization I often get when I haven't been in the saddle in a while: wow, do I love riding a motorbike! The vulnerability, the sensory overload and the speed conspire to make a rush of adrenaline that opens you up to this overwhelming experience even more. I've tried many things, some of them not particularly good for me, but nothing, and I mean nothing, feels better than disappearing down the road on two wheels.
Once clear of traffic lights I immediately get lost in the winding corners and elevation changes of the Bush Highway. The bike is leaning left and right, feeling weightless under me and eager to spring forward at the twist of the throttle. My twenty year old Concours at home under a blanket in the garage does a good job with a thousand ccs, this newer fourteen-hundred cc machine is a revelation, even two up.
|The Ride: 350+kms through the Superstition Mountains|
|A couple of weeks after our ride our|
route was buried in a foot of snow.
The Bush Highway turns back toward the sprawl, so after crossing Usurer's Pass we drop down to Highway 60 in Apache Junction having bypassed miles of Mesan strip malls. Highway 60 is empty and arrow straight. What would you do on a 160 horsepower bike you've never ridden before? I do it. In what feels like moments we're leaving the desert floor behind us and climbing into the Superstition Mountains. I feel like I'm sitting on a Saturn V in a full stage one burn.
|The ride into the Superstition|
Mountains is elevating.
I've wanted to ride this road to Globe since driving it in a miserly Nissan rental car years before. It's twenty five miles of being on the side of your tires. You're only upright as you're switching sides. The temperature drops and snow begins to appear in shady patches on the side of the road. We surge ever upward in a cocoon of still air. The Concours' fairing is keeping the worst of it at bay while that mighty engine makes short work of any moving chicanes in front of us. Would I like to ride this road on a sport bike? Sure, but the big Kawi makes it easy to enjoy two up with luggage.
As is the way with winding roads I get to the end of them in a trance, and always earlier than I think I should. By this point we're both cold regardless of what we're wearing and fairings. The outside temperature in Globe is 4°C. We jump off the bike at the Copper Bistro and stamp some feeling back into our legs. Walking into the restaurant we're met with the incredulous stares of the locals.
"Kinda cold to be out on a bike, ain't it?"
The old timer at the bar gives us a look like he understands why we're out but still pities us for doing it. We can't help being what we are.
|Do not mess with the Globe popo.|
Warmed up, we're back on the bike and filling up before ducking out of Globe on the 188 into the Tonto Basin, a two thousand foot drop down from where we had lunch. In warmer weather the 188 is busy with boat haulers heading to the lake behind the Roosevelt dam, but today the road is ours.
|Roosevelt Dam, a nice stop and the beginning of the rather|
bananas Apache Trail - an astonishing road but not the sort
of thing you'd want to two up on a Concours.
We pull into Roosevelt Dam for a stretch and a drink of water before following 188 to its end at Highway 87. Our animal sighting luck kicks in at this point. As we're kitting up to leave the dam a bald eagle flies over it and down the Salt River looking a scene out of a movie.
By this point it's mid-afternoon and we're both wind blown, dehydrated and a bit achy from the swings in temperature, and I've got the trickiest part of the ride coming up. I've driven the 87 in a car and know what's coming. We pull up to make sure our ATGATT is airtight and for me to get my head on straight for a high speed decent on a fast two lane highway down the side of a mountain range.
|Have a stretch and get your head on straight for the ride back|
to Phoenix. The locals don't take this road slowly.
The Concours surges down the highway and I drop into the flow of traffic. Leaning into corners for up to thirty seconds at a time has me concentrating on perfect arcs and not being happy with the results. How often do you get to describe high speed arcs for an hour at a time? I'm feeling rusty, frustrated and want to find a way to smooth out my mid-corner corrections. Fortunately I'd been reading Total Control by Lee Parks on Kindle and found his advice about one handed steering to be the solution to my broken corners.
|Total Control by Lee Parks - it's exhaustive in its description of motorcycle physics. I wouldn't call it light reading,|
but that one bit on steering input made me a better rider instantly.
|The Concours is back in the lot next to this ridiculous thing.|
I'd take two wheels over anything else any day.
The rush hour drive home in the rental SUV is tedious and slow, but that blast in the mountains cleared out the cobwebs. The ZG1400 made an interesting comparison with my ZG1000. I found the newer bike a comfortable and agile machine, but the whining of electronics didn't thrill me, and the tightness of the foot controls were awkward. Because this is someone else's bike they made choices (like ridiculously high risers) that I wouldn't have. None of these things spoiled the ride, and the biblical power of the ZG1400 motor is something that needs to be felt to be believed. This taste of ZG1400 makes me wonder how I'd fettle my own. Thoughts of a ZG1400 swirl in my mind as I roll along with the commuters into the setting sun.
ZG1400s for sale (they aren't $800 like my old ZG1000 was)...
2008 with 100k on it: $8600 (really?)
2008 with 63k on it: $7850
2008 with 13k on it: $8900
2009 with 72k on it: $7000
2013 with 8k on it: $13,000
2015 with <1k on it: $13,500
new 2016: $18,000
Photos from the helmet cam. It was supposed to be video but I didn't set it up right. I guess I'll have to go back and do it again. I'm most sorry you can't hear the sound of a ZG1400 engine singing in the tunnel...
|The Bush Highway|
|The tunnel out of Superior - the Concours' engine was a spine tingling howl!|
|The road to Globe|
|The never straight 87 back to Scottsdale - 3300 feet down to the desert floor, none of it straight... at 80mph.|
|Dropping down into the Tonto Basin|
|188 into the Roosevelt Dam|
|The Apache Trail a couple of days later in the rental car...|
|Back of the Roosevelt Dam before tackling the Apache Trail.|
|Sunset on the Apache Trail|
|Maybe on a dual sport or adventure bike? Not on a Concours. Apache Trail is a couple of hours of hair raising corners with no crash barriers, washboard gravel and thousand foot drops. A brilliant road, if you're brave enough!|
The actual trip:
The original plan:
A bit less: the Superstition loop with a jaunt up to the interesting bit of Hwy 60 - though mileage wise this is pretty close to the full monty below. it doesn't include AZride's Bushy bypass...
Getting to the twisty bits (hitting the interesting bit of 60 before coming back):
The full monty: what I would have aimed for solo