Author Topic: Red Rocks RAT Raid - 1,491 miles  (Read 2668 times)

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April 20, 2005, 01:16:47 AM on

Offline ridin gaijin (OP)

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Okay! Welcome to the latest ridin gaijin waste o' bandwidth: the Triumph Red Rocks RAT Raid ride report. Triumph holds these rallies, coordinated with local owner groups, all around the country. The RATs (Riders Association of Triumph) get together for a few days of rides and eating and drinking and making fun of Harleys. This trip, myself and Arroyoshark (Chuck) traveled from Santa Fe to Prescott AZ; out of maybe 70 riders who attended the event, only two others, I think, actually rode in from out of Arizona. In Prescott we met Team Dennis, who in my opinion is one of the nicest people you will ever run into as well as being slightly crazy. We have a lot of pictures, some of them even good. Arroyoshark, who took exactly 891 pictures, has a much better camera than I and is also involved in photography in a serious way. An exhibition of his work entitled "Fur is Dead: Shaven Nudes with Handguns on my KTM" is set for the Meyer Gallery here in mid-August. Anyway, if not the best ride report you'll read this year, this is certainly one of the longest!



Right, here goes. We left on Thursday morning at 8:30. I was pleased to see that he packs even less stuff than I do! However, despite his merits as a photographer, he had neglected a little thing called gasoline which motorcycles tend to want. Hence we fueled up in Espanola, the heroin and cleaning-lady capital of New Mexico. (On this trip, the Tiger was to consistently pull better gas mileage than the KTM Adventure.) So here's Chuck standing by the Tiger with my old-school camping gear.







We had some good road with no traffic coming out of Santa Fe. We proceeded in a northwesterly way on hwy 96 through Abiquiu, Youngsville, Coyote, Gallina and Regina, and took the following pictures along the way. We went through the Santa Fe National Forest. The river is the Rio Chama. Statistically speaking, 74% of the dogs in New Mexico are named Chama or Rio, because New Mexicans are a creative bunch.































We stopped in Cuba for lunch. The building seen below is not a bunker, but actually a restaurant. The walls enclose a lovely little courtyard beneath a huge, spreading, shady (albeit dead) oak tree.







Back on the road, we really took the long way around. This part of the trip was exclusively on rt. 197, a back road through towns that don't have signs: Torreon, Pueblo Pintado, White Horse (no horses), Seven Lakes (no water), Crown Point, Standing Rock (someone hoisted it up there with a crane), Brimhall, and finally Mexican Springs (Mexico is several hundred miles south). We could only tell where we were by using our powers of observation and inference: you zoom by a trailer with a sign in front that reads First Assembly of Apostolic Reformed Gospel Christian Evangelist Brethren of White Horse, and you realize that the scattering of trailer homes and dead autos in the vicinity actually must be the town of White Horse.







For you Austrian bike fans, here's Arroyoshark's Adventure, showing off its sexy carbon fiber bits.







And of course you can't have enough pictures of el tigre.







Then we came to Arizona! Window Rock, to be precise. They have what looks like a very nice Navajo museum there, featuring some huge boulders in the parking lot. A person could probably learn a lot there if they weren't dying to get to Prescott (and fueling their KTM). On this whole road, until Window Rock, I doubt we saw twelve cars.







When you cross the border into Arizona, you are in the Navajo Nation. If you're unfamiliar with this part of the United States, the Navajo Nation is sort of a separate entity. They make their own laws, do not collect sales taxes, and have their own police. They also do not fence their highways. The Navajo are a proud people with many centuries of history; during this time they have tamed and domesticated many animals, most of which can be seen wandering next to, in, and across the highways. In particular, horses, cattle and dogs feel free to hang around by the side of the road and make occasional darting runs across to get to an alluring patch of grass, carrion, or whatever. For those of you first world citizens NOT accustomed to sharing the road with livestock, this can be disconcerting: keep your eyes open.











The country is interesting, better than these pictures show. Through Cross Canyon, Ganado, Cornfields, and Lower Greasewood, you have lovely mesas on one side and pretty plains on the other. Houses and various other marginally habitable buildings are nestled against the mesa walls. For those of you wondering--yes, smartass, there is an Upper Greasewood. And a Greasewood Springs, too, so there. Anyway, the terrain looks a lot like Monument Valley, with all kinds of formations sticking picturesquely out of the plain.







Below you see Chuck also taking a picture of the formations. Luckily for me, they didn't move too quickly, so some of my own snapshots came out OK.







This is Castle Butte. Photographing it, our conversation went something like this.



RG: "This is Castle Butte."

Chuck: "Buncha dick rocks."

RG: "Pure poetry. Thank you."

Chuck: "This would be a hell of a place to get lost."

RG: "You could always shoot one of these fucking horses and eat it."



Shortly after this, a pretty red and white filly pranced across the highway as Chuck went by. I was in front and had seen this horse and two others grazing next to the road in a defile. As I passed (boy that Tiger moves out) I saw them startle and begin to move. In my rearview mirror I then saw a flash of red and white across the road and turned around in the saddle to look, thinking, Shit I hope he was in front of that. He wasn't: it had dashed across the road in front in front of him, but he'd had enough time and enough reflexes to brake safely.







We made it through Indian Wells and Dilkon without being assassinated by livestock and camped out in the Homolovi State Park, just north of Winslow. Here we are prowling the campsite.







We ate in Winslow at the Falcon Family Diner. Cool pic, huh?







Actually, I probably just neglected to use the flash. The next day was easy, not far to go till Prescott. We took rt. 87 southwest across the Mogollon Plateau and through the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest. It was cold! We passed no towns until Long Valley, and shortly after that, we took a trail leading to the Blue Ridge Reservoir. This pretty road showed us some snow in the shadows and a steep dropoff to the reservoir, a dammed-off section of river.











Here we have a scary hill with a gooood steep grade, loose, rubbly gravel, and lots of washboard'd'd'd'd'ds up the middle.







After that was some of the loveliest riding of the trip. Rt. 87 between Long Valley and Strawberry consists of clean, new road with many sweeping curves and gentle hills, winding its way through a deliciously cool pine forest. That was a pretty stretch of road, again with very little traffic.











We stopped for breakfast/lunch at a little hotel in Strawberry. The food was good, hot and plentiful. We also heard one of the best lines I've ever come across in a restaurant--a customer asked the waitress, "Hey, ya got change for a quarter? I need to leave your tip!" However, this was to be the first in a series of personal disappointments concerning pie. This restaurant had about a dozen different homemade pies listed on a whiteboard. Now, much like Eric Cartman, I'm constantly on the lookout for good pie, so I ordered a slice of sour cherry. The cherries were nice and tart, the filling was goopy and sweet, but the crust utterly lacked any character: it was flimsy, doughy and limp. Yuck.



We skipped lunch because our bikes were by now so encrusted with dead bugs that we were able to simply lick them clean. This no-carb treat filled our bellies but did take some time.







"No Par-keeng? Sorry senora, we from Nuevo Mehico, no entiedamos No Par-keeng." The Camp Verde gas station. In the 600 miles to Prescott, only the next 7 were to be on an interstate. We made it to Prescott sometime around midafternoon, signed in for the RAT events, and located lodging. Corner room, ground floor. The people let us park our bikes on their patio, semi-protected from street view and right next to the office. They were flying a Polish flag with a black ribbon on it. The next night, a bunch of rugged individualists on their identical Harleys with identical tattoos and identical leathers moved in too. The bikes were I believe Harley's FTFUCKR model.







We went over to Team Dennis's place late that afternoon. What a kind, hospitable guy! He and his wife Suzy could not have been more friendly. Dennis has six hobbies: motorcycles, guns, motorcycles, collecting miniature motorcycles, restoring motorcycles, and fixing friends' motorcycles. That's a lot of hobbies but somehow he makes it all work. Saturday morning, Chuck and I skipped the organized RAT rides and followed Dennis down hwy 89 through Wilhoit, Kirkland Junction, and Yarnell. Here we are on an overlook. The ride down from Prescott is truly great (if you're out early enough)--lots of twists, hairpins and sweepers, good clean road. Dennis led the way on his BMW RT and boy, could he get that thing through some curves...and he wasn't even trying hard. An excellent ride and if I could do it three times a week I'd be a better rider for sure.







In Yarnell we stopped at this ramshackle bar-B-que place so they could have coffee. They had a big smoker out front with a bunch of mesquite in it (and presumably some meat too). I love good bar-B-que but it wasn't ready yet. I was standing there inhaling the fumes when this old guy comes out of the restaurant. "Don't smell that stuff!" he warned me. "I hear they put pot in there!" Great! I smiled back enthusiastically, "Awesome! Dinner and a party!" But he just stomped past. This was also my second pie disappointment. $4.00 for a limp, squishy, oversweet pile of apple mush on a plastic plate. Filling lacking any flavor except a vaguely apple-y corn syrup. The crust was like a microwaved washcloth.







Past Yarnell and maybe Congress on the way to Wickenburg Dennis pointed out an idol. He told us that once a year at the winter solstice, people from all over Yavapai County get together wearing green robes and veils, and sacrifice a virgin from ASU. Why they do this he wasn't exactly clear, something to do with rain I guess. Anyway apparently it's getting harder and harder to find one.







We were in Wickenburg in good time for lunch, and the weather was getting hot. I parked in front of the restaurant and took off my riding pants, then my long underwear. The restaurant wasn't open yet. A waitress going in made a finger-down-the-throat motion, gagging, but I got the last laugh since I had my helmet  upended on the sidewalk in front of me and some old ladies passing by put in $2.







While waiting for the restaurant to open I went by a little memorial. Wickenburg evidently has something of a vagrant problem.







We had been seeing saguaros. Here's the holy trinity of the Sonoran desert--saguaro, ocotillo and cholla.







I even got my picture taken with a saguaro.







This was going to be a picture of a whole mess of Joshua trees. We'd left Wickenburg, riding northwest on 93 towards Kingman and Las Vegas, and passed along the Arizona Joshua Tree Highway or something. There were hordes of Joshua trees, it was beautiful, all their furry spiky entangled reaching shapes, and I made up my mind to stop and take a picture of a crowd of them; but then we crested a rise and went down the other side and there was not a single one to be seen anymore. I kept going in hopes there'd be more, but the elevation or the soil or something had changed to the point where Joshua trees just didn't like it, period. When we stopped for some reason or other I whined about this and Dennis said, "There's some saguaro, take a picture of them." When told what's what, who am I to say no? Saguaro are cool. Gentle giants of the desert. They migrate in large, placid herds, stopping only to graze, and carry their young with them when they get tired.







We started coming up on RAT riders. One had the black Tiger in this picture. Out of the maybe 60 bikes, there were only I think 5 Tigers. There was this black one and one other; there was another orange one besides mine; and one was this truly weird hue a racer from Texas called Alien Snot Green. For whatever reason they discontinued that color.







There was a scary water crossing! We'd come upon several along hwy 97 east. Some were probably as much as an inch deep. This one was at least twice that, and as you can see, wide besides.I'm still not quite sure how I managed it on the Triumph--just closed my eyes and prayed, I guess--and this pic is of Chuck manfully plowing through on the KTM. Stirring stuff.







The other part of the holy trinity of the Sonoran desert is the prickly pear. When prodded just right it yields lovely blossoms, neon pink against the desert greens and tans.











I really don't remember what the hell these giant stalky plants are. They are Dr. Seuss plants for sure.







And then we came to Bagdad. Security was slack that day and we were able to get in without our passports or even having to bribe anyone.







We were told this statue, created out of vulcanized spaghetti, commemorates and symbolizes Iraqi reconstruction efforts. According to the plaque, the figure on the left is a wise American contractor, showing an Iraqi day laborer how to use a hammer. The figure on the right--the laborer--is holding the symbolic "bag of cash" with which he'll have to hire assistants, purchase building materials, and pay funeral expenses for his family.







This is the famous sewage treatment plant where they thought there were like a hundred atom bombs and a sea of chemical death weapons. They bombed the crap out of it and found out they were sort of wrong, in that there weren't actually any nukes or death weapons, but were still morally right.







I thought this was one of the Saddam & Graib convenience stores, but a local set me straight: it's a Sodom & Gomorrah store. The Saddam & Graibs used to sell mainly portraits of the big guy--Saddam as a camel racer, a benevolent father, a bespectacled businessman, a smiling general gassing Kurdish children--but apparently the Sodom & Gomorrah chain is in a very different line. What Dennis was doing there I've no idea.







This one was a puzzle to me and the interpreter as well. Child find? Were they going on a hunt? Had they found 4/15ths of a child? Who knows, these people are strange. Under Saddam's rule the high school team was apparently "The Pit Vipers of Iranian-Killing Death," but now they have a new name. Also, since the streets of Bagdad don't have shoulders or bicycle or donkey lanes, I had to pull up onto the sidewalks to take most of these pictures. This earned me the nickname "Taramis al-Muqtadr," which I'm told means "Asshole who won't get off the sidewalks," but that's probably a translator's error.







In the picture below you can see some heavy machinery being used in the reconstruction effort. There are also seven camouflaged Humvees in this shot--can you find them? The camouflage has to be so good, I was told, because they still don't have any armor on them.







Armor was of course a touchy subject on the occasion of Donald Rumsfeld's recent visit to Halliburton's new overseas branch, Iraq. The III Corps pitched in and got him a Polaris and told him what he could do with it (see the sign in the background). Rumsfeld (who, like the president and vice president, has no children serving in our country's uniform) had every tenth man shot but evidently promised he would look into the situation as soon as Halliburton could acquire DuPont (manufacturers of Kevlar (TM)). In case you don't understand how this works, it's called "participatory democracy."







Leaving Bagdad with no souvenirs, we came across this giant duck idol. Honestly, this is a really really big country, and you just have no idea what goes on some places in it.







We stopped at Kirkland (not to be confused with Kirkland Junction) for a drink. There were several bold non-conformists on their FTFUCKRs there too. It was a pretty cool bar, nice and dark inside.







Chuck and Dennis went back to his place in Prescott. By this time all the RAT riders would've pretty much gone back too. I decided to revisit Sedona because after all I was there to ride. Sedona is a blissfully weird town located near several vortices, which are intersections of mystical lines of power called ley lines. These vortices saturate the area with mystical power as well as with crystal-sucking fools. Sedona is surrounded by these marvelous red rock formations--really stunning views looming over everything. In fact these formations are moving together at the rate of several feet a year and it's calculated that in 2091 Sedona will be crushed to dust by their convergence. If I can arrange to have my organs preserved and my brain revived, I'd like to be there to see that.







The only person in Sedona who actually spoke to me--aside from store people who wanted to sell me things--was a guy in a blue pickup with one of those rainbow tolerance stickers on it. I was getting back on my bike, which I had parked by the side of the road, because the driveway of the place I was visiting was steep and well-graveled. He leaned out his window and yelled, "That is a really STUPID place to park your bike!" and sped off.







I snaked my way from Sedona to Jerome, a little mining town perched on a mountain. This was my second time there; I'd passed through a couple of years ago. Here's what the RAT package said about Jerome:



"Jerome is unique. While other mining camps cluster in canyons, huddle at the bases of hills, or stand alongside silvery creeks, Jerome clings precariously to the side of a mountain, seemingly defying gravity. From the east, it begins as a glint of roofs in the sun, perched impossibly high on a distant hill. From the west over Mingus Mountain [not a typo!], Jerome materializes suddenly, appearing to cascade down the 30% grade of Cleopatra Hill. This is not a ghost town to be sampled in an hour, although one might get a taste of it in that time."



Sounds intriguing, eh?











These are two of the nicer views of Jerome. If you found a scrap iron dealer and forced him to assemble a town using only materials found in his junkyard, the result might be something like Jerome. The place is a disaster, a collage of crumbling, slumlike homes, peeling facades, cracked and broken buildings and streets, trash and junk. Only a race of half-mad inbred mutant dwarves could love the place. It's so pathetic it belongs in the deep South, or maybe the wilds of New Mexico. Jerome is a mess. They have a biker bar there--when I passed by, dodging drunken, skullcap-wearing degenerates photographing overweight sluts, I counted over a dozen FTFUCKRs parked in no particular order in front of a saloon HP Lovecraft would've written into one of his stories. I'm not sure why the FTFUCKR is such a popular model for Harley. Either that...or maybe I just can't tell the models apart. Hmmm.



I have no photographic record of Saturday night's pub crawl. Believe me, this is just as well. I will say, for the record, that I was the one with Lisa when the bar owner pushed her backwards to the floor, and whatever he got afterwards would've been completely deserved, the nasty little prick. The Triumph riders I've met in general are a friendly, civil lot, despite the whole kilt thing, but everyone has a limit and that's as it should be. So, if you're ever in Prescott, Arizona...be sure and throw a rock through the window of O'Brien's Irish Pub.



Sunday Chuck and I decided to go straight back to New Mexico. In theory this should've been cake but in practice there were challenges. We had a late start after breakfast which is very NOT typical for us. We ran into a pile of traffic getting from Prescott to rt. 260. Strawberry, Pine, Payson, Forest Lakes, Heber and Overgaard made for somewhat congested riding. By Pinedale and Show Low it got better. We stopped for a late lunch in Show Low and I can mostly recommend Licano's Mexican Steakhouse. They had a pretty comprehensive tequila selection. However, they overcook your meat (much like riding at noon in Yavapai County): my burger, requested "so rare I can hear it whimper when I stick my fork in," arrived medium. Below is the plain of San Augustin, crossing the AZ-NM border, a vast waste of mostly straight-ahead riding so desolate I'm surprised the government didn't make any Indians live there.







Vernon, Springerville, Red Hill, Quemado, and Omega. (Despite this apocalyptic name, Omega isn't much to look at.) And then...Pie Town!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!







This is a picture of Chuck on his bike outside the Pie Town Cafe. In this picture he is wearing his helmet. He cannot eat pie in a helmet. He is wearing the helmet because THE CAFE IS CLOSED. Both cafes in Pie Town were closed for the day by the time we got there.



There was no pie in Pie Town that sad, sad sad day.



In the fulllness of time we came to the VLA, the Very Large Array of radio telescopes which have been watching and listening to the cosmos since 1980. I counted 25 of these giant suckers. According to the government, they are not watching you or listening to you. They could if they wanted to, though; but the government wouldn't lie about something like that.











This is actually a picture of a faint, large rainbow. Showers threatened when we came into central New Mexico, but we only got sprinkled a little. After Soccorro, we decided to get on the interstate; it was getting dark and we weren't sure if it was going to rain. The alternative to I-25 is endurable under normal circumstances--heavily urbanized frontage roads--but this was not the time or the weather. We got back to Santa Fe at about 9:20 Sunday night. Throughout the trip--on highways and gravel roads, in hairpins and sweepers--the Tiger performed with admirable power and grace. It was completely reliable, always forceful, and easy to ride. I had fun.



2005 Tiger in Lucifurry Orange. Always something new it seems...

April 20, 2005, 02:21:00 PMReply #1 on

Offline Speed3guy

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Pics look as good here as they did on ADVrider Gaijin!  Great job!

April 21, 2005, 03:01:23 PMReply #2 on

Offline tri99sprint

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Great report, and cool pics. We were there, 5 of us from Salt Lake, 1500 miles. I really enjoyed some of the local roads, espically the Bagdad area....way cool! Sorry we didn't connect....maybe next time.

There were folks from Florida there, and one rider who came from Chicago, now that's dedication!
Chuck

April 22, 2005, 01:00:58 AMReply #3 on

Offline ridin gaijin (OP)

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Quote from: "tri99sprint"
Great report, and cool pics. We were there, 5 of us from Salt Lake, 1500 miles. I really enjoyed some of the local roads, espically the Bagdad area....way cool! Sorry we didn't connect....maybe next time.

There were folks from Florida there, and one rider who came from Chicago, now that's dedication!



Were you the one on the black Tiger photographing cacti too? I forgot about the Utah contingent--a disservice, please pardon me.



The Chicago guy, however, flew in to Tucson and THEN rode. Like the New York guy--he'd just moved to Phoenix and hadn't changed his plates.



FWIW the guy I was with posted his photos here, and his are actually worth looking at.
2005 Tiger in Lucifurry Orange. Always something new it seems...

April 22, 2005, 01:28:26 AMReply #4 on

Offline tri99sprint

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Yep, that was me on the black Tiger....sorry we didn't connect. Maybe next year. I also got some good pictures of the cacti, it is so cool when the desert is in bloom!

 There must have been more than one rider from Illinois, the one (Frank) rode 4 days to get to Prescott. A very good turnout for a first year event, don't you think?

BTW, were you wearing a kilt saturday night at the banquet?
Chuck