So much for the Mayan Calendar. Here’s the bridge, apparently not in any danger of falling down, in Lake Havasu, Arizona:
Last week my riding buddy Ed suggested a two-day round robin to Lake Havasu, and having nothing better to do I said “two’s in.” We left on Wednesday, rode about 330 miles to northwestern Arizona, spent the night in a Tudor-themed hotel next to the London Bridge, then backtracked to Tucson on Thursday. Which means, technically, that I took the London Bridge photo Wednesday afternoon, two days before the end of the world, but since I’m writing this Friday after the end of the world fizzled and have heard nothing to the contrary on the radio, it didn’t fall down.
All these end of the world mini-hypes, I’m pretty sure, are just another excuse to drink. I have to laugh at all the people on Facebook and Twitter who celebrate every Friday with a TGIF post, as if they didn’t drink every goddamn night after work … just like I did. God I’m glad I’m free of that curse.
So back to the motorcycle trip. Both days we delayed our departure until the temperature was above 40°F. Below that you risk encountering ice on bridges and in shaded areas, something you absolutely do not want to encounter on a motorcycle. Both mornings (actually all day Wednesday, but just the morning on Thursday) we rode in low temperatures, between 40-50°F. That’s damn chilly on a motorcycle, so we were bundled up. Ed has electrically-heated underclothing, but I had to make do with layers: long johns, regular outer clothing, a leather jacket, and a rainsuit over it all. The rainsuit makes a good windbreaker and outer layer, so my body stayed comfortable. I wore double gloves and of course had the handgrip heaters on; a balaclava pulled down over my head, face, and neck; a full-face helmet over that. My feet were fine with warm socks and heavy boots. I looked, in the words of my riding buddy, like the Pillsbury Motoboy. By lunchtime on the second day, halfway back to Tucson, it finally got into the high 50s and I was able to shed the rainsuit. After another hundred miles, at Gila Bend, I ditched the full-face helmet for my halfie, the one with the earphones, and was able to listen to NPR for the last 100 miles home.
The left side of Arizona is the less scenic side, mostly desert and low hills. We took I-10 north to I-8, then Hwy 85 from Gila Bend to Buckeye where we jumped back on I-10. We exited at the two-lane road to Salome, then rode other two-lane state highways over to Parker, where we took Highway 95 north to Lake Havasu. The return trip was essentially the same in reverse, except we somehow skipped Salome. There’s really nothing to see between Tucson and Parker, and there wouldn’t be anything there either if it weren’t for Parker Dam, which bottles up the Colorado River for about 20 miles, more if you count Lake Havasu to the north. That portion of the ride was scenic in a sort of redneck Riviera way, both sides of the dammed-up river lined with trailers, RVs, and jet ski rental outlets. Parker’s a big deal during spring break: they say you can walk from jet ski to boat to jet ski, all the way across the river. Oh, and plenty of near-naked coeds. Lake Havasu is just another desert strip mall settlement, but right in the middle of it is the famous transplanted London Bridge, a destination for many. Been there, seen that, took the photo.
I ask myself, as you would probably ask me, what is the point of a two-day out & back motorcycle ride to a destination within Arizona? The point is the ride, silly. And it was a good one … at least for me. My knees didn’t bother me, my motorcycle ran great, and it just felt good. Ed’s Goldwing didn’t fare as well. One of his headlights burned out early in the trip, then burned out again right after he replaced it. On the way home his exhaust system began to make noise, probably from a leaking head gasket. It sounded really bad by the time we reached the outskirts of Tucson, but he was able to keep riding. In his words, it sounded bad but felt good, which reminded me of an old joke, so I told him my diagnosis was that his Goldwing had turned into a fart. Yeah, he didn’t get it either.
© 2012, Paul Woodford. All rights reserved.