Although riding in Arizona may not be as spectacular as some other areas there is still some great rides and the best part is you don’t have to wait for a nice day. The weather is usually great, except for the summer when it can be way too hot even on a motor bike.
It seems that many more retirees, as well as many others, are taking to the road on motorcycles. I’m not sure the reasons for the increase, maybe the cost of fuel or maybe just the freedom of the open road with the views and the fragrances that fill your senses as you tour.
There are many variations these days from the traditional two wheel version to three wheelers (trikes), the more conventional with two wheels on the rear or the newer Spider version with two wheels on the front.
The sizes of motor cycles vary as much as the styles from less than 50cc scooters to over 2000cc of the Honda Gold Wing. The type of rider has changed as well. It is no longer a male dominated sport. Motor cycle riding is being enjoyed by people from all walks of life including women and even grammas are riding their own bikes.
I have been riding for most of my life. I started as a young teenager on a 65cc Honda. I soon discovered that even back then the cops frowned on speeding on a back country road with no license and insurance. My day in court.
I have had many different sizes and styles of bikes from off road dirt bikes to large Gold Wings.
I still enjoy a good tour along some curvy by-way through the country side with all the aromas and scenery my senses can handle. Any biker is always in search of the perfect ride.
Over the ten years my wife and I have been traveling to Arizona we have had some excellent riding. Even though Arizona is famous for its great weather it is not always perfect for a tour, sometimes it’s too cold, other times too hot. When the temperature rises above the mid 90’s it is so tempting to discard the leathers but it is not the best idea.
Aside from the obvious safety factor, your riding gear although hot actually helps slow the loss of water from your body.
When heading out on a ride be prepared, even in Arizona the elevation change can put you into cooler temperatures, dress in layers.
South of Tucson offers some great rides, head east on I-10 to Benson and then south on Hwy 80 to Tombstone. A good place to stop and tour the town, and of course take in the shoot out at the OK corral.
Next on to historic Bisbee (el 5520) a nice little town that is worth a stroll around. You have the option of heading farther east to Douglas and then north; or I recommend heading back west from Bisbee and cutting off at hwy 90 through Sierra Vista and then north back to the I-10.
South of Phoenix
Take I-10 west from Phoenix to hwy 85 south through Gila Bend and to Ajo. You can dry camp free at the town golf course, we spent a week golfing. Not the best course but for $12 and free camping, a good deal.
The Ajo mine is an interesting stop, they built a railroad that circles into the pit to haul out the ore. From Ajo head to Why (I’m not sure?) then east on hwy 86, make sure you fuel up not many services through the reservation. It’s Ok the Indians are not on the war path……….hum. You can stay on hwy 86 to Tucson or take road 15 north at Covered Wells back to Phoenix.
East of Phoenix
From Apache Junction take hwy 88 to the view point past Tortilla Flats, here the pavement ends. The ride is only about 40 miles return but the scenery along Canyon Lake makes for a very pleasant ride.
Theodore Roosevelt Lake
This ride has some freeway travel. Take hwy 87 north from Phoenix to hwy 188 and then south. Just after the turn is Jake’s Corner, an interesting stop for lunch or…… Continue to the lake where you can stop at the information center, washrooms.
From here you can either retrace your route or continue to Globe and hwy 60. Or take a longer ride south along hwy 77 to hwy 177 north back to hwy 60 and Phoenix.
Hwy 60 to Wickenburg keep right at the traffic circle in town to hwy 93 for 6 miles and then right on hwy 89 to Congress. There is a steep climb up to Yarnell. A biker friendly café (can’t recall the name) on the left side, good breakfasts. The air should be cooler as you are approaching 5000 ft. The road is high and windy (curvy like my old girl friend) from Yarnell to Prescott.
In this larger town, former capital of Arizona is the famous whiskey row, a line of bars from the old days. Worth a stop and a look. From Prescott you can head on 89A to Jerome, an artsy tourist town on the side of a mountain with a very windy road down to Cottonwood. From here you can head north to Sedona and then either head north to Flagstaff or south on 179 through Oak Creek and back to I-17.
The Colorado River
The only decent ride with curvy roads is from Parker north to the Parker Dam, across the dam and south along the other side of the river. Not a long ride but very scenic.
You could also scoot up to Lake Havasu to make the ride a bit longer. A nice place for lunch across the London Bridge on the right on the water.
These are a few of the rides I have taken in Arizona, I am sure there are more, in fact I plan to check out a few more before we head home at the end of April.
We have done many rides over the years and I will be sharing some of the better ones in a future article. One fact that may be interesting is that it costs us the same to travel by motor bike as it costs to travel in our motor home. I guess the money you save on fuel for the motor bike you spend on meals and motels. I am thinking that once you are at your destination the motor home would work out cheaper.
If you are thinking motor cycle touring is for you and you have not ridden much in the past I suggest taking a riding course. I had not ridden the highway for several years while we were raising our children.
When we decided to start riding again I thought it was necessary to take a course, it is well worth the time and money. Even though I had ridden extensively as a young man and was comfortable on a bike, valuable lessons and tips can be learned.
Safety and defensive driving are essential when riding a motor cycle.
I hope you enjoyed this article, If you have any comments or suggestions I would love to read them.
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