12/06/2012 – 12/09/2012
I spent some time in Phoenix with a Craigslist home mechanic getting my bike in order for the coming trip. A fellow inmate from Phoenix, Fuggy, offered up his garage and expertise, but was not available on the weekend which is when I was doing the work. Thanks for the offer!! The mechanic was a cool guy working out of his driveway to help support his family while attending MMI (Motorcycle Mechanics Institute). Apparently he's been in the business for many years with his family on the east coast, but was attending MMI to get certified so that he can open his own shop. A great guy who likes to tell lots of stories and mostly just talk and hang out. I ended up doing most of the work myself (which is good actually as I was there to learn) while listening to him talk. He did charge me a decent sum for consulting/helping out.
He's a cool cat.
I was glad for the help and the extra tools I didn't have with me, but I guess I could have done it all in a fellow inmates garage for the cost of beer. It was good to have someone with the know-how show me the ropes first time around on things like valve check and chain breaking/reassembly and disassembling/maintaining/reassembling the forks. Here's what I did to the bike (repeat from brief post above):
Valve check – in spec, but not at highest clearance.
New tires front and rear (Anakee 2. These are going to be a b*tch repairing on the side of the road judging from how hard they were to get on in the driveway). I put them on using spoons from the tool kit.
New chain, front and rear sprocket (520 chain, 16 tooth front, stock rear).
R&R forks – new seals, fresh 10w oil.
New front break pads – new brake fluid front and rear.
The bike sans forks.
On the day of departure I woke up pretty early to pack everything up while I waited for my friend to take one of his finals. After the test we had a Mexican lunch special (cheese enchiladas) at a joint near his house and then I was once again off on the adventure.
I wanted to continue avoiding the interstate as much as I could help it, so I headed east out of Phoenix on Rt. 60, then southeast on Rt. 79 to Tuscon. The weather was great, the bike ran well and the traffic wasn't bad at all. I eventually ended up on a two lane highway, riding through the desert surrounded by Saguaro Cactus and Chollas (and other stuff).
Some local flora...
Near Tuscon (after a mandatory coffee stop) I hopped on I-10 for a few miles, then once just south of there I took Rt. 83 (the something scenic byway). Since I didn't leave Phoenix until the afternoon, by the time I hit Rt. 83 the sun was setting and it was starting to get very cold. I ran into my “hesitancy to stop” issue again (where I can't seem to make myself stop for things like photos, food and gas [but never a problem when it comes to coffee]) and noticed that I didn't have enough gas to get to my campsite, then to the next gas station after. For the record I get about 265 miles to a tank (before hitting reserve). I ended up backtracking to the nearest gas station (10 miles) to fill up. I really have to work on that.
Rt. 83 would have been a sweet ride during daylight, but I didn't really get to see much. Earlier I plotted a point on the GPS (Garmin 60CSx; it won't tell you where to go, but it will tell you where you are) to a dispersed campsite advertised on the Colorado National Forest website. The “campsite” was down a dirt road a few miles, and I ended up riding it very slowly in the dark. When I got to the site my fingers were so cold I couldn't even feel them. I had to hold them up to the engine to warm them up. Not installing those grip warmers was a major mistake I plan to rectify when I get back. The site is at 5500 ft. which I did take into account when making the plan. I guess you gain altitude going north or south out of Phoenix...
The dispersed camp site ended up being a gravel parking lot where you leave your vehicle if you want to hike part of the Arizona Trail. The use “camp site” loosely as the term is quite inappropriate for what I actually found. I did manage to find a small spot just big enough for my tent among the rocks and brush, so I can't complain. It was a beautiful clear night, with billions of stars visible in the sky. Life is good. I cozied up in my tent after appreciating life for a few moments and crashed out for the night. Thanks to the rain fly and down sleeping bag, it was a pleasant evening and night.
Actually from the next morning.
Next: Entering Mexico (however briefly)!