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Old 15th October 2011, 06:30   #1
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Default My Ride from Phoenix to Flagstaff Arizona

My Royal Enfield G5 had passed 1900 miles of mainly city & local freeway riding so I decided to take it out on the Arizona roads.

I live in Phoenix, Az in the hot lower desert at an altitude of about 1200 feet above sea level while Flagstaff, Az is in the Northern Arizona cool country with a heavy forest of Pondorosa Pines at 7000 feet. This sounded like a good place to ride to. Besides, my son who lives there had offered to let me stay the night.

There are two ways to get there from Phoenix.
One is to take I-17 straight up the middle of the state but this is a fairly straight Super Slab with lots of traffic, 18 wheelers and 75 mph (121 kmph) speed limits which of course means everyone including the 18 wheel semi-trucks are driving at 85 mph (137 kmph).
Although it is a double lane divided highway, it definitely is not a road for a 500cc Royal Enfield.

This route has mountains visible at all times but they are pretty bare except for some cactus in the lower elevation areas and juniper at the higher ones. In other words, fast, straight and boring.

The other route goes past Fountain Hills, up thru Payson, Pine, Strawberry, Clints Well, Mormon Lake and ends in Flagstaff.
The roads are fairly twisty and the speed limit is something that can be lived with on a RE. The steepness of some of the hills also keeps most of the 18 wheelers off of it unless they have deliveries up in Payson.
For a 28 horsepower motorcycle, this is the way to go! Especially if you do it in the middle of the week.
Friday thru Sunday the road is usually packed with auto drivers escaping from the desert heat or going to the snow country in the winter.
The only real problem in the summer is the heat in the area between Phoenix and Payson although Payson is usually cool. During the winter the Phoenix - Payson part is usually OK for riding but North of Payson the
roads are sometimes covered with snow.

Because I waited until October and left in the morning the weather was clear and cool even in the lower desert areas. I guess it was about 65 F (18.3 C) which was nice.
My first stop was at Fountain Hills, a community located about 12 miles East of Scottsdale, Arizona.

This place has the second highest fountain in the world which operates on the hour for about 15 minutes. The first picture I attached shows what it was doing just after I got there about 10 in the morning.

For you technical folks, this fountain shoots a stream of water 562 feet high thru a 18 inch diameter nozzle. That takes 7000 gallons per minute and the turbine pumps are powered by (3) 600 horsepower electric motors.
Quite impressive. The homes and golf courses are also nice but rather costly.

At Fountain Hills I reached Highway 87 or, the "Bee Line" as it is called by the older locals and turned North.

Most of the ride from Fountain Hills is in the Sonoran Desert with its Saguaro Cactus, Palo Verde trees, "jumping cactus" (etc). The road to Payson thru this stretch isn't overly inspiring except for the views of the mountains with "4 Peaks" to the East. This range of mountains is the northern extension of the Superstition Mountains known for the Lost Dutchman Gold mine which remains to today still lost.
Most of the road here is a divided highway with two lanes going each way. The speed limit is usually 65 mph (105 kmph) but some of the corners are at 45 mph (72 kmph).
This didn't prove to be a problem for the RE because riding at 50-60 mph (81-100 kpm) didn't seem to stress the Enfield and the cars could safely pass me at a reasonable rate of speed.

Payson is about 100 miles (161 km) North of Phoenix and it has grown from a small ranching town in the late 1800's into a small city and at 5000 feet elevation is usually nice and cool.
At this elevation in Payson, Pondorosa Pines and scrub Oak trees are the main vegetation.
Payson is the end of the double wide divided highway.

I should mention that from Payson to Flagstaff is about 115 miles so this is a good place to gas up. For reasons unknown to me the price of gasoline here was 20 cents per gallon cheaper than the gas prices in Phoenix.

From here onward the road is nicely paved and it is a fairly twisty two lane road with a 50 mph (81 kmph) speed limit. Perfect for a Royal Enfield.
Sticking to route 87 going North (the sign says "To Winslow") I was now on the kind of road meant for motorcycle riding and the 50 MPH speed limit allowed the bike to cruse without straining itself.
Before getting to Payson and just after leaving it you are in the Tonto National Forest which has many small dirt sideroads and in most places camping is free although they frown on folks building campfires
during the dry seasons. The rest of the trip is thru wild areas with a great deal of wildlife so if you take this ride keep a sharp lookout for Deer and Elk.
Every year in this area a few cars are wiped out by hitting an Elk and of course even a Deer would take out a motorcycle.

About 10 miles up the road is a turn off to the left that takes people to the Tonto Natural Bridge.
This is quite a large bridge that was formed by water washing away all of the material under it leaving a stone arch. You have to climb down from the parking area to see it.
The last time I was there I found that it was privately owned and they wanted money to climb down to see it so I skipped going there on this trip.
After passing the Tonto Natural Bridge turnoff about another 5 miles of riding brought me to the town of Pine and another two miles of riding brought me to the town of Strawberry.

These two towns were established by the Mormons when they came down out of Utah in the late 1800's looking for good places to raise cattle. These small towns have since become popular places for people to
build "summer cabins" to get away from the heat of the desert.
Although these cabins are used in the summer the deep snows that often cover this area in the winter makes getting to many of them very difficult.
This whole area is covered with Pondorosa Pine.

Leaving Strawberry, route 87 twists and climbs rather quickly to the top of the Mogollon Rim (pronounced MuggeyOwn). There is a 35 MPH hairpin about 1/2 mile North of Strawberry and I learned
years ago that this is one of the few places where slowing to the posted speed limit is a good idea.
The Mogollon Rim is a vertical drop off that extends across the Eastern half of the State from about the middle of the State to New Mexico. In many places along it the almost straight down drop is well over 1000
feet but North of Strawberry the road only gains about 400-500 feet in elevation.
After reaching the top of "the rim" as we call it, the rest of the trip to Flagstaff seems fairly flat but it is constantly gaining elevation.
This was proven by my gas milage. Going from Payson to Flagstaff my Royal Enfield got 69.9 mpg (29.70 km/liter) and riding from Flagstaff to Payson it got 95.1 mpg (40.41 km/liter). (no that isn't a misprint )
Nine miles North of Strawberry I reached a turn off to the left that goes over to Camp Verde. I did not take this because it connects to Camp Verde would put me back over on I-17 SuperSlab highway.

Sticking to route 87 another 5 miles brought me to Long Valley, a place with a gas station and a restaurant. Because it is Elk Season here in October there was a big truck set up to butcher harvested
Elk but they weren't making any money when I was there.
I did take a picture of the RE sitting in front of the restaurant and it's shown below.

From the restaurant in Long Valley it is only about 1/2 mile East to the turn off to Mormon Lake and this is the one I wanted to take. The intersection is really at a place called Clints Well where there is a small campground and the camping there is free.
29 miles North on the Mormon Lake road brought me to a turnoff to the little town called Mormon Lake. There is a store, small hotel and gas station there. I didn't need gasoline and I was looking forward to getting to Flagstaff so I didn't stop there.
Staying on the main road I passed Mormon Lake, the only natural lake of any size in the State.
It is divided into the Upper Lake at the South end and the Lower Lake at the north. The upper lake had water in it so it provided several miles of riding with water and forest on the West side and forest
on the East.
There are several boat ramps with local restrooms nearby so I stopped at one of them because nature was calling. While there I took another picture of the RE which seemed to be enjoying the cool clear air and the beautiful views. The picture is shown below.
I also told the big black raven that was checking me out that from this day onward his name was John, named for the raven my father had when he was still alive.
I don't think he was overly impressed.
Another 13-15 miles of riding North brought me to Flagstaff.

Although the high temperatures were hitting 99 degrees F in Phoenix it was a cool 65 degrees F. (18.33 C.) in Flagstaff. That night the temperature there dropped to 28 (-2.22 C).
My bike sit out in my sons driveway all night and I wondered if it would start in the morning.
Not to worry. Although it cranked slowly, with a few coughs and wheezes it started and soon warmed up.
I rode back to Phoenix the next day taking the same route that I had used to go up and my heavy gloves and leather jacket felt good as I traveled back down to Payson.
Dropping down the big grade just South of Payson the air temperature heated up by over 10 degrees F by the time I got to Rye and I was glad I had changed out of my riding leathers to a lighter weight denum jacket and my hot weather riding gloves. The jacket is not much protection in a crash but it might do some good and these lighter weight cloths certainly made riding thru the 98 degree F (37 C) heat that it had warmed up to in the desert stretch much easier to live with.

During the ride back down from Payson to Phoenix you loose a lot of elevation so my gas mileage was almost unbeliveable. The 500cc Royal Enfield got a whopping 98.87 mpg! (42.019 km/liter)

The round trip worked out to be 412 miles (665 km) and my Royal Enfield averaged 81.55 miles per gallon (34.66 km/liter).

Not counting the stops and short sidetrips I took I estimate I ran at an average speed of about 57 mph (91.9 kmph) with a few short sections up to 70 (112.9 kmph).

A very enjoyable trip it was and I am thinking about taking it again sometime before the really cold weather moves in.
Jim
"Rubber Side Down and Shiny Side Up" and enjoy the ride.
Attached Thumbnails
My Ride from Phoenix to Flagstaff Arizona-phoenix-flagstaff-003-we.jpg  

My Ride from Phoenix to Flagstaff Arizona-phoenix-flagstaff-021-we.jpg  

My Ride from Phoenix to Flagstaff Arizona-phoenix-flagstaff-016-we.jpg  

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Old 15th October 2011, 07:35   #2
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Default Re: My Ride from Phoenix to Flagstaff Arizona

Is Royal Enfield available in USA? I thought it was only in India. or Did you shipped this from India to USA?
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Old 15th October 2011, 07:37   #3
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Default Re: My Ride from Phoenix to Flagstaff Arizona

Hey, that sounds like a lovely ride. But would have loved more pics, especially en-route. And a map to boot would have been good.

And the same question as @idlebrain asked. Did I miss earlier posts by you ?
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Old 15th October 2011, 07:50   #4
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Default Re: My Ride from Phoenix to Flagstaff Arizona

ArizonaJim, seems you had a lot of fun with the 'Bullet'. More pictures please.

Quote:
Originally Posted by idlebrain
Is Royal Enfield available in USA?
Quote:
Originally Posted by condor
And the same question as @idlebrain asked
Very much available. Royal Enfield Motorcycles - The Official Home of Royal Enfield in the USA

Don't miss the Jay Leno video. IIRC, we have a thread on it here.
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Old 15th October 2011, 08:22   #5
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Default Re: My Ride from Phoenix to Flagstaff Arizona

@ArizonaJim - thanks for the details and photos - would love to see more. It has been 10 years since I was last in Arizona (was a Sun Devil). Your pics bring back good memories of many road trips to North Az - especially Payson, Flagstaff (NAU), even trips to Old Tuscon...

Regards,
Manas
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Old 15th October 2011, 10:48   #6
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Default Re: My Ride from Phoenix to Flagstaff Arizona

@ idlebrain
As deetjohn mentions Royal Enfields have been imported into the US for several years. Even the AVL's.

In 2009 the new UCE versions were imported and that continues today with the 2012 models.
They are the same as the Indian versions except they use a smaller 5 3/4" (146mm) sealed beam headlight and their computer uses a O2 (lambda) sensor and catalytic converter in the muffler.

I know I should have taken more photos but here are a few of the ones I did take.

The first one shows the cabin my Father-in-law built in Pine.
The second picture shows a view from the back porch looking down towards Pine Creek, a very small creek that usually has a little water running down it.

Over the years, I've found many prehistoric ocean seashells in Pine Creek.
They are left from when vast oceans covered all of Arizona millions of years ago.
This area of Arizona has risen almost 6000 feet since those days.

He sold this cabin many years ago and I was not offered a chance to buy it. This had to do with multiple familys with many offsprings being envolved with the place.
Many times I've wished it was mine but such is the way of life sometimes. Still, when I'm in Pine I stop by to see what has become of it.

It looks like whoever now owns it must have children because I doubt that too many sane adults would want to bounce on that trampoline!

The next picture is again showing my Royal Enfield resting at Lake Mary. This view is looking North.
You will notice that the place looks deserted. That is because I was there on Wednesday. On the week ends these lakes are packed with fisherman and others just out to enjoy the area.

The final picture shows Lake Mary and some of the vegetation growing around it.

I just realized that in my first post I kept refering to this lake as Mormon Lake. That was an error on my part as Mormon lake is the natural lake south of Lake Mary.
The photos of the lake and my bikes resting place is at Upper Lake Mary.
@ manasm

I too am a graduate of Arizona State University, class of 1967. Glad to see I'm among friends.

The next time I go up North I will try to remember to make more stops and take more photos. It's hard to do when you love riding.
Attached Thumbnails
My Ride from Phoenix to Flagstaff Arizona-phoenix-flagstaffweb-007.jpg  

My Ride from Phoenix to Flagstaff Arizona-phoenix-flagstaff-010-we.jpg  

My Ride from Phoenix to Flagstaff Arizona-phoenix-flagstaff-web-01.jpg  

My Ride from Phoenix to Flagstaff Arizona-phoenix-flagstaff-018-we.jpg  


Last edited by ArizonaJim : 15th October 2011 at 10:59.
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Old 16th October 2011, 23:13   #7
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Default Re: My Ride from Phoenix to Flagstaff Arizona

Hi ArizonaJim,
Liked your short travelogue. I am surprised to know about enfield in US. I must say , 3 months of stay in Phoenix and I never came across one. I stayed on 19th Ave near Deer Valley.

I did the trip to Flagstaff the first weekend I was in Pheonix. It probably was I-17. I didn't know there was a fellow T-Bhpian in Pheonix. If it was not for the dust one would encounter I would have suggested you the Apache Trail, but then I guess you wouldve already done that. I am planning to start a travelogue on that... soon.
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Old 17th October 2011, 01:21   #8
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Default Re: My Ride from Phoenix to Flagstaff Arizona

Hi Jim,

It's nice to see RE selling, and more importantly being used so well in the US!
The fountain in the pic has a pretty tall spray!

Averaging a speed of close to 91 kmph is amazing.
Good read and nice pics!
Do keep us updated.

Cheers and Ride Safe.
Sam
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Old 17th October 2011, 09:54   #9
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Talking Re: My Ride from Phoenix to Flagstaff Arizona

Quote:
Originally Posted by ArizonaJim View Post
This route has mountains visible at all times but they are pretty bare except for some cactus in the lower elevation areas and juniper at the higher ones. In other words, fast, straight and boring.

The other route goes past Fountain Hills, up thru Payson, Pine, Strawberry, Clints Well, Mormon Lake and ends in Flagstaff.
The roads are fairly twisty and the speed limit is something that can be lived with on a RE. The steepness of some of the hills also keeps most of the 18 wheelers off of it unless they have deliveries up in Payson.
For a 28 horsepower motorcycle, this is the way to go! Especially if you do it in the middle of the week.
Really well written though less photos.
Love the attitude in the post above. Kudos!
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Old 17th October 2011, 11:26   #10
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Default Re: My Ride from Phoenix to Flagstaff Arizona

Nicely written Travelogue @ArizonaJim.
Waiting for more pictures even though I understand that a rider would enjoy the ride than taking pictures !

Ride Safe.
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Old 19th October 2011, 14:55   #11
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Default Re: My Ride from Phoenix to Flagstaff Arizona

Quote:
Originally Posted by manasm View Post
@ArizonaJim - thanks for the details and photos - would love to see more. It has been 10 years since I was last in Arizona (was a Sun Devil).
Quote:
Originally Posted by ArizonaJim View Post
I too am a graduate of Arizona State University, class of 1967. Glad to see I'm among friends.
Last place I thought I'd find Sun Devils! Am a Wildcat and nice to see pics from a state where I had a great time. I went to Grad School at the U of A ('03-'05).

@ArizonaJim - If you ever do a trip up to Mount Lemmon, please post pics here. Its a great ride up the mountain for your Bullet.

Cheers,
Adi

Last edited by AVR : 19th October 2011 at 14:56.
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Old 20th October 2011, 11:15   #12
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Default Re: My Ride from Phoenix to Flagstaff Arizona

Wow Jim. Thats a nice trip and liked your explanation. There are some places which i wanted to visit. Have you been through the devils highway as thats one road which i want to go through.

SO is fountain hills made just to get some added attraction?
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Old 20th October 2011, 11:22   #13
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Default Re: My Ride from Phoenix to Flagstaff Arizona

Photos are really missing. I think there is observatory in Flagstaff where planet Pluto was discovered. Been about 15 years since I lived in Phoenix for a year. Guessing you work in Phoenix.
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Old 21st October 2011, 06:24   #14
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Default Re: My Ride from Phoenix to Flagstaff Arizona

@ maddy42:
Thanks.
No, I haven't been to Devils Highway but as I understand it, the Mexicans named it that for a good reason.

A ride I have intended to take for over 10 years is along the Eastern side of the State on a road called the Coronado Trail. (Route 191 from Springerville to Clifton)

It is a motorcyclists dream as it starts at the North end in the Pine forests and has hundreds of twisty turney corners as it descends to the huge open pit copper mines in Clifton.

It was named for the Spanish explorer Coronado who supposedly went North from Mexico that way in his search for the "Seven Cities of Gold".

Yes, the fountain at Fountain Hills was a gimmick used by the land developer who basically built the entire community from a very old cattle ranch he bought.

@ srishiva
Again, my apologies for the lack of photos.
Part of the reason for this is that much of the way the highways are posted "NO PARKING" using a drawing of a parked car with a slashed circle painted over it. I don't know what one is to do if they have a flat tire or their engines break down.
The side of the highway in the area below Payson also has steel guard barriers along much of it which prevents one from just pulling off of the road to take a picture.

North of Payson on the two lane highway the edges of the road have a pronounced drop off onto the gravel or dirt which also makes it difficult to just pull off anywhere one wants to.

Yes, Flagstaff has the Lowell Observatory where the planet Pluto was first discovered. (I still think it is a planet even if the astronomers decided it isn't)

Many years ago I took my wife and two sons up to Flagstaff to see it.

That is an interesting stop. The Observatory dome is totally built out of wood and the telescope is an old fashioned refractor. It is large but not nearly as large as I thought it should be for an instrument that made such a important discovery.

It is named for Percival (sp?) Lowell who selected the site because of its elevation and (usually) clear sky's.

Percival Lowell was also the astronomer that did a great deal of study on the planet Mars at this observatory.
It was he that first noticed and wrote about the Channels (Canals) on Mars and quite frankly he became fixated on them.
This partially explains why Lowell was not the one to discover Pluto. It was done by an associate at the time using photos that were taken using the big telescope.
These photos were held in a mechanical comparator that could click one photo into view and then replace it with another photo showing the same area of sky.
By noticing the movement of one of the specs of light, the planet was discovered.

While mentioning Flagstaff and the things to see there, the NAU (Northern Arizona University) campus is there.
One of the neat things to see on the NAU campus is their (American) Football stadium. It easily houses the football field and the bleachers for the spectators.
It is older than most of the "Football Dome" stadiums found across America and the interesting thing about it is that the entire dome is made from wood. Quite a piece of Engineering.

Due North of Flagstaff is San Francisco Peak (12,633 ft above sea level), an ancient volcano which is noted for its ski areas. Much of it is covered with Pine trees and it dominates the entire Northern view from the city.

North East of Flagstaff, East of the San Francisco Peak is Sunset Crater, the newest volcano in Arizona. It is named for the red color of its crater. I don't recall when it erupted but it was only a few thousand years ago.

North of the San Francisco Peak there are a number of North American Indian ruins, many of them well preserved.
The Wupatki (pronounced wah-pat-kee) ruins has a visitors center, some partial stone buildings and a "ball court".
As I remember the information given there there were NA Indians living there when the Sunset Crater volcano blew.

If one is staying in Flagstaff, taking State Route 89 Northeast about 15-20 miles will bring you to Sunset Crater. Taking Forest Route 545 East and then North will bring you to Wupatki.
From there you can either drive North on 545 which will bring you back to State Route 89 or return the way you came.
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