Yes, it’s a great ride, even a spectacular ride, but even the best of rides, like steak every night, gets less than exciting after the eighth or tenth time. So why not pull a Monty Python and do something completely different?
Go ride Arizona’s two secret highways. They are great roads, smooth, curvy, just made for motorcycling, and nobody rides them!
Tell me the truth, when is the last time you rode Arizona Routes 77 and 177? Early last never, right? Boy are you in for a treat. Great roads, great curves, great scenery, and even great food. The only downside is that from the center or west side of Phoenix the most expedient route to the east is that miserable piece of garbage US Route 60E, aka The Motorcyclist’s Torment.
So, screw up your courage, take I-17 to I-10, get on 60E and head toward Globe. About an hour out, as you enter Apache Junction the road narrows to a much more pleasurable two lanes each way, but be a bit careful as you ride through Gonzales Pass as the road narrows even more to one lane each way with no divider.
Now for the good food. Slow down as you approach Superior from the west and watch for The Buckboard Café, (520) 689-5800. It is on the right, next to the world’s smallest museum, which is worth seeing on its own merits. Be sure to read the roof, and be sure to check out the old Bobcat parked out front. The Buckboard has great food including just about the best breakfast biscuits I have ever tasted.
After you have eaten, continue east towards Globe. After just a few miles you will enter Queen Creek Tunnel. This is a great opportunity to make a lot of noise. Gear down, throttle up, and make the mountains ring! After the tunnel, cross over beautiful Pinto Creek Bridge and begin a spectacular 12 mile ride through high walled gorges filled with non-stop twisties.
These brown rock canyons are so steep and rugged you wonder how the builders could move so much rock to put in the road. And as a bonus after you leave the gorge you get another twelve miles of smooth downhill sweepers.
Ride into and completely through Globe and turn south on Route 77. Buzz south through El Capitan Pass (4983 ft) and feel your ears pop all the way down a grade that is long and steep enough to warrant two runaway truck ramps.
In Winkelman turn right onto 177 and allow the road to turn you back north toward Superior. North of Winkleman near Kearney is a huge open pit mine that is spectacular in its devastation. This hole in the ground is a monument to the people who have perfected the process of literally moving mountains from one spot to another.
As you gaze into that huge wound it is very easy to put on a sanctimonious air and decry the “rape of the earth.” But then reality raises its ugly head and smacks you in your ugly head and wispers in your ugly ear, “there is very likely copper in the alternator of your motorcycle that came out of that hole.” You know, I find it amazingly hard to be self-righteous when I realize I’m part of the problem.
Leaving Kearney you’ll run into a 10% grade and all the ear popping you did on the way down gets to be re-popped on the way up. Now just follow 177 to Superior and turn west on 360 to Phoenix.
These two roads are spectacular, there’s nobody on them, the food is good at the Buckboard, and if you left early enough you may even have time to ride out to Tortilla Flat and back on the way home.
Conservative and Easy Riding Miles & Times
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Phoenix to Superior 57, 1 hour, 15 Minutes
Superior to Globe 23, 30 minutes
Globe to Winkleman 34, 45 minutes
Winkleman to Superior 34, 45 Minutes
Superior to Phoenix 57, 1 Hour, 15 Minutes
That’s an easy 205 miles and about five and a half hours of great and different riding. So go and enjoy!
Keep the rubber side down, the shiny side up, and RIDE ON!
Sunday morning. Oh-dark-thirty. Most of the group is at the Waffle House. There are just a few of the always-late-for-everything crew to wait for, so it is time to play a quick 30-minute round of the where-shall-we-go game.
Sedona! Of course! Wickenburg, Prescott, Jerome. A great ride. The same ride you took the last time you went out. And the time before that. And the time before that. And the time . . . Oh heck, why don’t you just stay at the Waffle House and send the bikes? By now they know the way, they’ve done that ride often enough.
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