Whether you drive a car, truck, SUV, RV or something else, we all need to be mindful that we are sharing the road with motorcyclists. Two-wheel drivers are 27 times more likely to die in traffic fatalities than in other vehicles, says the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Motorcycles aren’t as visible as large cars and trucks, so drawing attention to the issue is a step in reducing the risks by reminding individuals on the road to be more aware of the presence of motorcyclists.
Canyon Country resident Alan Ferdman took his Harley to Arizona Bike Week and shares his journey with us this month. Read on:
April was vacation time, and I decided to pursue one of my favorite activities — a motorcycle road trip. Together with a couple of friends, we were ready to get started at 6 a.m. on a Wednesday morning. In the spirit of diversity, we thought about how to symbolically “smoke-‘em peace pipe” so that one Indian plus two Harleys could leave Santa Clarita in harmony for a ride to Arizona Bike Week in Scottsdale.
We had decided to take the shorter, 420-mile route and ride straight through. Leaving early put us through Los Angeles before traffic hit a rush hour peak and by the time we passed Palm Springs it was clear sailing, er … uh … riding. We stopped about 150 miles into our journey for gas and breakfast. Then we continued on the I-10 to Chiriaco Summit. We had been on this route several times before, and normally it would have been getting pretty hot by now. But we were in luck and even though the weather was mild and perfect for riding, we stopped anyway for a leg stretch and an ice cream.
If you have never visited Chiriaco Summit, I recommend you take the time to stop off and visit the General Patton Memorial Museum. There are a lot of heavy metal military vehicles outside and an impressive amount of memorabilia inside the building. Oddly, it’s free to go into the museum building, but you need to pay to go into the Tank Yard.
Then, it was on to Scottsdale. We checked into the hotel and decided to go to Gilligan’s for wings and a margarita. I have to admit, when we got back to the hotel after eight hours on the road plus dinner, we were pretty whipped and crashed early that evening.
Thursday we were up early for breakfast and a charity ride. Then it was off to Westworld of Scottsdale for the main Bike Week event. As you might expect, there were the normal vendors, bands and beer. But then, an amazing aspect was revealed. I entered a large, almost empty building, with what seemed like a 40-foot ceiling, and in the middle of the building a motorcycle launch ramp and landing ramp were set up. Four daredevils on dirt bikes rode up the launch ramp and were catapulted high enough to touch the ceiling before landing on the second ramp. One of them went so far as to do back flips on his bike while in the air. It was all good, but I still chose to keep my Harley’s wheels on the ground for the rest of the trip.
Friday we took a ride to Cave Creek, where four blocks on the outskirts of the town had been reduced to one lane in each direction, allowing motorcycle parking on both sides of the street. There were vendors, music, saloons and friendly riders everywhere. We met some locals, ran into some friends from Agoura Hills and spent the day. Do you think in the future we could do something like this in Santa Clarita? I sure hope so.
Saturday it was off to the Phoenix Bikefest, sponsored by the Law Tigers. We heard they had a drive-through bar and didn’t think that was legal in Arizona. As it turned out, they didn’t have a “drive-through bar,” but did have “a bar you could drive through.” Believe it or not, the bar was set up with a motorcycle lane right through the middle of the bar, with bikes continually riding through. There were vendors, bands, friendly people and no admission fee. As you might also expect, the event was packed.
Next, we decided to do a little exploring. Using our smart phones, we tried to find the nearest Moose or Elks Lodge. In this case, there turned out to be a Lodge in Wickenburg. It is a great place, with a really cool, old, dark wood western bar. But, something across the street was what got me thinking about Santa Clarita. There on display was a restored, and well cared for steam locomotive, kind of like the one we have at Heritage Junction in Newhall.
Other aspects of the trip made me think of home as well. Scottsdale and the surrounding areas have been growing by leaps and bounds for several years. Traffic has grown to a point where the streets are full of cars all times of the day, on both weekdays and weekends. It seemed like everywhere we went we were running into traffic circles, seemingly placed just to make life more difficult. Traffic lights were synchronized, so every time you got a green light, you could watch the next light turn red. Travel at the speed limit and you could be sure to stop at every light. To keep the lights in front of you green, you would have to drive 10 to 15 MPH below the speed limit, and nobody did that. Next, going through residential areas I observed house after house with a rock front yard. I began to wonder if this would be the future for us in Santa Clarita. Something to think about.
Anyway, all good things must come to an end, and on Sunday we decided to take the desert route home in two stages. First, it was Scottsdale to Laughlin. Going up the state on Highway 60 is a beautiful ride. Mostly one lane in each direction after you leave Surprise, Arizona provides you a good view of the area. The desert was in full bloom with wildflowers everywhere. I am not going to mention how we were greeted by the yellow butterflies, but we did bring many home with us.
We headed for the Pioneer Hotel in Laughlin, where I was introduced to the Prime Rib Room at the Riverside Hotel. If you like prime rib and pass through the area, I recommend you try it. After that, it was off to the bar at the Colorado Bell, where a really great Motown band named “Touch of Silk” was playing.
Monday morning we started the ride home, and by early afternoon I was back in Santa Clarita. We had traveled about 1,400 miles, kept the painted side up and had a great time. Like I said, motorcycle road trips are one of my favorite ways to travel. I am looking forward to climbing on my Harley again soon and starting off on my next two-wheel adventure.