Last Sunday’s weather was clear, warm and the smell of pine trees permeated the air. The old ghost town of Jerome was packed with tourists as usual, but the three of us weaved through the traffic and headed even farther up Mingus Mountain toward Prescott, Arizona. The curves are plentiful and challenging, with snowbirds taking their half of the middle of the narrow two lane road in the opposite direction.
When we reached the top of Mingus Mountain, we stopped for a break after the ride from Sedona. The snow was gone from the shaded areas and the temperature was much warmer than the last time we made this same trip. The last time there were only two of us; we added a new rider this trip and he was a very interesting person.
I met our newest riding companion at Hoppy’s house in Sedona an hour earlier. He wasn’t very talkative at first. When we saddled up for the ride, he took off like a bat out of hell and Hoppy and I were hard pressed to keep up. Come to find out, Bud was a retired Arizona DPS motorcycle officer and rode his beautiful 1996 Evolution like he was on duty.
I could see right off that he was an experienced rider with exceptional skills, but I was reluctant to ride as fast as he insisted, so Hoppy and I held back and the poor guy had to wait up several time for us to catch up. After we left the top of Mingus Mountain and headed toward Prescott, Hoppy led and the ride was much slower. So slow in fact, I thought Bud was going to run over us a few times.
We made it to the Three Guys hamburger joint in Prescott Valley for lunch and managed to wolf down scrumptious burgers and fries like there was no tomorrow. While we were there, I mentioned how much I appreciated the work all policemen do to keep us safe and thanked Bud for his years of service. It was like a light switch turned on and he opened up and became one of the most pleasant riders I have ever met.
We decided to go through Prescott Valley to Dewey and from there take Cherry Rd. highway east to Interstate 17, at which point we would head north and I would take the General Crook exit to Camp Verde while my riding partners turn off at the next exit to Highway 260 and head back to Sedona via Cottonwood. When we reached my exit, to my surprise, Bud exited first and we stopped alongside the road. Bud came up to me, shook my hand and asked if I wanted to ride with them to Cottonwood for a milk shake at DQ. It sounded good, but my stomach was telling me no, so I respectfully declined and we all went our own way after a short, but fantastic, ride.
I don’t care what our walks of life may be; riding motorcycles brings out the best in people. The freedom of the open road is magic and especially in a state like Arizona. One minute you are in desert and the next you are riding through pine trees with air so fresh it takes your breath away. From the magnificent red rocks of Sedona to vistas as far as the eye can see in Jerome. From modern cities to ghost towns to tough to die, we ride asphalt ribbons through some of the most beautiful scenery on the planet.
Ride on, friends, a great adventure waits!