Sunday, May 18, 2008

Riding and Eating in an Organized Fashion

I went for my first "organized" ride last today. By that, I mean, I rode with a group of people, with a set route and destination. Destination: (no mystery here, folks) a restaurant; Route: Scenic AZ 83. I have to say, I almost always ride by myself, (I can count the exceptions on one hand, not counting riding as a passenger) and I prefer it that way. "Ride your own ride," they say, even when in a group, but I like to take that phrase literally. So I was a little unsure of whether or not I would actually enjoy an organized ride. I've also been chomping at the bit, having had little riding time lately, and was more in the mood to tear up the road, rather than ride along at a more, um, legal pace. I'm not saying I always race around - I'm all for smelling the roses - but hey, today that's what I was feeling.

As it turns out, I quite enjoy riding with a gang of women graduates of the Motorcycle Safety Foundation Basic Rider Course, two of its instructors, and one instructor's daughter. We had riders of all experience levels and all varieties of bikes. One gal even followed us in her car! She doesn't have her own bike yet, but being female and and having just taken the MSF BRC she meets the other requirements, so why not? We gathered at a gas station on the fringes of town, made some introductions, formulated the plan, and after a brief review of the protocols of group riding (of which there are many), departed.

Our restaurant destination was the Crossroads Cafe in Sonoita, AZ. I enjoyed the French Toast Special, layered with a raspberry sauce and creme anglaise, even though it was a bit too cold. It was nice to see a reasonable tidy portion size, and prettily presented, too. The ginger iced tea, I was sorry to find, was sweetened. Why not let the diner decide on that point? The conversation was lively, and exclusively about - can you guess? - our motorcycles. I suppose it is a bit odd to spend lunch with all these ladies and not even learn what they do for a living, but it made perfect sense at the time. That's just what happens when you put a group of people with a shared passion around the dinner table.

Just as riding of the front of the moto doesn't replace riding on the back for (ditto for the reverse), group riding and riding solo are apples and oranges. It's always nice to have a variety of fruit in the basket. Besides, I had a spicy solo ride up Mt. Lemmon "on my way home." ;-)

Saturday, May 17, 2008

While I'm out riding, my dog likes to eat!

Due to popular demand, I'm posting this video of my dog trying to get into the trash. She's pretty spunky for 12 years old, isn't she? The extra latch on the door in the video is the 2nd of three. She quickly defeated the first two. The current deadbolt type locks (not shown) are still holding, but only when I actually remember to latch them.
Do notice that you can hear the front door close as I leave, and she is instantly on the move. There's a bit of dead space in the movie, when she's wandering around other parts of the house (confirming my absence, no doubt). I'd like to edit it out, but, of course, my movie editing program won't open the original video file. In any case, if you're patient enough to watch to the end, you'll see when it seems she knows she's been caught.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Poppies and Pancakes

Perhaps the best pancakes I've ever had come from Matt's Big Breakfast in downtown Phoenix. I'm not the only one who thinks so, either. On any given morning you can expect to have to wait for one of the very few tables in this tiny restaurant. And people do wait. Outside. On the street. In the sun. In the heat. In a not-so-nice neighborhood. Because, somehow, they transform the mundane to the magical. I mean, just having a slice of toast there is a delightful culinary event. It's thick cut from a proper loaf of French bread, and wondrously perfectly done. Not too crispy, not too pale. Nicely crunchy on the outside, tender on the inside. The accompanying preserves come from the farmers market across the street. I stock my fridge with the same stuff now, and I don't think I can ever go back to any other sort. (It's Terra Verde, by the way, and although there are lots of fancy flavors, I think the straight-up blackberry and apricot preserves are the best.) In any case, it was a fine way to start this day, back in early March, before riding the Apache Trail (AZ 88), to witness one of the best wildflower displays we've had in southern Arizona for years.

Here's another picture...

...and a little map.

AZ 88 is the squiggly blue line towards the top left of the map, below Apache Lake. When on a moto, squiggles = good!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Now it's time for one of those "occasional other matters." Here I am, sporting the latest in fashionable motorcycle apparel.