We had a visitor here at our rented house, Wayne Lee from Edmonton, Alberta. He and Irene, his partner, rode up last week and told us about some good riding roads on the East side of Phoenix. To get there, though, we have to ride straight across Phoenix or use a belt way around the town. We decided to use the belt system; it seems shorter in time because it is mostly highway. Still, it took us about 2 hours just to reach the east side of Phoenix. The weather forecast for this week is rain and low temperatures, snow possible over 4000 feet. But yesterday, Sunday, the sun shone and even though it was cool, it was not cold. So, off we went to explore the other side, which on the map looked like good riding. Wayne also told us about a huge Copper mine that has to be seen to be believed. Again, we wanted to just ride for the day and be back by nightfall.
After reaching Apache Junction, we were due for a soup and saw a typical diner and perfect stop for a break. Before we went in however, I saw a fellow rider having trouble starting his bike. He was frustrated and when I asked him some basic questions he answered but I could tell he wanted to find the solution and ride away. The battery had enough juice, the lights were on, but when he pushed the starter, not a sound. No grinding of the starter, nothing. We checked for loose cables, checked each fuse in the fuse panel; tried this and that but nothing. He needed a tow. I offered to take him or his partner home on my bike but they both wanted to stay with the bike. I loaned them my cell phone and they called a buddy to toe them home. We went inside and had our soup to warm us up and after about 3o minutes were ready to move on. This poor fellow still sat and waited for his friend to pick him up. I ask again if he wanted me to call a road service, if he wanted me to ride one of them back to their home but no, they preferred to wait for their neighbor. I felt so helpless and frustrated; I really thought starting a bike, any bike, even if it was a Harley like he had, just needed 3 things: fuel, spark and air. Well he had all three but the bike would not start. I wish I could have helped, it would have made me feel like a hero but I can only say I rode away not knowing anything. Too bad, it would have been nice to help.
The road Wayne told us about was busy, a lot of riders were on their Sunday ride and even cars were in abundance. The speed limit was 55 miles/hour and there were police watching at strategic spots. Some spots were curvy and while the scenery was rough and very Western, I was disturbed by the destruction of some of the hills. I could tell a large amount of earth had been moved by an open pit mining operation. Yes, it looked neat but somehow so wrong to see this in the mountains of Arizona. To me it looked like an ugly scar on the rugged landscape. The mountains taken away were replaced by the remaining dirt which was terraced into mountains. It looked so false, so ugly it disturbed me. No matter what the rest of the day would bring, I could not get over the scars inflicted by man. These are huge copper mines, I know we need copper and yes, it is in nowhere land, not much around, just some small, decrepit looking mining towns made out of old trailers that look abandoned. Yet, I felt ashamed that this would be allowed to happen. I mean whole valleys were dug up, huge mountains were removed. Sure there is lots of space and on the whole it might not mean much; except for me it looks ugly.
We reached about 5000 feet in altitude and it turned cold enough to turn on our heated grips. Being in the middle of nowhere, we realized we needed to watch our gas. Lucky for us we found one gas station open and filled up and left for ‘home’. The trip back, again, was mostly super slab at 70 miles per hour plus in the HOV lane.
It was a strange day, we rode for about 300 miles that day, the roads were ok, some even beautiful but seeing the environmental destruction inflicted by man, overshadowed the experience.
Yes, I know we need copper!