Monday, April 01, 2013

Prelude to Alaska - Spring Break: Day 3, A Windy April's Fool Day

Pretty relaxed morning, I removed the burned out driving light on Valencia, my 2011 Ural Patrol Sidecar Rig, and re-connected the stock driving light.

Martha's Dad, Richard showed up around 10:30 AM or so from Phoenix, AZ where he snow-birds the winters away.  After lunch, we drove to the Meteor Crater located about 48 miles from Flagstaff six miles south of US40.

On the way there, with Patrick in the sidecar dozing away, we made damn good time and speed towards the Meteor Crater's site.  Valencia was holding an indicated 60-65 MPH all the way there and I was quite please, as the winds were coming from the south and thereby hitting us on the right flank, with only momentary issues when it would try to push us into the next lane.

I'd been to the Meteor Crater back in the mid-80s and only had dim memories of the place.  I think the boys got something out of it, and it was a good way to spend some family time together.

 Above: Iphone Panorama
Below: Panorama shot with my Panasonic Lumix Point and Shoot

Valencia gets ogled in the parking lot 

 A view of the crater rim and visitor center, the ground along the 
rim of the crate was upthrust by about 150 feet.
The white car is my father-in-law's Buick rolling by back to Flagstaff

Patrick, sitting in Valencia's tub, waits for me to finish taking pictures.

The motorcycling gods played an April's Fool trick on us on the way back to Flagstaff.  Holy Cow, but the wind was very strong and coming at us straight out of the west, the direction back to Flagstaff!

I snipped this graphic from the weather site once we got back safely.
We apparently rode against winds that were in the 50s in terms of MPH with gusts near 70.

Remember how pleased I wrote I was on the way to the crater?  Valencia could hardly hold an indicated 50 MPH on the way back while on the flat straightaways!  Going up slightly uphill?  I'd have to shift down to third gear and barely hold 45 MPH.  I spent half my time watching my rear view mirrors and shifting over to the accident lane even though all traffic saw we were going slow and they slid over to the passing lane.

This was the strongest set of winds I'd ridden in for a very long time, it was not fun.  It took us about 20 minutes longer returning than it did going to the crater.  Even Patrick, who usually lets the world pass him by unnoticed, remarked loudly on the windy conditions!

Anyways, we got home safe.  I'm hoping the winds in Alaska are not this strong, or at least blow west to east while I am trying to go up the Haul Road to Deadhorse!


Martha said...

It is also worth noting that the elevation in Flagstaff is around 7000ft, and at the crater? 6000 ft. So, on the return trip you were battling the elevation in addition to Mother Nature's angry winds.

SonjaM said...

Thank you for posting the pics from the crater, now I got something out of it, too ;-)

Crosswinds are my nemesis. I am glad you fought with the winds and got away safely.

Hey, could you please check your spot? I tried to follow you today, and all I got was: "No Messages to display".

redlegsrides said...

No spot tracking today SonjaM.....thanks for commenting.

whythedevilnot said...

Beautiful pictures. Know the how you felt in the wind. My daily ride to work is into the prevailing winds. When I'm riding the YBR125 in heavy winds (Autumn especially) I often find myself wringing it's neck in third just to keep it over 30 up hill. We have a saying here though, "only a nutter rides in the gutter." Our roads seldom have wide shoulders so if you pull in for traffic, you're asking for a swipe. Thankfully, I'm normally riding before the traffic gets up so I only need to pull over for big trucks.

Really enjoying following your journey. Can't wait for Alaska.

RichardM said...

7000', eh. I guess you are jetted for high elevations. Do you need to re-jet for the rest of the trip?

Thank you also for the crater pictures. It's one of those place I've wanted to visit since I was a kid but have never managed to get there.

redlegsrides said...

Richard, you're welcome. It was the wind that was slowing me down though I will have to switch to bigger jets when at lower altitudes.

redlegsrides said...

John S.,

Luckily US40 had wide shoulders for the most part, there were portions though where the AZ DOT had "carved" deep perpendicular to the roadway lines to warn sleepy drivers they're drifting off the road. Avoiding that made things narrower for me so I would stay on the road and watch oncoming traffic warily.

Unknown said...


Heavy winds aren't very fun. I had to ride in the Oregon Gorge for 100 miles with brisk winds coming from the side so you had to leave far over to go straight, then you go into an underpass where there is no wind

again . . . lovely photos with barely any other cars around

Riding the Wet Coast

redlegsrides said...

Bobskoot, wind is rarely an issue when on three wheels as you probably suspect....though when its strong enough to cause worry, it's really strong!

Verena said...

This is cool!