Route Dilemma (Detroit to Phoenix)

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  • Route Dilemma (Detroit to Phoenix)

    My upcoming trip to Florida (Feb 14th-Mar 10th) has been harshed do to a family illness. Thinking about towing the Wing and taking a week to get there. My wife will fly in the following weekend.

    I realize that weather plays a role in where I could get a day or 3 of riding in.

    The most direct route is through Indi, Tulsa and then west through Amarillo toward Flagstaff.

    I'm almost thinking of taking a Southern route through Nashville, Memphis, Dallas and along the border to Tucson and go North from there.

    Riding would be limited to 5-6 hours, because I'm bringing my hound and he'd have to stay in the room.

    I'd have about 8 days for the return trip. (wherever that will take me) Any "must see" roads?


  • #2
    Your route is going to depend on weather more than interesting rides during the period from Mid Feb to Mid March. I would select a primary more interesting route for good weather and an alternative for bad weather.

    I always sit down in front of the computer and open two screens - Motel 6 and Google Maps. I started using M6 years ago when my beloved female German Shepherd traveled with me and continue for Goldwing trips because M6s are cheap, readily available, and their website is excellent for trip planning.

    I always lay my trips out from M6 to M6 with daily mileage of approximately 400 - 450 miles.
    Harvey Barlow
    Crosby County, TX
    2010 Goldwing Level II Pearl Yellow (sold at 93,000 miles)
    2014 Goldwing Level II Pearl Blue (sold at 27,000 miles to forum member)

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    • #3
      I would think twice about motel 6. I stayed in one that had mosquito guts all over the walls and they were all over the ceiling. It took the manager 45 minutes to show up at the room and I had to insist on a new room. Will never stay there again unless it's the LAST PLACE ON EARTH! (In New Mexico)
      The Marketplace: Click Here For My Marketplace Section

      Stone Front DSI#1197 Michelin Primacy Alpin PA3 195/55/16 @ 32 PSI

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      • HBarlow
        HBarlow commented
        Editing a comment
        So you visited one M6 that was not up to your standards of cleanliness therefore all M6 motels should be avoided?

        That might be a reasonable decision if you spend a week or more in motels each year and your wife travels with you but if you do an average 30k miles of travel each year (25k by Goldwing another 5k by car/truck) it's not such a good conclusion.

    • #4
      If you want to change your route slightly, you are welcome to spend a night here in Crossville TN. Takes about 10 hours (586 miles) to get from Detroit to here (since I used to live up there). I-75 to I-40 to Crossville. Pooch is welcome.

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      • #5
        Originally posted by Shoeman View Post
        Amarillo toward Flagstaff.
        Somewhere in the middle is the entire state of New Mexico. We lived there for a year and a half. Great roads but a little cold that time of year. First let's not forget the Cadillac Ranch west of Amarillo. Nearby there is also Palo Duro Canyon (only about a 1/4 scale of the Grand Canyon but easy to get to from Amarillo).

        After entering the Land of Enchantment I would suggest taking the back roads up to Sandia Peak (the mountain east of Albuquerque) which offers some great views. Also ride a little on the Turquoise Trail (State Hwy 14 that also goes the New Madrid which was made famous in the movie Wild Hogs). If the cold weather does not bother you than you can also get up into the mountains near Jemez Pubelo, Los Alamos, etc. Some of the most interesting sections of U.S. Highway 66 are in Albuquerque (including where the older and newer sections of the highway also intersect in Downtown Albuquerque). Be sure to ride down Central Avenue.

        I actually wrote an article on these roads that were published on line in a couple places. If interested I can copy and paste it, just let me know.

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        • #6
          Originally posted by ssncob View Post
          If you want to change your route slightly, you are welcome to spend a night here in Crossville TN. Takes about 10 hours (586 miles) to get from Detroit to here (since I used to live up there). I-75 to I-40 to Crossville. Pooch is welcome.
          I sure appreciate the invite! Perhaps on the way back if the offer stands? (March 7th or 8th)

          Looks like my route has changed some. Just last night a friend of mine in Greenville SC purchased my ST1300. I guess I'm delivering it... Weather permitting we might ride a few days down his way. Good thing I have 3 weeks.

          From there it's 20 across, but might detour North toward Albuquerque and then West. It all depends on the weather patterns

          biggersm, I'd love to read your article!

          Cold weather don't bother me much. At home I ride down to 36 degrees. That Warm and Safe gear is the ass!

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          • ssncob
            ssncob commented
            Editing a comment
            No can do that timeframe - sorry. Will be over in Quantico doing some work, then heading down to the Jax IBA get-together. If you were a couple of days sooner then would be happy to host you. But enjoy the ride, I'll be heading out to the west coast later in the year.

        • #7
          Shoeman, here is the article. Up above I attached some of the pictures that were in the article (please note that the top two were for the benefit of the Amarillo Texas area). I would have to spend the next hour on Photobucket to get the rest of the pictures in. Please consider a day of riding in New Mexico.

          Two-Wheeling the Land of Enchantment
          By: Michael Biggerstaff

          What do you think of when you think of New Mexico? Some locals will tell you stories of phone calls with other people in the United States where they are often complimented how well they have mastered the English language; as if New Mexico is a different country. For others that are somewhat more enlightened, the only experience they have of New Mexico is what they can see from Interstate 10, Interstate 40 or Interstate 25. For years I thought that all of New Mexico was one big desert. Then I found a job in the Land of Enchantment and had the chance to see many of this state’s wonders.

          Many ask what is meant by the state motto, “Land of Enchantment” I will try to answer that question; but to fully understand what that means you really need to come to the state and spend time out doors. I prefer to see the state from my motorcycle, however many have seen the state in everything from bicycles to hot air balloons. No matter how you decide to see the state you need to do it from some platform other than an automobile. New Mexico has some of the most agreeable weather that can be found anywhere. Being such a large state you can even migrate south in winter, and north in summer and always be reasonably comfortable.

          During a one-day round-trip ride from Albuquerque you can actually ride on two different versions of historic Route 66, spend time on tight, winding, but well-paved mountain roads, see outstanding vistas such as a view of all of Albuquerque from 5,000 feet above the city, visit over a half dozen Indian reservations, and see authentic old Western mining towns.
          What was that about two different versions of historic Route 66? Many people think of historic Route 66 as a singular road from Chicago IL to Santa Monica CA; however the actual route has changed course many times over the years. In New Mexico there is the pre-1937 route that went from Santa Rosa North to Santa Fe, than South, parallel to the Rio Grande River and railroad (which is also still present) through Albuquerque down to Los Lunes before heading west again. In 1937 the highway was straightened, bypassing Santa Fe, and roughly follows what is now Interstate 40. If you’re wondering why Route 66 was straightened there is at least one interesting story. In 1937 the then governor of New Mexico, Governor Hannett lost the re-election. Hannett blamed this on the politicians in Santa Fe. In one great last act of defiance before the new governor was sworn in he vowed to get even with this Santa Fe ring. He had until January to institute his revenge. And he did! He decided the best way to get even was to re-route Highway 66 to Albuquerque and bypass Santa Fe altogether. For more on this story see Both versions of Route 66 intersect in Albuquerque and are well marked.

          This journey begins and ends in Albuquerque. Even though Albuquerque is not the state capital, it is the largest city in New Mexico (approximately 700,000 in the greater Albuquerque area) and is served by the Sunport airport, Amtrak, and is the intersection of I-40 and I-25. You will not have any trouble finding a suitable hotel and if necessary a rental motorcycle in the Duke City. Your choices range from the high dollar/high rise name brand hotels to some of the original motor lodges along Central Ave (which is the local name for Post 1937, Route 66).

          A good time to come to Albuquerque is mid September to mid October. The NM state fair would be in progress in mid September. Although the state fair is primarily a livestock show, there are many other exhibits. Every day of the fair has a different vehicle exhibit to include such themes as Model T and Model A Fords, Gold Wings, Muscle Cars, etc.

          The weekend following the state fair is when the world famous Albuquerque Balloon Festival begins. The first day of the balloon festival this year was 1 October, which was also a day that I decided to take this motorcycle ride. Driving the length of I-25 through Albuquerque as hundreds of balloons are taking off is a real visual treat. Many of the balloons are low enough that you can see the faces of the people in the gondolas (some of those faces filled apparently filled with terror as they barely cleared the freeway and high power lines). The weather this time of year ranges from high 50s at night to low 80s at mid-afternoon but with the low humidity it is very comfortable riding weather.

          On the north side of town is U.S. Hwy 556, a.k.a. Tramway Blvd. Where it intersects I-25 is Sandia Casino, which is the one of the largest casinos in the area and literally sits on the Sandia Indian Reservation. Head West for a couple of miles and you will come to the Intersection of State Hwy 313. Here’s the secret, Hwy 313 is the new designation for Pre-1937 Route 66. It is well marked as the historic landmark it is, but for whatever reason it is marked better if you are southbound, as the early Pioneers would have seen the road en route to California.

          When the road reaches the city of Bernalillo ( pronounced “Ber-na-lee-yo”), head west on US 550. This is not the most exciting road but you do literally drive from the Santa Anna to Zia to Jemez Indian reservations. You’re only on it for about 22 miles and you will get to State Hwy 4, which in my opinion is where the scenic treat to the senses begins.
          Head up to Jemez (pronounced Hey-Mez) Springs and you’ll experience more colors then you ever thought possible. A decent place to learn some Native American Culture would be the Walatowa Visitors Center (I’m not going to help out with how to pronounce Walatowa, but it is reasonably phonetic compared to some of the forgoing and the Park Ranger on duty would also be willing to help). Notice that a virtual palate of color; Red Earth, Blue Sky, and Green Cottonwood Trees and Pinion Pines surround you. No need to adjust your monitor, this is the way that our Supreme Being wanted you to experience the colors.

          There is a rather interesting story concerning the Jemez Native Americans. They were one of the last Native American tribes anywhere in the Lower 48 to fall to the Spanish. One of the contributing factors was topography. As you continue farther up Hwy 4 you will realize that the canyon has very limited ways in and out. With a little imagination you can even feel as if you’re in a half scale model of the Grand Canyon.

          Be Careful as you travel through Jemez Springs. The Speed Limits seem unnaturally low, and there is everything from NM State Police to Tribal Police that would each like for you to contribute to their jurisdiction. Why would you want to hurry anyway? The town of Jemez Springs is a real cultural treat.

          On the day we took the ride the highway traffic was stopped by law enforcement which initially caused concern there may be an accident but the good news is that they stopped traffic for a local festival. The festival had aspects of Native American and Catholic Influence. I was unable to ascertain what the exact meaning of the event was but I believe it have something to do with a baptism.

          After clearing Jemez Springs you will start into the mountain portion of the journey. Notice several different land formations such as Soda Springs Dam, Battleship rock, and you will see the last of the Cottonwoods and the first of the Aspens for the next several miles.

          You will also notice that the air is cooler, a welcome relief if you are riding in mid summer. If you’re on a winter ride however you will be well into the snow and ice line which I don’t recommend on two wheels. If you are into viewing fall foliage than the best time for this ride would be the first half of October. The deciduous trees will already be into their change at the higher altitudes.

          Speaking of altitude you will be at the 10,000 foot level a couple times during this ride. If your bike is carbureted and running lean (as some bikes come from the manufacturer nowadays to meet EPA standards) than you shouldn’t have too much problem keeping your bike running, however you may notice less horsepower. For those with Injection everything should be fine, at least in theory. My bike is carbureted and ran lean at lower altitudes but does fine here, however I talked with someone with a more up-to-date version of my bike with fuel injection and he said that it didn’t self-adjust well to altitude and now runs too rich.

          The next thing item of interest after a stint in the mountains is a large open area known as the Valle Caldero. It is difficult to tell, but this is actually an extinct volcano. It is also the home to a heard of Elk and other wild, grazing animals. If you are lucky they may be by the side of the road when you ride by.

          Continue on and soon you will find yourself going down some steep switchback corners. Some are marked as low as 10 MPH and are off camber. If you think the sound of scraping floorboards, or even sport bike pegs is a real cool sound than some of these turns will provide music to your ears (the map doesn’t do this area justice). Here’s something else to consider, remember your science classes when the teacher talked about how easy it is to get things to boil at higher altitude? The same physics apply to brake fluid and needless to say, boiling brake fluid doesn’t stop your bike as well as you may like so ride conservatively.

          At the bottom of the hill you are faced with a choice of either going through Los Alamos or staying on Highway 4 and bypassing the town. No matter what you choose you will end up eventually on highway 502 heading down to U.S. 84/285. There are other marvels that await you if you decide to turn north, but that is something for another chapter.

          Turning south will take you to Santa Fe. There are several historic and other interest items in the state capital, however since this is about a motorcycle I recommend you bypass Santa Fe on the road marked Relief Route (a.k.a Verterans Hwy or Hwy 599). When you come up to I-25 keep going straight under the freeway and you will now be on State Hwy 14, a.k.a. The Turquoise Trail.

          The Turquoise Trail is derives its name from the turquoise mining as well as other mining activities that goes back to 1,000 BC but really picked up when the Spanish arrived. There is quite a bit of web sites devoted to the Turquoise Trail that comes complete with very interesting photo galleries. This area is actually the home of the first gold rush west of the Mississippi River in 1925. The towns you will find along the Trail were at one-point genuine ghost towns but are once again coming alive with museums, restaurants, hotels, and other tourism industries.

          When you get to the Intersection marked with the Sandia Crest and Ski Resort you will want to go turn west and go up the mountain. What you see as a dramatic mountain rising straight above the eastern edge of Albuquerque is a gentle, but ever increasing slope when approached from Highway 14. You will be able to ride your bike all the way to Sandia Crest.

          The view from on top will take you breath away; at 10,678 there’s more than one reason for this! If you’re already acclimated to high altitudes you might consider the approximately 4 mile round-trip hike to the top of the Tramway and back. If youu visit New Mexico during winter I’d suggest taking the tramway up to the top with your ski equipment and skiing down to the lodge to buy a lift ticket for the day. By doing this you won’t have to deal with all that snow related road grime on you automobile. Any other time of year I recommend enjoying a motorcycle ride to the crest. One of the many interesting things you can see from the crest is the spot where you started and will finish your journey. How often does that happen on other round trip rides you have been on? Don’t pause for too long, you still have a couple more hours of riding still ahead of you.

          You will of course have to take the same road back down the mountain, and once again take it easy on the brakes. At the bottom you will turn South on State Highway 14 again. When you reach Interstate 40 I recommend continuing under the Interstate and you will find the more famous Post 1937, Route 66 highway. Head West through Tijeras Pass and at the intersection of Tramway the road will go by the name of Central Ave, but is still in fact Route 66. As you get closer to Downtown Albuquerque you will see many of the same hotels, restaurants, gas stations, and other business that greeted many who traveled through here in the 30s, 40s, and 50s. The business names and corresponding signs will certainly not let you forget what road you are on either.

          In downtown Albuquerque you will run into the intersection of the two versions of Route 66…well almost. The true intersection would be at 4th street and Central, where Civic Plaza is
          now located. Of course you will want to run the length of Route 66 for the sake of it. You will want to go west at least as far as the Rio Grande. Just before you get to the Rio Grande you will see Old Town Albuquerque on the right. There is some nice restaurants in the area and many art exhibits. Behind Old Town Albuquerque are the museums to include the National Atomic Museum, Albuquerque History Museum, and New Mexico Museum of National History. After an evening at Old Town Albuquerque you will need to double back on Central Ave, this time going east. Turn North on Broadway until you reach Lomas, turn west on Lomas and than make a right turn (north) on 4th Street and your back on the original Route 66 again. Head toward Sandia Casino and you have completed your journey.

          This is only one ride in a state that has some of the greatest riding weather, road conditions, and scenery to be found anywhere in the United States. Come experience the Land of Enchantment; English is the primary language and no visa is necessary for your visit.

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          • HBarlow
            HBarlow commented
            Editing a comment
            This is an excellent write up of touring New Mexico. Professional grade!

            I cut and pasted it into a file to refer to the next time I'm looking for a ride destination.

        • #8
          Thanks for the write-up!

          The day is almost here...

          My route has changed somewhat. I sold my ST1300 and need to deliver it to SC. Looks like I'll head West first and then to Florida. Either way it has to be better than that 0* crap we got going here.

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