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Arizona by Suzuki Intruder 800 (May 1996) (c)1996 Bruce Clarke

The following is a transcription of a journal I kept while touring Arizona on a rented 1994 Suzuki Intruder 800 motorcycle. I rode from Phoenix through Show Low, the Petrified Forest, Canyon de Chelly, Monument Valley, the Grand Canyon, Sedona, and Prescott, returning back to Phoenix. The total distance travelled was 1346 miles by motorcycle (2154 KM).
The motorcycle used was rented from Western States Motorcycle Tours, Inc. ((602) 943-9030). They have a web page at http://members.aol.com/azmcrent/index.htm
I have no affiliation with WSMT other than as a satisfied customer.
This journal may be freely distributed so long as it is unaltered. Since most of the audience reading this is American, I have converted to imperial measurements and American dollars.

Friday, May 24, 1996:
(Victoria, BC -> Phoenix, AZ: by plane)
I flew out of Victoria on a very sunny day - the first in ages. The weather here has been incredibly rainy for the last six months. I transferred planes in Vancouver. The new airport terminal was open; I had to walk forever to get from one end of the terminal to the other. I had no hassles with US Customs.
While waiting for the plane to take off, a couple of middle-aged Americans spied the AMA patch on my helmet bag.
"What kind of bike do you ride?" one asked. "A Kawasaki 500," I replied. "Kawa- what!" he exclaimed as he rolled his eyes upwards. "I can't even say that." Pause. "I ride a Harley." Yeah, no kidding, I think.
On the plane I was sitting next to two guys from Atlanta. One of them saw my helmet and asked what I was up to. When I told them I was planning on spending a week riding around northern Arizona, one asked quite seriously "Ain't you all 'fraid of gitting bit baa snakes?"
The weather and visibility were pretty decent as I flew down and I was able to get a good look at the Grand Canyon from the air. Phoenix was 75 Fahrenheit and mostly cloudy. It felt nice to me, but I overheard several Phoenicians complaining about how unusually cool it was.
I reached the Ramada Inn around 8 PM. I plan to pick up the bike at 8 AM tomorrow.
 
Saturday, May 25, 1996:
(Phoenix -> Show Low: 175 miles by motorcycle)
I got up early, packed and caught a taxi to Western States Motorcycle Tours (phone/FAX: (602) 943-9030), run by Frank del Monte out of his spacious and well-equipped garage. Frank is obviously well-organized and a very experienced motorcyclist. He currently has 32 motorcycles for rent, mostly a variety of Harley-Davidsons and BMWs. He also has a couple of Suzuki Intruder 800s, one of which I'm renting for $400 US per week.
Frank sat down with me and also a couple who were renting a BMW R80-RT for the weekend. He spent a good ten minutes or more talking about how dangerous riding in Arizona can be. Frank told us that on average he has one bike per week brought back with crash damage, some minor, some major. At first I found the comments a bit overblown, but on retrospect I have to say I can't blame him for being so cautious.
While I was there a group of 15 Australians headed off. As they left, Frank shook his head and told me, "A bunch of hard-riding Aussies; I'll bet at least one of them will get hurt."
The first (nearly new-looking) Suzuki Intruder he wheeled out for me wouldn't idle smoothly, so he brought out another with 11,200 miles, Arizona plate P4AW. He asked me to try riding it around the block to test it.
Now I've ridden a variety of motorcycles but none of them were Harley-style cruisers. The Intruder 800 felt very awkward to me when compared to my usual EX-500. Frank had told the previous group of Aussies to do their test ride very slowly at least five times, so I left and rode the clumsy bike as slowly and as gingerly as I could.
When I got back, Frank immediately started chastising me, complaining that I looked very hesitant and inexperienced on the Intruder. He was most upset that I was using only two fingers on the front brake instead of all four. (I didn't bother telling him that I can easily do a stoppie on my 500 with just two fingers.) He then spent at least five minutes explaining good braking techniques to me.
I found this rather annoying: I've been riding for four years and have taken advanced riding courses. I felt like telling him "Come ride my sport bike around the block and let's see how experienced you look." Instead I just kept my big mouth shut.
We packed my stuff on the bike. I fired it up and headed out. I found it very awkward to reach so far forward with my foot to shift gears. I rode east to Shea Boulevard and then reached Route 87 to Payson.
The terrain looked like a Road Runner cartoon: dry, brown desert with huge saguaro cacti and small shrubs. Lots of hawks circling around. The road climbed into the hills and the cacti disappeared. Traffic was modest. I stuck very closely to the posted speed limits: 55 mph and 45 to 50 in the curves.
I seemed to be one of the slowest vehicles on the road. Lots of people passed me, but I thought it would be best to take it easy on this unfamiliar motorcycle.
This is what gets me - these car drivers were just plain stupid because there were radar cops all over the place! I saw - no kidding - five cars pulled over in a 70 mile stretch. I swear one driver was doing only 60 in a 55 mph zone, and the cop car riding my butt pulled him over right away!
I turned east at Payson onto Route 260 and grabbed some gasoline and iced tea. I have to say this - the Intruder is the most uncomfortable bike I've ever rode. My hands tingled badly from the handlebar vibration and the seat forced me to put a lot of weight on my lower back and rear end.
I took to pulling over once every 30 miles to shake the life back into my tingly hands. I've never had this problem on any other bike I've toured with. Maybe it's the angle of the bars?
I reached Show Low after riding along the scenic Mogollon Ridge. This is an orangy-red mountain ridge - very pretty. I passed through many pine forests. There were road signs warning of elk but I saw only one dead on the side of the road.
Traffic was now very light, yet I saw two more speeders pulled over. Talk about your zealous revenue generation. I made sure not to exceed 60 mph even on the straight stretches.
There were quite a few motorcycles on the road; about 80% were Harleys. I gather that Arizona doesn't have a lid law - most of the HD bikers were bare-headed.
At one point near Heber there was a strong smell of smoke from a forest fire in the air; so strong it made my eyes water.
When I got into Show Low, I decided to splurge and get a hotel rather than pitch my tent. Big mistake. I checked out three hotels before I finally found one that wanted $75 for a room. Ouch. I decided to take it rather than head out of town to find a campsite. I walked around the town for an hour or two and found nothing really interesting.
 
Sunday, May 26, 1996:
(Show Low -> Chinle: 225 miles by motorcycle)
I woke up early, ate a big breakfast and then left Show Low around 7 AM. I headed out on Routes 60 and 61. I was on a fairly ordinary road through dry desert scrubland - no big cacti now though. I eventually reached Route 180 and passed through a couple of very small towns.
I finally entered the Petrified Forest National Park. Now _this_ I found impressive. Here in the middle of the desert are fossilized logs of large trees from a swamp that existed here 225 million years ago. The logs still possess a lot of detail such as ripples of bark.
On many of the stumps you can see that the growth rings have been replaced by different colored quartzes and other crystals. I found this quite fascinating to see these rock tree trunks sprouting up out of the barren desert sand. I probably spent an hour or two at the two major forest sites.
Heading north I was amazed at the astounding vistas. Many scenic views of rock formations, including some strange multi-colored cones called the Tepees. Further on I saw Newspaper Rock, a site of crumpled rock layers with native pictograms carved on them around the time of Marco Polo. As I was viewing these rocks, a German pulled up on a purple and white Honda Shadow ACE. He'd rented it in Phoenix and was now two-thirds done a three week tour. The German told me that he'd rode through Monument Valley yesterday morning and there was snow coming down. "Very cold," he said. I'll bet; I know that the overnight low in Flagstaff was 27 F.
Heading north through the park, I passed several magnificent views of the Painted Desert. I then spent 20 minutes on Interstate I-40 ugh. The Suzuki easily reaches 70 mph but I still think it handles like a pig on roller skates.
I head north on route 191. Very little traffic as I pass through several native ranches. I see sheep or cattle on the road several times. Once or twice I saw a coyote.
I stop at the Hubbell Trading Post in Ganado (BTW it has a rough gravel driveway). This is a "still-operational" trading post that sells native crafts. I found it mildly interesting and stayed about
30 minutes.
I finally reached Chinle. While I was fueling up, an old Indian man begging for small change told me about the Kawasaki LTD 750 he used to ride. I checked out a couple of hotels and the rates were exorbitant (> $100 per night) so I went to the Canyon de Chelly campground and pitched my tent for free. You can't beat that price.
{Later} WOW! I just spent three hours riding along the South Rim of Canyon de Chelly. Words can't describe this place (but I'll proceed to try anyhow): it's a box canyon maybe 1000 feet deep and a mile wide. The surrounding land is completely flat and barren, yet the floor of the canyon is lush and green. The walls are a coppery red rock twisted into fantastic formations. I took the South Rim drive without stopping and could only catch glimpses of the interior. I parked at the final paved lot after riding a good 20 miles without seeing anything. I walk down a path and when I walk around the corner I see what is one of the most spectacular sights of my life. There is this gigantic orange-red chasm with two towering spires of rock thrusting up into the sky. The Navajo people call it Spider Rock. I won't attempt to describe it in any more detail. You'll just have to go see it for yourself!
I got back to my tent after running into town for some food. I plan tomorrow to ride north to Mexican Hat in Utah, then head south through Monument Valley to the town of Kayenta. It should be about 200 miles.
I noticed today that outside of the parks, there are very few paved pull-out spots; even the shoulders are loose gravel. I took 22 photos today. Also, I was clumsy and burnt my left index finger badly on the exhaust pipe of the 800.
The weather today has been dry and at least partly sunny all day long. It's not very warm though; the highest temperatures have been maybe 70 F. I am a bit worried about the temperatures through Monument Valley, but the weather forecast says it will get hot tomorrow. We shall see.
 
Monday, May 27, 1996 (US Memorial Day):
(Chinle -> Kayenta: 175 miles by motorcycle)
It got dark around 8 PM last night. I spent 45 minutes listening to a Navajo park ranger talk about the old trading posts (kind of boring). I fell asleep at 9 PM and slept solidly until about 4:30 AM. By then it was light outside but the temperature was 45 F, so I just lay in my sleeping bag listening to the birds singing. No clouds in the sky; hopefully it will be sunny and hot today.
It soon warms up to about 60 F. I head out and ride northeast along the North Rim. This ride is not as scenic as the South Rim. There are a lot of cattle on the road and it is very bumpy and potholed. I gassed up and had a coffee at the Tsaile Navajo Trading Post. As I headed north along Indian Route 12, a big coyote scurried across my path.
The road joined up with Route 191. As I head north, I pass several stupendous buttes. There is one rock formation that looks like two giant half-moon crescents of red stone jutting up on the east side of the road.
After jogging right for a couple of miles on Route 160, I head north on 191 and cross into Utah. The scenery is bleak and scrubby. At one point I stop to snap a picture of a herd of horses crossing the road.
I reach the Route 163 junction after crossing over a lush green river canyon. Turning west I soon reach the Valley of the Gods. Erosion has exposed layers of bright red sandstone in this gorge. The layers are of varying hardness, causing the canyon walls to look like stacks of red stone pancakes. I stopped several times to take photos. The weather is sunny and about 80 F.
I pass by Mexican Hat. Here is a stack of eroded rock. At the top is a ball shape about 10 feet wide, topped by a saucer shape 30 feet wide. It looks like a giant made a stack of boulders and then plopped an enormous sombrero upside down on the top.
I pass through the cute little town of Mexican Hat and start riding into Monument Valley. Giant towering spires of rock marching like soldiers across the horizon. Coming over the ridge from Mexican Hat - wow! Yes, this is the place where John Wayne made a lot of westerns. Truly impressive. I saw dozens of motorcyclists here. I won't try to describe what I saw, but let me just say that every motorcyclist should ride this road at least once in his/her life.
One thing surprised me about this road. Motorcyclists often make fun out of car drivers who drive slowly. I found I was doing the posted limit of 55 mph most of today; I wanted to go slowly because I was riding through some of the most beautiful scenery I've ever seen. A fair number of car drivers passed me. Maybe some of them were jaded locals, but a lot of them were out-of-state plates or rental cars. I don't get it - if you want to drive fast, why not go drive the Interstate just a few miles over? If you're going to ride the slow scenic ride, why go > 70 mph if you don't want to take in the views?
In Monument Valley I saw one poor steer who had tried to jump over a barb wire fence and was stuck straddling the wire with his back legs.
Ouch!
Coming into Kayenta, I pass Agathia Peak; it looks like a giant iceberg of black rock rising out of the desert sand.
I reach the town of Kayenta. Although it's only 12:30 or so, I get a hotel room for the night. At first I thought it was pretty pricey, but I went outside at 3 PM to wash the Intruder and it was about 100 F. The desert air is very dry and hot. I figure that I've drank at least 6 or 7 quarts of water today.
I think I'm slowly getting used to the Intruder. I find that if I pull over fairly often, say every thirty minutes, the pain I felt in my hands the first day is not too bad. I still feel that it isn't the ideal bike for me.
 
Tuesday, May 28, 1996:
(Kayenta -> Grand Canyon North Rim via Page: 205 miles by motorcycle)
I went to sleep around 10 PM. I slept very well until about 4 AM. I then packed and headed out of Kayenta at about 5:15 AM just after sunrise. There was hardly a cloud in the sky and the temperature was 60 F. I headed about 30 miles west on Route 160 through fairly ordinary range lands. I turned right onto Route 98. For a while I passed by some beautiful buttes and mountains.
I stopped in the town of Page for breakfast and a visit to a bank machine. Unlike the surrounding hills, Page is very lush and green with trees and grass. The Glen Canyon dam is here and I suppose this accounts for the source of water. While here I noticed a couple of guys riding large sport bikes (CBR 1000, ZX-10) dressed as if they were on the beach - T-shirt, shorts, sandals, no helmets.
Leaving Page I ride up a very straight gentle incline for several miles. I then pass through Echo Cliffs, a very steep twisty cliffside road. The road drops a good 2000 feet in about three miles.
After turning onto 89a, I ride through some boring ranch land until I reach Navajo Bridge over the Colorado River. The river has cut a channel hundreds of feet deep into the orange-red rocks.
I then ride for several miles along the Vermilion Cliffs. These cliffs are columns of 'pancaked' layers of orange and red sandstone. Fantastic.
Along here I almost had a mishap. I pulled over into a gas station. The parking lot of the gas station was covered with loose gravel that looked like the pebbly asphalt of the adjoining road. I was a bit surprised when I pulled over to the pumps and the wheels sank down into the loose gravel. I didn't come close to dropping it but I could certainly see how how someone could have.
I climb up into the Kaibab National Forest. These are the first aggressive twisties I've really met up with on this trip and they are something else: the corners are often hairpins overlooking the cliffs to the valleys far below. The interesting factor is that the road surface is banked very steeply around the curves like a race track. It was cool to lean the Intruder way over.
The Kaibab Forest is around the 7000 or 8000 foot altitude and is heavily covered with pine. Very pretty. At one point I pull over to stretch my legs. All over Arizona are blue road signs with the name of a family or organization that has donated time and money to protecting the local area. I look over and notice the sign says "Ted Nugent World Bowhunters". (Ted Nugent is the dude who does the rock song "Cat Scratch Fever" - he also runs a bowhunting school.)
About ten miles of the road into the North Rim is under construction.
Raw asphalt is covered with loose gravel and potholes. At one point I had to stop for about 20 minutes so that a convoy of cars could be escorted across the hard-packed gravel section at low speed. Even I could do it easily so this was not a big deal except that I got mud splattered on the bike.
I ride through many miles of green meadows. At noon I reach the main entrance to the Grand Canyon North Rim ($4 to get in) and see a sign that says the campground is full! That means that once I get to the Canyon, I'll have to back track at least 40 miles to Jacob Lake, and even then there's no guarantee of a tent site or a hotel room there. I visited the campground and found out that although the sites are reserved, there have been several cancellations and I was able to get a tent site for $12. I also booked a tent site for tomorrow at the South Rim. The campsite has a store, fuel, showers, and a laundry.
While pitching my tent, several mule deer came wandering by. I was able to walk within ten feet of one and take his picture. I then walk the easy 1.5 mile "Transept Trail" to the Grand Lodge and Bright Angel Point. I spend three hours looking at the magnificent views of the Canyon. The weather is superb.
I decide to splurge and buy a nice steak dinner. I go to the restaurant and find that dinner is by reservation only. Although it's only 5 PM I can't be seated until 9 PM. I go to the snack bar and have Pizza and a banana - yee haa!
While at the lodge I find out that the last couple of evenings the thermometer has been dropping to freezing. Since I have a reservation at the South Rim, I decide to sleep in late and wait until it warms up before leaving here.
I noticed quite a number of motorcycles here at the Canyon, but I'm the only one camping overnight in the park.
 
Wednesday, May 29, 1996:
(North Rim -> Grand Canyon South Rim: 215 miles by motorcycle)
I slept fairly well. I have a warm sleeping bag and I wore two layers of clothing. The temperature dropped to maybe 35 F. I woke up at 5 AM just as the sun was rising, so I walked to the nearest outlook and took a gander at the Canyon.
I then packed up. As I was leaving the campground, I saw a Kaibab squirrel. This is a black-colored squirrel with a huge fluffy white tail bigger than the squirrel's body. They can only be found at the Canyon. At the Lodge I ate a good breakfast and then started riding through the Kaibab National Forest. The construction caused me a good half hour wait, plus the drive out was slow due to fresh gravel.
I filled my tank at Jacob Lake and then ran past the Vermilion Cliffs. I stopped at Navajo Bridge and snapped a couple of quick photos.
I headed south on Route 89. Dry desert, very boring. Reaching the small town of Cameron, I almost missed the turn onto Route 64 to the South Rim.
The road slowly climbed up into the hills near the South Rim. The trees here are shorter and more sparse then the North Rim. The wind gusted at times. The weather was sunny and almost 80 F. I enjoyed the scenic drive along the South Rim. There were a lot of pullouts but I wanted to get to my campsite. At one point, I came around a corner and some people were standing in the middle of the road feeding a deer. Idiots.
I pitched my tent around 2 PM, grabbed a shower, and then headed off to the Canyon edge. In the parking lot of the visitors' center, I saw a beat-up Honda VFR 750 with bright red hard luggage, a trunk, and German plates. Only a German could turn a VFR into a Gold Wing.
I took the shuttle bus out to the West Rim (the road is closed to private vehicles in the summer), stopping at Maricopa Point and at Hermit's Rest. More fantastic scenery. At Maricopa Point, you can see an old mine shaft that was operational until 1966.
I came back and ate dinner around 6:30. I am very tired, so I go to bed early. The family in the next campsite over have a Nintendo, a color TV, and a VCR. Yeah, they're really roughing it.
 
Thursday, May 30, 1996:
(South Rim -> Prescott: 155 miles by motorcycle)
I woke up at sunrise, packed and rode the Intruder to nearby Yavapai Point. I spent a good ten minutes taking a last good look at the Canyon. I then headed south on Route 180. It was very cool (38 F) and the terrain was heavily trees. I soon entered the San Francisco mountains. I was freezing my arse off but the scenery was pretty.
I reached Flagstaff, a fairly large town. I had to stop and hunt around to figure out where to find Route 89a. I briefly rode a section of the famous Route 66 before turning south on Interstate 17 for a few miles before I reached the 89a turnoff. Interstates might be great for cruising along at 70 mph in your cushy Cadillac or for hauling freight, but I found the pounding of the concrete slabs to be uncomfortable.
I split off onto 89a: what a beautiful road for motorcycling. it's a twisty road surrounded by trees and 'blocky' red stone hills. As I rode south through lush green Oak Creek canyon, I encountered many tight 20 mph hairpin turns. There are dozens of campgrounds and log cabins along here - it is a popular vacation spot.
I reached the kitschy tourist town of Sedona. The orange sandstone hills around the town are very picturesque.
For the next twenty miles I had to ride some very boring desert roads to Cottonwood. This is a very industrial town with a lot of heavy truck traffic. I fueled the Suzuki and headed up the hills to Jerome.
Now this was interesting; Jerome is an "old West" mining town perched on the side of the steep hills. The streets are extremely twisty and steep. Many old 'Victorian-style' buildings. The speed limit through town is 15 mph, which I found generous. At one point I came around a tight turn just as some bozo in a car pulled out of a parking lot without looking. He blocked the narrow lane, then saw me, panicked and stopped right in my path. I had to stop and wave him ahead as I couldn't go forward and could only roll backwards down the hill unless he moved.
When I leave town, I encounter the most challenging corkscrews I've ever rode. For about twenty miles I rode through these hills. At times i had to crawl around the tight hairpins at 15 or 20 mph.
I then reach the dry flat plains and ride an uneventful distance to the town of Prescott. I have only 115 miles to go to return the 800 tomorrow. I check into a cheap motel and do some badly needed laundry.
I walk to the central town plaza. There's a stately old courthouse with several shady trees. There are some parking spots here dedicated to motorcycles. Nearby are several cowboy bars and souvenir shops. I walk a couple of blocks west and reach the Sharlot Hall museum. This site has several historic buildings from Arizona's historic past, including the mansion of the first governor of the Arizona Territory, the first schoolhouse, etc. I spent two hours here.
I have seen at least a couple of hundred motorcycles being ridden today by individuals or in small groups. That's probably as many as I see in a summer month back home in Victoria.
I have to say that I am starting to really like the Intruder. My opinion of it has swung around 180 degrees. Now that I am used to the seating position, I find it very comfortable on the open road. Although it's not particularly powerful, the engine has a meaty powerband. The transmission shifts easily and smoothly. It has a nice hydraulic clutch. Heck, I find that even the cornering isn't too bad if you take it nice and easy.
 
Friday, May 31, 1996:
(Prescott -> Phoenix: 115 miles by motorcycle)
I slept well and saddled up at 6 AM. I quickly ride out of Prescott on a sunny 45 F morning.
Soon I climbed high into some extremely twisty hills. At one point I
encountered about a dozen deer sitting in the middle of the road. I tooted my horn and watched them scatter as I slowly rode by. The hills were incredibly scenic and I was yelling "Yahoo!" out loud as I banked the Intruder through the curves.
I reached the small town of Yarnell, where I stopped to take a look a the Shrine of St. Joseph. This is a shrine built by the Catholic Action League in the 1920s to show various scenes of the Crucifixion.
As I slowly rode away, a small brown bunny started running down the road in front of me. I slowly chased along after him for about two blocks, then decided I was probably being mean to the poor little guy. I opened the throttle a little and zipped by him. I looked back to see the rabbit sitting on the side of the road watching me ride away.
I then rode down a steep, twisty hillside to the dry desert plains near Wickenburg. I rode busy US 93 for a few miles before splitting off to Route 74, a quiet rural road running through acres of saguaro cacti. I reached Interstate 17 and pounded down the concrete at the posted limit of 75 mph.
I found the exit and parked the Suzuki at Frank's home around 9:30 AM. The temperature was now 85 F. Frank quickly checked over the bike and informed me of the total miles covered: 1346 (2154 KM).
While waiting for a taxi, I spoke briefly to a French couple who were renting a BMW R80-RT for three weeks. They told me they planned to ride to through Arizona, Colorado, Utah, and California. Now that sounds like a hell of a vacation.
The taxi driver was a very friendly guy. He told me that he wants to rent one of Frank's Harleys; he figures giving his wife a ride will convince her that they should buy one. First though, he tells me, he's going to borrow his buddy's Honda 750 so he can get his motorcycle license. Oh, I'm sure Frank will be happy to rent you a Harley....
After dropping my baggage off at my hotel room downtown, I spent the afternoon walking around. It was bizarre, at 11 AM the streets were empty; at 11:55 AM the streets suddenly filled with crowds of workers from the air-conditioned office towers. At 1:10 PM the street were empty again. It was 95 F, a fairly cool afternoon for summertime Phoenix.
I wandered to the Heritage Square and the new Phoenix Museum of History. Admission was $5, and quite frankly it was not nearly as good as the (free) Sharlot Hall Museum in Prescott.
I saw a chopped Suzuki Savage 650 with extended forks, drag bars and a lowered rear end. All I can say is, why?
I went for dinner to a 'Hooters' restaurant. I've heard of this chain but they don't have them in Canada. Wow. Can someone please tell me where the hell I'm supposed to be looking when I order from the waitress? If they had one of these places in Victoria I don't think I'd ever eat at home.
 
Saturday, June 1, 1996:
(Phoenix, AZ -> Victoria, BC: by plane)
While I was checking in at the airport, the security guys were going nuts searching everyone's bags. I think there must have been a bomb threat or something. At the check-in counter, America West wouldn't let some woman check-in her bags unless she showed them a piece of photo ID - which she didn't have. She was going absolutely ballistic as she screamed and swore at the staff.
When I got on the plane, they made us sit there for an hour in the hot sun while they fixed the toilets. Apparently some ding-a-ling on the previous flight flushed a Coke can down one of the toilets.
Sitting on a plane for four hours sucks.

Conclusion:
I found the Intruder 800 to be a very good bike. At first I found it awkward and uncomfortable, but once I got used to it I found it to be very good on the open road. It shifts well, the brakes are okay, and it was easy to start on even a cold morning. It returned in the range of 48 or 50 mpg. The engine was torquey and would pull hard from low revs. Nice clutch, easy-to-work controls. I think it is a very pretty-looking motorcycle too. It was even easy to strap saddlebags and a duffle bag onto it.
Arizona drivers: no one gave me any real problems, with the exception of the moron in Jerome who pulled out in front of me without looking.
Speeds: the Interstates are very fast with harsh concrete surfaces. The smaller asphalt roads were generally posted at 55 mph but most drivers seem to exceed this, some by a healthy margin.
Roads: most roads were in decent shape with reflective paint markings. Some roads were pot-holed. A lot had 'tar' strips to repair cracks. Warning signs for curves and stops were very good. Direction signs giving distances, route numbers, and town names were common: it would be very difficult to get lost in Arizona.
Hotels: this is one area I had a problem with. Some towns had a very poor selection and thus prices can be high. For example, in Prescott there are many motels and I was able to get a cheap room for $40. In Kayenta I had to check a couple of hotels before I finally paid $110 for the night.
Camping: Lots of campgrounds, but only in certain areas. Try to phone ahead for the Grand Canyon to reserve a spot.
Fuel: gasoline was about $1.50 US per gallon (4.5 liters).
Food: cheap and easy to find.
Helmets: not mandatory in Arizona, but apparently are on some native lands.
People: very friendly - never met anyone unpleasant.
Weather: I encountered no rain; I had a couple of days that were partly cloudy. When camping, the temperatures dropped to the upper 30s overnight. A couple of afternoons the temperatures reached 100 F. Most of the time I rode in 60 F to 85 F.
Western States Motorcycle Tours, Inc. - Telephone/FAX (602) 943-9030. They have a web page at http://members.aol.com/azmcrent/index.htm
I highly recommend this rental agency. Frank runs a very professional operation. He rents a variety of Suzuki, BMW, and Harleys for rates ranging from (roughly) $450/week up. Weekly rates are less than daily rates. Bikes are supplied with saddlebags and windscreens.
A Sad Postscript:
I sent a copy of this journal to Wester States Motorcycle Rentals, and in reply Frank wrote me a letter back telling me the following: "Unfortunately old P4AW is no longer with us. The very next renter totaled it. I now use it as an 'example' bike as it's too damaged to be repaired."

Bruce Clarke