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Getting from Northern CA to Benson AZ or Tombstone AZ on small-bore bike.

Discussion in 'West – California, the desert southwest and whatev' started by ArtCuisin, May 14, 2020.

  1. ArtCuisin

    ArtCuisin Adventurer

    Joined:
    Sep 20, 2011
    Oddometer:
    97
    To nail it down, let us say I want to go from Sacramento CA.
    And I definitely want to get to Benzon or Tombstone AZ.
    Although I have a (naked) liter bike as well as my naked 250, GW250,
    I would prefer to take the GW250. Much better gas mileage, more comfortable, more relaxed, holds more stuff.

    The obvious routes seem likely to be high-speed stuff.
    The 250 does not like big hills and 60 mph or less is preferable on the rolling or flat areas.
    And my mind is with the 250 on all of this. It is a relaxing way to sight-see.
    Time is not a big factor.
    Can I get there from here?

    Can anybody familiar with AZ suggest a route?
    I could be okay with US 395 to (& then through?) Death Valley.
    Or I could be okay with US 99 to Bakersfield.
    I-5 is definitely out, as is most any major freeway in Southern CA.

    Or if someone just wants to point me to toward a good resource, that would be fine.
    I'm not lazy, just ignorant.
    If it helps, I would prefer to stealth camp until I get to the destination.
    Thank you very much.
    #1
  2. Motorius

    Motorius Road trippin' Supporter

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    When do you want to do this? That makes all the difference.

    right now? Probably safest if the roads are clear to go to S Lake Tahoe, drop down to Gardnerville NV, and take whatever your map says to get to Pahrump. It’s some scenic 2 lane, some 4 lane, all fast, none highly traveled until you get near Vegas. Go along the S side of Vegas (not during rush hour), and set your sights for Wikieup AZ. There’s a place that sell Chicago Hot Dogs & Beef sandwiches. Definitely eat there.

    follow the 93 down toward PHX. And here’s your safest route thru this mess. Take that to the 10. Get in the car pool lane and just never get out. 10 to the 202. 202 to 60E (Globe exit). 60 to 79S and aim for Tucson.

    until you get out of the PHX metroplex it’s ALL carpool for you, most with a decent shoulder. People around here are fast, and tailgaters are very common. So this is by far your safest route given the light bike. You could also take 202 past 60 to the 10S and that would be faster.


    Moving on...

    if 395 is clear all the way S from a Tahoe is a much prettier ride and by all means do it. When you get a ways south you can see where the road just goes straight. That part is faster and boring.

    the junction of 395 & 58 sux big time. Truck city. Lots of traffic. Both 40 and 10 are pretty boring and heavily trafficked roads. You might be pretty underpowered. If time is on your side go thru Death Valley and head for Pshrump.


    BTW, on the S side of town there’s a pretty good sized casino. Rooms are nice, pretty cheap, and you can ask for one on the inside of a courtyard with the little patio in front. Just ride your bike into the courtyard (as I’ve done), park on the little patio in front of your room, unload and call it a day!

    be sure to carry some extra fuel and water, and keep in mind there are some good sized distances between stops on these routes. Also, on 395 definitely book rooms ahead. There are not that many of them in the small towns.

    have a great ride! I’ve done all these roads.
    #2
  3. Motorius

    Motorius Road trippin' Supporter

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    Also, given your 60mph limit, I’d definitely avoid going thru PHX metro during rush hour.

    should you go around PHX from the N absolutely stay off the 101 as pp are true assholes on that road.

    you could drop down to the 8 and head East but lots of truck traffic.

    so in the end, what I gave you are your best choices.
    #3
  4. ArtCuisin

    ArtCuisin Adventurer

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    It sounds as though taking the 250 is a bad idea. Thanks.
    #4
  5. Motorius

    Motorius Road trippin' Supporter

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    If you could get 70mph out of the bike with a sprocket change I’d say it’s very doable. At 60mph I’m not sure I’d want to do it.

    now, if you’re willing to ride across northern AZ a bit and drop down south I’ll give you some of the best riding roads in AZ and none will have heavy traffic. That means your worst part of the trip would only be S Vegas to Kingman. Let me know. All the good riding in AZ is on the east side of the state.

    on that route you’d take 40 to Flagstaff which is really not that bad a road even if all you can do is 60mph. Mainly because a lot of truck traffic is on 10. After Flagstaff it’s ALL good!
    #5
  6. ArtCuisin

    ArtCuisin Adventurer

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    I may just take a car. :)
    Good to know that there are good roads on east side of state.
    Thanks again.
    #6
  7. KBs

    KBs Adventurer

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    You could do this on a 250 with minimal superslab. Short section of 80 east of Colfax, then you could two lane it through Reno to 50, down 95 and when you hit Vegas use the loop roads, or do the 395 route. You have a bit of highway south of Vegas till you hit the 40/93 junction, then you're two lane almost till you hit Pheonix. Bit of 4 lane into Pheonix. You can pretty much make it to Tombstone from there with a few occasional Interstate bits. There are a lot of two lane roads south of Pheonix and Tuscon. If you have time and a map, there's some great side trips.

    You could also tough out a bit of 40 here and there mostly riding route 66, then drop south at Ash Fork. Pick your route from there. Prescott, Sedona, Camp Verde and down through the Tonto Natl Forest. Head through Safford and ride up Mt. Graham. Buy some wine in Wilcox then down to Tombstone. That's a much nicer route actually.
    #7
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  8. ArtCuisin

    ArtCuisin Adventurer

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    So I just went to Benson---on the map--and worked backwards.
    Is 191 north all the way to US 50 an okay idea on a 250? Lightly travelled?
    It has been about 15 years since I've taken US 50 east through Nevada and into Utah,
    so I am not positive that would be such a good idea. Is it still pretty lightly travelled?
    I'm thinking mid-June.
    Gas range on this bike is probably 200 miles with a cushion. 3.5 gallons, 70 mpg, 55-60 mph.
    Thanks again to all for trying to help.
    #8
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  9. melville

    melville Long timer

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    I did 191 northbound from the southern end to Springerville last November. That bit of it was very lightly traveled and awesome. Your 250 will be more fun on the downhill sections! Possibly a bit wheezy on the uphills.

    US 50 from Ely to Tahoe also no big. Lightly traveled and 200 miles range should do you fine, so long as you are aware of your range at all times. Long sections of boredom across the basins and then a bit of fun climbing and descending the ridges between the basins.

    I can't speak to the Utah portion of your trip.
    #9
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  10. Motorius

    Motorius Road trippin' Supporter

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    I’ve done 2 lane into (actually out of) PHX just to do it. Pretty slow and boring. Lots of lights. Seriously far better to take the car pool lanes.
    #10
  11. ArtCuisin

    ArtCuisin Adventurer

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    Key is that I want to avoid tons of taffic, especially on the 250. But if I wimp out and take the liter bike, as I am now tempted to do, I still would want to avoid PHX. But I am thankful for your idea about the carpool lane option. And also your tip about eastern AZ being the fun part of the state was good. I watched a couple of youtube videos about US 191. It would make this trip a lot more fun.

    The pandemic thing is causing other problems so I may have to postpone this little trip until things open up. Camping was supposed to save me from pandemic problems with hotels, but camping requires a bit more luggage and I can't seem to get packages delivered at this time. The places I've looked at all ship only UPS. FedEx is doing well so far. UPS, not at all.
    http://ups-sucks.net/
    #11
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  12. wbbnm

    wbbnm Long timer

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    When we did the western TAT several years ago I did a little research and planned an interesting paved backroads route from Port Orford back to Albuquerque.

    Here are the basics of what we did and what you could do after you split off and head south:

    US 101 down to Arcata. CA 299 to Redding. CA 44 to Lassen Peak. Ca 89 to CA 36. CA 89 to CA 70. More CA 89 down to Lake Tahoe and on south to US 385 near Topaz.
    US 395 down to CA 120 south of Lee Vining. 120 to US 6. Us 6 to Tonopah NV and on to NV 375. 375 to US 93. 93 to NV 319/UT 56 to Cedar City and UT 14.
    14 to US 89 to Kanab.

    We continued on east towards NM. But it might make sense to go down 89A to Flagstaff and continue on down to Cottonwood and take AZ 260/87 over to Payson
    Then take 188 down to Globe. There is an excellent graded gravel road from ~Mammoth AZ on AZ 77 on down directly to Benson in the San Pedro river valley.
    Otherwise take 70 and 191 to I-10 Benson or go thru Tucson to I-10

    Redding and North Lake Tahoe were a little busy and unpleasant. This route would keep you north as long as possible and out of the southern AZ heat until the end.
    #12
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  13. Motorius

    Motorius Road trippin' Supporter

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    Well three things here:

    1) now that I know this is more a camping trip that a destination shot we can always rework your route when you want (as I thought maybe you had to be in Tucson) and...

    2) an FYI that you can always ship things UPS and have them delivered to UPS stores along the way for pickup. I think they charge $5 at the store for this service. And of course you can ship things home.

    3) while some drivers can be major dicks in the PHX area, you’d be pretty safe in the car pool lanes around here. While only one example of late, pre-WuFlu I came back thru the metroplex on the route I gave you to E burbs of PHX during the height of rush hour. Car pool lanes all the way. Avge speed around 55-60mph. Slowed down 2 times only.

    #13
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  14. Little Bike

    Little Bike Air/Clutz Sue Supporter

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    I rode a Honda Rebel years ago on I40 from California to Flagstaff. I left really early in the morning to beat the heat and just stayed in the slow lane. The bike would go 70 on the flats, but slowed down pulling hills. If your top speed is 60 I think I’d be more nervous.

    I rode it fairly frequently on the 15 freeway in Southern California and just stayed right. I also rode a xt250 from Temecula to Death Valley and back which included freeway. Just stayed right, I don’t remember ever feeling unsafe.
    #14
  15. renogeorge

    renogeorge Let's ride!!

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    For something different.......

    50 across NV. In UT 21 to 15. Few miles south on 15 to 20 east to 89. 89 south to Flagstaff. Then 17 to Tucson or back roads south of I 40
    #15
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  16. Old Dudes Matter

    Old Dudes Matter Been here awhile

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    I am in Flagstaff and like this route a lot. Especially the Southern Utah and Northern Arizona section. The section from Kanab UT, to Flagstaff (89a) takes you by the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. I believe it’s technically still closed, but should reopen soon. Hwy (67) is the turn off from 89a to the Canyon, I believe it’s about 20 miles there and then you have to back track back out to 89a. Great Free camping all along this area, be careful riding at night, this is also a trophy Deer area, they grow them really big and they are all over. This is also true with Southern Utah, so be careful on the secondary roads. 89a to Flagstaff, then down to Sedona. Then 89a to Cottonwood, Hwy 260/87 to Payson. After this it will get Hot in June, but @wbbnm’s route keeps you out of Phoenix, which in my opinion is much nicer, slower pace, ands less stress.
    Have a great trip.....
    #16
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  17. Motorius

    Motorius Road trippin' Supporter

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    I don’t know the UT parts, but I’ve ridden all those CA roads and can agree with the CA & AZ parts for sure!
    #17
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  18. renogeorge

    renogeorge Let's ride!!

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    You’ll love 89 in UT. Not as much fun Kanab-Page-Flag. Don’t overlook 50 across NV. They don’t call it the loneliest road in America for nothing. Takes you right by Great Basin NP. Then 21 in UT down to Beaver and jump over to 89 on 20
    #18
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  19. wbbnm

    wbbnm Long timer

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    Not having much to do, I created a gpx file of the route I suggested.

    The file contains our original TAT return tracks. And I created a route and a track for the segment from Kanab to Benson, including the gravel road thru the San Pedro Valley.
    It differs a little from the description. It has a little big of I-17 to get from Sedona to Camp Verde instead of going out of the way to Cottonwood.

    Attached Files:

    #19
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  20. Little Bike

    Little Bike Air/Clutz Sue Supporter

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    I rode the 89 on the 250 north from Flagstaff, it’s a nice ride.
    #20