Monday, August 9, 2010

Riding the Arizona Rim Road with My Folks (by Jeffrey Ross)

On a Sunday morning this past November, I rode my motorcycle (a 2004 Harley Sportster 883) from my home in Gilbert, Arizona, to Payson, Arizona, a ride of about 87 miles, where my parents (Doyle and Pat Ross) live.

My dad and mom, in their sidecar rig, then rode with me over to St. Johns, Arizona, to the Big Steel Cottage (a domesticated Quonset hut I use for a "getaway"). We spent the night and came back to Payson Monday afternoon. The distance from Payson to St. Johns is roughly 135 miles one way. About 1/2 of the trip is over Highway 260, known as the Rim Road here in Arizona. That part of the ride is always very pretty-- Ponderosa pines, open meadows, forest cabins, and scenic vistas. Much of the elevation is over 7000 feet. The weather was very nice that late fall afternoon, mid 60's— though temps were down to about freezing at night (The building has a propane wall heater and we stayed quite warm)

My parents’ sidecar rig is a 2000 Ural. Interesting enough—this is the second time they have owned that particular motorcycle. My dad sold it to a fellow down in Tucson back in 2006. He bought it back from him this past summer after seeing it advertised on Craigs list. That brings us to a most interesting “sidebar” to this story.

You see, in February 2009, my dad fell on some ice in his driveway and badly broke his leg. He had to have surgery and underwent a long-- at times perilous-- recovery. After the hospital stay, he was in an assisted-care facility for a time, then wheelchair bound for weeks, and eventually graduated to a walker in early summer. He thought his motorcycle riding days might be over. But by mid July, he was walking, helped by a cane, with vigor. He started thinking about bikes again. Then he found his old sidecar rig.

And that is why our Rim Road ride last fall was so special. He returned to the road.

At 82, he was back on the highway. Certainly he has had a long love affair with our sport. His first bike, at age 17 in 1947, was a 1940 HD 45. Dad’s membership (AMA # 408515) with the AMA originally began in the late forties. He and his brother Valta, and their dad, SE Ross, had an Indian dealership in Aurora, Nebraska during the late 40’s and early 50’s.

Of course, his love of motorcycles is only surpassed by his love for my mom, Pat Ross. And she has been riding behind him (or next to him) or alongside him (on her own Kawasaki 250 single for awhile) for over 60 years.

We’ve had several rides along the rim since then. But that late autumn was one I’ll never forget.

[Jeffrey Ross is a semi-retired English Instructor at Central Arizona College.]


  1. Great story Jeff, but it ended too soon. I hope you have many more rides to share more memories with them. Trish

  2. Just a point of clarification--AMA [as used in the article above] stands for the
    American Motorcycle Association

  3. Mr. Jeff Ross, We really appreciated your writing. You have a wonderful way of expressing inner feelings. My wife and I enjoyed this piece as we are in our 60's and still ride. Thanks for sharing. Bob and Karen Schmidt

  4. Thanks Mr. Ross, for the nice reflection on your parents. I also once rode a Kawasaki 250 single and enjoyed country rides the best. I may consider purchasing a three wheeled motorcycle like the one your father rides. I'm 73 years young and would love to once again experience the "open road" feeling.

  5. Mr. Ross, I enjoyed your story… thanks for sharing. Like you and your dad. I enjoy riding.

  6. Jeff: What a wonderful story. I remember your mom and dad's anniversary party at your house. They are such nice people. You made them come "alive" in your writing.

  7. Pat and I wish to thank all of you for the very nice comments and a special thanks to our son Jeff for the great article. Pat and I have always ignored the numbers in our age and just concentrate on living every day. Maybe we will meet some of you on the road someday. If you see a black sidecar outfit, be sure and wave. Pat and Doyle Ross


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