Cross Country Chase Daily Update – 9/21/2022
With storm clouds threatening, riders departed the Isleta Resort and Casino and proceeded west, heading smack into the first significant precipitation of this year’s Chase. The rain came down heavy for about an hour, soaking those riders that hadn’t donned their rain gear. Around lunchtime, the weather cleared, however, Mother Nature had more surprises in store.
Because roads throughout New Mexico and Arizona were washed out from recent rains, the Chase route included a little more interstate than desired. But riders were rewarded by the trek through Petrified Forest National Park, where the mid-day checkpoint and quiz were conducted. Rain began to fall again, but riders soldiered on, with everyone keeping their bike upright, although there were some scary moments when visibility was near zero.
Petrified Forest National Monument was created in 1906 to preserve the petrified wood, which was formed from fossils during the Late Triassic Period. In 1962, the monument became a national park, and it was quite an experience for us to ride through the park in the year of its 60th anniversary. Many scenic overlooks reveal stunning vistas comprised of different geological formations, but what makes the park even more unique is that Petrified Forest is the only national park that preserves a section of Route 66. If visitors pay attention, they can see the historic Route 66 exhibit along the way.
The park offers many other features, such as the Painted Desert Visitor Center, the Painted Desert Inn, overlooks showcasing spectacular, colorful landscapes, and several additional petrified forests. And as some of the riders passed through the Painted Desert, Mother Nature decided to bring out the big guns, this time accompanying the heavy rain with thunder and lightning. However, the storms produced incredible cloud formations, with an example seen in the photo taken by #95 Tony Crowder from behind the handlebars of his ’53 FLH.
The Chase riders really took a beating from the rain through much of the 275 miles ridden, but fortunately, everyone arrived safely at the overnight stop in Holbrook, Arizona, with only two bikes on the sweep truck—both issues due to the excessive wet stuff. Holbrook, much like many other towns along Route 66, offers a very cool array of vintage signage, motels, eateries and saloons. Many of the riders dined on delicious steaks at Butterfield Stage Co. Steak House, a short walk from the historic Wigwam Motel which housed some of our group. The Wigwam Motel, first opened to the public in 1950, consists of 15 separate wigwams built of concrete and steel arranged in a half-circle around the motel office. The Wigwam has a fascinating history, much like other vintage motels on Route 66.
As we get closer to the finish, Dave Currier (#64 – Class 1), Jim Gilfoyle (#38 – Class 2), and Roger Green (#37 – Class 3) have kept the leads in their respective classes, as well as their first, second, and third-place leads for the overall score, with only three points separating Currier and Gilfoyle, and a mere 1.5 points between Gilfoyle and Green. The question is, will any challengers come forward and unseat the leaders in the next three days of the Chase?
Stage 7 starts in Holbrook on Thursday morning, making a brief stop at the Kingman (Arizona) Visitor Center for refreshments, and before ending the day’s 275-mile ride, there will be one last stop at the Oatman Hotel in Oatman, Arizona, where bikes will be on display for the public.