Spring (training) has sprung in both Florida and Arizona. As big leaguers work out the kinks of the offseason, motorcyclists can do the same in a migration to the lower left and lower right corners of the nation. There may be no better reason than spring training to unplug the battery tender, fill up with fresh fuel and check the air cleaner for nesting rats.
Last week, I made my way to Arizona’s Valley of the Sun on my BMW GS to experience some of what Cactus League Spring Training has to offer, while also riding several fun loops outside of the Phoenix metro area. I planned my trip to include the two-day Innings Festival in Tempe, that serves as the mega kickoff to the Cactus League. The festival brings a long list of national musical acts and Major League legends to the Tempe Beach Park, to the delight of tens of thousands of baseball and music fans.
In my case, between attending the festival and catching Chicago Cubs practices, I enjoyed a couple of great rides emanating from the metro area. One ride traced though the towering desert saguaro cacti south of Phoenix to the international border. The wide open spaces and warming desert air made for a fantastic reintroduction to the riding season.
The next day, after listening to the crack of the bat as Chicago first baseman Anthony Rizzo took batting practice, I cracked the throttle, making a loop east of the Valley that included Lake Roosevelt and some of the winding roads in Arizona’s mine country. I capped off the day listening to Jason Isbell and Dave Matthews at the fun and well-organized Innings Festival.
There is still a month of spring training in both Arizona and Florida, so air up the tires, dust off the tank and head south. Motorcyclists need spring training too!