Spring Trifecta: A Return to Riding, Concerts, and Baseball

Spring Trifecta
On this Spring Trifecta ride, Tim Kessel combined his three loves: a scenic motorcycle ride, baseball, and live music. Photos by the author.

I am not one to repeat most motorcycle rides, and I am certainly not one to revisit my old articles. However, there is a curious symmetry to this Spring Trifecta piece. Two years ago, virtually to the day, I wrote a web article for Rider titled, Spring Training: A Good Reason to Dust Off the Bike. I penned the piece after intertwining some great southern Arizona motorcycle rides, Cactus League spring training, and concerts at the appropriately named Innings Festival. It was a great time, but the precipitous onset of Covid-19 followed immediately cutting spring training short and rendering gatherings like music festivals a thing of the past.

This spring, with Covid loosening its talons on society, I was going to return to spring training to watch the boys of summer hone their skills and to the Innings Festival for more good music. I had already traced new southern Arizona motorcycle routes. This time, it was not a novel virus that interfered; it was a dispute between those same boys of summer and their bosses that silenced the baseball diamonds. With one leg of my trifecta of fun severed, I cancelled my spring riding and concert plans.

Spring Trifecta
Sloan Park is home to the Cactus League spring training for the Chicago Cubs.

A few weeks later, the baseball owners and the players’ union agreed to an eleventh-hour deal, and spring training was green-lighted for a late start. My routes were already in place and bats were again going to crack. All I was missing was a musical component to complete my return to southern Arizona and some semblance of normalcy. An Internet search revealed that Roger Clyne, the rock balladeer of the Southwest, was to perform at the intimate and beautiful outdoor Mesa Amphitheatre, which is just a stone’s (or hardball’s) throw away from the Arizona training facility of the Chicago Cubs. Perfect!

Spring Trifecta
Arizona’s Sonoran Desert is the perfect place for a scenic springtime ride.

As it turns out, it was perfect. My ride south of Phoenix was amazing. Towering cacti stood sentinel as I wound though Sonoran Desert National Monument. Blue skies and rugged mountains served as backdrop in my loop ride even further south through the Southwestern desert. Things like labor disputes, global viruses, and two years of missing many of my favorite things blurred in my rearview mirrors.

The night after my sojourn into the arid version of God’s country, I settled my saddle fatigued posterior into my seat at the Mesa Amphitheatre. Intermixed in the enthusiastic audience were Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers concert shirts and various iterations of baseball jerseys. Clearly I was not the only one enjoying a vibrant melding of spring activities. Under the Mesa, Arizona, stars, Clyne played his raucous mix of original songs, threw back shots of his proprietary tequila, and generally whipped his fans into a communal frenzy. I offer up a strong recommendation. Experience a Roger Clyne show as it is very easy to become a fan.

Spring Trifecta
Enjoying a performance by Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers at the Mesa Amphitheatre in Mesa, Arizona.

In the couple of days that followed, I embarked on another much-needed and spirited desert ride through Arizona’s burgeoning wine country. The high grasslands of southeastern Arizona are fertile ground for both grapes and entertaining riding. I rode past isolated vineyards and unique small towns in the high desert expanse. My big BMW R 1200 GS seemed as happy to free from the stagnancy of winter, variants, and quarantines as I was.

I followed the riding with a bit of sun-warmed bleacher time watching the relaxed pace of an early Cactus League practice at the Cubs spring training facility. Listening to bats cracking and the banter of players returning to their diamond sanctuary was just what the doctor ordered.

So there you have it – one man’s return to some kind of normalcy. Baseball is back, concerts are returning, and riding is always there. There is a smile on my face. Trifecta complete.


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