April 27th, 2019
An article was done as this adventure unfolded.
“With his love of his motorcycle coupled with his desire to give back, Mike recently decided to launch a whole new company called Iron Horse Rides. He is selling his house and taking out a loan to start the motorcycle touring company offering guided tours and dream rides.”.
View the full article Here
Chapter 4: Bliss and Magic Doorways
Mike Whitlatch loves Harley-Davidson motorcycles. He owns several and loved to ride around the Seattle area where he lived. He personifies the Harley dude, a straight talker who doesn’t take crap from anyone. To ride a Harley was bliss that never failed him, bucket on head and wind in his face.
Get your free-gift and learn more about how you can lead a life of Bliss. It changed my life and could change yours!
Story by Koz Mraz www.kozmoto.com
April 5th, 2020
In a world quarantined, as masses huddle behind closed doors, the open road calls to all who hear her beckoning. Yeah, I’m six feet away from other people, full face helmet, armored leather jacket, gloves pants and boots. The virus has us socially distanced but not sequestered, almost anywhere your live, you can ride. And what a ride it is, open roads fresh air, It’s your safe space, helmet time, your personal place to live life on your terms.
Sedona outdoor hiking trails are closed. Bell Rock, Cathedral and a dozen other world famous trails are closed to locals and tourists alike but the roads are wide open. There are amazing day trips that all from start in Sedona and we’ll ride them all.
Meet Mike Whitlatch, (we call him “The Animal”) Sedona Eagle Rider owner who refuses to ride out the lockdown indoors. We have some of the most beautiful motorcycling in America and no traffic, no tourists and all the time in the world so let’s Ride!
Since restaurants may be closed everywhere we go, we picked up lunch from the Hideaway House restaurant on 179 in Sedona. The Hideaway House offers Great food, great views and a wide variety of burgers and sandwiches to-go. Mike and I vow to keep our social distancing on this ride.
Our 217 mile ride begins right through the heart of Sedona’s majestic red rocks on 89A. Without a doubt, it’s a magnificent start point start for all your Sedona Eagle Rider Adventures. Only 27 miles away, Jerome is worlds apart. One of richest copper mimes ever found, Jerome was proclaimed to be “The Wickedest Town in the West. Known for its ghost tours ghost it now actually is a ghost town. Everything is closed during the pandemic, no food no gas, no lodging at the infamous Grand Jerome Hotel and Asylum lies empty. There never was a mental asylum located here, just tourist ghost stories.
89A winds its asphalt snake for hundreds of twists and turns, most with 20 miles an hour speed limits. Riders relish in the raucous romp to Prescott. Halfway through the twisties “Animal” pulled off the hard road onto a dirt road winding through the mountain forests just for fun. Its here we had lunch and enjoyed the view. Not a stop on the suggested tour, I now understand his nickname.
At the base of Mingus Mountain we veered of 89A to the 10 south through Iron Springs with a stop at Skull Valley. It’s here we abandoned our social distancing and chatted with a few other Harley Riders enjoying the road all to themselves. Further down the road is the Kirkland Bar and Steakhouse. First built in the late 1800’s was everything from a stagecoach and rail stop, post office and Hotel. Another closed watering hole. As we rode on it became apparent that motorcycles ruled the road here and it began to feel like Arizona bike week.
Back onto the 89 we rolled through Yarnell to one of the best vistas of this ride. It became a one way mountain road with big sweepers and perfectly banked curves and at the bottom a U-turn revealed another one way road that taking riders back up the mountain top. With almost zero cars, it was like a freakin motorcycle racetrack. Riders just looped that road over and over. What a hoot! It made our day. While there, get a selfie at 12 foot tall Frog Rock near the bottom of the loop.
It’s here at the top of this racetrack loop lies Granite Mountain Hotshots Memorial State Park. Dedicated in 2016 to memorialize the nineteen members of the Granite Mountain Hotshots who died fighting the Yarnell Hill fire on June 30, 2013. You can hike the Hotshots Trail from the parking lot trailhead up to the overlook where you’ll see sweeping views in every direction or continue your hike down the Memorial Trail, where you can pay your respects at the site where the Hotshots were recovered. The hike is approximately 3.5 miles long from the trailhead to the Fatality Site, for a full length of about 7 miles.
Heading back through Yarnell social distancing was thrown completely out the window at Gilligan’s Bar & Pizza. It was just too nice of a day for riders to not gather for a cold beer.
Continuing back north to Prescott on 89A the road dropped down into grand vistas, through surreal Salvador Dali rock formations and finally into a lush green picturesque rolling mountain range providing endless twisties. Truly a sweet ride back. Old Town Prescott (Pronounced Preskitt) was also ghost town, not a soul to be seen nor drink to be had on Whiskey Row.
Winding back through Mingus Mountains to Jerome some of the most spectacular vistas will appear before you but, there’s no place to stop and soak in the incredible views. They pass in a blink of an eye but wait for it…Sedona’s red rock spires soon welcome you home to whence you came.
These are very challenging times and motorcycling may be one of the few options we riders have to get out and breathe in your own persona space. Stay tuned for part 2 of Sequestered in Sedona.
Sedona Eagle Rider www.eagleRider.com/sedona
Story by Koz Mraz www.kozmoto.com
Easy Rider changed my life, I wanted to be Captain America, a rebel without a cause, a wild one. I’m even starting a motorcycle club, a chapter; you know, a biker gang (like minded motorcycle enthusiasts) who shatter the shackles of societal slavery and ride free (go for a Saturday motorcycle poker runs after our weekly 9 to 5).
Hell bent for leather, this gang (restaurateurs, yoga teachers, psychics and city council members) will find hard riding, bad-ass places to go (on good suspensions and paved roads that lead to nice hotels).
I’m going to call my biker gang the Bells Angels. Sounds kinda edgy and tough (just like us).I will get one of my chicks (a female rider with an MBA who owns a graphic design firm) to create a really cool logo, then have one of my prospects (another like minded enthusiast who owns a local soccer shop) sew our colors onto ripped denim vests. Man we will look bad-ass on our Harleys, riding down road flying our colors, it’s just that easy, Easy Riders.
Well, you get the picture, if I can’t really live the lifestyle I can relive some of the classic moments of the movie. Picking up a Harley Road Glide from Sedona EagleRider, I hit 89A, a wonderfully twisty ride that begins in Uptown Sedona. The red rock views here are astounding. Let alone the 2,500-foot elevation change that takes you through several different terrains and micro-climates on the ride to Flagstaff.
In Flagstaff I take the 40 freeway towards Bellemont, it’s only a ten-mile ride to Grand Canyon Harley-Davidson on old Route 66 that’s a great stop for some free coffee. Across the parking lot is the Roadhouse Bar and Grill. Hanging in the entry is the No Vacancy sign used in the first location shot, the famous Pine Breeze Inn.
Only a quarter mile up the road from the dealership is the abandoned gas station that served as Pine Breeze Inn, that first location shot in the movie. It’s where the Vacancy sign switched to “No Vacancy” and Billy and Wyatt were denied a room their first night. This classic building still stands fifty years later, and let’s hope it stays that way.
The American Inn on Rout 66 in Flagstaff is where the actors and film crew stayed while shooting here in Arizona.
If you have the DVD, you really need to watch the “Bonus Features.” In “the Making of Easy Rider,” Peter Fonda talks of hitting the Americana Bar after a long hot day of shooting.
He ordered a cold beer, but his arms were so stiff from muscling the ape-hangers and hardtail motorcycle, he couldn’t even lift the beer to his mouth. He also revealed that that he missed out on frolicking around the pool because he’d soaked his new leathers in the bathtub to give them a more weathered look, and to his embarrassment, his legs turned purple from the dye.
Heading North on Highway 89 I swear to God there is a hitchhiker on the road; if I didn’t have my luggage on the passenger seat, I would have picked his ass up. You will see Sacred Mountain on your left, this is the point in the movie where Captain America and Billy gas up on their hitchhiker pays the tab. The building also is still here, with the Sacred Mountain sign!
Continuing north, on 89 you will see the sign for Wupatki National Monument. This is where they camp on day one of the film. Unfortunately, camping at Wupatki National Monument, starting a fire or climbing the ruins today is completely out of the question, unless you actually do want to spend the night in jail.
We continued up to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon and stopped at both Yaki Point and Grandview Point for spectacular views of the Canyon. Our final stop is at Grand Canyon Village for a snack, and it’s back to Sedona to finish a great day of
riding. This is just one of the many day trips you will enjoy, renting your ride from Sedona EaleRider Motorcycle Rentals among the magical red rocks. It’s 264 mile loop and easily six to seven hours depending on stops.
Whether it’s Hollwood actors like Fond and Hopper who take roles in Easy Rider, or just average Americans spending their hard-earned money touring this wondrous country, Easy Rider captured a spirit, one that still inspires us today. Ultimately we’re each writers of our own script, defining the story of our lives, and as motorcycle riders it’s not in our nature to just watch the passing parade. We live the adventure, command the starring role and yes… we actually do ride off into the sunset.
Story by Koz Mraz July, 2020
It gets hot here in the Southwest this time of year, and a cooling vest can be a Godsend in triple digit heat. There areal of of options for us motorcyclist. Evaporative cooling are common; you pull them out when needed, soak them in water and you become a human swamp cooler. Ice-chilled cooling vests require ice packs or cooling packs that can freeze at a moderate temperature of 58 degrees F. There are even thermoelectric cooling vests that utilize water pushed through tube with motors and batteries.
The first for review are evaporative vests from Alpinestars and Harley-Davidson. Even these two are distinctly different in design. The Alpinestars has a pop-open filler to pour water into. The vest has a fibrous material that soaks up the water. Pour a total of 0.5 liter of tap water; it does not need to be cold, squish it around the vest to make sure the water is evenly distributed. You can stow the vest and pull it out ready to work when needed. One might call this a “Coolant Vest.”
The Harley-Davidson vest, on the other hand, is soaked in water for a couple of minutes. This nylon vest is embedded with a HperKewl lining and be rehydrated 100 times. This type of vest is typically filled with beads or crystals that soak up the water and dry out slowly.
Mike, the owner of Sedona EagleRider and I will them both; it’s over 100 degrees F in Arizona, and game on. I have an Alpinestars mesh jacket (cooling vests are designed to be worn under mesh/vented jackets), Alpinestars riding pants and Alpinestars Ridge motorcycle boots, I’m a waling Alpinestars billboard.
This Italian brand is world renowned for their incredible line of riding gear. (Refer to their International/U.S. online sizing chart when ordering.) Cooling vests are supposed to fit snugly but my L/XL vest fit more. like a straitjacket. I should have known this, I’m normally XL, but my wonderful 2/XL Alpinestar’s mesh jacket fits me perfectly. I guess I am just jealous that Extra-large Italians equal even extra-extra larger Americans.
Mike dons the Harley-Davidson evaporative vest in size Large which fits as expected. Mike’s jacket is a vented design with two zipper vents in the front, one on each arm and two rear exit venison on the back of his jacket.
As mentioned the Harley evaporative is designed to be soaked in water for two minutes or so, wrung out and put on over a shirt. As you may well imagin, you’re taking wet, but that’s the idea; the water evaporates while riding. The Alpinestars on the other hand is filled with water, and designed to evaporate slowly via the small holes in the vest. I felt immediately cooled down with the Alpinestars while Mike was immediately wet… we hit the road.
The vest was working, I stayed cool; windchill factor and the mesh jacket did without a doubt, keep my core temperature down. After an hour of riding I noticed that the Alpinestars vest, while still cooling, seemed to stabilized, meaning it was doing it’s job but it wasn’t dramatic cooling effect, which is probably it’s designed intent. Aplinestars claims it will keep you cool for three days, which is probably how long it takes the water-filled vest to dry out.
The Harley vest, on the other hand, was palpable. You could feel the evaporating air rising up the back of your neck, into your armpits and really cooling your core. Remember, the Harley vest is only good for two or three hours of continuous riding and then you’ll need to soak it again.
Mike reported: “The minimal air coming into the six vents of my jacket and up my sleeves was definitely cooler. I want to mention the vests DO NOT protect from bee stings. Test failed there!” Unfortunately, a bee joined the ride to cool down and stung Mike in his neck.
I have used the Harley-Davidson vest on many occasions and it is without a doubt a palpable solution to keeping cool for several hours.
Mike then got a chance to wear the Alpinestars and after a few hours into the ride, his impression was “I did not notice the same cooling breeze as I did with the Harley vest. I am guessing it requires more airflow from a mesh instead of a vented jacket. The one benefit I could see is it would not have soaked my shirt like the Harley vest. So if you ‘re going to a dinner date afterwards, a wet shirt may not be the best look.”
Chillin like a villain:
Both vests work and it makes a huge difference in your core body temperature in triple digit heat. I surmise that if you’re riding all day and want a more evenly distributed evaporation effect, the Alpinestars may be your choice. The Harley-Davidson vest is a more aggressive approach, as your soaked body dries off in tow to three hours; rinse and repeat. We are both ATGATT riders: All The Gear All The Time. And although Arizona doesn’t require helmets, we wear them, so keeping cool is always a priority, and a cooling vest is a smart in”vest”meant.
We are excited to try out the big guns of cooling vest in our next installment with the Harley-Davidson Ice-Chilled version of this vest which included four wearable ice packs, and the Polar Products Cool Phase and Hybrid Design vests.
Harley-Davidson Cooling Vest- $60.00 (2 to 3 hours of cooling)
Lining absorbs and holds water that slowly evaporates to provide a cooling effect for 2-3 hours depending on riding conditions. Vest is fully hydrated when soaked 1-2 minutes.
Alpinestars Cooling Vest $158.oo (Cooling effect stated last 3 days)
Vest features an innovative cooling system which evenly releases moisture during rides, thus significantly regulating the vascular system and limiting the effects of heat exhaustion.
Very light cooling vest, designed to limit the effect of the heat and to cool the upper part of the boy whilst riding. Fill it with 500 ml of tap water, squeeze to spread it around and it will immediately start to cool, significantly reducing body temperature (at least 15 degrees C less) The cooling effect can last up to 3 days.
Only 16 miles from Cottonwood and the Thunder Valley Rally is northern Arizona’s finest riding. It’s where the State Route 89A asphalt snacke climbs thousands of feet and winds up and over Mingus Mountain.
Jerome, home to some of the richest copper mines ever found, was once known as “The Wickedest Town in the West.” Built on a 30-degree incline, Jerome is said to be America’s most vertical city and is slowly sliding down the mountain. Many of the buildings are abandoned, and the old jailhouse and graveyard are closed to the public.
Jerome is now known for its shops, restaurants, and wineries, as well as chilling stories from the town’s infamous Jerome Grand Hotel. Reportedly, a patron rolled his wheelchair off the balcony to his death there, while another later took his inside room 32. Hotel guests claim doors mysteriously open and close and the water faucets and lights randomly turn off and on.
After leaving Jerome, the only scenic view pull-off along this twisted tale soon appears. The hundreds of twists and turns, many with 20-mph speed limits, offer motorcyclists a thrill ride. SR 89A becomes Pioneer Parkway that ends at Iron Springs Road (County Rd. 10). After that, a right turn will take you to Skull Valley.
Skull Valley was named by white settlers who found the sun-bleached remains of a Native American battle that took place in the area. Willie G.’s Punisher skull would be right at home here, but there’s not a lot to see. There are no restaurants or even gat that the garage, but it’s a great place for a selfing. Interestingly, ArizonaParanormal Research has recorded balls of light shooting from Skull Valley Cemetery.
Just a few miles down the road is the Kirkland Bar and Steakhouse. First built in the late 1800’s, this structure was, at separate times, a Pony Express depot, a Wells Fargo coach station, a railroad stop, and a brothel. To add to the story, Kirkland is known to have underground tunnels that once hid courtesans whenever the sheriff raided the place. People who’ve taken photos here have discovered phantom figures of a woman in the background, supposedly the ghost of the brothel’s madam.
From Kirkland, we ride on Kirkland Road to State Route 89 and toward Yarnell. This path continues to the Granite Mountain Hotshots Memorial State Park, a memorial to the 19 members of the Granite Mountain Hotshots who died fighting the Yarnell Hill fire in 2013, the deadliest U.S. wildfire in 80 years. It’s surmised
the firefighters descended from a burned-black safety zone into the canyon, losing their view of the fire that eventually overran them and killed all but one crew member, who was in another location acting as lookout.
For panoramic views of the area, hike up the Hotshots Trail from the parking lot trailhead to the expansive overlook. Or you can continue your hike down the Memorial Trail where you can pay your respects at the site where the Hotshots were recovered. The hike is approximately 3.5 miles from the trailhead to the fatality site.
At this junction, 89 becomes a one-way mountain road with big sweepers and perfectly banded curves. The view of the valley below is staggering, but pay attention and beware of “Elephant Curve”. Legend has it that on of the trucks in a circus caravan lost its brakes and crashed into the rock here in the 1930s, killing their prized elephant. The legend doesn’t appear to be true, but Elephant Curve is listed on the USGS topographic map, and an elephant is regularly painted on a nearby rock to mark the spot.
The, at the bottom is a U-turn that reveals another one-way road, taking riders back up the mountaintop, snaking along like it’s a freakin’ racetrack. Riders often will loop the road over and over. What a hoot! Be warned, Arizona State Troopers are well aware of our antics and will happily pass out speeding tickets.
Along the return ride on 89, the road sweeps through a surreal sptacle of Salvador Dali-like
rock formations before ascending to scenic views of lush, green rolling hills. Riding over the Bradshaw Mountains, you’ll find another thrilling rollercoaster of endless twists. Riders relish this raucous romp as it heads into Prescott. (Pronounced Preskitt)
The palace Saloon along whiskey Row is known as one of the Top 10 historic bars in America and is lasted on the National Register of Historic Places. What’s known as “the great fire” of July 1900 destroyed most of the street, including the original Palace. Patrons drinking at the saloon supposedly picked up the huge oak bar and carried it across the street to the Courthouse Plaza to continue drinking (ha!), and it’s the centerpiece of the Palace Saloon today.
The Palace is steeped in memory with the likes of Wyatt Earp, Virgil Earp, and Doc Holliday. It features a pressed-tin ceiling (allegedly intended to stop bullets from the floor below) and a vast collection of historical memorabilia. It’s worth taking a tour to find out more about Whiskey Row and it’s ghostly visitors.
If an overnight stay in Prescott is on the agenda, the Hassayampa Inn is your place. It’s birthed it’s most famous legend in 1927, the year it opened. A young bride named Faith Summers checked into a balcony suite with her older husband and, according to legend, Faith’s husband went out to buy cigarettes and never returned. Faith waited for three days and then took her life in despair. Since then, countless hotel guests and employees have reported encounters with a young woman throughout the hotel, crying at the end of a bed.
Winding back through the Black Hills range to Jerome is
another thrill ride with spectacular vistas. The loop outline here is only 160 miles, yet it can take four hours or more of travel because o the technical terrain. And that’s not including time to stop and take in all the history of the area.
The Skull Valley loop will leave haunting memories, forever begging your hasty return to ride the Wild West’s wickedest roads.
Mike Whitlatch was part of the Imagine Guild, a Motorcycle Charity Group for Seattle’s Children’s Hospital; he was also on the board for Veterans Services and started the Gold Star Memorial Foundation in Lacey, Washington. His goal was to help others find a new freedom and awareness through the experience of motorcycling. A high paid computer tech, Mike was dealing with unfulfilled employees and angry clients when he began attending spiritual retreats.
It was here that he connected his love for riding with emotional freedom and the healing benefits of motorcycling. “I learned Sedona was the most healing and energetic place in the US-if not the world. What better place to have a Harley-Davidson Rental and Touring company focused on the healing and therapeutic qualities?” In 2019 Mike sold everything, purchased the EagleRider Sedona franchise, and moved to Sedona sight unseen!
Mike wants everyone to experience the freedom of riding. If you’ve never been on a Harley or don’t have a license, he offers Chauffeured motorcycle rides throughout Sedona. If you have your own bike, Mike is happy to guide you to the very best secret spots Sedona offers, and beyond. Whether it’s a ride to the Painted Desert, Petrified Forest or Cathedral and Bell Rock.
To begin your journey, visit HTTPS://www.ironhorsefreedom.com