I can’t quite put my finger on it, but there’s something about Flagstaff appeals to me. Perhaps its proximity to those magnificent lands I traveled through to get here. Or maybe the fact that like an oasis in a land of dry, colorful desert, Flagstaff sits at 7,000 feet with forested mountains, cooler climate and isn’t quite sure if it’s a big town trying to grow small or a small town trying to grow big. I like it.
And as I descended down into the desert toward flagstaff the density of the August heat smacked me in th helmet harder than a waft of bugs on the Alaskan Highway. Where on that legendary road I was forced to keep my face shield close to prevent shelter myself from the inevitable insect invasion, but by the time I was rolling into Phoenix, and for the first time on this journey, I chose to keep my face shield closed. Why? Because it protected my face from the heavy 108 degree temperatures Phoenix experienced today.
My GPS guided me through the heat and the wacky Phoenix highway to the home of Jesse Luggage Systems where Al and his team greeted me with air-conditioning and the cool shade of the workshop that gave birth to my luggage.
My aluminum “Jesse Bags” as they’re fondly referred to by motorcycle travelers, had taken a minor beating after about I had dropped the bike 4 or five times. THough you couldn’t tell by looking at them. There were minor ripples in each bag and because the horizontal brackets took the force of these drops, the bags weren’t “square” to the bike.
After a much needed lunch and nearly a half-dozen Arnold Palmers Al went to town and showed me how to handle any time of repairs or realignment when I’m on the road. I was lucky to come through Phoenix on my way to Mexico to have this tutorial by the legend himself.
These Jesse bags are made of a high-grade aluminum that can be bent, plied and banged into shape more than 20 times without losing strength. So with a rubber mallet, anvil and a couple tools we had the bags looking and lining up like new.
We spent the evening pouring over maps of Mexico while drinking cold beers as Al guided me though the wonders and byways of the Mexico and Guatemala he’s ridden more than a dozen times. I dutifully scribbled in my journal and committed mental notes to memory as my excitement for Mexico and Central America grew.
Then Al applied his expertise to my suspension. Due to the heavy load on my bike, I’ve always felt it back heavy and a little light in the front end particularly at slow speeds. With three adjustments on my Works Performance shock, Al tweaked and test road Doc until it was riding much better. I’m amazed how a few minor adjustments and that light front end is gone. Thanks Al, you’re the best.
At Al’s home I saw the first set of Jesse Luggage he ever made. This on an old BMW he rode through Australia and New Zealand. And he shared with me his collection of memories through his motorcycle travels around the world.
I stayed the night in the apartment over his home design studio and workshop and in a journal book in the living room, I read through stories of other motorcycle travelers from around the world who stayed there too.
The next morning I scribbled my own contribution to Jesse’s Travelers Notebook and made my way to San Diego.