If you know me, you know I am always looking for a reason to ride and that reason usually involves food and one of my main passions is Hamburgers. Since last year I have been hearing a lot about an unusual eatery called the “Heart Attack Grill, located in Chandler, Az. The grill had been featured on the both the History, Food Channels and FOX News. Its a place with a gimmick and it is drawing a lot of attention, so I thought I had to check it out for myself.
The Menu, click to enlarge.
My friend Bob Hole, a Long Distance Rider from California announced he was taking an 1,800 mile round trip ride to sample the place. Bob put it out on the LD Rider forum and to my fellow GWRRA members from Chapter CA2Q. The challenge was to ride to meet Bob for lunch on Saturday March 14th at noon. That was all I needed for motivation. I put out the ride idea to members of my local Blue Knights Chapter 30, at our last meeting and via email. I offered to buy lunch and share my hotel room to whom ever wanted to go. Free food, free lodging, who could refuse?
One lone rider, Dave Murray accepted the invitation. Dave is a Probation Officer in Williamson County, Texas and is an easy going and very likable chap. I had ridden with Dave before, having journeyed with him and two other riders to Deals Gap “Tail of the Dragon” in May of 2007. Dave continued on that ride to Virginia and back to Texas. I had to part company after riding Deals Gap twice, so I could get back to Texas and leave for another ride in Utah. Dave is a novice rider but is thirsty to increase his ride experience, including doing longer distance rides. Dave had heard me speak of my Iron Butt rides and rallies and I think he wanted to see if I was full of it or not.
Dave Murray, V.P. Texas Blue Knights Chapter 30.
I developed a plan and we put it into motion. Plan “A” was to leave on Friday the 13th and arrive in Chandler Arizona the next day in time for lunch. Estimated mileage to Chandler Arizona from Georgetown would be about 985 miles plus change. We would spend the first night in Deming, N.M., leaving us a 311 mile ride Sat morning for lunch. If we left by 7 a.m. it was doable on paper. Then after lunch we would hop back on the bikes and head back to Texas, stopping back in Deming for Saturday night, to be home around zero dark thirty Sunday. Besides, Dave had to work on Monday. With some last minute details, emails back and forth and weather forecasts we were set to go. Weather forecasts told of temperatures dropping from the 70’s to the 40’s with possible showers and clearing and warming as we left Central Texas. I would be on my BMW 1150GS and Dave on his 1300cc Kawasaki Vulcan. I would also be carrying my satellite “SPOT” tracker so our route could be followed by friends and family.
At 5:45 a.m., I met Dave at a Shell station located at the intersection of Hwy 183 and Hwy 29. At 6 a.m., we would activate “B.O.B.”, Butt on Bikes” and be off. As soon as I arrived at the Shell station, it started to drizzle. I grabbed a cup of coffee as Dave donned his Frog Togg rain gear. Dave had on a motorcycle jacket, leather vest and leather covered half helmet. With temperatures in the mid 30’s we were in for a cold ride. I failed to follow my own advice of “If you have it, you won’t need it”. Well #1, I elected to leave my electrically heated gear home. I also neglected my girlfriend Cecilia’s advice of taking it, shrugging her off usual motherly worries and concerns. Boy I hate it when she’s right. At least I had heated grips. I also neglected to bring my siphon hose, which we could have used later on. I had my tool kit, first aid kit, tire plug kit, extra gloves, straps and since I had never needed them before, I knew I wouldn’t need them this ride. Besides, we were just going for a Burger!
As we disappeared into the wet darkness and as the drizzles turned to rain it was 36 degrees. We rode just over an hour to our first stop for breakfast, in Llano, Tx. As we pulled into the parking lot we got comments and stares from the other patrons of the Hunger Hunter Cafe. People looked at us as though they were about to watch a guy trying to jump off a cliff with a parachute full of holes, as the rain intensity increased. We just commented we were heading to Arizona for a Burger and enjoyed our hearty breakfast. With bellies full and bodies rewarmed we pushed on.
Our next stop via some back highways was Junction Tx. Junction would connect us to Interstate 10, which would take us all the way to Chandler, a no brainer. As we reached Junction, both Dave and I were soaked to the bone. My winter gloves weighed about five pounds a piece and we both began to shiver. With rain becoming a down pour and then into hail, I called Cecilia at work. I asked Cecilia to check the radar map in order to help us decide whether to abort or push on. Initially the forecasts indicated the weather would let up as we moved west but it wasn’t happening. Cecilia said a small cell was directly over our location but was moving north. She also said it appeared to be clear near Sonora, about 50 miles west of our location.
At this point, I asked Dave how much fuel his Kawasaki Vulcan carried. He said 5.3 gallons. I knew that the Police Road King Harley’s could make it 185 plus a few more on the same amount. Dave said we had gone 137 miles, so I figured he could make it to Sonora before our next fuel stop. I had a 200 mile range so I was trying to minimize the amount of fuel stops we would make. Dave didn’t know his max range, so I thought he could make it. As we warmed ourselves and had hot chocolate, the rain began to subside. As it turned back into a drizzle, we decided to push on and entered onto I-10. Well Dave didn’t make it. 4 Miles east of Sonora, Dave’s Kawasaki died of thirst. We were only one mile from the Sonora exit. Dave waited patiently on the hard shoulder as I rode to Sonora, topped off my fuel tank, purchased a one gallon fuel can, filled it with fuel and headed back to Dave. Luckily I had a GS which allowed me to cross the muddy center dividing strip when I returned and in less than 15 minutes we were back on the road. Dave wanted adventure and was getting his money’s worth.
We continued on as the temperatures dropped into the low 30’s. The weather wasn’t letting up either. I told Dave we would make frequent stops to keep our body cores warm and to prevent shivering, a sure sign of Hypothermia. We stopped in Ozona to get some soup and lunch and we pushed on. In Fort Stockton when we were fueling, Dave spotted some Ski jackets on sale for $9.99. It was the best 9 bucks I ever spent and it helped us both to fight off the cold and I must honestly say if it wasn’t for the jackets, we probably would have called it quits but we pushed on. The rain was relentless until we hit Van Horn, Texas and it was like hitting the edge of the Bermuda Triangle. The skies cleared but the temperatures remained in the 30’s. Instead of being wet and cold, we were just plain cold. Dave’s shirt was soaked as water wicked from his neck, leaving him soaked. I had on my Aerostich suit but my crotch was soaked underneath. The water had pooled on my lap during the ride and seeped through the zipper, wetting my long underwear and LD rider shorts. But we pushed on with weather promising to warm on Saturday and Sunday and no further threat of rain.
By dinner time, we had made it out of Texas through El Paso and found ourself in Las Cruces NM, in time for more fuel and dinner. I spied a cafe called “Dicks” and following my no chain restaurant policy, we had our evening meal there. With a 60 mile ride to Deming for the night, our first day of 685 miles was drawing to a end. I neglected my policy of no Mexican food on a long motorcycle ride and we tried the sampler plate. The food was not great but under the circumstances it was a wonderful treat. I took a picture of the sunset which I often do on rides and we each called our significant others with the latest update. I took many pictures along the way with my Iphone and digital camera and the irony of that fact will play out later in the story. We made it to Deming after our quick dinner and checked into the Best Western Deming and were in bed by 10 p.m..
At 6:15 a.m. we were up and dry. After our complimentary motel breakfast, we hit the road by 7 a.m. and made our way to Arizona. We needed to cover 311 miles and make it to Chandler, Arizona by noon to meet my friends. With the temperature in Deming a cool 32 degrees, we forged on with our ski jackets under our gear. We pushed on uneventful through Tucson and as we were 4 miles from the Chandler Blvd exit, traffic halted to a stop. A truck had Jackknifed and was blocking both the N/B lanes into Chandler. So close but yet so far. We would have been half an hour early and with 15 minutes of delay were directed onto the center divider and around the lowly driver standing by his rig. Back on our way were arrived at the Heart Attack Grill by noon. I saw my friends bikes in the parking lot with their Aerostich jackets draped over their handle bars.
The Heart Attack Grill, Chandler, Az
Just inside the door, I saw my friends Bob Hole and Bob Shelton. They had left Thursday, taking back roads to the grill. Seated next to them and to my surprise were Carol and Ray Overendiek, formerly from the S.F. Bay area but now retired Arizonians. I also meet a Phoenix rider, who was also a former member of our Gold Wing Chapter in Ca. After a quick reunion, we surveyed the grill, took many pictures and put our order in.
Bob Shelton in the foreground and Bob Hole holding the By-Pass Burger
As you walk into the grill, the first thing that catches your eye are the eight large flat screen panel televisions. Okay I lied, the first thing that catches your eye are the wait staff. Voluptuous young women clad in mini-dress nurses outfits, high heels, stockings and Nurses hats. As you sit down you are greeted and given a menu order form that reads like a personal medical history form. I ordered the Single By-pass Burger which is a 1/2 pound Hamburger with Cheese, unlimited French Fries and a 16 oz bottle of Coca Cola made with real sugar, not corn syrup. A medical bracelet was placed on my left wrist that said, “I had a Single By-pass at the Heart Attack Grill” I was given the option of wearing a hospital gown but declined. A foreign new crew was filming inside the eatery, upsetting the normal routine. I watched in amazement as a tender young girl clad in white lingerie operated the French fried cutting machine. She gripped the handle with both hands and bounced up and down spitting out freshly cut fries. I kept going back and getting more fries because they were so good. Okay, I lied again.
There are many gimmicks at the Heart Attack Grill. For instance a 400 pound man walked in and was weighed. Their policy is if you weigh over 350lbs you can eat as much as you want for free! If you can down a Triple By-pass Burger, you get your photo taken and one of the Nurses will push you back to your vehicle in a wheel chair. The cooked fries are placed into a warming tub and you can dish out all you can eat. There is a condiment bar so you can dress your burger anyway you want.. I will leave you to discover the rest at their website here: http://www.heartattackgrill.com/
The burgers are charbroiled and nothing fancy but they will satisfy a hungry rider. The key thing is the experience, which is unrivaled in Burgerdom and I suggest you visit the place if you get a chance. After eating our fare, it was time to head home. We said our goodbyes, took final pictures and we all rode off in different directions. Dave and I got back onto I-10 for our trip back to Texas and to view the same road traveled from a different perspective. I knew Dave was smelling the Barn door as he suggested we make to El Paso. Dave had already done his longest mileage day ever the previous day, riding the 685 miles to Deming. Now he was craving for more pushing for a 722 mile day. But who was I to hold him back.
We pushed on to Texas and as we reached the Arizona border with New Mexico, I had Dave stop for fuel at the Bowdin’s family Roadside oddity, “The Thing”. I insisted he see it for a measly buck and sparked his curiosity, refusing to tell him what it was. I just replied, “Its something you just have to see and decide for yourself what you have seen”. While Dave toured the oddity and other displays, I did some souvenir shopping. Having seen “The Thing” and the religious experience it provides, I thought that Dave was now enlightened enough for use to move on. We back tracked I-10 until we were west of Lordsburg when I pulled over to photograph the sunset again. Dave walked up to me in distress and complained he had gotten something in his left eye about ten miles back. I told him not to rub it and produced some vials of saline solution. Been there, done that. In a few seconds, Dave had flushed the debris from his eye and stated he was good as new.
A New Mexico Sunset.
Back on the road, we made it to Deming at night fall, where I suggested we visit a local Steakhouse “The Ranchers Grill” and refuel for the final 100 miles to El Paso. Dave agreed that it was a good choice as he downed some homemade soup and a thick sirloin. Dave as gracious as usual, wanted to buy my dinner in appreciation for helping make him wet, cold and miserable. Both satisfied, we completed the last 100 miles to Anthony just north of El Paso on exit 0. Note: I never stay in El Paso. When you notice that all the hotel night registration windows have bullet proof glass, they call that a clue. Anyway, that’s my two cents about El Paso without further elaboration.
A motorcycle tanks view of the Texas Sky
The next morning, we were back on the road with near perfect weather and mild temperatures but strong head winds. Dave shed his $9 jacket but I grew to love mine and we never parted until I got home. With Texas’ 80 mph speed limit, we made great time. After we refueled in Ozona, I opted to hold off until we reached Junction. My trip meter indicated I would make it within my fuel range but the strong headwinds caused my GS to gulp down the fuel. As we were 44 miles from Junction my fuel light went on. I rolled off the throttle trying to maximize my fuel economy and hugged the tank and tucked in my limbs. At 22 miles out of Junction I began to worry and then a vision. The town of Roosevelt.
Roosevelt, Texas is not visible from the Interstate but the blue highway sign said there was fuel there. Like an Oasis for a starving bike I quenched my machines thirst. Based on my fuel receipt and tank capacity, I figured I had 1/10 of a gallon left and would have never made it to Junction. The fuel is located at the Roosevelt Post Office also known as the Simon Bros Mercantile. Inside the store is a pot bellied stove and there were four Bubba’s sitting around the stove, watching the hands of the clock and what ever patrons entered their domain. A lovely lady manning the cash register struck up a conversation with me. Probably a looker in her day, she commented how she wished she was riding today. She told me that I had to come back and try one of their highly rated hamburgers in the Back Door Cafe. Hamburgers! She said their hamburger was rated awesome by a Texas magazine as one of the best but that they did not serve food on Sundays and Mondays. I opted for a Dublin Dr. Pepper also made with real sugar and paid her for my fuel. With 200 miles until home, I filed away the must eat Burger location and we began our last leg home. http://www.backdoorcafe.net/index.html
With one final fuel stop in Fredericksburg, I reflected on the ride with Dave and wisdom gained. Dave learned a lot and I learned some more, as I do on any ride, no matter how many rides I go on. We hit the road one last time and would have one last incident on the way home. As we were approaching Marble Falls, Texas on Hwy 281, I decided I wanted a Life Saver mint. I dug through my tank bag and unbeknown st to me, my digital camera spilled out onto my lap. As we were 5 miles south of Marble Falls, I decided to stand up on my foot pegs to stretch my legs. As I stood up, I felt something slide off my leg. I wrote it off and stopped as soon as we reached Marble Falls and I pulled over. I asked Dave if he saw anything fall off my bike when I stood up. Dave said yes, a pack of cigarettes. I asked Davie if it could have been a digital camera. Dave said “Yes!”. I checked my camera pouch and it was empty!
What a Canon Digital Camera looks like pulverized.
I buzzed back south on Hwy 281 to the spot I remembered, just in time to see vehicle after vehicle running over what was left of my camera. When traffic cleared I recovered what was left, hoping to find the SD card but no luck. I collected the debris for a souvenir, as it wasn’t the first camera I have dropped on a ride and it won’t be the last. Dave continued to look along the highway, not realizing I found it and seemed amazed that I had. Anyway, we made out way back into Marble Falls where Dave and I parted company. I took a back road back into Cedar Park as Dave went back down Hwy 29 to his home in Georgetown. I opted for some twisties and took Country Rd 1431 and arrived at Cecilia’s just in time for dinner.
Total miles based on Streets and Trips was 2002 miles, not including off the highway diversions. With another successful Ride to Eat under my belt I guess the next one will be to Roosevelt, Texas. At least I have my Iphone photos, a good memory and an extra fuel can.
The route, 2002 Miles, March 13, 14 and 15, 2009. The furthest I have ever ridden for lunch.