Jun 22, 2015

Day trip to the Verde River. 112F

Day trips are nice. We all have responsibilities. Too many most likely. We can find 1,000 things on our To Do list that will keep us from feeding our adventurous spirit. That’s where a day, half day or even a couple hour trip comes in.

I knew where I would head. The closest river at the closest spot to Phoenix. As you’d expect, the 5th largest city in the US is going to crowd any available watering holes when it’s 112 outside. This is true, hence the park ranger at the dirt road saying that it’s full and you must turn around.
I said “We’re not going to the beach area I promise.” He asked where we were going then. I just said we’re going offroading other places. “So I wont see you parked at the beach area then??” He was skeptical and didn’t believe me. Some rangers know their area well, almost all of them in my experience get stuck babysitting users in the popular areas and don’t get to explore the land under their management. This is a spot I wont give up freely.
Off we went. Past the jam packed beach with music blaring and idjets on quads doing donuts in the sand kicking up dust.
We went over to a hill that, as you’d expect, is tougher than it looks in these photos.
Full tire pressure and sway bars on makes for some interesting grip. It either bit in or just slipped. No middle ground, but it worked out.
Just sketchy enough for some three wheel motion.
Then, off we went to the water through a Cholla field (The smaller light colored ones. The tall ones are Ocotillo). These cactus are some evil little suckers with barbed hooks. Once they are in you, they don’t want to come out. Best to have a hair pick to fling them out of your skin.
Yes, I think this will do nicely.
We could hear the loud music and engines revving, but just barely. Our spot had no one in sight on the shore or either direction on the river. This was perfect.
After swimming and some sandwiches I dunked the front of the truck. (for no reason except to get a photo for the Factor 55 guys who’s gear I appreciate)
and we were off. No more than an hour after leaving home, we were turning around and heading back. WAY too short, but completely worth it. My mind was reset and ready for more work on and around the house. Sigh....
Going down a spine of rock that has some boulders too big for me to drive over means some “creative” line choices. I hate to get into a tippy situation, but some times you have to. As the right front descended I started to turn into the roll, should it appear to start happening.
The sketchy moment.
The happy moment when you don’t have to debate on when/whether it’s time to turn hard right and give it some throttle. Success.
Well, like anything, a taste of something great can feed the soul, but also make you crazy with anticipation for the next big trip. So, I guess I’d better get back to work and make sure I can take some time off soon!

Jun 15, 2015

Big bike up the Crown King Backroad. R1200GS

I decided that I wanted to take the R1200GS onto some real dirt. It's not up for any true singletrack, but I wanted to use it for what it's meant for. Doing some big sections of dirt followed by blasting along the highway when needed, all while carrying plenty of fuel and gear!

Here is a little map of my adventure. It ended up being about 260 miles in total. More than half of that was dirt. I headed out at about 6AM and got home just afternoon. It was a lot of miles to hustle into a half day ride, but what a journey!

Given that I actually wanted to ride and "get on it" most of the day, I didn't take many pictures, but I'm already looking forward to doing it again. Making a run for dirt along Carefree Highway watching Hot Air Balloons and ultralites dot the sky around me.  photo IMG_4940.jpg Almost there, I'm rounding Lake Pleasant right now. The are is already warm like a hairdryer on low. Yuck.  photo IMG_4941.jpg Dirt will be a relief though. Something about it lowers my heart rate and blood pressure. Get me to dirt. Just another mile to go.  photo IMG_4943.jpg Ahh, a taste of freedom. It's going to get very hot, well into the 100's and possibly even 110 today. Time to make tracks and leave the people behind.  photo IMG_4945.jpg Not a bad place to live, but no AC, let alone windows, so I'll keep riding.  photo IMG_4946.jpg The turnoff. I've ridden motorcycles and driven countless 4x4's up this road, not to mention the time I mountain biked it from Prescott one time. This would still be different. A barkalounger with street biased tires should make it interesting. I passed the first and last person I'd see on dirt all day within the first mile. Then the trail was MINE. Just how I like it.  photo IMG_4947.jpg Someone had been playing out here the night before. Did I remember a side arm? Were they still out here? Would I come around a corner and surprise them this early in the morning?  photo IMG_4949.jpg So far so good. I came around a corner and thought to myself, this is fun. I'm getting some air on this big fat bike even. I'm one with the bike. I'm a little tired already, I'll just relax a bit. ...then I saw it, a water crossing that was only 10 feet across and about 8 inches deep. Just after it was a hill filled with "baby heads" or "bowling balls" or whatever you want to call them. I am now calling them devil's cow pies after the next few moments. I knew I had lazily chosen a bad line while I was day dreaming. I commited and once I hit this rock with the front tire I went airborne. The rock I hit upon landing was enough to twist the bars and pull them out of my hands. I was going down. That hurt. No time to whine. Shut the bike off, pick it up, stabilize it, assess the damage. Foot peg bent up out of the way, shifter broken off, hand guard broken.  photo IMG_4951.jpg Take a rock the size of my head, bash the peg back into place... fixed enough. See if I can shift, it seems to sort work if I paw at the stubby leftover of a shifter with my foot. Well, suck it up buttercup and let's go.  photo IMG_4950.jpg Keep moving. Stay focused. Keep It Simple Stupid! Enjoy the ride! It's finally cooling down as you ascend.  photo IMG_4952.jpg  photo IMG_4953.jpg  photo IMG_4954.jpg Around each corner is a new surprise even with knowing the trail. A rock ledge on a small KTM or in a big 4x4 doesn't even stick in your memory until you are on a low clearance 400LB plus bike. Each one I am fully focused for and keep taking good lines.  photo IMG_4956.jpg I shiver and say out loud. Soak it in you lucky bastard. It will be hot later. Keep moving.  photo IMG_4960.jpg It's getting colder. The shadows make the air icey and the sweat makes me shiver now. I love it!  photo IMG_4961.jpg Still at road PSI, it seems to be working well, enough.  photo IMG_4963.jpg You made it to the Senator Highway. Graded-ish road from here out. Just don't get cocky. No Whiskey throttle. THis bike has more HP than your first car. Keep it smooth. Slide the rear tire on corner exists, but don't get greedy with it.  photo IMG_4964.jpg  photo IMG_4966.jpg It's like a roller coaster. THe streams are full and my boots and pants are soaking from hitting each stream crossing at speed. This is perfection.  photo IMG_4969.jpg Averaging about 45MPH, lug the engine. Avoid shifting when possible with that broken shift lever.  photo IMG_4970.jpg  photo IMG_4972.jpg Palace station. I can taste Prescott.  photo IMG_4973.jpg Gassed up, chugged more water and headed out to Williamson Valley. After a quick hello to K's parents I hit the road to the sound of thunder. The weather is so different than Phoenix it's startling.  photo IMG_4976.jpg Time to hit dirt again.  photo IMG_4977.jpg Down to Skull Valley and it gets muddy. Beautiful, but muddy. This water buffalo of a bike likes to squirrel away. Just like on sand, let it dance, just keep your balance above the moving beast.  photo IMG_4978.jpg  photo IMG_4979.jpg Made it to pavement.  photo IMG_4981.jpg Food at last. Fries, coke, sausage, french dip roast beef and a cookie to go that disappears before I remount the bike in the rain. Time to head into the heat! Down Yarnell Hill I go. Into the fire. Concentrate, stop for a water break, make it home. Consume beer and chuckle with a smile what a great and insane half day trip it was. Time for second lunch!  photo IMG_4971.jpg