Sometimes it pays to answer the unknown caller. Mostly, it’s underpaid and overworked solicitors telling you that you’ve won a free cruise. Ya, sure buddy. Sometimes, it’s a guy named Deuce.
And like that, tentative plans were sketched in. It would be a dicey operation, what with the possibility of heavy snow late into May, but we were gunna ride something darn it!
I have the luxury of choosing between my adventure beast, the Super Tenere, and my Austrian mistress, Katya the KTM 450 xc-w. After reading some horror stories about the massive washouts on Cherry Creek Road I opted for the latter, and with 2 months to go, set about getting my high strung singletrack slayer as comfortable as possible while loaded up with gear and buzzing down the 2-lane. Enter Primary Drive, a Rocky Mountain ATV/MC house brand, and their cheap (but good!) gearing. The 13 becomes a 15 and the 52 becomes a 48. An oil change, an air filter, and a couple turns of preload later the bike is good to go!
Okay, so how do I make that stuff fit on a bike designed to carry nothing? Enter the Giant Loop Mojave (a 35 liter drybag) and some creativity. I am not leaving my water shoes!
We had decided to leave from my house come D-day, and up rolled some other rag-tags I’d collected for this adventure, Adam and Julien. This would be my first time meeting them, let alone riding with them…what have I gotten myself into? Well, cant back out now, sometimes you’ve gotta roll with it. And roll we did, onward and outward, off into the sunset of adventure! Or in this case Forest Road 240 in the Coconino National Forrest, affectionately known as ‘the Coke’ in the USFS circles. Eventually we popped out on the ‘dual’ part of our sport; tarmac. We would cruise on this until I began to regret my decision bringing the little bike…but it sure beats a day in the office!
Scrubbing some elevation off rewarded us not only with increased temperatures, but a great pastel of wildflowers interspersed among the Saguaro. Fun fact: a Saguaro (say it with me now—seh-wahr-oh) won’t sprout it’s first ‘arm’ until 75 years old. Sometimes, they will become ‘crested’ or ‘cauliflower.’
But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. We still needed to get to the other side of that lake, where we were meeting up with the California boys, Deuce and Howard. Supposedly, anyway. Best laid plans of mice and men…
Soon enough, we’re scoping out sites, setting up camp, and enjoying a roaring campfire on the river’s edge. Stories were swapped, lies were told, and totems were christened. Totems named grandpa. Sometimes you’ve gotta roll with it. Time to tuck in the bikes and let the river lull us to sleep under a stunning blanket of stars.
Day Two. Why haven’t Deuce and Howard called us? Where are they? They were supposed to be meeting us here by now….oh well, we’ve got high temps and cool water, riding can wait! Finally, after a getting a fair way towards sunburned, we made contact and met some new friends. Howard and Deuce had officially arrived.
Yeah, man, there’s water…we’ll be seeing more of that later. But first, the long, hot rocky Cherry Creek Road. It’s amazing to think that on the opposite side of those mountains is the I-17 and all its insanity. Road rage, truck fires, fifth wheels and road ‘gators. Not over here, though. There’s only stunning vistas, overshadowing cliffs, and some really old houses.
Without further ado, Arizona was throwing more curve balls at us, and just in time. It was HOT!
A short roll later we would come to the most dreaded of dreads. The purest of all evils, and the mother of pain. We would come to ‘the washout.’ I hear it swallowed a guy on a Honda. I’m really, really, totally, glad I left the 600lb blue PIG at home!
Howard puts his big boy pants on and shows us all how it’s done. Well, shoot. I guess it wasn’t that hard after all. Anticipation is a…well, you know.
Some smooth sailing and greener pastures brought us into the party town of Young. Funny town, Young, there’s NO pavement connecting it to the outside world. But honestly, it’s better that way.
The sun was getting low and the hours long, and we had miles to go before we slept. Time to press on, our destination was our very own lakeside property. More lies were told this night as well. Like that my sleeping bag was survivable at 15°F. Bag + liner + thermal adv gear + fire and I was still cold. Brrrr. But it was all worth it to wake up to this view.
More riding. More views. Note to self: it’s easy to trip in moto boots. Deuce I’m talking to you, so watch your step on the cliffs! It’s probably for the best we were on a ‘scenic tour’ because this would not be the time I wanted to test my trials skills at speed.
By this point in the trail I’m pretty sure we had personally run over every, single, jarring, sharp, blasted rock in Northern AZ, and we were ready for a break. Only about 60 miles to cover before we’d reach Mt. Humphrey’s in the distance and get our break…rally, boys!
Soon, we were nearing the end of this leg of the journey. We would be parting ways after the Cinder hills. These hills are a rare moonscape that, while challenging, is truly a treat to ride through, provided you stay away from the whoops…
I took a chance on four strangers. People I had never met, had barely talked to, and had met through the seediest of ways—through the dark depths the internet (ADVrider.com). We had one common interest and one common goal: we were going to ride motorcycles on as much dirt in Arizona as we could pack into a few days. Sometimes life is about stepping, nigh leaping, out of your comfort zone. I can now say I am much richer than when I started; richer in friends and richer in experiences, both things that money cannot buy. We saw country and wildlife that can be experienced no other way, and made lasting memories along the trail.