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.

“You wanna ride the AZBDR in April?”

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.

Deuce: “There’s water in Arizona?!”

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 ( 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.

Soul on a String

Some of the most interesting stories are those surrounding why and how our interests change over time. As a relative newcomer to this business of exploring—of adventurism—I’m particularly interested in exploring the common ground between adventurists like us.

Few of us get seriously involved in more than a couple pursuits. It’s classic opportunity cost—the more you do of this, the less you can do of that. It’s important we help each other have the best possible first time experiences in new areas. That’s one of the reasons why I’m so excited to share Dominic’s story with you here today.

In 2010, I interviewed a Phoenix local about his modified Mitsubishi Eclipse. In 2011, I followed up because he’d sold the Eclipse and bought a modified Jeep XJ. Today, we’re talking to the same guy five years later about his mountain bike (MTB) obsession.

[bd] The Backstory. We met back in the Mitsubishi/Diamond Star Motors (DSM) days. You had the clean GST, but soon left the scene in favor of lifted trucks and off-road adventures. Why? Did mountain biking (MTB) have anything to do with it?

[dg] Mountain bikes had nothing to do with me leaving the DSM scene. I was getting married and with that came becoming a father to a then 3-year old. After a couple late night close calls—one with a cop and one with a concrete embankment—I decided it was time to stop rolling the dice and cash in my chips.

That lead to the 1996 2-door Jeep XJ/Cherokee (7-inch, long arm lift and 33s), which lead to a Tahoe, which lead to a Duramax diesel, which lead to a Mazdaspeed 3, which lead to my FJ Cruiser. Now for readers who know anything about being married, you can see my wife is a monument of grace. That said, I will be driving the FJ for some time—at least until she gets a new car.

Owning trucks let me experience the outdoors in an amazing new way. They took me to places I would have never been able to travel without them. This experience, connecting with nature in a new way… this is what my passion for trucks and the outdoors has in common with my love for riding.

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[bd] How often do you ride? How many miles a month? In the last year, I’ve probably seen you post hundreds of pictures of MTB shenanigans on Facebook. It’s like you’re out there grinding away and getting the big air every weekend. Why?

[dg] I ride every chance I can get out of the house. I average around 20 miles a week. Recently I have really gotten into capturing my rides in a way the viewer can see the moment I feel totally free—usually in the air or bombing down a mountain. In these moments I want for nothing.

This lack of want translates into freedom. This is what it takes to truly quiet my mind. 100% focus on the task at hand leaves no room for the burdens we all carry daily. I tell people, when they ask about the risks I take, that when I am on my bike in my element, it’s equivalent to me tying my soul to a string and letting it flap in the wind.

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[bd] This is probably a good time to talk about the bike(s) a bit. You had a Cannondale 29er, and now rock a YT Capra. Briefly, tell us about the old bike; if you bought it new or used, stock or modified, how long you had it, and why you decided it was time for NBD (new bike day).

[dg] I have 2014 Cannondale F29 Alloy 6. It’s a great, wonderful hardtail. I upgraded the bars to 800mm Nuke Proof and switched to a 1×10 drivetrain for weight savings and to help build my legs.

I started spending lots of time on my home mountain (South Mountain, Phoenix, Arizona) running trails like National Mormon. Lots of down hill, however, as it goes, nothing in life is free. If you want to go downhill you must first go uphill. After months of beating the shit out of my bike and my body I arrived at the conclusion that, for my downhilling needs, I wanted to switch to an enduro-style bike.

The idea behind an enduro bike is it has lots of suspension travel—160mm+ front and rear—but can still climb. This realization is what made me decide it was time to add another bike to the stable.


[bd] And the new bike? I’d never heard of YT before you mentioned it. How did you discover this bike, let alone decide it was worth the investment. (MSRP is almost twice what I paid for my Montero.)

[dg] YT stands for Young Talent. This company is largely European but started a small US distribution center based in Reno. The only way you can get a YT is to order it directly from the company. This saves you around 30% over other bikes that have the same level of quality and components. YT is starting up in the U.S. with the help of Cam Zink (Red Bull superstar).

It’s also nice to be on the mountain kicking ass and taking names with a bike that is unique.

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[bd] “Mountain biking” has something of an identity crisis these days. The term is used to cover everything from casual touring on dirt trails to downhill racing to whatever adrenaline-fueled deathwish Red Bull can strap a GoPro to. You’re more familiar with these distinctions than I am. Pros and cons?

[dg] The diversity in mountain biking is crazy right now; cross-country, downhill, enduro, fat tire. 26-inch wheels 27.5, 29. And now 27.5+ and 29+. There are so many options and the one for you will be obvious once you start really riding.

PRO TIP: Start with a nice hard tail and build your legs without killing your budget. Go to the local bike shop and test ride lots of styles. Don’t be overwhelmed! After all, you are just deciding what kind of fun you are getting into. At the end of the day they are all fun!

[bd] One of our goals for Adventurist Life is helping each other have the best possible experiences in our secondary, tertiary interests, and beyond. For example, my primary interest is 4WD trucks. After that, I want to spend more time on my bike or hiking. I’m interested in stories that help me have the best possible experiences as someone who isn’t all-in on either (yet).

Someone out there is going to read this because he or she’s been thinking about getting back on a bike again, but doesn’t want to drop the serious coin on a whim or waste respectable coin on something that only delivers disappointment. With so many options out there these days, what questions would you recommend these folks ask themselves to ensure the best possible chance of happiness?

[dg] Go used to get started. Make sure bike is the right size for you. Join a riding club. If if you are in Arizona, the club I am in is called Crank Yankers. They are totally awesome and have scheduled rides every week. This gets you out on the trails without having to worry about getting lost.

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Take a minute to think about what you were into before you were into what you’re into now. Probably feels like ancient history at this point, right? Few of us get seriously involved in more than a couple pursuits. The more of this we do, the less of that. If you loved riding bikes back in the day, there’s a good chance getting back in the saddle will feel right.

If you’re thinking about hopping on a bike, remember, you don’t have to spend a fortune. Test ride a bunch of bikes. Find what works for you. Pick up a used bike if you have to. Then go find some new friends to help you get the most out of it—and yourself.

It’s important we help each other have the best possible first time experiences in new areas. Six years ago, Dominic was deep in street/track scene. He built his own race car. It was fast. It offered a sense of freedom. When it came time to walk away from the race track, Dominic found the single track. He found that freedom on two wheels; a freedom limited only by his effort and ability.

Next time you’re talking adventures and gear with a new friend, make a point of finding out what else they’re into and what they were into before they discovered this business of exploring. You might find yourself in the presence of long, lost family.