Desert Daze Dual-sport Adventure

What a fantastic weekend!
I’m already planning my trip for next year


We arrived at the Triangle T Ranch just in time for sunset.


Unloaded the bikes in the morning

And we joined AARG for a morning day ride.
I didn’t get very many pics on Friday.

Lunch stop in Portal:

Evening at camp:


First hill of the morning was a lot of fun:

We weren’t far from Triangle T, but I’m not sure where exactly. Took a right off the main road just past Dragoon (I think)

Visited the Cochise Stronghold campground.

and went here (wherever that is):

A few miles to camp, (I think on Sybil road or Tombstone Rd?) one of our guys got a nail in his tire. Boo.

After a slow fix on the tire, a little further on… this hill didn’t like me so much.

Oops. I pissed off some big rocks.
Luckily my DR wasn’t injured and I only sustained a pretty hearty bruise on my right hip. Of course, I hit just below where my padding ended.

Pretty sunset.
I love the desert.

We made it back to camp and had a good time at the saloon looking over the map-on-the-wall

Sunday! Sunday! Sunday!

We found the lake

Ended up in Willcox, where most everything was closed except for Rodney’s fine dining

I made a new friend

and saw some art on the wall of the “Rex Allen Sr. Fan Club” walk-way

I’m not sure where we went from there, all I remember are some amazing vistas and catching air at one point.
What a great day!

Made it back to camp for sunset


We packed up to a mostly empty Triangle-T and drove back to Prescott, dirty, tired, and happy.

Holy cow I had a great time! Our whole group did.
Very much forward to next year!

(more pics here if you really wanna see all our silliness 🙂 )

Off-Road Fun

It was time to take the 1991 DR350 out for its first dirt-riding experience with me as it’s rider.

When you own a bike, you do stupid things. Those stupid things are usually spread out over many months, or years.
Yesterday, I covered a few of them in one day.

A few of my friends and I planned a fairly easy route that would take us down some very pretty Forest Service roads. The whole trip would take about four hours, including a lunch stop somewhere in the woods.

I packed a lunch of champions and got ready.

The DR is hard to start when cold. It’s kickstart only and the previous owner suggested that the choke channel might be clogged in the carburetor. I haven’t had a chance to pull the carb and clean it out, so I have to be patient and practice a few tricks (like not pulling the choke all the way out and kicking like mad).

Out meetup time was 10:30am, so I got up around 7:00am to get ready. I packed my food into my rigged up tail-bag and got my riding gear together.

At 9:00am, it was time to get the bike warmed up and make sure everything was mechanically sound.
I kicked.
and I kicked.
and I kicked.

After about half an hour of kicking, resting, kicking, I was able to get it to burble up and catch but then it would die again.
Why won’t it start? This is unusually difficult.

It helps if you turn the gas on. (1)

I turned the petcocks on, kicked it over and Whooomp! it started right up.

Ready to go!

My friend Peter came by and we set off to ride to the meetup location together.
We got about five blocks from my house, and my bike died.
Adhering to the K.I.S.S. rule, I first checked the gas level.
Whaddyaknow? Out of gas. (2)
I put the tanks on reserve and went to the first gas station, just a couple of blocks away.

Freshly gassed up and a little tired from the mornings exertions, we rode the rest of the way to the meetup location – a gas station further down the road.

We pulled in to park and wait for the others.

As I was trying to shift into neutral with my big, new-to-me dirt bike boots, I lost balance.

Dirt bikes are tall, and I had to do a number of things in order to make this one fit me. Even with the 2″ lowering links, dropped forks, and lower stock seat, I was still on my tip-toes.

Down went my bike, and to add insult to injury, it fell into Peter’s bike, knocking him over. (3)

Gas went spilling out of my tank before we were able to pick the bikes back up.

Luckily, these bikes are pretty decently protected for spills. Dirt biking isn’t always the most upright sport. Both our bikes were fine, my ego and left arm were a bit bruised and I was starting to feel a bit fatigued and hungry.

A few minutes later, the rest of the group converged.
11:00am, kickstands up, time to ride!

I had a difficult time getting my head into the ride. There was a brisk, chill wind buffeting us, my 7:00am breakfast had long worn off, and I’d had a fairly physical and tiring morning. Luckily, the first part of the ride was pretty easy. Pavement to a wide, raked dirt road, up into the hills. I wasn’t exactly having fun, but I wasn’t miserable either. At this point, I was mostly there because I said I would.

After about an hour of riding, we stopped in a lovely little spot for lunch.

It wasn’t the best view, but it was sunny and remote.

I found a rock to sit on, ate some lunch and warmed up.

One of the guys noticed that my license plate was a bit loose. I had wanted to drill some holes in the rear fender and attach it, but had run out of time. The previous owner had duct taped his plate to the fender, so I did the same but with gaffers tape (couldn’t find my duct tape!)
A couple of zip-ties later and with help of my bungee net, the plate was re-secured.

It ain’t pretty, but it works.

After lunch, I was reinvigorated and had a blast. The next section was woodsy and rocky. We rode through a wash with a foot of water and I managed to soak myself. It was great fun!

A couple of hours later of great riding, we returned to pavement and decided to stop for lunch. Two of the guys needed to split off before town, so we went to a gas station/deli nearby for some fine dining.

While we were enjoying our sammiches in the outdoor seating, a couple of other dual-sport riders pulled up.
Turned out we knew them. Small world.

We finished up our lunch and as we were getting our gear together, a few more other riders pulled up.
We knew them too!

Seems this Texaco gas and deli in the middle of nowhere is a popular hangout for the dual-sport crowd.
Good to know.

Even with the morning difficulties, it was a great day.

One of the major things to remember is how much your head-space affects your experience. The roads we were on before lunch vs. after lunch weren’t much different in terrain, difficulty, or grade but I was in a completely different mood for the two different sections and they were completely different rides.

(1) Really? That’s so basic I hardly want to comment.

(2) We all run out of gas on occasion, but it’s still a rookie move. Check your fuel levels! Set your odometer and know at what number you need to refill.

(3) It happens. You slip on a rocks in a driveway, put your foot down in a pothole, knock your bike into your friend’s bike…. It’s always embarrassing no matter which way you slice it. I have dropped a bike once in the past ten years. Well, twice now.

All three of these things do happen, but usually not in the same day.

riding on

There are some days when you get on your motorcycle and as you sit, you feel a ‘click,’ a noticeable change and you settle down, lean forward, put your hands on the grips and start the bike. Kickstand up, roll throttle slowly on, feet up and off you go. The road rolls under you in a comfortable rhythm and a peace settles in; all is right with your world.

I am tired. Physically pooped. Running around Friday evening, staying up way past my bedtime and not getting near enough sleep to feel recuperated in the slightest Saturday morning did not make me want to do anything except lie around and watch movies all day..

Coffee does not break through the morning haze.
But it’s time to ride.

Jacket on, helmet in hand, keys.
Pack the tank bag and make sure water is in there.
It’s 10° above normal at a painful 107° and a day of motoring around greater Phoenix-land is planned.

By the time I get to my friend’s garage, I’m sticking to my perf jacket. I peel myself out of my gear and set it on the bike, hoping that the jacket will protect the seat from getting to that ass-burning temperature.
But no time for socializing! It’s kickstands up and off we go!

The event is rather uneventful. I sit on some shiny bikes, drool over the newest latest and greatest, fall in love three or four times. We leave to return to the garage and tend to a misbehaving front brake.

Sorry about your front brake! See you soon!

And then there were three.

Have a good dinner! See you soon!

And then there were two.

And the two are off for a late afternoon Bartlett Lake ride.
Two worn out riders make their way through the desert heat to meet an Irishman.

The Bartlett Lake ride is quite nice. Full of long sweepers, with some slower corners and a lot of shrubbery trying to confuse you at corner apexes. Unfortunately, we have an escort for much of the ride, so are forced to behave like responsible adults. The ride through the hills is lovely with the saguaro standing at attention on the hillsides. We park at the boat launch and sit for some time at the lake edge. The water is still warm enough for a swim and there are campers with tents and a fire enjoying the early evening.

With nightfall approaching, we straddle our bikes once again and head back through the mountains.
The sun is just settling below the horizon and as we ride the sky changes from robin’s egg blue to pastel shades of pinks and purples and oranges and yellows. The saguaros and mesquites are silhouetted against the twilight sky.
We ride smoothly on.
And all is right with the world.