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Old 09-03-2008, 10:10 PM   #1
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Laybord AZ

I’ve never understood why they call it Labor Day when nobody’s working.
At least I wasn’t about to on this weekend unless you call riding a motorcycle across the state of Arizona laborious.

Since moving to this great state I’ve been kind of out of touch with time and dates. I am a born again bachelor since my girlfriend and son are 3 thousand miles away from me at this moment. So as this holiday came upon me I didn’t even know what to do with the extra day thrown into my weekend. Only several days before it, I was creating ambitious plans to ride. Threw out a couple of feelers until I got Pauly (member Low Down) to agree to take a 3 day ride with me.

The first leg of the trip I was to ride down from Florence through Mt. Lemmon and down to Tucson with Shelby. Here he is dropping the pressures on his Vstrom once we hit the Florence-Kelvin highway.

This is the first “highway” that I’ve ever seen that is almost all dirt road. You can ride at dirt uber-speeds though it. It is quite the blast!

It’s been raining severely for the past several days here in Phoenix and anyone that has lived here knows how the desert changes from one day to the next. These rains have beaten into the washes (for the record, I didn’t even know what the heck a wash was before I moved here). As we were coming out of Willow Springs I was feeling good and going at a good clip when WHAM! I was just cresting a hill and came upon a wash with a deep rut running right through it. I hit it hard and did a running endo for about 15 feet. I somehow managed to keep the bike in a straight line and rode it out but I will certainly need new underwear.

My BBQ rack didn’t fair as well as I did from my rutted encounter.

I completely bent the brackets but this rack is a tough one.

Onward we rode into Oracle and through Mt. Lemmon. Here we are looking upon it.

The weather was calling for showers and Pauly was iffy about joining me through the entire ride because of it. I just kept thinking to myself, “man, these Arizonias are wimps. First they don’t ride because it’s too hot, now they also don’t ride because of rain?" Geesh. But as I looked up at Mt. Lemmon, Pauly’s words kept ringing in my head.

Mt. Lemmon is a jewel of a place. It is very close to Phoenix but it’s about 15 or more degrees cooler than it is down in the valley. The road up it wraps around the mountainside in magnificent manner while it provides you glimpses of the Sonoran Desert on one side and the seemingly descending clouds at the other. As you climb the terrain gets a bit tougher but not overly challenging. It is a great big-bike ride.

When we reached the top at a town called Summerhaven it was very cold. It’s amazing how diverse a place Arizona is. Scorching in the valley only an hour away and freezing up here in the clouds. This trip would only heighten my already growing love for this place.

Shelby and I headed down the Catalina Highway to meet Pauly at Tucson then onward toward Willcox, which would be our first destination. Riding through Redington pass.

Pauly's gorgeous Italian broad.

Once at Willcox we had time to unwind and down some liquids.

Made the repairs to the rack much smoother.

Day one was in the books.

cyberdos screwed with this post 09-03-2008 at 10:16 PM
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Old 09-03-2008, 11:55 PM   #2
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Sweet man, I used to live in Oracle...if you ever get a chance.. Pepper Sauce Caves...nice ride and destination..enjoy seeing my boyhood desert!!
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Old 09-04-2008, 05:05 AM   #3
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Old 09-04-2008, 08:33 AM   #4
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Great report ... post the pix of the rest of your trip!

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Old 09-04-2008, 10:20 AM   #5
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Looks like a fun trip so far! I've been looking at that road up the back of Mt. Lemon since I got into this ADV riding stuff. Looks like it will be a good one for the DL1k.
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Old 09-04-2008, 11:14 AM   #6
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Good to hear you're appreciating the Sonoran Desert, Julio. I rapidly grew to love it as well.

Watch out for those ruts, man. I had a similar issue this spring, but my damages were a bit more extensive than yours. Keep it sane unless traveling on familiar roads.
"This place fucking runs on beer, you buy the right person a beer, and you get a job, a blow, a place to sleep, whatever.
You're hot, cold, thirsty, hungry... beer will fix that.
Beer is a god damn miracle, and don't you forget it!"
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Old 09-04-2008, 11:25 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by ta2rob
Great report ... post the pix of the rest of your first trip!

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Old 09-11-2008, 06:38 PM   #8
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Old 09-15-2008, 09:58 AM   #9
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So Labor day was a week ago..... Did you get stuck on Mt Lemmon?

"Buen dia ., Buen camino..." - Bato
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Old 09-15-2008, 12:05 PM   #10
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damn i really need to get out there and ride with some of you all. none of my friends have bikes . and riding alone isn't as much fun.
'02 Kawasaki EX500
'08 Suzuki DR650

Semper Fi
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Old 09-15-2008, 10:10 PM   #11
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Sorry about the delay all. It's just that this Arizona riding has me a little preoccupied.

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Old 09-15-2008, 10:12 PM   #12
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Day 2 - Willcox to Springerville

Day one had gone down without a hitch. What was thought to be a threatening day turned out to be a beautiful sunny ride with great roads and even better company. The small drawback had been mended with a bit of JB weld and all was good. Day two came rolling with as much enthusiasm as day one had ended. The sun was out and nothing indicated that we’d be hitting any bad weather that day.

So we strolled over to the McDonalds (not much happening in Willcox as far as restaurants go) and McGriddles are about as delicious a breakfast as you can ever get from a fast food joint.

Quick suit up after that and we were off to raise hell! Well, we were in hunt for old route 666 now weren’t we? I know we were getting close because the devil’s lair is full of this stuff.

Some kind of soot that was on the side of a mountain. You really can’t notice the dramatic difference of color in this picture but it was quite a contrast between the mountains, trees and the black stuff on the side.

Passing through Safford and a couple of other little towns on the way to 191 was cool but it opens your eyes to the fact that there is extreme poverty right in your back yards. This was not by any means a “big” ride. We were only at most, 200 miles away from home yet some of these small towns we traveled though seemed like they weren’t supposed to be in this country.

I love traveling because you see things with your own eyes instead of what the garbage media feeds you. This trip was to no extravagant location in particular but it still had a lot to teach us.


cyberdos screwed with this post 09-15-2008 at 10:28 PM
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Old 09-15-2008, 10:13 PM   #13
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and we were ready to learn.

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Old 09-15-2008, 10:18 PM   #14
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Lesson one is be prepared for anything.

As beautiful as the above two pictures are, that is how our day started but then quickly turned sour. Nothing really major like crashing. But something that we couldn’t prevent nonetheless. Weather. As we headed into Morenci the skies were menacing.

From my years of travel I’ve learned something else. That something else, which was lesson number two, is that when you’re out on an adventure you really have to roll with whatever comes your way. Although we were staring straight into what was going to be a wicked ride due to the existing conditions, I would not have been able to take such a dramatic picture as this without the contrasts and shadows that the bad skies were providing.

(click the image to view in original size)

IMO, that’s one of the more dramatic shots I’ve ever taken. We stopped there at the Morenci Mine and took the opportunity to put our rain suits on. Pauly had told me before this ride that he didn’t have a rain suit so I bungeed my Aerostich (that’s really on it’s last leg) to the back of the DR so that I could lend him my rain suit “just in case”. Well that “just in case” was staring us in the face and was about to open a can of whoop ass on us in a minute.

Just as we started rounding the first couple of hairpins on Devil’s Highway it started to rain. Began with a light sprinkle then quickly turned into a downpour. I could barely see 30 feet in front of me and we were both being pelted by these massive raindrops through our MX helmets. MX helmets are no fun in the rain.

But we pushed on. I am no rain riding rookie and I was in very familiar territory. I once rode through the Cherohala Skyway at midnight through vicious rain and….COLD.

Did I say cold? Well, certainly it wouldn’t be cold here. LOL. I laugh at cold. I am a New Yorker. I’m in Arizona. Arizona cold is weak…..

…did I say weak? Ahem, what I meant to say is HOLY CRAP IT’S COLD up in them hills! The elevation changes drastically while riding up the mountain. We were elevation from 3,500 to over 8,000 feet in no time. I had prepared for the rain but not for the cold. And my Aerostich which was once in its lifetime weather-proof was no longer that.

Route 666 did turn out to be a hellish ride. It’s supposed to have some spectacular scenery but due to the conditions we did not get to enjoy it much. The road was excellent though. I wicked it up in a few spots but always kept it sane. It was still raining profusely and I didn’t want to wad the bike into the side of a cliff. Speaking of cliffs, it was the first time that I’d seen falling rocks onto the road. I see the signs warning you of it all the time but this was my first time actually seeing it happen. So needless to say, the conditions were less than favorable.

I wished I’d taken more pics (or any at all) but we were both cold, wet and miserable. At some spot during the trail we pulled off to a lodge which seemed heaven sent. As we pull in I ask the lady attending a small shop if she had any hot chocolate or coffee. She just laughed at us and our wretched appearance and went inside. I took that as a no but several minutes later she came out with two cups of the most delicious hot cocoa that these buds have ever tasted. Or at least at that particular moment it seemed like it.

cyberdos screwed with this post 09-15-2008 at 10:31 PM
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Old 09-15-2008, 10:25 PM   #15
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A few minutes later we were off but not before I paid $20 for this.

I put it on without hesitation only to find out later at the hotel that it had a $16 tag on it. Cocoa lady had ripped me off. I guess it was worth the $4 tip.

The rest of the ride up to Springerville I was just praying for better weather. It only arrived as we were parking our bikes in the hotel.

Destitute and downtrodden we limped our way to the restaurant across the street called Booga Red’s. Despite the weird name the food was good and the waitress was stellar. She and Paully made good fun of my NY accent but hey, foggeddabaudit.

After eating some Boogas, we were in better spirits.

So we went back to the hotel and planned a short 20-mile loop so we could get our dirt on. We hadn’t hit any the entire day and we were craving it. So we suited back up and hit the road. We went south of town and hit some spectacular trails into Rosebud. They were all national forest trails and the scenery was beautiful. Since we were supposed to be out on a short jaunt neither of us took our cameras. What a bonehead move that turned out to be. We missed some great shots. We even ventured into some single-track stuff but had to turn around after about a mile in because, due to the rain, it was a muddy nightmare.

We were feeling great and the roads were stellar. As we came to the intersection with the paved road that would lead us back into town we were feeling so good about what we were riding that we decided to go out and scout other trails. That would turn out to be bonehead move number two.

We continued our search eastward through Feaster which is a town with apparently no paved roads. Everything around us except the road we were on was deep mud. So we continued on the lesser of two evils eastward to see what other alternative routes we could find. Everything was great but dusk was upon us and we needed to start heading back. I looked at the GPS and saw that there was a road up ahead that would cut north and connect us with the highway that lead back West into Springerville. Once we got to that road though, it was a muddy, double track, piss-poor excuse of a road that I was not interested in taking. So eastward we pushed to better our options. Our options quickly came to a halt when I saw a sign that read: State Line.

We were into New Mexico!

Completely lost, in the middle of the cold, wet, muddy forest and now it was almost nighttime. Pauly caught a glimpse of a sign that read Luna. He had remembered that we had passed Luna on our way to Springerville so he suggested we track that way. Luna however is further away from Springervill from where we were at but I felt that this was no time to argue. Plus how bad could it be anyway? We’re out exploring and this will be just another adventure to tell my grandkids. So I followed him towards Luna.

This part of the ride was both fun and scary. I had never ridden off-road at night and was downright scared. But the place gives off so much energy.

When I lived in Puerto Rico I loved going to the rain forest. Something about it that made me feel rejuvenated no matter how bad things were around me. That’s the same way I felt that night riding through the forest. Scared but thrilled.

We made it to Luna and from Luna it was straight, chilly slab into Springerville. All 41 miles of it.

We were happy to be back at the hotel alive and with a great story to tell.

Like I said at the start of this day, you’ve got to be prepared for everything. We weren’t prepared for the weather or the bad roads that we encountered. But we were prepared to make the best of what we got and make an adventure out of it.

And so with soggy socks being dried by convection heating...

...and malfunctioning toilet seats being mended by bungie straps...

...We laid our heads to rest with a smile on our faces and day two written in the books.

cyberdos screwed with this post 09-16-2008 at 10:14 AM
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