|Yesterday, 10:32 PM||#1|
Joined: Aug 2011
Location: Scottsdale, AZ
Is it possible to have a one day Epic?
When good friend of mine picked up his new BMW and said he was going to ride it to Park City Utah for a sales meeting, It only took me a split second to volunteer to accompany him for at least part of his journey.
It has been a while since I had a dads weekend so I loaded up my KTM and camera prepared for two day trek from Phoenix to Southern Utah and back. Maybe a bit ambitious but worth the saddle time.
In unusually cooler weather from Phoenix, we met at a coffee shop to plan our trip. Knowing I was riding with a relatively new rider, I was prepared for a relaxed pace for the day.
Our goal was to make the 350 mile journey to Kanab with time to do some exploring around Zion at Sunset.
The trip north was blessed with a tailwind as we made Flagstaff in just over two hours for a leisurely lunch and coffee - complete with a huge Homemade cookie from the Culture Coffee shop.
Back on the bike, we rode for another 2+ hours until our first photo op as we approached Lee’s Fairy crossing.
Blue skies and fluffy clouds are the trademark of a beautiful northern AZ / Utah ride.
From here it was just a short ride to Jacob Lake where a stop a the big overlook is almost manditory.
Still clean and all smiles on with the Vermillion cliffs in the background.
We continued on riding highway 67 to Jacob Lake through the north side of the Grand Canyon and made Kanab close to dinner time. Having lost an hour in the time change we elected to grab dinner and find a hotel. This is Kanab’s busy season and a reservation is advised if you are planning a late arrival. We didn’t have one but found a decent hotel for a good rate in just our third attempt.
At dinner I started researching my ride options for Sunday. As a photographer I was thinking about finding some of Page Arizona’s slot canyons for the early part of the ride before heading hope. The plan was get some riding on new roads, shoot some killer photos and do it all in a southward direction.
With all the planning and web research during the night, the decision on where I would ride wasn’t made until the morning over coffee. I decided to take a couple of what i thought would be remote roads to the one piece of dirt that I could find. According to the basic map I found in the local rag, my loop would take me back toward Page. Since we got out on the road a full two hours earlier than the previous day, my plan should have allowed me to ride some new roads with enough time to catch some photos of the canyons and head south. The plan was set.
After parting ways with my friend I headed east on Highway 89 to Johnson Canyon where I was quickly found a very little travelled road that cut through some beautiful farms in the canyon. I saw one of the very few foxes I have seen in the wild too.
Heading north on Johnson Canyon I intersected Deer Creek Ranch Road - the one piece of dirt that I had hoped to find on my loop. Under spectacular skies and perfect temperatures I opened the throttle on the perfectly groomed road with hero dirt. Hitting speeds of 85 mph I was happy the road was so well made.
While most of the 30+ miles of Deer Creek Ranch Road is meticulously maintained, there are some slightly technical sections and small mud sections from rains earlier in the week. This was as sign of things to come.
Thinking I had to sacrifice the prettier slot canyons just to find some dirt, Bull Ring Canyon presented itself out of no where. I had read that there were slot canyons all around the area but did not expect to see any on this route. This was a pleasant surprise and worth the stop. I only wish the gray clouds would have allowed me to stay here longer and hike around.
Just minutes before I stopped here, I met two more adventure rider inmates on the technical bit of the road. They had stopped in the middle of the road for a chat and were the only traffic I encountered for most of the day. During this conversation, one of the riders had told me that Cottonwood Canyon would be a great ride but to watch for oncoming traffic around some of the blind bends. He also told me that the road was all dirt. Yehaw - More dirt!
Heading down from road approaching the intersection to Cannonville - Cotton Wood Canyon
Bombing down this incredible road, I stumbled upon Grosverner Arch monument just one mile off Cottonwood Canyon. Making good time, I took the detour and found this beautiful rock scene.
A few shots (photos) later and I was on my way.
Just a few miles down the dirt road I encounter a Caliche mud slide. The result of the previous storm that blew through. Apart form some squirming and dodging to keep it upright, I managed through and made a mental note of it.
But then it seemed like every mile or two I would encounter another one. Each one was bigger than the last. Even though I worked pretty hard to make it through the first one, I pressed on. this time getting caught in the second one and working really hard to get through. Pushing a 500 lb rig through mud that globs and sticks to everything is a bull fight. While I didn’t go down in this one, I started questioning my methods and my decision to venture further into the southern Utah mountains.
The next mud section finally won a round as I could not fight to keep the bike upright and down she went. Moderately surprised I picked the bike without too much complaining, I restarted the bike and used the engine to help my pushing and get out of the mud.
Hoping that would be the last of the mud , I caught my breath and moved on.- I really didn’t want to go back through the mud bogs on a back tracking trip as I knew I was near the halfway point of the road.
That hope was short lived as I found bog #4. By now I was getting smarter and walking the bog to look for the best line through. While a sound strategy and it worked quite well, I still managed to dump the bike just about 10 ft from the end of the bog. Oh how far 10 feet can be when you are getting tired and the bike is gaining weight like a just married Italian girl. This is probably where the mud ripped my fender clean off the bike.
The fifth bog was where I had to throw in the towel and make the decision to turn back. The shear length of the bog was scary enough but my “walk the bog” strategy showed I could make it about 75% of the way through, but the last part wanted to suck the socks right off my feet. There was no way I could risk getting stuck in that.
So after turning my big KTM around in the mud ( I think it went down again but i lost count) I headed back - knowing I had 4 bogs to clear.
This time, I knew the lines through and managed to clean 3 of them without too much difficulty. One of them would present a problem, but i gingerly nursed my Pirelli Scorpion street enduro tires through that one too.
Inbetween bogs, the dry road would allow the mud to fly off the tires in quite the spectacle. I would say it probably looked like a bad fireworks display of brown and red.
Once I cleared the final bog and was back on familiar road, I figured I was home free. But the fun was yet to begin.
Apparently I was in the canyon fighting isolated mud bogs, a late afternoon storm had rolled in behind me and drenched the red clay road that only hours ago provided hero dirt. The same road that stood between me and civilization.
Cresting a small hill, the bike went out from underneath me before I knew what happened. It was like riding on ice and someone forgot to tell me it was there.
Probably 5 miles from the pavement I started pontooning the bike down the hill with virtually no steering or brakes. I found a groove where the water was running down the hill provided ever so little traction as it exposed rocks in the road.
That was the last real gravity help I had as I was now on the flat road and my tires were packing on mud over an inch thick.
With no traction and a clutch that was getting more of a workout than it was designed for, I forged on taking 30-50 yard gains when I could get them. At a snails pace i was starting to worry that I would not make it back to civilization by dark.
I had no food and limited water. The cool temperatures and cloudy day were a blessing as I was sweating just to keep the bike upright.
With virtually no grip on either tire, the wheels would go anyway they wanted which wsa usually in different directions. I learned that leaning into the bike like I was pushing a cow off of my foot, I could slide the bike around more.
After dropping the bike again, I was unable to pick it up from exhaustion. After three tries I began thinking if I should abandon the bike and start hiking back to the road. I could see the ridge I came down and knew the pavement was within a couple hours walk.
I gave it one more big effort and I think some divine intervention helped because I managed to pick up the bike for the last time. Sitting on the bike to rest I was met by a four wheel drive that struggled to climb the tiniest grade in the road. they said I was 5 miles from pavement and 18 miles from Cannonville. Depressed, I asked if the road continued to be the mudfest i had grown accustomed to. They said it was only another mile before the road cleared. I knew I could make that with some effort.
Thankfully, the couple had no sense of distance because within a quarter mile, the road dried and I was back in business after 4+ hours just to get back to some dry road.
Getting to the little general story and hotel in Cannonville they allowed me to wash my bike and take inventory of the damage. Only the front fender was missing and my stomach was growling...
Learning the shortest way home added 150+ miles of backtracking to my day to where I started, I took a food break and relaxed. I wasn’t getting anywhere near home that day.
After filling up on protein bars and water, it was time to pin it south for the next 2+ hours where I would grab some dinner back in Kanab - still 6 hours from home.
I blew through Kanab with some day light left stopping only for a drink and another protein bar and headed to Page. It was a beautiful late afternoon as I passed the intersection where Cottonwood Canyon road dumped out on the highway. Where I should have been 7 hours earlier..
Grabbed a quick BBQ dinner in Page. Patrons looking at me like something the cat dragged in ( and It wasn’t far off either)
With a goal of Flagstaff, I was back out Hwy 89 headed south arriving around 10 pm. 14 ours of riding, walking and fighting mud. I was cooked. Waking up at 6:00 am the next day I hit the road by 6:30 am and made it home by 9:00 am. Just in time to shower and make it to work only one hour late.
raddad screwed with this post Today at 11:50 AM
|Today, 01:11 AM||#3|
Joined: Nov 2011
Location: All those who wander are not lost!
I hate mud
Epic day trip my friend! Well done!
|Today, 01:22 PM||#5|
Joined: Dec 2007
Location: Abq NM
Great report and pictures. The good, the bad, and the ugly in one day. Congratulations and condolences.
Here is one of our 1 day epics.
Bike for sale 08 KTM 450 exc
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