When I woke up today, I knew it was going to be a fun, leisurely day with the promise of a good ride ahead. I got to sleep in, and after I had a cup of coffee, I cleaned all the grunge off my road bike from the frolic in the snow yesterday, then I got out my big dual sport, my BMW F650GS. I love this bike, as I love all my bikes, but this one was the one I did my first real touring on, and it goes anywhere, dirt or street.
We had planned to do an easy, short ride, up Mt. Ord between Fountain Hills and Payson, Arizona. It is on “the list” for destinations in our riding contest, and today was the perfect day to do it. Hal said it wasn’t going to take long to ride to the top, but I thought I remembered it taking a while last time I did it. He was on his Suzuki DRZ400 today, the one he rode all the way to New Mexico last November. Anyway, we started out by going to Denny’s in Fountain Hills for a late breakfast/early lunch, and then we fueled up the bikes and headed toward Mt. Ord.
Remember the last time I tried this? When I got to the dirt then, I refused to ride any farther than about five feet because the mud was ridiculous and I had those stupid tires that I hated (long gone now, thank goodness). When I reached the unpaved part of the road today, I found hard-packed dirt. Easy. I stood up on the pegs and got going.
On several places on the narrow road up, there is a spectacular view of the 87 far below us. The vehicles on the road looked like ants. I didn’t dare look too long, though. There wasn’t much room for error. It’s an easy fire road, but it’s narrow.
The climb is kind of steep in some places, and at one point I went down a short steep grade, turned hard left, and found myself going up a grade with snow in front of me! But it was only about a 30 foot long patch, and it was mostly broken through to dirt. I was up the grade before I had time to freak out and worry about sliding, and then I was in hard packed, dry, but rutted dirt again. I thought I was near the top already, and I was right! I went around a few more turns, and then I was there. It had only taken about 20 min. to ride up.
Here’s what I saw while we were up there:
Then we started back down. I thought it was going to be scary going down, I haven’t done this road too many times, and only once on the GS, but it was easy.
Here is part of the road on the way down. Thanks, Hal, for taking these cool photos:
Somehow photos never show how steep the grade is on these fire roads!
On the way up, I forgot to air down my tires, so when we came down, I at least aired down the front. It was bouncing around too much on the way up, and when I let a couple of pounds out to ride down, it was so different. It felt so much better. A couple of pounds made a huge difference, and I keep forgetting that. I guess I should ride off-pavement more often.
So, before I hit the paved highway again, I put those couple of pounds of air back in. Well, Hal did it for me (another reason I have a kind riding partner!).
I started using these light-weight, small bicycle pumps because they don’t take up much room in my gear bag, and they don’t weigh anything. It also takes less effort than you’d think to get a couple of pounds into a motorcycle tire. Just ‘cuz it’s bigger doesn’t mean it’s more difficult. I used to use a little compressor that I plugged into my accessory plug, but it took up too much space, it weighed a lot, and it blew one of the fuses on my bike. Forget it.
Time to “get on home.”
Don’t you love this bike? I do. Right after I rode up and down the unpaved steep grades of Mt. Ord, I was cruising down the highway at 65 mph, about as fast as Hal wanted to go on the DRZ. This bike does everything well for me, and as many years and miles as I’ve had it, I still love it.
We ended the day with a couple of cups of coffee at my house while we watched the birds. It was a nice relaxing ending to a great day!
Wow, this has been a great riding weekend!