Exploring off road

Today my faithful riding partner, Hal, and I explored a new (to us) unpaved road near Roosevelt Lake in Tonto Basin, AZ. We didn’t want to spend the entire day, so the plan was to have a late breakfast nearby, then go to the road known as A-Cross Rd. The plan was to ride the whole thing if it was super-easy, or more likely, go in a few miles and then turn around and come back the same way.

We met in Fountain Hills. I was on my 2006 BMW F650GS, and Hal was on his DRZ400. Of the many reasons why, if I am going to go for the day, I wouldn’t want anything other than a BMW, are the heated  grips, and the accessory plug to plug in my heated jacket liner. Today was one of the days I appreciated those features most, as I felt cold almost from the beginning of the ride. I am not sure why I felt so cold. It was only two weeks ago that we rode up to the snow for the first time, and I felt warm and comfortable during that whole ride. Perhaps it was the wind today, which was blowing energetically, mostly from the southeast. By the time we got to the restaurant, Butcher Hook, we were both frozen. I felt worse for Hal, though, with no heated grips and definitely no electrics. Not only that, but no wind protection either. At least I had given him the option of just going to Denny’s in Fountain Hills, but he had said “no.”

After warming up with several cups of coffee and a big breakfast, we set out to find A-Cross. It was easy since I “cheated” and looked at the map! It was directly across from El Oso Rd., which is the road up and over Four Peaks, which we pass every time we leave town on the 87. I had noticed as we passed earlier in the day that there was plenty of snow clinging to the shadowy north side, in the craggy parts where there was no road.

We turned into A-Cross and found an easy, graded road. Wow, I thought, if it’s like this, we can ride it easily. Within a short distance, it became paved! I was amazed, and a little disappointed, but I was sure the pavement would soon be gone. I was right, and then we got into the real road. Whenever I see the sign that says, “Primitive road, not regularly maintained. Use at your own risk,” I know it’s going to get scary at some point.  The road got rougher with more rocks, but it wasn’t too bad. It also turned to hard-packed mud, but the problem with it was it was rutted in some areas. I still didn’t think it was too bad, but I wasn’t going to set any land speed records going through it either. There were a few steep uphills and downhills, too, and one in particular I hoped I wouldn’t meet anyone going the other way. There wasn’t any place for me to pull over, nor was there a safe place for me to put my feet down. Luckily, I didn’t have to stop because no one met us coming from the opposite direction, at least on the steep parts. Other people were out there; not many, but a few. When we got to a high point, I found a wide spot in the road and stopped to get some photos. Here they are:

This was the first view of Four Peaks from the back, not the side I usually see:

That didn’t do the scene justice, so I had to try some panorama shots:

This was the view in the opposite direction:

And this is a view of the road I had just ridden up:

We looked at the time, and then decided to turn around today, but come back soon so we can ride the entire road the 25 miles to the 288. So this time we rode A-Cross back down to the 188, from whence we had come.

When we reached the 188, the weather turned overcast and the wind was still blowing. I thought the temperature was dropping, too. Hal wanted to go back through Globe because he thought it was shorter. I didn’t, but I did think it would be warmer. It wasn’t either thing, and I could not believe how cold I was. At least I could turn up my jacket liner, and the grips, but Hal could not.

After Globe, I really knew how cold it was when I saw plenty of snow at Top-of-the World, which is normally a cool relief in summer, but today was super cold.  By the time we got to Superior, I was glad to feel the temperature going up at last, and then as we came over Gonzalez Pass, I saw that the veil of overcast was drawing back, and we would soon leave it behind. Typical. I could be suffering through a snowstorm and then get back to the Valley and no one here would have any idea that was all going on where I had been.

We stopped in Gold Canyon to fuel up after a full day of riding, and I discovered that the bike got 68.3 mpg. Not as great as with the summer fuel mix, but still quite good. By the time I got home, I was much warmer, as the temperature was quite different from what we’d been riding in all day. Later, after unpacking and putting everything away, I took a nice hot shower, which I felt like I really earned today!

We will soon go back to A-Cross Rd., though, so look for the complete story in the near future.


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