I lay between the cool sheets of my bed this morning, wanting a few more minutes of rest. I knew it was going to end up being a hot day, at least by recent standards, but I was looking forward to riding my GS bike in the desert. I pulled on some shorts and the obligatory Under Armour shirt, then geared up to go.
Hal and I started out our Sunday ride slowly, with breakfast at Denny’s in Fountain Hills. While we were there, we pored over maps while we ate, planning future trips. We have this crazy idea that we can get all the way north on dirt roads or trails to some of our favorite Rim towns, and it looks like it might be “do-able.” But some of the dirt roads look a little sketchy, so we will have to go out there and explore on our own. Oh, darn. LOL I actually can’t wait to go because I will have a local “adventure” to write about.
After breakfast, we got on the road, the Beeline Hwy., then took it north to the 188 turnoff. We were headed toward Roosevelt Dam, where we would pick up 88, which is the Apache Trail, an unpaved road that eventually becomes paved and meanders through Tortilla Flat, and then to Apache Junction.
Once we got behind the dam, we stopped for a few minutes to take a short break.
Behind the dam:
Evidence of low water levels:
(That is a cool geologic “upheaval” in the above photo!)
I started up the F650GS, turned off the ABS for dirt riding, and we got going.
The unpaved part of this road is only 22 miles long, but it goes up and down in elevation, and twists through several series of switchbacks, many of them either sandy or covered with pea-size gravel. It was very dusty as I rode, and I had to keep the visor on my helmet down or I would be eating more dust than I already was. Every time I put the tube from my Camelbak into my mouth to get a drink of water I got a mouthful of grit as well.
The road was busy, very crowded. People were out for a spring ride, or trailering their boats to and from either Roosevelt Lake or Apache Lake. The blue water sparkled in the distance as we made our way along the water system toward Tortilla Flat. I was hoping for a photo near the base of Fish Creek Hill, but Hal, who was in front of me, didn’t stop. There were so many people out there it probably wasn’t safe to do so anyway. Before I knew it, we were already at the bottom of FCH, and we started up right away. Luckily, there was no one directly in front of us because I like to climb steep grades relatively fast.
Oddly, I don’t mind climbing Fish Creek Hill, steep as it is and with no guard rails. Going up, we were on the outside, too, but for some reason, this doesn’t bother me. It only bothered me today when a jerk in a big pickup truck (what other kind of jerk is there?) stopped about 2/3 of the way up. We were a ways behind him, but he didn’t move, and I was left standing there precariously balanced on the steep grade, holding my 400 lb. GS bike with my right foot on the rear brake. He was in a turn, and it was too narrow for him and the car coming through from the other direction, and they were apparently having some kind of stare down to find out who would move first. Finally, he got going again, and so did we. This begs the question, of course, why he was driving that big truck on that narrow road (the answer is “ego”). There are other, paved routes available.
A couple of miles later, we were back on pavement headed slowly (behind a bunch of slowpokes) toward Tortilla Flat. As we crossed over the bridge there, water was flowing, so we had our little water crossing of the day. I pulled over for a moment to turn the engine off then back on to reset the ABS. Then we started toward Apache Junction. The pavement, which has been steadily deteriorating the last few years, was dreadful today. I am wondering if the several days of sustained freezing temperatures over the winter has expedited the process. Every place where the pavement had cracked, the sides of the crack had pushed up into a little peak. It seemed like there was one of those bumps every three feet or so. The pavement is deteriorating anyway, and those did not help.
What did it matter today anyway? We were behind a long line of traffic that was snaking down the mountains. All we could do was sit back and try to enjoy the scenery. When we got to the bottom, almost all of the traffic disappeared into the touristy stops along the road. Can I just say that I am really sick of tourist traps? And that I want them (the tourists and snowbirds) to all go home soon? They will when it reaches 100°, which will be in the not too distant future.
Soon we were back to town, having a nice cup of coffee to end our ride. Then I was back in the garage with the day over way too soon. But at least my bike was nice and dusty, the good result of another great ride.