Rough ride

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Hal and I had planned for a couple of weeks to ride Seven Springs Rd. again. It wasn’t that it is such a great road, but we were intrigued by the thought of being able to go from Carefree/North Scottsdale, AZ to Childs (near power plant), and Fossil Creek Rd., all via dirt routes. We knew it would be a long day, so we got an early start (for us) and were out there by 10 a.m. We took a little longer to get going than I wanted, but it was partially my fault. Between me being disorganized and “losing” stuff in the car, and then Hal’s bike needing a jump start, it seemed to take extra long to get on the road. But, eventually, we did, and we set out to explore.

The day did not start out well:

The first part of FR24 was bladed and graded. It was pretty good, I thought, but then once we passed the campground I wanted to take back that thought. The rest of the road was as rough as … choose your own completion of the simile. I wasn’t too far into it, maybe 10 miles or so, when I realized I was already getting beaten up. By the end of the day, I was going to be really tired.

I am not a big fan of this road, maybe because I don’t have the suspension on the bike set up properly for my weight, or maybe I just don’t know how to ride. I ride really slowly. You’d think that having so much experience mountain biking would help me. Believe me, the two things bear no relation to each other. The only two similarities are that they are both on two wheels, and they are both in the dirt. After that, the similarities end. I have a shirt that says, “eat my dust.” The only things that eat my dust are turtles, and snails.

We kept going, though, determined to get as far as we could before we had to turn around. I thought we had the whole day and could get back after dark if we had to, but then Hal casually mentioned that he had accepted an invitation to a dinner party. I thought about how that would be the last thing I’d want to do, but kept that thought to myself!

The wildflowers were still blooming like crazy along FR24, and it was, as usual, windy and cool as we climbed in elevation. I love that! I didn’t stop to take too many photos, even though I promised myself I would, but I did manage to get this:

Weird rock formation:

Rock formations that pop up like that out of dissimilar terrain make me wonder what planet I am on. Sometimes I just wonder what planet I am on anyway, but that’s beside the point.

When FR24 ended, we took the right turn instead of the left turn, as we had in March when we were here last. This time we were searching for FR16, which was supposed to take us to Childs and the Verde River. Immediately when we turned onto FR16, I had to go through sand and a gravelly wash. At first I wasn’t thrilled with this, but then the road on the other side seemed better than FR24. Not for long, though. We came to a “Y” in the road. Hal’s directions (from Google maps) said to go down FR16A. I disagreed since the sign pointed one way towards the Verde River (FR16), or 1 mile to someone’s ranch (16A). Of course, we had to actually go down 16A to find out for real that it was a dead end into someone’s ranch, and not just rely on the map or the sign! It’s the same with GPS, and it’s why I don’t rely on GPS! I use the map, and common sense. Sometimes I can be so old school.

We kept climbing on FR16, and the road was rockier and narrower as we went. It was about  the width of a pickup, and rocky. Did I mention it was rocky? Oh, I thought so. How rocky and rough was it, you ask? Well, rocky enough that the taillight of Hal’s DRZ400 fell off about 2/3 into the ride. I couldn’t feel my hands or most of my arms by this point, so what did I care how far we went? After all, I didn’t have a  prissy little partay to go to later.

We stopped after about nine miles into FR16 for a total of about 35 miles. Should we turn around? It had been a couple of hours by this time, so then it was going to be at least another couple of hours back, but we decided to go to the highest point of the road that we could see. So we went another mile or so. A couple of sketchy climbs, and we were up. It was really pretty from this vantage point:

The desert plants are so green and amazing in the spring:

There’s always a freakin’ fence in the way:

My bike, at the highest point:

Speaking of things being in the way, those enormous metal power line towers with power lines strung between them were ever-present all day. As I always say, you can be out in the middle of nowhere and think you are so far from everyone, but there is always some reminder of civilization much too close at hand. Just to prove my point, after we turned around and made the descent, I kept seeing many sets of footprints in the sandy parts of the road. I knew they weren’t there on the way up, but thought I was seeing things. Until I turned a corner and saw about 10 people out walking. Where did they come from?? I thought. I also found this somewhat alarming. A little way up the road was the explanation. It was one of those huge sand rail things (that carry about 10 people) parked in a wash. (There is just no escaping them!!)

The only “excitement”  of the day was when I got a little sideways in one of the sandy parts of the road, but other than that, it was just the constant beating. Then, back on FR24, as I was dawdling along in a narrow verdant section, some guy on a big dual sport passed me doing about 60 mph on what I thought was a narrow ledge. I don’t know what I have to do to be able to ride like that, but maybe it would be to get some bigger cojones. I wish I knew where to get them because I would go there.

Toward the end of the ride there are two separate long steep climbs. They are just murderous, mostly because every time I’ve done them I was tired of being pounded. I was so sick of the bike’s back end bucking like crazy, and sick of constantly pushing back on the seat because I kept sliding forward, no matter if I was going up or down. I was getting a headache from all the jolting, too. Oh, c’mon man! I kept saying, because every time I thought I was almost at the top, I would come around a corner and there would be more to climb. They were ridiculous climbs. And of course, the fast guy’s two buddies passed me during the course of the rest of the trip so I could feel even more inadequate. Yay for that.

When we crossed into Maricopa County, the mile markers started counting down, with 16 being the first number. I knew the car was at MM5, so then I counted down, too. 9-8-7, then the campground where it was paved for a little while, and then it was reasonably smooth. Almost anything was reasonably smooth after what I’d been through. We hit MM6, and then finally 5.

I was glad to see the car when we got there, but after I parked my bike, I asked Hal to take me about a mile up the road two-up so I could shoot some video while I held the GoPro camera. He probably was ready to kill me by then because he was just as tired as I was. I actually thought it was fun, but I’m surprised I didn’t fall off. There are no passenger pegs on a dirt bike, at least on our two bikes, and I was leaning way down with the camera extended in my hand. Good thing I have good balance. And it’s especially great that Hal is a good rider! And that he puts up with ME.

Ready to leave, in more ways than one:

We were both “done,” so we loaded up and got out of there as soon as possible. It was about 4 o’clock, and we’d done about 70 rough miles. Hal dropped me and my bike off at my house first, and then went home. And he even had plenty of time to get prettied up for the dinner party!

So, what did we discover? That it is possible to take FR16 to the river, at least in theory, but we will have to find out another time if it’s possible to cross the river without getting wet. Or too wet, anyway. But if I come back, it will have to be after I sort out the suspension problem I am having with the TTR, or I might even have to bring the big dual sport bike!

But I don’t feel compelled to ride Seven Springs/Bloody Basin, etc.,  again very soon, at least not from the south end.

Did I mention it was rough? 😉


4 thoughts on “Rough ride

  1. That weird rock formation looks like something you would see over near Sedona, right? It is kind of shaped like Bell Rock.

    Hal looks like he is taking no chances when jumping his bike. After all, who knows what could go wrong. He is even wearing his helmet…I guess in case he falls over or something while waiting.

    It was rough thinking of what comments I should leave. Snarky. Congratulatory? Who can decide? Did I mention it was rough?

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