Big dual sport riding, and a bad ending to a good day

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Sunday’s planned dual sport motorcycle ride was to ride the Rim Road, FR300, from Woods Canyon Lake west to near Strawberry, AZ. However, during the month it was planned, other riders had been saying how much snow there was there, and that the road was still closed. So, plans were changed to ride FR512 to Young, AZ, and then south on 288 to pick up the 188, and go home from there. However, much to my surprise, it was decided at breakfast in Payson, AZ that we would ride both. I thought, what??? There went my idea of maybe getting home fairly early so I could get some (music) practicing done.

I was up for it, though. It was time to meet my “dirt hangups” head-on. After last week’s rough ride at Seven Springs, and then the criticism I received for not standing up the whole ride (which I normally do) I was ready for redemption. The fact is, on that previous ride I was trying to keep the back end of the bike (the TTR225) from “bucking,” and at the time it seemed like a good idea! On Sunday, I got out the “big guns” and brought my F650GS. I thought, what’s the difference how big it is? It will be more comfortable, and it’s a dirt bike.

So, we left Crosswinds restaurant, fueled up in Strawberry, and then rode up on the Rim to find FR300, which is not too far past the intersection of 87 and the 260. Those who wanted to aired down their tires, including me, and then we were off. The ride leader, Don S., put me up front behind Hal. I figured that was going to make for some really pissed off people since I am slow, but no one passed me, and no one complained (at least not so I could hear it), during the ride. I was going fast, though, for me.

Up on the Rim:

The most surprising thing was the condition of the road. Far from being under snow, or muddy, the road was extremely dusty! It was rough in some spots, I thought, but the bike’s suspension was working to keep me comfortable. There were a few places where there were patches of snow on the sides of the road, but the road itself was dry. Really dry. I was only behind one rider, but the dust was bad enough. I can only imagine how bad it was being behind six or seven riders.  By the time we got to Woods Canyon Lake, we were all covered in dust to some degree.

A dusty trail:

Self portrait:

I noticed how I was not being beat up as I had been on the Seven Springs ride, thanks to the proper suspension on the F650GS. I was standing on the pegs, too, but after an hour or so my feet hurt. The  foot pegs on this bike are those evil skinny ones that give almost no support. I don’t know why they put a narrow peg on a bike that is supposed to be ridden in the dirt. It hurts to stand on them for any length of time.

After we pulled into the rest area, a few people left for home. On hindsight, I wish I would have. But for then, I was having fun and wasn’t done riding for the day. So, we all went on to Young. They put me in the back this time. Ha. There ya go.

The road was rough, the roughest I’d seen 512 for a while. I used to travel it a lot when my brother-in-law owned a house there so I am reasonably familiar with it. I still was going fast, for me. We made it to Young from the 260 in a little over 30 minutes, a record for me. We stopped in Young at the new Antlers, a Young icon, for peach-rhubarb cobbler (sounds weird, tastes great!). It was definitely worth the ride.

At the new Antlers:

After we’d finished, the ride definitely split up. Most went “the south road” toward home (288), and were going to either go north or south on the 188 when they reached it. Two riders left about five minutes in front of us, and then Hal and I, the last riders to leave, started down the south road. Again, we found it dusty and rough, and again I realized that I was not nearly as tired as I had been last week. No wonder I love my GS so much.

I turned the GoPro camera on during this leg of the ride because I found the scenery so pretty. This road is aptly named the “Desert to Tall Pines” road. We were up in the pines at this point, climbing for a while. As you may expect, what goes up must come down, so next we began the descent toward Roosevelt Lake. It was truly beautiful with the lake shimmering in the valley below, and in the distance, the dark silhouettes of the mountains were against the afternoon sun. Finally, we reached the intersection of 288 and 188. We paused for a moment, and I asked Hal to turn the camera off, but it was already off. The card was full. We made the left turn onto 188, and that’s when disaster struck.

As I got to the top half of the turn onto 188, I felt something “let go” in my bike’s engine. It died, then the bike coasted to a stop. I was fortunate that I got it to the shoulder of the road as the turn is on a fairly steep grade. I would not have been able to push the bike off the road because it’s too heavy for me to push at all, let alone uphill. I knew the bike wasn’t going to re-start. What I felt was fatal, at least until it can be fixed by a mechanic. And, the worst part was, it was already getting late. I could see myself not getting home until very late. And how was I going to do that?? All this flashed through my mind in the seconds after the bike quit.

Meantime, Hal finally figured out that I was not behind him, and he came back to find out what was going on. I know he was not happy. I heard him on the phone a few minutes later canceling an RSVP to yet another dinner party. I told him to go, but he wouldn’t. I called my husband and asked him to bring the truck, the ramp, tie-downs, and my brother-in-law. I was not going to be able to get that 400+ lb. bike up onto the pickup without a lot of help, and maybe the strategic use of a landform. Hal found a ditch that we could have Desmond drive the truck into, get the front wheels to go up the other side so the back end would be almost level with the ground. If it would work, it would be perfect. Meanwhile, the wait began. We were 15 miles outside of Globe, AZ, and it was going to take a couple of hours for the guys and the truck to get there.

Disabled GS at the side of the road:

While I waited, Hal and I sat and talked, and I also took photos of the things around me. I know, idle hands are the devils’ workshop and all that, but after a while, I was getting bored.

Hole with big ants (I almost sat in some of them!)

Caterpillar trying to make himself invisible to us:

Pretty wildflowers:

Dusk falls over Roosevelt Lake:

Bike comes home on the truck. Oh, the shame of it:

Just as it got dark, the boys showed up with the truck, and we got the bike onto it quickly and much more easily than I’d thought. Then we got going on the 1-1/2 hour drive home, following Hal, who had to ride his bike because there wasn’t room to put both bikes onto the truck. I got home at 9:30, 14 hours after leaving, with work looming the next day.

I hope the bike can be fixed soon. I need it for the rally, coming up May 17. It’s not that I can’t ride my F800ST, it’s because I need the dual sport for this rally. The rally site is surrounded by fabulous dirt roads to explore, and I was counting on doing that even if I had to wait until I was riding home. We’ll see what happens.

Did I find “redemption” on this ride? Well, sort of. I thought I did a capable job of riding, but the main thing is I was a lot more comfortable at the end of the ride, abrupt and unexpected as the end was, than I was last week. But I didn’t expect my bike to come home in the bed of the pickup truck!


2 thoughts on “Big dual sport riding, and a bad ending to a good day

  1. Photo of the day: Dusk at Roosevelt Lake. I like that, with the sun highlighting the grasses in the foreground, and the water reflecting the sun’s final rays in the back. Very nice.

    Hmm. OK, the GS, a dual sport, is down. I assume that a GS is good for both dirt and street riding? That implies that the problem with the F800 is that it is street only? So the suspension must be different? Why would you have a bike that doesn’t work for both, since I often read about going back and forth between the surface types? What am I missing?

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