“What does the (bike) say?”
I know the bike said, “Are you kidding me?” a couple of times on Sunday as we picked our way through rocks riding on FR203 between Globe, Arizona, and Young, Arizona. How I ended up there was a long story …
It all started weeks ago when my husband, Desmond, and his brother, Pat, planned to go hunting in the area. Pat went up early to scout the area, and found a place off Cherry Creek Rd., aka FR203, so at the end of last week, Pat and Desmond went up with our neighbors to camp and hunt. Desmond asked me if I was going to ride the dirt bike up there, too, and since I have wanted to for a while, I said I would.
So, Hal drove over this morning and brought his bike on the trailer, then we loaded mine, too. We ate bagels and cream cheese before we left, then drove through Superior, and Globe, to state route 188. At the intersection with SR288, the memories were vivid from the day my F650GS broke down there. Hal drove past “the spot,” I hardly dared to look at it, and soon we were at Cherry Creek Rd. We parked the car and unloaded the bikes.
Early in the ride, I took this photo of Hal to show the magnitude of the area:
I hadn’t been able to be in touch with Desmond because there was no cell phone service where the guys were camping, so I didn’t know what the plans for the day were. I just knew that they were camping around 20 miles in. Before we got there, though, I saw Pat’s truck coming toward me, followed by Desmond, a passenger in Kerri’s truck. They were headed out, but Pat was going to return Monday (another long story). I said hi and bye to Desmond, and told him I’d see him at home later, and then we went to the camp, where Steve would stay until Pat returned on Monday. Hal and I talked to him for a little while, and after we looked at one of his maps, we thought about going north.
View from the campsite:
The road, up to this point, had been easy, most of it wide, reasonably smooth, but about a mile before we reached the camp, started to get rocky. In fact, I had almost missed the sign (made out of a paper plate) pointing to the camp because I was in a pile of rocks at the time and could barely turn the bike. Hal and I had done part of this route before from Young (FR54), but never found 203 to hook up with it. While we were talking to Steve and looking at his map, we decided to go north.
A mile or two north of the campsite:
Right out of the camp was a very rocky stretch of road. I thought the road would soon revert to the condition of the first 20 miles, but it never did. It was rocks, rocks, and more rocks for 21 miles. There were many stretches of babyhead rocks, but also many pretty turns under canopies of lovely autumn leaves burnished red, gold, and bronze.
It was slow going, and we did not know exactly how many miles it was north to where FR203 curved back to the 288. We kept going and going, and soon even the rocks didn’t seem so worrisome anymore. We kept looking over the edge at the amazing scenery in the distance, and far below. The road was narrow, very rough, but very beautiful. The terrain was mountainous and rugged.
Finally, we came around a curve, and I had to lean the bike far over to the right to get out of the way of a group of quads that came down a hill and around a corner. I got up into the pullout at the corner, and for a moment my attention was on the last of the quads as they came down. Then, I looked up. It was an oh sh*t moment. The trail, if you want to call it that, went straight up, and it was all rocks. I didn’t sit there and think too long, though, because I knew if I did I wouldn’t go up. So, I twisted the throttle and started to climb.
(No photos here, too busy riding!)
I stuck to the right side, which seemed a little “smoother,” a relative term. Hal had been in front of me, but he somehow got way over on the left side, where he stopped. I thought he was probably all right, so I kept going. No way was I going to stop in the middle of that rocky climb. Finally, I reached what I thought was the top, and I went around a bend. It was not the top. I was only halfway there. You’ve gotta be kidding, I thought. I kept going, and now I could see where I was headed. Once again, it was straight up and through the rocks, but there was something familiar about the ridge where I was going. Could it really be the 288?
At last, I went up and over a small rise, the road flattened out and became an actual road complete with a stop sign. I had reached the 288! Hal was not far behind me, and we both pulled up on the far side of the road out of the traffic lane. We laughed in triumph, and high-fived, a tradition we’d started on that very first trip after we’d successfully made it up the Moki Dugway as inexperienced riders.
The 288 looked like a freeway compared to what we’d been riding the last couple of hours, and we were ready to get back to the car. It was 30 miles away, but we knew it wasn’t going to take very long at all. We were able to ride very fast, and I was getting a little cold. It was cool and windy, and I was sweaty from riding hard through the rocks. But I wasn’t complaining. It was a fun, fast ride, dropping back down in elevation, from the forest to the desert, with the bonus of gorgeous views of Roosevelt Lake glinting in the sun below us. When we reached the car, we had ridden a total of 70 miles.
Funnel-web spider’s shimmery, silvery web, near the car:
We loaded up, and soon we were in the car on the way home. We stopped for dinner when we were near my house because we still hadn’t had anything to eat since that bagel we’d each had for breakfast. Tired and happy, I made it home at last. Desmond was already there, smiling, with a beer in his hand, to greet us, and Hal unloaded my bike.
From the garage, the bike echoed what I said to my riding partner as he got into his car to head for home: “Thanks for a great day!”