Off-pavement riding to get in a “few” miles


My riding partner, Hal, and I went to Kearny, AZ  on Sunday via the Florence-Kelvin Hwy., an unpaved but easy smooth surface road. Near Kearny, it climbs and twists, but it isn’t difficult at all. I also added Freeman Rd. for this trip, which is part of the network of roads between Florence, AZ and Oracle, AZ. I wanted a good ride to get this cold/congestion sickness out of me. I hate coughing and blowing my nose, and the only way for me to fix it is to get on the bike. I almost achieved my goal by the end of the day, but I really needed another day. I didn’t think that would go over well at work, to call in sick and go riding, though. I don’t think they’d understand that it is what I do instead of spending money running to some quack doctor’s office.

Florence-Kelvin starts out paved, but it is a narrow rural road. Usually, when I get to the unpaved part, I slow down, and if I have the F650GS, I have to stop, air down, and turn off my ABS. Today when I reached the unpaved part, I didn’t slow down, and I had to ask myself, what just happened?  The small dual sport bike floated over the washboard sections like I was still on pavement. It was an amazing moment. I was not in a great mood up until then, but after that I couldn’t stop smiling. The suspension is excellent, probably the best of the dual sports that I own.

We continued riding Florence-Kelvin all the way to just west of Kearny, and then we stopped for breakfast at West End Café. It wasn’t as empty as it was a few weeks ago when we were there, but almost. We settled down to drink coffee and watch the football game that was on the big screen TV in the corner. At least until some bighead sat right in my line of sight. Hal changed places with me then, and I got to watch the game anyway.

Breakfast was good when we got it, although for some reason I wasn’t as hungry as I’d thought I was. I enjoyed what I ate, though, and soon we were back on the bikes. We stopped in Winkleman to gas up, and then it was another fruitless hunt for the elusive road to hook up with Freeman Rd., which we wanted to take up and over to the 79. We used the same access as last time, but I know there is an easier way.

My idea was to get to Freeman Rd., and then trace the access road back toward Winkleman and Kearny. We went that way for about seven miles, then gave up as the afternoon began to progress. But in the middle of that road I thought I saw the lane I’d ridden with another rider a few years ago. I wanted to ride it back to the main highway to check it, but Hal kept going back towards Freeman. Well, okay. Maybe next time.

We got back to Freeman Rd., crossed the railroad tracks, and turned onto it. It crosses a sandy wash, and then climbs up in a series of short tight turns. Up on top, it becomes as easy as Florence Kelvin Hwy., in other words, a dirt super highway. We happily rode along it at high speed (for us). There was only one point where I went too fast into a deep sand wash. For a moment I must have thought I was on the F650GS with the TKC-80 on the back. I expected it to bite into the sand, but I forgot which bike I was on. The small dual sport I was riding has less aggressive tires, and I found myself on the edge of the deep sand, killing the engine. Oh well. That was on me. I restarted the bike and we continued.

We stopped a few miles from the end to take a few photos near a trailhead of the Arizona trail. I am not sure who benefits from the Arizona trail as it only caters to a select few, like hikers and horse riders. Some parts of it are open to mountain bikers, too, but some are not. As I stood there, I remarked that I wondered what would happen when mountain bike riders (I am one of them) would suddenly get to a part that is closed. What are they/we supposed to do? Go back?

So, we spent a few minutes there, taking pictures of the bikes against the backdrop of the mountains. Before we had stopped, Hal saw a “four point buck” run across the road, but I never saw it. As we were stopped, we looked in vain for signs of it. Then we got back on the bikes and rode toward Florence.

We gassed up again in Florence, then chose to take Hunt Hwy. to my house. It was still the traffic mess it was a few years ago, which was the last time I’d taken it. It was even worse than it was then, and now it is the height of gross, blatant urban sprawl, commercialism, and greed. The Earth is a finite resource, people.

I was starting to get tired (mostly from carrying a heavy backpack all day) and cold, and every mile at that point was a long mile. We turned onto Lindsay Rd. from Riggs Rd., and we passed the former ranch house (and ranch) that was abandoned and nearly destroyed by bulldozers when we saw it a year ago. It is now reduced to a pile of rubble, as you might imagine. I am glad I photographed it then so that someone can remember it as it was.

Finally, we made it to my house, 230 miles total for the day. I am looking forward to time off for the holidays. I will celebrate by being on the little dual sport and riding it as much as possible. That is my idea of a perfect holiday!

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6 thoughts on “Off-pavement riding to get in a “few” miles

  1. You teased us with a comment early in the post. How did you do with the dust and wind when you were congested? I am sure it doesn’t matter, though. Riding, even when you are sick, is better than a day without riding, right? Hey, don’t forget to tell riding partner to drop me a note so I can reach out to him.

    • Riding helped me a lot, Randy. I did want one more day, though, to finish the sickness off. But since I had to go to work, I am still suffering with some of the effects. It was fun to try to run my classroom with no voice yesterday. (not)

      I will remind HK again that he needs to get in touch with you. I did tell him the first time.

      I can’t wait to get out on that bike again! 🙂 There will be many stories to tell soon!

      • HK reached out. Thanks for the extra pressure.

        I know Jewel and Pearl, but they are both Beemers. Who is this bike, and what have you done with Jewel? I know they are your babies, but which bike do you prefer (all things being equal)?

      • New Kawasaki! I still have all the other bikes, but am thinking about selling the Yamaha. I can’t keep up all these bikes, and a couple are languishing in the garage now. Which do I prefer? It depends on the season. In the summer, it’s the F800ST, and in the cool weather, it’s the dirt bikes, but riding long distances and exploring in the dirt is more and more my preference

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