Dec. 26, 2013
In an effort to accomplish as many epic rides in a week as possible, Hal and I decided to ride Seven Springs Rd. north east of Phoenix, to FR269, which goes west to I-17. I took the Kawasaki as the bike of choice for the day, and we rode from my house in Gilbert.
After a somewhat late start because we wanted the outside temperature to warm up a little bit, we were on the way. We took a route that avoided the freeways. We went to Fountain Hills, then through Rio Verde, west on Dynamite Rd., to Pima Rd., which we took all the way to Cave Creek. We had to stop and fuel up there because the Kawasaki has a small gas tank. We also filled up the fuel bottles because we were going to be in a remote area with no available gas stations.
We left Cave Creek about 11:15 and were soon on FR24, the Seven Springs Rd. It twists and turns, but it is paved for about two or three miles. Six miles in is the camp ground and a small water crossing, but then the road gets rough after that. I certainly didn’t feel it as much on the Kawasaki as I have in the past on the Yamaha. It’s amazing how good a ride can be when the suspension on your bike is working properly! Even the two descents weren’t too bad, however, while on the first descent, I had my first “oh sh*t” moment of the day when a jeep came toward me, flying along. I had to slow down and move over, but when I hit the brakes, no big knobby tire was on the back, and I slid. Every time I get into trouble on a bike, it’s because of worn out dual sport tires. I should know better. Nothing really happened except a slide, but then again the big drop-off on the right side made me think twice.
Soon we were on the narrow roadway that passed through the verdant area by the river, and right after that is the intersection with FR269. We stopped at the Great Western Trail/Bloody Basin sign to take a break for a few minutes, and I discovered a surveyor’s mark embedded in a small piece of concrete in the middle of that intersection. I think many people drive over it and don’t even know it’s there. I have been there three times already and first saw it on this trip.
We turned west on FR269, determined to get to I-17 this time. I had no idea what the road was like, but thought it was wide and graded, easy for people to get to I-17. Not so. As I rode it, I thought it was a somewhat challenging road for people in vehicles other than dirt bikes. In my opinion, it was a road that you could never relax and say to yourself, “oh, it’s easy from here.” There was always something to watch out for: deep ruts, a big hole in the middle of it for no apparent reason, steep climbs and tight switchbacks with marble-y gravel over hard-packed clay. The scenery was beautiful, though, and we were within the Agua Fria National Monument for most of this segment of the ride. We went to I-17, a distance from the intersection of FR24 and FR269 of 27 miles.
We stopped for a few minutes at a pullout that explained the Agua Fria National Monument, which we were riding through at that point. I always learn something on these rides. There are so many interesting things in remote areas that only a few people get a chance to visit.
By this time it was getting later in the afternoon, and we wanted to be back on pavement, on the way home, by the time the sun set, so instead of exploring further, which we wanted to do, we elected to turn around and go back the way we’d come. There were several steep, tight switchbacks on the long descent back to FR24. Trust me when I say there were a couple more “oh sh*t” moments coming down that thing.
You can almost see me descending, on the right hand side, that tiny white dot made by my helmet (thanks to Hal for taking this photo!):
When we got back to the intersection of 269 and 24, I still had not gone on the “reserve” fuel setting, but we dumped all the spare fuel we had into the Kawi’s tank. I already had 87 miles on that tank of gas, which means the bike got about 80 mpg. The total distance in the dirt was about 100 miles for the day, and since it was a rough road, I would say I got a good workout from most of it. Recent rains probably contributed to the roughness of the road. Nearing the end, we were able to fly along on FR24 on the way back, but we only just got out by the time the sun went down.
We rode home the same way, and the temperature plummeted. On my Kawasaki, I do not have accessory plugs to plug in my heated jacket, nor do I have heated grips. I am really roughing it. It’s unfortunate that I get very cold very quickly, and on the way home, my hands were frozen. Later, I found out Hal’s were frozen, too, so I didn’t feel so bad. We stopped in Fountain Hills at the Denny’s for some hot coffee (to wrap our frozen hands around the mugs) and to split a sandwich, since we hadn’t had anything to eat since breakfast before leaving. That was okay, I’d eaten too much the day before for Christmas dinner, but I’d used up plenty of energy during the ride.
The last 20 miles home from Fountain Hills were cold, but I made it home without freezing to death! Despite the cold, I was really happy with my day, although 7 Springs and all the nearby roads still are not among my favorites. I was glad to be out exploring and riding all day.
Saturday, we ride the Florence area, probably through some sand, and then Monday, another epic ride which may include Four Peaks, A-Cross Rd., and then the Apache Trail to home. That should be another good full mileage day for us!