The ‘silver lining’ ride

Alex, on the way up Mt. Ord:


Sunday, while out on our weekly dirt ride, Hal and I encountered another snake, this one a baby rattler. They are amazing little beings, but before we got to the snake, a few other things happened; some of them weren’t so good, but ended up being for the best.

Saturday morning we had spent our time at Victory BMW at their pancake breakfast. Hal and I, and a few other members, set up our AZBeemers club booth to promote our club. We had a few visitors over the two hours we were there, and then we packed up for the day. The reason I mention it is because since we had already spent half the day on Saturday doing “motorcycle” things, it left us with about a half day for riding on Sunday, hence the choice of a shorter ride, riding Mt. Ord.

We got going Sunday morning on the dirt bikes with the plan that we’d stop at Denny’s in Fountain Hills for breakfast. When we got there, we found Denny’s being “renovated,” and not open. It’s not a good sign when you see the food display cases of a restaurant out in the parking lot, which is filled with dumpsters! This proved to be a good thing, though, because we had to find somewhere else to eat.

First, Hal mentioned that Subway now had breakfast sandwiches, but then he looked up, saw McDonald’s, and said, “Let’s go to McDonald’s!” He likes their breakfasts, so we crossed through the stoplight and went into the parking lot. It was a zoo, there was no place to park, and people were driving every which way. Forget that! we both thought.

We rode west on Shea Blvd. about a quarter of a mile, and turned into the big parking lot of a shopping center, which was mostly deserted. I pointed to the Subway near the southeast corner, and we rode over to it. The “Open” sign was on, so why not? That had been the first place that came to mind. We pulled in right in front of the store, but instead of going through all the de-gearing only to find it wasn’t really open, we checked inside first. It was! Let’s check out their breakfasts, I thought. I was hoping they had coffee, an important ingredient at breakfast, at least for me. They did!

Best breakfast, at Subway:

We were the only ones in the store, and I am not sure why, because we found great menu choices, and nice people ready to serve us. Plus, they were wearing plastic food handling gloves (as always), which, in my opinion, is mandatory. Hal and I chose a foot-long bacon, cheese, and egg sandwich on flatbread, added a little spinach, and we were set. We split it, and it was plenty to eat. When we went to get the coffee, we found that not only was it GOOD, it was served at the perfect temperature to be able to drink immediately, and they had the French Vanilla creamers that we love. The whole meal cost us less than half of what we would have paid at Denny’s, and it was twice as good. There was less food, but the perfect amount that we eat, no overeating or waste involved. It was a very pleasant experience, and we will go back to Subway from now on! Soon we left Subway, then stopped at the obligatory fuel stop. And then we were on the road up to Mt. Ord, about 40 miles from Fountain Hills.

The road to the top of Mt. Ord is short, only about six miles long, and I figured we’d spend about an hour and a half there, one hour going up and then coming down, a half hour or so at the top looking at the view. Before we went up, we put on a couple more layers of clothing because it was windy, and experience has taught me that it’s usually much colder up on top. Happily, I rode into the dirt, thinking about the time I refused to ride my F650GS when I saw it was all mud. That’s the thing with the KLX: I spend my time enjoying my ride, not half of it dreading what might come next and wondering how quickly I can get out of the dirt.

Hal putting more layers on:

We started up the long steep grade that leads to the part of the road that is lined with tall pines. About a mile or so into it, we had to pull over to the side to let a four-wheeled vehicle come by. After the car passed, I waited for Hal to get going again, but he didn’t! Come on! I thought. I was precariously balanced, what with the strong wind blowing and my right foot holding the brake, a several hundred-foot drop-off on my right. Then I saw that his bike lights weren’t on. His DRZ had stalled, and wouldn’t start again! Crap, I thought, there goes our day.


After we discussed the situation, Hal was going to try to point the bike down the grade and see if it would “bump start.” That means starting it in second gear while it is moving. So, we turned my bike around as well and walked it down to where the DRZ was. I had gone up a short distance to try to find a flatter and less precarious area to park my bike. Another car came down. “What are these people doing up there??” I asked Hal in annoyance. I am sick of cagers taking their vehicles on dirt roads where they shouldn’t be anyway, and then we have to move out of their way.

“I don’t know,” he said as he looked at the DRZ, clearly frustrated as well since there was nothing obviously wrong with his bike.

Broken DRZ:

So, he got on the DRZ, ahead of me, thinking we’d at least coast it down and back to pavement, and if it fired, that would be a bonus. He took off, and I went slowly after him. After a few hundred feet, I saw that the DRZ was running, and that was a relief. At least we’d make it back to the highway, which would make it easier if we had to be “rescued.”

When we got to the bottom, Hal pulled over. “Do you want to take a layer off?” he asked me.

“Yes!” I said. Even though I was wearing a mesh jacket, I could see myself roasting in the heat of the Valley as we returned. He was going to try to ride all the way back home.

We were talking above the roar of the engine about how another day was going to get spoiled, and we only had so much time and we’d just wasted an hour, which was our riding time for the day. Somehow the subject of going back up Mt. Ord came up. “Well, we could probably do it,” said Hal, “the bike seems to be okay. Here, let me do something first, though.” He was going to adjust the idle set screw, turn it up a little bit, and I needed to hold the throttle partially open so the bike wouldn’t die until he adjusted the screw. So I did, and then Hal thought that was the answer to the problem.

“Do you want to go back up?” he said.

“Of course, but what I don’t want is to get all the way up there, then the bike won’t start, and then we are six miles in instead of at the bottom.”

“So, head home?” Hal asked.

“That would probably be the sensible thing to do,” I answered, sadly. But I shouldn’t have said that word. “Sensible.”

“Sensible!” he scoffed. “Then I should just peel this ‘ADV’ sticker right off my bike!” Grrrrr!

“Okay, fine,” I said. “Maybe it will be okay. Plus, it’s all downhill if it breaks while it’s up there!” So, with that decided, we went back up Mt. Ord!

Up on top, finally:

And, I’m glad. The bike ran fine. We were up in about 15 minutes. We enjoyed the views, but didn’t enjoy the other people that were on top.

View of Hwy. 87 from the top of Mt. Ord:

Twisted tree:

“Cages” on top (ugh):

Gratuitous ‘wildlife’ shot (can you see the dog? it is the same color as the dirt!)

We got some photos. We started heading down. It was a lovely ride, and I loved my KLX even more. I never thought I’d be able to ride like this, and enjoy every moment.

About halfway down, Hal pulled over to the side. I looked down as I was riding … and lifted my right foot off the peg! A baby rattlesnake was in the road, and he was mad!

Baby snake! See the rattles on his tail?:

We pulled over and got photos, from a safe distance. The little guy shook his tail at us, and looked like he wanted to launch himself at us. We still took pictures! Then, we had to find a l-o-n-g stick to lift him to the side of the road. We knew there was a car somewhere behind us, and we did not want it to run over the little snake! He got the idea, and slithered off into the brush.

Disappearing into the underbrush (look carefully, a little below the center of the photo):

Hal had turned his bike off on top, and it had restarted without a problem, but would it again? I wondered. Yes! It started right up. I still don’t know what the problem was when it quit, and why it wouldn’t restart. Oh well, it was running now.

We made it back down to Hwy. 87, and then we rode home. The temperature was fine until we got back into town and had to stop for every stoplight between the edge of town and home. I had not removed that extra shirt that I’d put on, and it didn’t matter until we reached town, where we roasted at every light. I am not looking forward to summer; I hate it, and the heat is starting already.

At home, Hal and I sat on the porch, cooled down, and had a big glass of lemonade. It turned out to be a great day, even though we used up more than half the day with riding. Maybe it was good that the DRZ had the mysterious problem, though; if it hadn’t, we wouldn’t have gotten to see the baby snake!


3 thoughts on “The ‘silver lining’ ride

  1. I’m glad you didn’t kill the snake.
    Sounds like its time for Hal to get a new bike. Something with fuel injection and a 6 speed would be a bonus. Has he ever been stranded?

    • I would never kill an animal. I “catch it” from other people, though, for letting things live. I think scorpions are beautiful little things and I don’t kill them either.
      Yes, I agree. Yes, we’ve been stranded. Several times. Had to ride out on my bike, whichever one I’ve had. Time for a new DRZ, that’s what I say. (sorry, HK)

  2. Hey, some of us “cagers” like to enjoy the out-of-doors just like you bikers. Even in a car, though, I would avoid hitting wildlife, whether it be birds or snakes or four-legged creatures…or even bikers (ha ha, that was a joke, Jo).

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