Rides & reports of motorcycle adventures..

4/19/08

Rarick canyon death ride, 4/18/08

This last tuesday, Tom & i rode with some of the valley boys down dugas road to the verde river.. it was a rocky, tough, grueling ride. Our riding buddy, Kim, missed it, so wanted to go on a ride friday.. yesterday. He suggested we go up rarick canyon, off the old stoneman lake road, near the beaver creek wilderness area. Tom & i had never been on it, but we'd already ridden a pretty rough road, so we figured, 'ok, why not?' Tom was going to ride his honda 650, & rode dirt roads all the way from prescott! He left about 6am!

We met at the I-17 & 179 exit about 9am. We rode up fr 618 about a mile, then headed north on the old blue grade up toward stoneman lake road. After about another mile, we turned down toward the rarick canyon road, that climbed up near apache maid mountain, between stoneman lake & the beginning of the beaver creek wilderness area.

I knew of some petroglyphs in the red tank draw, which we had to cross going up rarick canyon. Tom hadn't seen them so we took a short side hike to them.




Tom descending into the red tank draw.


There were a lot of petroglyphs along this canyon.. some of these here had collapsed. You could see some of the rock layers that had fallen still had drawings on them.


This should have been the first warning.. Kim didn't leave the bikes. He knew what was coming & wanted to save his strength.


Tom ascending from the depths of the canyon.

After the petroglyphs, we headed back down the road to rarick canyon. We came to the crossing of red tank draw.. Kim said this was the hardest spot, & we could just walk the bikes across.


Kim helping Tom get his big honda across.


Kim decided to ride his through the boulders.. he made it across!

I walked my drz over..no pics. i had the only camera.

We ran through some more pretty rugged terrain.. about a half mile, then came upon this long rocky grade.


Tom was geared too high for this ride.. he would have made it pretty easy on the husky 250.

But he didn't have the husky, & the honda kept stalling. He couldn't get the speed up enough to keep it from stalling, & the back tire would spin in the rocks taking off up hill. He crept along up this hill for about 45 minutes.


Kim & i waited in the back. One time Tom's bike went down in the rocks, & i helped him get it back upright.

After a lot of struggle, Tom walked up the hill a bit to see around the turn.. to see if there was any hope of a better road. He said it went on as far as you could see.. steep & rocky. :(

Reluctantly, we decided to turn back. It was already after noon, & we had a long way to go. At least going back was downhill.






We got back to the creek crossing. I walked mine across first, then Kim came. Tom's 650 was the last across.




Finally we made it back! But it was hot, we were low on water, & exhausted!


Kim didn't want to get up, or even go on to lunch. He was ready to go home! But Tom & i wouldn't let him.. we rode out & cooled off a bit, then continued the climb up to stoneman lake. The rest of the road would be easy gravel & maintained dirt.. so we thought..

We headed up the blue grade toward stoneman lake. It used to be a nice rocky climb out of the verde valley, but they had graded it. there was a lot of big chunky gravel, so it was a little wobbly going through, but it was ok.. not as fun as it used to be, though. We got up to stoneman lake.. the largest natural lake in Az. It had water in it! The winter snows had made it look like a real lake.



We took the secret pass Kim & I discovered last year from stoneman lake road through the pines to morman lake. We were climbing, & got up above 7k ft.. there was still snow on the ground, & even on the road.




We found quite a bit of mud, & some more rocks. :/


No problems with this, though.. we rumbled through the rocks, & wallowed through the mud to our primary reason for riding: lunch!!


Morman lake also was full of water.. it's not really a lake, just a low meadow. but when the snow melts, it makes a big pond that looks like a lake.

Everyone was starved.. it was near 3pm, it was hot, it was cold.. we were glad to get some real chow.

We planned to go up to the main forest road toward munds park, but even Kim couldn't get through the gate that was ahead.


We went down pavement on lake mary road for about 20 miles, then cut back across the dirt stoneman lake road to I-17. Tom went back to prescott, Kim & i headed back to sedona. We did 80-90 miles, & Tom put on about 200. Elevations ranged from 3-8k ft, & the temps were in mid 80's while pushing bikes, to upper 50's in the mountains.

FR 219 to morman lake was plenty of off road terrain for me.. I'll let Kim lead rides up rarick canyon. ;)

4/16/08

Dugas to Verde river to bloody basin 4/15/08

It was a great ride... another beautiful day in the Az desert!

One thing i learned on this ride, is the slow guy doesn't get to take many pictures! Everyone is waiting, so i had to keep going. But i did get a few, so i'll post them here, along with some stirring narrative..

We were to meet at Cordes Junction at 10 am; i presumed at the shell station, since Tom Shell was meeting us. But, as i suspected, the road up took longer & our meeting time was delayed. We finally caught up with Tom B. at the dugas exit on I-17, & got away about 11am.. Here are the riders:

left to right, Harry(harjp1959), Ben(Bennito), Tom B.(wrtom), Tom S. (tomshell), & me(rydnseek). Tom S., Harry & Ben are down in the phx valley, Tom B is in Prescott, & i'm in Sedona. ..sorry about the dark faces.. Tom's KLR took the shot. Kawasaki's have no sense for light.

We met here for an inspiring ride into the central Az desert. The views were spectacular as we descended into the verde river valley. The road was very rocky.. even Harry thought my previous description of 'gnarly' was accurate.




Harry taking some pictures along a rare wide spot in the road. We had to stop every now & then on the road down.. riding in the boulders along a cliff's edge is very stressful! I was impressed at how Harry rumbled through everything the road had to offer without a hiccup. He makes that drz look like a 2t 250!



Tom B. He yawned a lot as he cooly made his way through the rocks.. of course, he was on a spry husky 250, while Tom S. & Ben were on the big klr 650's, & Harry & I on drz's. As the elder statesman, Tom B. brought up the rear & made sure everyone was ok.


more nice views.. the bikes are great! ..the scenery is ok, too.


This was after a particularly harrowing section.. I had to stop & catch my breath & get a drink. Tom came up & patiently waited for me to continue.


This road was about 24 miles down to the river. It passed through the bustling metropolis of dugas (sorry, no pics), & ends at the verde hot springs.


This was a great riding group.. every one got to ride at their own pace. The faster riders would zip ahead, then wait while i caught up. They could take pics, naps, do some texting.. ..whatever.. while they waited. This is a rare shot of Ben passing.. i usually only saw him at the forks in the road. He managed that big hog just fine in the rocks & boulders..


Tom S. catching back up, after i had passed at a fork. Tom couldn't get enough of the rocks, & was always looking forward to more challenging terrain.. but then he banged into some rocks & his brake lever bracket broke! We all agreed about the cheap engineering or manufacturing.. He's going to look into a better aftermarket bracket before heading for the remote alaskan wilderness.
He rode quite a ways down, then all the way out with no rear brake!!

These hills were very steep & rocky, so that was no small feat.


We finally made it down to the river.. no restaurants ..no gas stations ..just more rocks, but a nice river view. Every one was starved after the grueling ride down, & collapsed in the shade by the river.. everyone but me.. i headed for the jacuzzi!


At the famous verde hot springs. Ok, there weren't hundreds of naked women. There were about 6-7 naked men, & only one woman in the buff. But the water was nice & hot, & felt very refreshing after the long ride.. it just took so long to get out of my riding gear.

You didn't think i would post any nudity, did you? This is a family forum!! I waited a long time for my fellow riders to join me, but no one showed.. probably explains why many riders have to get big honkin' bikes to compensate for their tiny natural endowment..

I didn't get many other shots after this.. we went back up and connected to the southern road toward bloody basin. It really wasn't any better, just different.. some of the boulders on it were a different hue.. Tom S. just missed a video of me going down after crossing a creek. I was trying to make a big splash for the camera, but then hit some leaves after crossing & slid out on the turn. He did catch my other drop.. a long hill climb. I got off line & caught a bush, then my back tire kicked right & launched me off the road behind another bush. the hard part was getting back up.. the gravel made it hard to stay still, & the back just slid with very little traction. I walked it up a few yards, then was able to climb out the rest of the way. Fortunately, i bailed on every drop & stayed on my feet. ..don't like having to pick up a 300# bike, though..


the gratuitous nature shots.. the hedgehog cacti were blooming everywhere as we got into the bloody basin area.. Even Tom Shell got caught up into the beauty of the flora.. he'll be a naturist, yet!! err.. a naturalist.. :)


Earlier, the ocotillo's were blooming & leafed out.. but here it started getting lower & hotter, & they had dropped their leaves. This area is a beautiful pristine area for the mid to low desert.. even a few saguaros began to appear.

It was about 30-40 miles before we got to the cave creek fork, where the southern boys would head back to the valley, & us northerners would go back north. Tom B. & I had another 30 miles of winding around on pretty good graded roads, mostly. It was about 6:30 when we got to the freeway. Tom put on his jacket, I got out my gel seat & earplugs, & we headed back home. It was about 50 miles of freeway for me, & almost 7:30 & dark when i pulled in the garage. Nearly 200 miles roundtrip, 100 on the interstate!

I'd still like to go find the mysterious river crossing there.. but it was getting late, & with Tom's brake lever, we didn't want to make the detour to the alleged crossing. Maybe this summer i'll head down from the other side & try to find it.

It was a great ride.. the scenery was spectacular, the riders were fun & dazzling, & there were no major incidents or accidents. Tom's hip enjoyed the magic button on the klr.

We are very fortunate to have great riding places like this.

4/3/08

cherry, mayer, cleator 4/2/08

az ride report:cherry, mayer, cleator 4/2/08

Here's a report of a ride we did today.. 2 Drz's, 170 miles. Started in Sedona, went pavement to granada wash.. Kim said this road would be great to practice riding whoops.. seems like there's a big one every 50 yds. trouble is there is also ruts & loose rock before & after. It was only a few miles, then we made it to middle verde road, went a short run down I-17, then hwy 260 to cherry road.

Cherry road climbs up out of the verde valley to the south. Here's a view to the north.

The san francisco peaks are visible, still with snow, as well as the sedona red rocks.

Don't blink, or cherry is gone.

There's a bed & breadfast, but the old general store looks like it's been closed for years.. work was being done on it, but it's still a long ways to the grand opening.

Once on top, we crossed hwy 169 & went down orme road, then crossed over to 69 toward mayer. This section was washed out in a lot of spots.. i crashed here last year & sprained my ankle.. :(


we went through some pines getting into cherry, but settled in to mid desert elevations in the 2-4k range.


Kim wheelied across.. well, almost.. you can see his front wheel just coming down.

We got into mayer, & asked a local where a good lunch could be had. I made a wrong turn, then tried to cross the median after all the traffic had cleared... way in the distance i could see a white suv.. here he is!


Kim is the smooth talker, & we were out of jail in no time. still hungry, we finally made it to the restaurant.


We felt right at home! They welcomed us with open arms! Their green chili burro was on special for $5, so we saved money, too.

I wasn't sure how they got Kim's picture for their wall mural..

Lunch over, we crossed the hiway again, & started south toward cleator. Kim was running low on gas, so we stopped in cordes to fill up.



We're well fed, & gassed up. We're heading for cleator & points south. This is the black canyon trail.. the road is pretty good most of the way.. it gets very gnarly past cleator & bumble bee.

We saw these guys crossing the road.. Kim wanted to stop & pet the cows..

But then we saw this gal & decided some fresh milk would really hit the spot.. but the bulls were glaring at us, so we changed our minds & rode on.



It was pretty windy.. coming from the south it gave us a pretty stiff headwind. It also kicked up a little dust.. still the views were pretty good.

Just below cleator, the elevation had dropped below 3k, & the saguaros were just starting to appear. It was still early for them to bloom, but many other flowers were getting it on.


Now for the nature portion of the ride report. Other than the wild cows, we didn't see a lot of mammals.. lots of hawks & other tweeting birds, & then we came upon this guy, trying to relax in the sun.. i'm sure he groaned something about the paparazzi when we stopped.


It was not a rattler, or other poisonous snake, so i tried to just shoo it off the road so the occasional car wouldn't flatten him.


He did not want to be 'shooed'. I finally got a stick & picked him up & set him off the road.. slithering & muttering.


It was very green.. lots of grasses coming up from the winter rains.. it's going to be a fun fire season..


The first hedgehog cactus i've seen flowering this year.. they don't usually grow as well in the lower desert, but are very adapted in the mid range.



Down here, even the mesquites were leafing out.. up in the verde valley, at almost the same elevation, they won't leaf out for another month.


Kim showed tremendous patience.. i was stopping every mile or so along this road for views, flora & fauna pics..


The famous 'jumping' cholla.. don't see it this far north too much, or at this elevation. ..also called the teddy bear cholla. 'choy-ya' Stay away from them! They are very pointy, they drop their little land mines all around, & aren't nearly as cute & fuzzy as they look..


This gives some perspective on how big these guys get. That's why they started calling Shaq 'the big cactus'.

It was getting late.. pushing 5pm, so we decided to just ride back on the freeway & not go around through dugas. We got on I-17 at the bumble bee/cleator exit & rode on the freeway about 60 miles back to sedona. It was past 6 when we got home.

It was a total of about 170 miles, about half pavement (mostly on the ride home). Temps got cool in the pines around cherry, but still in the 50's & 60's. It was probably near 80 down by cleator. The roughest roads were between cherry & Mayer.. everything else was easy gravel.. though some of the gravel roads past cordes was deep & slippery.

We saw lots of side roads we wanted to explore.. especially along the creek.. i think the agua fria.. some of them looked like they went on to crown king. Not a lot of traffic.. couple of quads.. a few cars.. but one of the reasons we ride during the week. Weekends on these roads are a different story. We probably saw 200 harleys on hwy 69 around mayer.. there is a harley shop there, & the area seems very biker friendly. Kim & I will probably go back to that bar some evening with our moto gear on & visit with the guys.. :)

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Sedona, Arizona, United States
Semi-retired home builder. Musician. wr250x adventure rider. Amateur philosopher. Innovator. Tech & gadget freak, genealogist.