Mayer, Bodie mine, Crown King. 6/12/10
We met in Mayer on Friday at 8:30. It was freezing! I had on mesh jacket & pants, & my fingers were numb riding through the pines. It did warm up some as the day progressed.
It was easy gravel for the first part.. down Poland road unti it became very rugged.
Here's a short clip on the post Poland road. We criss crossed a creek a few times.. nothing too deep, but the rocks are always slippery & tricky. We were going up & down all day.. some of the hills were pretty steep.. they seemed to get rougher & steeper further into the ride.
Tom had some tracks for this ride.. he had also ridden part of it the month before. I made a few waypoints on my gps before going out.. just in case we got off track.. but that wouldn't happen, would it?
Lots of good, challenging riding. We were in the pines early.. nice & cool.. too cool. We were looking forward to getting into the open desert so we could warm up!
I forgot to lower my tire pressures after my ride home from moab last week.. it's like a different bike when you lower the pressures down to 10# or so. The steering feels better, the suspension feels softer, the wheels don't jump around as much.
Stuff like this is easy on the wr with the right air pressures!
We rode along the pines for a bit.. then the flora began to change, as it often does in Az. We were getting into some very dense manzanita, & it was blooming. You can see the brown bark in some of the videos as we wind along the trail. This section of trail was for motorcycles & below.. no quads or jeeps. The path gets pretty narrow in spots.. a branch hit my mirror & spun it loose.. i didn't get it back to functional until i hit the freeway later in the evening.
Tom had told me we were going to have a big hill climb.. i thought this was it. But no, this was a wrong turn. So we went up it, then came back down. Gluttons.
For some reason i don't have audio on the climb.. don't know why. All the other vids are fine. You can see the hill as we approach.
Tom coming down 'wrong way hill'.
So we tried turning on another 'road'.. this was not the right way, either.
We were trying to follow a gps track that Tom had gotten from someone. But we weren't sure if it was the right track, or if it was the one Tom had ridden before. No problem. Part of the fun of rides like this is exploring new areas.. taking the path less traveled.
Here's Tom coming down that path!
We dead ended at a steep, rocky, gnarly climb.. even worse than what we had done so far, & more than what we wanted to do. I went up the trail a bit, but it got steeper & rockier. I walk it a little, & saw some 12-16" steps right on a steep uphill curve.. we opted to go back.
I studied my gps map, & it look like we missed the road we wanted back about 5 miles. So we returned down the 'path less traveled', & made it back to the main trail.
Finally we got to where we wanted to be.. but my water supply was dwindling.. i didn't bring extra gas..Tom's power bar had fallen out of his pack or he forgot it. We were only about 30 miles into the ride.. about 60 more to go.
This is supposed to be the easy part!
Some nice water crossings broke up the rocky steps & steep up & down hills.
Tom had said we'd just do an easy ride to Crown King & have lunch.. now it looked like we might be lunch for some buzzards. The tougher part of the ride was still ahead!
We were still in some pretty grueling ups & downs.. lots of loose rock, off camber trail, big steps, & boulders littering the road. We went in & out of the pines, some more water crossings.. lots of variety, something for everyone!
Here's another of the tougher climbs.. the steepness of the hills don't really show up on video.. but you can tell sometimes by how the engine is winding out.
As usual, on these embedded videos, you can change the playing resolution by hitting the button after play starts. I try to keep them in the 2-3 minute range.. some are 5 min, some are 1 min or less.
We got out of the pines again, & got into more open chaparall.. more manzanitas, scrub oak, & open vistas. I was following Tom on this next clip, when i came upon what looked like a small stick across the left side of the trail. It was not a stick.
You'll see me pass this guy, then stop & come back.
I'm not going to kill a rattlesnake in a remote area, doing what he is supposed to do. He wasn't bothering anyone, & other than an occasional papparazzi, no one was bothering him. Live & let live.
Tom didn't notice the guy. ..too busy looking ahead for a good line. He waited until i caught up, & we continued along the open country trail.. nice views, fun rocky road. We were heading steadily down from the chaparal. ..back down to sand washes & river bottoms.
The road disappeared in places.. we followed the river in several spots. The road varied between rocks & deep, loose sand.
It was nice & cool along the creek.. just had to watch out for soft, deep sand & gravel.. don't want to sink in that stuff..
After one last, long, deep, steep water crossing, we came to a clearing & took a break. I finished the last of my drink, & we considered going back for the snake for a snack. But our fuel would be a problem soon, so we decided to continue on to Crown King.
We still had some ups & downs to contend with.. some long sand washes.. rocky, steep hills.
Sand washes can be tricky.. best way it to keep your speed up & your weight back. Some of these were pretty deep & would toss you off the trail pretty easily.
We were finally coming to 'The Hill'. As we came upon it, it didn't look any steeper than what we'd already done.. but as we got into it, i could see why Tom described it in ominous terms. ..loose, big rocks, a couple of turns.. easy to lose it here. About halfway up, i lost my line & the right bank tossed me into a mesquite to the left. I didn't drop it, but had to pause a bit to pick a new line. Tom, as usual, went right up without a problem.. though he did pause at first with a little trepidation.
Still flustered by the last hill climb, i didn't keep my momentum up & stalled going through this ditch.. i didn't drop it, but had a few stalls in this ride. This also turned out to be my last video. I didin't know if it was full, or if the battery didn't get fully charged. But it beeped & turned itself off. I just packed it away. Too bad. There were some really nice clips to be had ahead. We were only about halfway, & the toughest sections were still ahead.
We came out to the main road that went to wilhoit. There was no gas there, so we wanted to take the turn off to crown king. Tom thought (i know, a dangerous thing to do..) there was a 'shortcut' to wagoner road that took us to the crown king turnoff. So off we went on another adventure. The road wasn't on the map, but that didn't necessarily mean it wasn't there. But this road did fizzle out into another wash. We tried to follow it for a bit, hoping it would turn back into a road. But it didn't. It became more & more 'washlike' as we went along.
Eventually, we acknowledged defeat & turned back. We went through a few gates & got to a nice graded road.. wagoner road. We cruised along it for a few miles, then made the turn north again toward crown king. Here the road got very rough.. steep, rocky, rutted.. all the things that are fun in moderation. But it was almost 3pm, & we have been having fun all day. No water. Hungry. Low on gas. All the ingredients for an exciting riding adventure!
Our trail began to follow a small stream.. nothing too deep, but littered with rocks, some big steps & tricky lines to go through. Fatigue, hunger, & dehydration was starting to take it's toll. Tom got tossed off line & dropped his bike.. twice. His gps mount broke, but everything else seemed ok. We pressed on. ..either that or wait for the buzzards.
I didn't take many pics through here.. the video spoils you some.. don't have to stop for pics, just turn on the cam & get it all. We were also trying to get to crown king alive.. pausing for photo ops wasn't a priority. We finished going through the creek road, then got into the usual up & down, rutted, rocky hills that are common in this area. This is a very cool ride..
We finally got on the road to crown king.. here we ran into the first contacts with other humans on the ride. Quads & jeeps were tooling along the road, kicking up dust, oblivious to anyone else being on the road. Several times i had to come up right on their left side & beep my horn to get them to see us so we could pass safely. I guess they are on vacation, & are the only ones in the universe.
My reserve light had come on a while back, so i was very relieved to come to the crown king gas pump. There was a quad parked in front of it, with a tatooed gal yakking to another couple on quads. We pulled up, stopped our bikes & waited. She kept yakking.. the quad still blocking the pump. They talked about this & that & seemed oblivious to Tom & I. I guess you really are invisible on a motorcycle. Finally Tom got off & went inside to pay for the gas. I got off my bike. Took off gloves, helmet, jacket.. waited.. watched.. went over to the gas pump & jiggled the handle.. looked at the price. Finally i heard her say, 'i better move my quad, I need to go, anyway'. Talk some more.. heartfelt goodbyes, exchanges of eternal love.. within another 10 minutes she managed to get her quad started & moved out of the way. Tom & i both marveled at her inconsideration & self absorbtion. The other 2 were equally indifferent to our plight. ..hard to figure some people.
But we did get gas, then went over to the saloon for a crown king ale.. just a rebranded red hook, i think, but it was very good after the long day. It was now after 5pm, & we were just having lunch! We had some mexican food.. single tacos & burritos, then got back to the bikes & headed home. We decided to take the direct way home. It was still a dirt road, but improved, so we made good time. We got to the mayer turnoff, & Tom headed toward mayer & prescott, while i turned toward i-17 & north to sedona. It was neary 8pm when i got home. My odo read 200 miles.. about half of it pavement. The other 100 miles are some of the roughest, toughest trail riding around these parts. We basically did a 2 day ride in one day. I would recommend to split it up so it can be savored a bit. But we made it unscathed, & will live to ride again.
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