Dual Sport Desert Daze 2010 (Part 3)


We had stayed up pretty late roasting hot dogs and chatting the night before, but when we ducked into the tent the sky was a clear blanket of stars. We had heard a winter storm was coming in our way, but thought maybe we had lucked out and it blew over.

I awoke in the middle of the night after dreaming our tent had flooded. In reality, the air mattress had just partially deflated to feel like a waterbed and I could hear the rain coming down hard.

I went back to sleep and when I reawakened it had calmed to a relaxed sprinkle. Sean and I packed all our stuff up in the tent and went for another awesome breakfast.

The rain ceased as we finished up and we ran out to take down the tent and throw our stuff in Raven’s truck before the rain started up again. (Big thanks to Raven for carrying that stuff for us, planning and promoting the whole event, getting stuff to raffle, doing everything and just generally being awesome!)

Wet bikes all packed up.

Just as we were finishing gearing up, it began to snow!

We wanted to say goodbye, but opted to get out while the getting was good and booked it to the freeway.

I don’t know why I didn’t pack my waterproofs, but I will not make that mistake again.

Riding down the freeway in the freezing rain, in dirt gear was among the most uncomfortable experiences of my life. It was more or less waterproof for about 20 minutes and then I was soaked to the bone. I had pulled my Buff bandanna thing over my nose and mouth and I was thinking it was nice I had that or the rain hitting my face would probably hurt.

Then it fell down off my mouth and the rain felt like needles.

It took us about an hour and half to get to Vail. By that time I was shivering violently, my fingers were frozen to the bars and I was alternating cursing and whimpering pathetically in my helmet. I was truly misearable and on the verge or tears, but as they say “There’s no crying in dirt bikes.”

I ran into the gas station in Vail and worshiped the hand dryer in the bathroom for an eternity. Eventually I dried out enough to crawl back on the bike for another 20 minutes of cold, wet riding home.

A long, hot bath later I was feeling about normal.

But geez, what a day.

Dual Sport Desert Daze 2010 (Part 2)


The ranch included breakfast with tent camping and it was deeeeelicious!
Nothing beats a massive hot breakfast before a long day of riding.

We stuffed our faces and then played around waiting for Aaron to roll in from Tucson and a few other people to finish eating.

I was really excited about riding over this rock.

I think I need a trials bike.

I really liked the casual way the rally was put together, there were gps tracks made available and maps laid out with routes color-coded by difficulty. You picked your route, found some buddies and explored at will.

Riders plotting a course.

People starting to gather in front of the saloon.

I thought this bike was really cute.

There were -a lot- of KLRs

KTMs were well represented too!

Karensa, another badass ADV lady. I also met Maren, who owns a green ’08 KLR. I suggested the three of go for a ride sometime, a whole rainbow of chicks on new model KLRs!

Aaron’s bike posed by some cool rocks.

We took a few minutes to crawl up them.

Here I am sneaking behind him like a ninja!

Or trying not to fall…whatever. Those MX boots aren’t too great for rock climbin’.

Thomas joins us on his GS with street tires.

We decide to join another group of bigger bikes planning a route of easy dirt to the border road.

The whole gang at the first rest stop.

One of the KLRs decides it doesn’t really want to go again.

Aaron, our resident KLR whisperer; diagnoses, dissasembles and repairs the bike in no time.

There’s your problem, dirt where it doesn’t belong. A couple grains of sand on the float needle were all it took to take the pig out.

We proceeded down long stretches of graded dirt and gravel roads. All the big bikes were flying up at 70+mph, my bike didn’t really want to do that and at 50 it got a bad wobble going on, so I plugged along around 45 to meet them at the top. The last bit did get nice and winding though.

We let a little air out of my tires and it felt much better on the gravel after that.

It also got a little rougher, so I stood on the pegs and the bike just feels better to me like that. I was finally keeping up with the group as we hit the border road.

That part was really fun for me. It was pretty well graded, but rough enough to be interesting and had steep, smooth hill climbs and descents. It was like a roller coaster!

I recalled our guide Bret saying there was a very steep one “You’ll know it when you see it!” where we would stop to regroup. My eyes widened as I approached a very steep climb. I throttled up and realized there was no one waiting…that means there is a -bigger- one!

I continued along, pondering how much steeper it could possibly be and then I saw it, the mother of all steep climbs. I wasn’t going to stop and lose momentum, so I just throttled over and then used all my concentration to stop on the top and not to launch into the stack of bikes waiting.

Sean was nice enough to make this elevation profile though to give you an idea.

We waited for a while and discovered Thomas and James hadn’t been seen for miles. I was worried about them, but the group decided there were plenty of Border Patrol to help out if there had been a problem and it was most likely the GS was struggling on its knobless tires and they just turned off.

I tried to restart my bike to leave, but it would just stall. Aaron pushed me down the hill to bump start it. It stalled again further up the road when we stopped and we figured out it was just the clutch lever adjustment, it had jiggled loose and wasn’t engaging properly. Just as we fixed it, Thomas and James rolled up!

Apparently James’ rack had given up on him and they abandoned it in the desert.

We then did a bunch of zip tie repairs to a KLR rack and my license plate, which has started splitting in half.

From here the group split up, several heading back to Tucson while the rest of rode some twisty dirt and pavement back to the ranch.

I took a long hot shower and watched the sunset.

Dual Sport Desert Daze 2010 (Part 1)


I had hoped to get an early start Friday, but one of my classes had a mandatory quiz, once I finished that up I met with James to head out to the Desert Daze Rally

Riding Buddies

He had google mapped a route to take us all the way there almost completely by dirt. Genius! If you are going to ride a distance like that, may as well make it fun!

It started out on some familiar trails Southeast of Houghton and Sahuarita Rd. We popped up over my favorite hill jump (didn’t stop for pics this time) and onto the ‘lake’.

This pic and some others by James

From there we rode in the wash under a bridge/culvert thing. Here’s the mouth of the wash where it spits you back out onto a road again.

Takin’ a break under a tree.

You can see how reflective my stripes are in this pic!

We rode some twisty dirt that turned into a ribbon of twisty pavement.

Really nice views and cool rock formations.

The road was nice and varied, not just in texture, but color.

The road signs are no help when all we have are waypoints…

James consults his GPS.

We missed a waypoint.

Oh well, let’s ride…uh, that way!

We started following a gasline road and it crossed these deep, steep and rocky gorges. Ever since the Sibley Mansion incident, these things have made me a bit squeamish, but the first one wasn’t too bad and they got just a bit worse one by one.  James asked if I was comfortable continuing and I said “yeah, it’s not completely absurd yet.” I had just gotten my SPOT back from recall and I was feeling pretty good about attempting somewhat risky terrain.

…but then I came across this one:

Pictures always flatten things out, but I think that tree in the middle gives you a good sense of how steep that drops off.
“Okay, now it’s absurd.”
We just passed a fork and I declare we should try that way instead.
Then I drop the bike turning around.

The other fork took us on some very loose rock with twists and climbs.

James coming down a hill where he was scouting better options.

We did a seemingly endless string of loose rock climbs and descents before hitting this gorge.

I wasn’t going back, so I just plowed on through.

That little dot is me!

When the going got rough, we decided I should lead. That way I could set the pace and James would be right there if I ran into trouble. Well I was zipping along happily and came to a good hill to wait for him. I briefly felt proud that I got up there so far ahead, getting out my camera to catch and action shot of him riding through.

…then I realized I didn’t even -hear- his bike and got worried.
I rode back down and found him trying to fix his homemade rack.

(This picture obviously taken at another time…there were no trucks out where we were…or any signs of life for that matter!
It’s just a prototype. 😉

Eventually he got it secured enough and we carried on.

I got my photo!

Stopping to rest on a hill.

At this point we decided we had truly turned ourselves around backwards and high-tailing it to the interstate to slab it down to Dragoon was the only hope in making it to the rally before dark.

After more twisty, rocky, secluded riding we finally spotted civilization!

The interstate!

We popped out on the side of the freeway, with semi-trucks flying past and no on ramp. We looked at our little 400’s and then at each other, agreeing this would be far scarier than anything we attempted all day!

We somehow made it to Benson without getting squished, ran into another ADV rider at the gas station and the three of us made our way down to the ranch and set up camp.

I actually had to move the tent because I couldn’t put stakes in here, but dang it looked cool nested in the rocks. The rocks in the Dragoons are truly fantastic!

Sean rolls in after work about the time I’m done setting up…how convenient.

We hung out at the Saloon, cooked hot dogs over the fire and talked about bikes!

There were a ton of people there, I was pleasantly surprised by the turnout!