View Full Version : Missy's day-after-birthday ride (a.k.a. help, help, hurry, hurry)

04-13-2009, 10:30 AM
So, it’s Missy’s day-after-birthday ride and, of course, the day breaks grey and rainy. She walks out to the garage and looks at the bikes and looks out at the bleak, wintry sky and thinks that going back to bed might be a better plan.

Meanwhile, across town, I hit my alarm clock for the fifth time and finally slink out of the warm cocoon of the bed. Feet shuddering upon contact with the cold concrete floor, I think, “what the.......?” This is April in Tucson, Arizona. Why is it so cold? Opening my front door to go out to the pig I’m greeted with not only cold but rain enveloped in grey as well. Hmmm, looking out at the bleak, wintry sky I think that going back to bed might be a better plan.

So, what the heck am I gonna wear today? I’d set out my riding gear last night but that was before the cold and rain set in. I look at the clock (8:30) and know already that I’m going to be late. Back outside, I dig through the panniers on the ST looking for my rain pants and my cold weather layers and fiddle around with the GPS set-up transferring it from the ST to the XRL. I come back in and see my phone dancing across the floor but don’t manage to catch the call in time. It’s Missy calling to see if I’m still game, despite the crappy weather. I call back and waffle, “still planning to head out at 10?” I ask. “Yeah, I wasn’t sure but I think we’ll go anyway.” I promise to call back by 9:30 with a definitive answer of yea or nay. Right now, I’m leaning towards nay.....

I arrive only 3 minutes late (that’s a first for sure) and find the bikes loaded on trailers, ready to go.

Well, not quite ready. They still have to stop for gas and we have to meet up with Bob-the-neighbor’s son. Good, my 3 minutes of lateness are no big deal.

We finally get to power line road off Old Sonoita Highway. Fortunately the 5 miles of interstate weren’t too bad and it’s only spitting a little rain. Note to self, when it’s raining, dirt bike helmets kind of suck.

Anyway, while the trailer queens are unloading (just kidding) I’ll just have time to eat my PBJ breakfast sandwich that I didn’t have time to eat at the house because I was having a wardrobe crisis (despite having more gear than anyone who’s not actually a racer has any excuse to have). To my dismay, this is when I discover that my sandwich is still sitting on my kitchen counter back at the house - crap. So, no breakfast for me - yep, I'm feeling a little grumpy.

Cold. Hungry. Damp. Cloudy. Yuck.

At least I managed to make it out the door with some coffee and there’s a few stale peanuts in my bag from the last time I went out. Coffee and peanuts, breakfast of champions. (Did I mention, I’m really not a morning person - especially cold, dreary, grey mornings with no breakfast.)

Despite the somewhat dreary start of the day, the landscape is stunningly beautiful. The desert is alive with color. The bright green of the mesquite trees newly leafing out and the boisterous red ocotillo flower tips stand in stark contrast to the rusty dust of the earth and the ominous darkness of the clouds.

Our colorful gear also brightens the day as we head out across the desert following the powerlines marching across the open landscape.

As always in our desert jaunts we come upon cows who watch us parade by their home but seem unconcerned by our traipsing through their domain. The clouds add an extra dimension to the mountain views and serve to heighten the sense of drama and adventure.

04-13-2009, 10:39 AM
We slide down scree-strewn hillsides with our faithful powerline companions and blip up slick, rocky inclines with twinges of trepidation. Each jagged rut or rocky ledge this trail throws at us seems no match for the bikes as they glide along, released from their pens and free to swoop through their rightful domain.

It never ceases to amaze me how capable dirt bikes are at handling terrain that seems impossible to traverse. Huge gullies have been dug out by rains and rushing water yet the bikes float over with ease while our minds balk at the very idea of the obstacle just crossed and cringe at the next one flying towards us. The bikes frolic under the heavy sky reveling in the dips and curves and splashes of sunlight despite us.

After crossing this impressive rut we take a well deserved break.

The big XR dwarfs my companions’ bikes but, while less nimble and quick, manages to do okay by admirably surmounting the steep, impossible looking inclines and skittering down the rutted, rocky trail.

Then comes the sand....

04-13-2009, 10:48 AM
Near the end of our ride we come to one of the great joys of riding in the Arizona desert, the sandy wash. We slip and slide our way down a steep hillside into the wash and are greeted by foot deep sand.

The XR's rear tire just sinks right on in and there’s no steering the front. The sand’s greedy hands are clawing and grabbing at the hapless beast trying to pull it down into the dry shifting depths. No hope of even beginning to get fast enough to float through. Swimming through the sand, I can feel the heat pouring off the engine as I try to clutch it out of the shifting taunting stuff. The WR and TTR frolic along, throwing up plumes of sand like speedboats on a still lake while the XR wallows and flops in frustration.

In just a few hundred feet the tormented clutch gives way and there’s no power left for the XR to give. We half push, half pull the beast from the river of sand, dragging it up the banks of this river that is nothing but dryness. The sucking sand drains the last energy of both the XR and myself as we struggle back onto the rocky trail like sailors gasping ashore from a shipwreck.

Fortunately, repairs are as simple as adjusting a cable and the beast is ready for the trek back to the trucks and trailers. We can see the rain in the distance and are ready to be off before the downpour makes it to us.

In just a brief moment of weary thoughtlessness disaster strikes. When I park the XR, I know the sidestand is too long and I'm careful to put it somewhere that I can get on and of it with no worries. Only problem, I hadn't parked it and, distracted by weariness, climbing on the XR to start our journey back I miscalculate the degree of slope on the right side of the trail that falls away towards a deep ditch. I find myself having to tip the heavy beast just a bit too far over to get the sidestand up. I can feel the weight start to shift over just as I realize that there’s no ground to put a foot down on. (Note to self - it's been two years, get the stupid stand cut down!)

Of all the challenging riding we’ve done for the day, it so sucks to get really hurt when we’re not even moving. The fall is such that there’s no hope of getting clear of the bike and there’s no place to fall but into the side of the ditch. It’s one of those break something and probably several something kinds of falls. Just as I feel it going over and hope of saving it vanishes, my toe touches down and I can just barely hold things in limbo. I’m no longer falling but can’t move to right things, either.

“Help, help, hurry, hurry.”

I clutch the front brake for dear life and pray that my weary quads and damaged knee can hold out for a few minutes. Thankfully, Missy and K leap to my rescue and save me from certain disaster. I shudder to think how badly I’d have been hurt if they’d not been there. (Note to self, off-roading IS a GROUP thing - don't go alone.)

We’ve an uneventful ride back to the trucks, despite the XR's clutch being weird, and just beat the rain as we load bikes back on trailers. Even the XR goes on the trailer for the ride back to town as I know we’re both tired and, while the pig has plenty of gas some more clutch adjustment is needed in order to feel right and I need some fuel before I’m functional.

We finally have a great breakfast at 4 p.m. but are too tired to pull out our cameras for the obligatory food photos so you’ll just have to imagine a couple of giant skillet breakfasts with ham and eggs, green peppers and onions, mine with bacon and Missy’s with chicken fried steak. K went for the burger and fries. I treat being that it's M_'s b-day and they certainly saved me from disaster so it's a small thing!

Another beautiful day in Arizona, sure glad we went riding!

04-13-2009, 05:11 PM
AWESOME!!! Glad you got out there! Thanks for the Pics, great story!

04-13-2009, 06:02 PM
Glad y'all had fun! Hope to ride the dirt with you both some day!!!

Mind you ... deep sand is NOTHING ... until you're on your mountain bike and are trying to PEDAL your way through it! lol

04-13-2009, 06:47 PM
pedals would have been a welcome addition.....

SoCal LabRat
04-14-2009, 06:58 AM
One of these days I'm going to have a dirt bike and get out there with you guys. I'll probably need to ride with Missy's kids though! Deep gullies, washes, and sand? Oh My!

04-14-2009, 07:45 AM
Man that looks fun. If I lived in the SW I might actually ride the TTR once in a while...

Missy B
04-14-2009, 10:15 AM
Saturday - 8 a.m.

Karl: "So, wanna do something else today besides dirtin'?"
Me: Yes
Karl: Ok, I'll bring kids to so-and-so's house and when I come back, we'll go do something.

I really didn't so much feel like being in the "cold" and wet, but I *REALLY* wanted to go riding. We'd had this planned for...welll....a week. LOL I love riding with the kids, but riding with adults (aka people way faster than me) helps me push the limits a bit and learn some more...and get better.

So I called our neighbor and of course, he said, "What's the worst that can happen? We get wet?"

Hmm...true. I'm a motorcyclist, dammit!

So I called K and let him know we are going riding. Those of you who know K....know he melts in the rain. LOL But he only hemmed and hawed a little bit. :mrgreen: I think he was ready to ride, too.

I did what I could to prep, and that's when I realized our garage gas can was empty. LOL

Meh, my tank will be fine. :mrgreen: Up on the trailer with both bikes. Karl came home and he said when you can't see the gas, you probably WON'T be fine. No sense of adventure, that man. :mrgreen:

Drive to meet up, then to the spot. With some, "Is that the spot?" "No, that's not it" between K and I, we tracked down the gas line start off point we wanted.



Our XT and TTR250:


Studly :mrgreen:


The view from where we started:






Some rocky stuff...


Our neighbor and his son....The son is riding his sister's TTR230. When he took it off the trailer, his first response was, "Gutless!" He still lapped us several times while out on the trails. He did some things with that bike that I didn't know were possible! Mad crazy skills. I asked him if he could have been the next James Stewart and he said if he had stayed out of trouble! LOL Just crazy skills, and no fear. At almost 30 y/o.


The artist known as raven:



Missy B
04-14-2009, 10:46 AM
Another trail pic:


We were making a turn off to start heading back toward the truck (we'd gone about 7 miles at this point), when someone pointed out this in the opposite direction:


While they all humored me, I had to make a detour to get a pic. The trip back was quite...bumpy. LOL

Still gathered at the turnoff spot, I noticed how the clouds were casting some cool shadows on the mountains....and hubby's helmet. LOL


Our (Currently) Happy Group (tm):


At this point, I was reveling about how my new favorite sound was pin throttle, catch air, hear engine rev while tire is free spinning, land. The first part of the trails had some nice open sections with hills and dales so you could really get some speed....and some air. :mrgreen: Granted, I was only about 6 inches (that's prob generous) off the ground, but I felt like Evel Knievel anyway. LOL

We get ready to head toward the truck and neighbor's son said it was really rough. Hmm. OK. When he says it's really rough, that scares me a bit. LOL But ok....all about learning experiences and adventure. LOL

Sure enough, we start picking our way through big rocks on steep downhills, uphills, etc. Ruts/gaping canyons at the bottom of said steep downhills, then power up over some more boulders otherwise you're in trouble.

It's funny to go from "What a beautiful day" to "WTF were we thinking? We could die out here!" :mrgreen:

Somewhere where it was tame and we could take a break..


Pretty clouds:


So, Neighbor's Son takes off first..


Neighbor takes off second...and he didn't waste much time. Notice Neighbor's Son is nowhere to be found? LOL



Missy B
04-14-2009, 10:46 AM
Studly...with Neighbor already way off in the distance, chasing down son. LOL


More clouds. LOL Sick of them yet? LOL


I followed behind K most of the day. So I get some really good picture opportunities. :mrgreen:


Unfortunately, he did not oblige a while-the-bike-was-down pic. :mrgreen: This was after he picked it up and started back down the hill. LOL Something about hitting neutral. :crackup:

And I am not afraid to admit that I had serious reservations about going up this little gem. LOL I looked back at raven, and she waved me on. OK, no pulling a Ewan here. Pin it and go. (I had already gone the long, probably harder way once today when I bypassed a very steep uphill and took a sandy, rutty way to get to the boys. LOL)

The rain is coming, the rain is comin!


It's raining, it's raining!


Notice how I skipped the part of the sandy wash? :mrgreen: Let's just say it was not pretty. That happy little group we had earlier? Was not so happy for awhile. :crackup: Right before the wash was a slide-your-way-down-the-hillside decline..that my husband STOPPED in the middle of. I'm yellin at him..DON'T STOP, DON'T STOP (this seemed to be one of the themes for the day...LOL), but he claims his bike died. Well, MY bike was not dying, not instead slip sliding down the hillside so I had no idea how I was going to keep from things getting very ugly. :shock: I did get it stopped, but now I'm sitting on this decline, body literally over the bars because of the slope, and now I'm losing my nerve...which you can't do because there's no way to go but down. So I kindergartner it most of the way down, now, and I'm really peeved.

Only to find myself in a sandy wash, about a foot deep, and the boys nowhere in sight. I head the direction I thought I saw Neighbor go, but..couldn't find them. And the XT is roaring away underneath the sand while trying to haul my big butt around. Poor XT! I muscle the thing around back towards Raven, only to see raven approaching me. Uh oh. Knowing how much raven hates sand, and knowing that I've already been warned that raven is not happy when raven hasn't eaten anything, I know this can't be good. Raven seems to be doing ok with keepin the bike upright, so I try to find someone familiar. LOL I eventually find K, so that's good. Neighbor and son find us, too. Ok, good. I go on ahead and we end up waiting a bit. Hmmm...after a lot of profanity slung among the ranks, the boys did some pushing of BRP up a big hill, worked on a cable or two, and all was right in the world again.

Well, once we were all fed, all was right in the world again. :woot:

A great day. I had 17 miles of trail ride, that took us about 3 hours. Fun stuff! Nothing like good stories from your birthday! :mrgreen:

04-14-2009, 11:39 AM
Hey, where's the vid of the gnarly hill climb? :mrgreen:

BTW, this picture does NOT even remotely do justice to the steepness, camber and challenge of this hill.

We also need to teach K how to get back down from stops (and fall overs) on a hillclimb - there are definitely easier (and safer) ways than trying to back it down..... :)

ooooo artsy!!!!!



Of course, y'all stopping in the middle of the hill before the wash sure didn't make it any easier for the pig to get down it either! I know, I know you just wanted to make sure I had a little challenge so I wouldn't get bored, yeah, that's it...... :mrgreen:

BTW, I have a really long sidestand......


Of course it doesn't help that I have way too much sag dialed in but it's the only way to get a toe down (and it's important not to underestimate the importance of at least one toe down.....) :shock:

Also note that I forgot to air down my tires and those are not true knobbies on there - no wonder the sand was such a challenge! :slap:


Here's the SAT view of the gnarly wash. It's hard to tell but the curving trail that leads down into it (we were coming from right to left) is very steep and rocky. The pink arrows show where we should have gone (straight across) the blue arrows show where the neighbor and son went and we tried to follow - yuck. The orange arrows show where we turned around and tried to get back to more solid ground.


Missy B
04-14-2009, 06:36 PM
Oh, I forgot to mention...

My quads???


Holey schmokes, they were singing Saturday night, Sunday and yesterday. LOL It felt good, though! :woot:

The video came out crappy. :saaad: It's grainy, unfortunately. I need to check the settings on my camera. The kids use it a lot, so only God knows what they changed. LOL

Love the sat pic. Too cool! I had gone almost to the end of the blue arrows and saw the wash was fenced off, so turned around and went back to where the "we should have gone this way" arrows. LOL Fun stuff!

That hill that K fell on was kinda scary. Not only was it really steep, but you had to hope the rocks that were there didn't bounce you off line into either a. the 2 foot ravine to the right, or b. to the left....where who knows where you went? LOL

And, of course, seeing someone fall on it first does nothing for one's confidence. LOL


05-03-2009, 04:01 PM
I really enjoyed the story and photos! I have the exact same XT, but never would have made it through a ride like that! Sadly, I have no off-road "talent", and have only had the XT on dirt and gravel roads around here (and a wild gravel mountain road in Tennessee!). We have no "legal" off-road areas to ride around here.

05-03-2009, 04:28 PM
Great photoshoot!

I'm always intrigued by the enigmatic nature of Arizona's scenery. Looking at the foreground, it's hideous. Scraggly rocks, scrub, dirt. It looks like the rump of a collie that has scratched it's coat away trying to get at the fleas. Then, you look into the background, and the huge vista unfolding before your eyes, and you're stunned by the beauty of it.

I'm uncomfortable with places that don't have trees. Growing up in Tallahassee will do that.