AZBDR – Day 5 of 11
🗓: 27 Apr | 🌍: Somewhere? to Flagstaff, Arizona
Map of Day 5: 32 miles paved + 128 miles dirt = 160 miles total
The trail from our campsite got much easier as he headed towards the AZ-288. I was expecting a paved road considering that highway designation. Turns out it is what they call a dirt highway. Okey doke!
Cows also use the wide open dirt road. I can’t recall how many cattle guards we crossed; maybe 50?
We are still in the Tonto National Forest, which seems to cover quite a lot of area considering the last sign was in the desert and now we are in the forest.
We reached the small town of Young where hospitality was large; seems to be the case with small towns. We ended up hanging out in front of the Cherry Creek store where we ate a cheap brand of Fruity Pebbles cereal out of camp cups with fresh milk from the store.
The joys of life on the road!
After Young, we continue north along the beautiful Mogolonn Rim. I was really surprised at how little tourist traffic there was on this section of the road, considering the beautiful overlooks off to the west.
Beautiful overlooks down to the Colorado Plateau.
Scary fall to my death! This is a picture where it looks worse than it is in real life.
An opportunity to take a group shot of us and the mules.
The trail continued north where the easily-traveled road made for some quick riding; we even shifted into fourth gear for some straightaway sections!
Coconino National Forest. The trees became larger and denser as we continued north.
On one of the fire roads we came across a building used by the forest service. It had a nice picnic table so we parked the mules and enjoyed a little lunch.
First break-down of the trip! The sporky-knifey thing broke on the thick peanut butter.
Before long we heard the distinct sounds of a couple thumpers heading our direction. This was the first time we had ran across anyone on adventure bikes. It turned out to be Pascal and Janine from Switzerland. They are a 25-year-old couple who shipped their DR650s to Canada and were exploring the USA. Someday we will travel full-time for more than six months… I promise you.
As we continued north, the forest turned to prairie land.
Some more GoPro images of us enjoying the trail
In the late afternoon just past Long Lake when we came across three guys riding 1200GSs. They were on their way to Colorado and were enjoying the detour of the AZBDR.
I followed two of the pilots for some spirited rocky sections of the trail. It was a joy to push myself a little bit faster than my previous comfort level.
We made good progress until reaching Winona Ranch Road. The wide open trail became more challenging as it narrowed, become more rocky, and required numerous small hill climbs. Chantil’s mule was dropped hard enough on the rocks that the bolt holding the Bark-Buster hand guards to the end of the handlebar sheered. We removed the hand guard and continued along the trail hoping that she wouldn’t drop it on the, now exposed, left side. She didn’t!
Riding through Winona Ranch Ranch Road well after dark.
It was well after 9 PM when we reached the gas station in Winona. I was tired enough that I just wanted to set up camp behind the pumps and call it a night.
Topping off the tank in Winona.
We found a hotel in Flagstaff but it required the traumatic experience of riding 9 miles at 80 MPH on a dark freeway with poorly adjusted driving lights (from being dropped on the trail). There is something about riding freeway speed after being on the trail all day that just feels weird. It’s hard to explain.
I hate paying for hotels, especially when traveling because you end up paying a premium for the simple pleasure of a bed and shower. However, I was overjoyed to reach the Super 8 Hotel where we could take a little break from the trail and get some things fixed before continuing north.
AZBDR – Day 6 of 11
🗓: 28 Apr | 🌍: Flagstaff to the North of Coconino National Forest, Arizona
Map of Day 6: 13 miles paved + 54 miles dirt = 67 miles total
I slept really well last night. There is just something about sleeping on a mattress that makes me just sleep better. After 4 nights of camping a hotel felt really good.
It’s not as if our camping sleep system is uncomfortable. If fact, I think it’s one of the most comfortable systems available with a very roomy and wide 20º Big Agnes sleeping bag, a 25 inch wide insulated air mattress that slides into the bottom of the sleeping bag, and a felt-lined camp pillow. I just sleep better on a real mattress.
We enjoyed the complimentary continental breakfast before we headed our separate ways to run some errands. Chantil went to find a garage that would help her tap out the broken bolt that was inside the threads of her handle bar. I went to find another bolt to replace the one that had sheared. I also went in search of a camping goods store to find a small MSR fuel bottle (forgot at home) and some synthetic long johns to wear under my motorcycle pants in preparation for the expected rain and cooler weather.
Broken bolt that held the hand guard to the end of the handle bar.
We were able to get Chantil’s hand guard fixed relatively quickly allowing us to pack the bikes and continued the BDR well before noon.
The weather report was a concern since the trails we were going to be riding were listed as ‘impassable when wet’. The rain looked like it would make things wet. We hoped for the best…
Shortly after passing north of Winona we were approached behind by the three 1200GS riders we met the day prior. The lead rider introduced himself as Paul. We talked about the concerns we had about the upcoming rain. They waved their good wishes and goodbyes before rolled ahead of us and over the horizon.
It seems everyday offers something different on the AZBDR.
Today was no different as we got to explore cinder cone volcano country. The roads were somewhat of a cross between gravel and course sand. It was fairly easy traveling, as long as you watched out for the sandier sections.
Enjoying the volcanic gravel roads.
You can see the consistency of the volcanic gravel on the road.
Riding through volcano country.
We stopped at the overlook of Sunset Crater Volcano for a short break.
See that. That’s not good weather for riding on roads that claim to be ‘impassable when wet’. How bad could it really be?
We continued north for as long as we could before we reached the clouds that continued to look more and more grey. We decided that we would rather set up camp before things got wet so we pulled off the road about a ¼ mile and set up camp.
All cozy in our warm and comfortable tent awaiting the impeding rain.
It wasn’t until about 4 AM the next morning that the rain arrived. We should have camped closer to pavement…
Continued on PAGE 4…