Mt Lemmon, AZ in BOTH flavors...! - Kawasaki Versys Forum
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post #1 of 11 (permalink) Old 11-14-2013, 03:34 PM Thread Starter
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Mt Lemmon, AZ in BOTH flavors...!

Last week a friend and I rode from Florence to Tucson, then up the 27 mile road that climbs Mt Lemmon. At the start of the road your elevation is 2,773' ASL, while at the "tippy-top" where you've already gone past the ski area, then up another couple of miles to a look-out w/ a ROAD CLOSED sign across the pavement my GPS said it was 9,051' ASL. Also at that point it was 116.8 miles from my house (this number will come up again, later...).

The height increase is such that you travel thru several ecological zones, desert to alpine and EVERYTHING in between! Whoever surveyed this road did one Helluva job - it's scenic, beautifully paved, VERY 'bendy'....

The speed limit (seems to me...) is 35 mph, mostly, and you will certainly enjoy the ride at 35.

Can't remember how many times I've 'done' this ride - a LOT - and there's a dirt forestry road, closed from mid-Dec to 01 March that I've been UP at least twice, from a town named Oracle just to the north, a bit east of the "Biosphere".
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post #2 of 11 (permalink) Old 11-14-2013, 03:49 PM Thread Starter
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While stopped at the 'top' (or at least - as far as you're allowed to drive...) there are exceptional views to the south and west, of Tucson, w/ the Davis-Monthan Airbase cutting a light colored relief across the center. It's home to a 'bone-yard' of obsolete and worn-out military aircraft numbering in the THOUSANDS! And across from it - the Pima Air Museum which is home to a REALLY large number of historically significant airplanes, from a Blackbird to Korean War MiGs to an early Airforce One.

The pics I've taken on this ride were from a camera I carry around my neck, and rather than stopping for shots, I just hold it up and press the shutter (I do NOT look at the camera or viewfinder), my speed being held by my Vista Cruise throttle-lock.

Knowing that the dirt-side is closed for some period during the winter, I decided I would try to ride this again, within a week of THIS ride which was Friday the 8th November, up the dirt!
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post #3 of 11 (permalink) Old 11-14-2013, 03:58 PM
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post #4 of 11 (permalink) Old 11-14-2013, 04:18 PM Thread Starter
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Gettin' DIRTY!

I "tweaked" my back on Veterans Day, hoping I'd recover before the closure (which I thought was mid-November!), so I exercised, walking around in a semi-permanent "hump", till yesterday's wake-up (the 13th November) when I was able to get CLOSE to standing....

My hydration pack filled, an apple and a cheese/ jalapeno bagel in my saddle-bag, I set-off south onto AZ 79, then east on AZ 77 to Oracle, south again on the forestry road to Mt Lemmon.

The dirt is pretty 'innocuous' at first, but then it "gnarlies-up" (I made that word up...), rocks, chips, boulders in evidence, shadows hiding some fairly deep dips and holes - so you gotta be careful! The lower part is still ranch country, the odd house tucked away in the bush, many guys out hunting, but as you get higher the homes thin out, the road gets more rugged.

I stopped for these pics, unlike on the pavement, (I didn't fancy doing a "face-plant"!) and I've included shots of the GPS so you can have an idea of the twists and turns - I had put the spot where the dirt connects w/ the paved highway as a way-point, which accounts for the nice magenta line to follow. (VERY nice to have an idea of WHAT was around the corners....)

My initial thoughts were that I'd ride up the dirt, eat lunch at the top, then return down it to Oracle, and home.

Reality, however, intruded. As you can imagine - I was standing on the 'pegs, working amongst 1st, 2nd and 3rd gears (not a LOT of 3rd...!), but STILL planning on up-n-down on dirt, at least for the first 2/3 of the "hill". Maybe it was getting more rugged - it WAS!!!, but at the "hour and a half mark" of riding the dirt, not yet to the top (ONLY a couple miles to go!), I decided that 'discretion being the better part of valor', once I hit the pavement I'd "ditto" my ride from last Friday!

At the top, again at 9,051' ASL, I checked my odo, finding that I'd ONLY ridden 94.8 miles against the 116.8 on pavement, a "saving" of fully 22 fewer miles the way I'd come (of course, in a BUNCH of extra time...), tho' I KNOW I didn't save on gas-mileage. It dropped from mid-50s Friday to 51 MPG today!

The LAST picture I've included shows that their 'bear warning' sign sure looks like a GRIZZLY, but I bet the last here one died more than 100 years ago, while the FIRST, taken on AZ 79, shows Mt Lemmon where I was headed, straight ahead.
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Last edited by fasteddiecopeman; 11-14-2013 at 04:23 PM.
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post #5 of 11 (permalink) Old 11-15-2013, 01:16 AM
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Very nice! Thanks for sharing
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post #6 of 11 (permalink) Old 11-15-2013, 05:24 AM
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Thanks Eddie!

I know what you mean about getting way back on those roads. So much fun but! When you know you can't walk out in one day.

Be careful if you are going back there alone. Lots of water and a phone! More then a bagel lol.





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post #7 of 11 (permalink) Old 11-15-2013, 08:33 AM
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lots of good photos. all the years I lived in Tucson(about 25) Ive never been up to mt lemmon via the north side road. last time I was out there I took a drive up salt river canyon on the way to show low in the white mountains. . have you been to the san Xavier mission -west side of Tucson?
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post #8 of 11 (permalink) Old 11-15-2013, 02:03 PM Thread Starter
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lots of good photos. all the years I lived in Tucson(about 25) Ive never been up to mt lemmon via the north side road. last time I was out there I took a drive up salt river canyon on the way to show low in the white mountains. . have you been to the san Xavier mission -west side of Tucson?
If that's the big white mission, just west of I-19 on W. San Xavier Rd - yes.

BTW, the 22 miles that going UP the dirt was shorter by, is accounted for by the distance you need to go south of Oracle thru Tucson before you 'circle around' to come back north at Mt Lemmon when 'doing' the pavement. My return mileage (paved) was 117 after the dirt's 94.8 miles.

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post #9 of 11 (permalink) Old 11-15-2013, 02:05 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks Eddie!

I know what you mean about getting way back on those roads. So much fun but! When you know you can't walk out in one day.

Be careful if you are going back there alone. Lots of water and a phone! More then a bagel lol.
I had LOTS of water, and I could stand to lose a few pounds...!

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Last edited by fasteddiecopeman; 12-28-2013 at 11:53 AM.
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post #10 of 11 (permalink) Old 11-15-2013, 02:17 PM
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I had LOTS of water, and I could stand to lose a few pounds...! (BTW - if you like the thread, maybe recommend a "star".)
LOL Me too buddy! Just cruising those dirt roads is one of the funnest damn things on the V. Never know what you will see around the next corner.

It brings out the adventurer side for sure! Star....done!





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Last edited by MTS; 11-15-2013 at 02:19 PM.
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post #11 of 11 (permalink) Old 11-26-2013, 10:32 PM Thread Starter
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snow in them thar hills...

Rode out to the town of Oracle today w/ a friend. Took the following picture of the top of Mt Lemmon. Glad I rode it when I did!
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