After a hearty breakfast of oatmeal w/ brown sugar and raisins, chased by coffee, we suited-up, checked our rides
then headed towards Florence for gas, and the Florence-Kelvin Hwy, mostly dirt, E to the Barkerville Rd, S on it to the Freeman Rd
where we turned E again thru a river crossing of the San Pedro River and Dudleyville, where we transitioned to 77 and N thru Winkelman to the Dripping Springs Rd.
Some Alberta buddies had been thru there on the GDR (Great Divide Ride), and we'd talked about the route from the Dripping Springs Rd, on about 15 miles of dirt thru 3 gates (had to open, then close them of course) to a 4th w/ a LARGE "NO TRESPASSING" sign. They'd told me that you turned right just before that sign, about 30 feet, then thru the gate there, and I assumed the AZ BDR went the same routing, altho' Dave was saying that we were no longer showing on those tracks on his GPS.
We went thru, closed the gate, had a lunch snack, then started up the trail, Dave leading. About a half mile in it became apparent that we were in a 'wash', coarse sandy, maybe 6" deep. We talked - I suggested it would only get worse, so we should do a "180" and get the hell out of there. I got turned OK, up on the 'pegs, and back to the gate where I saw a KTM 690 parked, the rider closing the gate.
I called to him to leave it, rode thru and parked, then walked back to chat. He was Ron, there from Ontario, planning pretty much the same day as us. After several minutes I realized that Dave still hadn't showed, so back to BIG RED, up on the 'pegs and back to where I'd left him, finding him in shirt-sleeves, obviously just done w/ getting the Rat 'back on its feet'. Ron rode up, said he would explore the route a bit, then come back to tell how it was. We rode back to the gate and waited.
Dave reiterated that his AZ BDR track was somewhere ahead of us, back down Dripping Springs Rd.
Ron reappeared, told us that the trail just got worse, so we re-traced our steps to about 1 mile from 77 where Dave's track showed going N from that position. We turned, heading N, the trail getting more and MORE rocky, more gnarly. At this point I was starting to think that the AZ BDR would NOT consist of dirt roads like I'd led us on from Florence, but something MUCH more technical.
In a few miles the trail turned towards the E, and started to climb, VERY rocky covered w/ loose pieces. As I turned up it, I saw Ron riding downhill on his Katoom, so I stopped, putting my right foot down... and down... then BIG RED went down hard and I rolled off to the right - I'd stopped over a hole, so no place to put my foot down to hold the bike up.
Ron put his bike on its stand, ran over and helped me get mine back up and on its stand. Once they were assured I was OK, Ron said that we had about another half mile up, then it leveled off on a dirt road, a downhill, then a sign saying "PRIVATE - NO ENTRY" to the left of the trail. We talked, deciding to continue, so I mounted-up, starting up (almost instantly back standing on the 'pegs), weaving thru the rocky "mine-field", soon onto the 'road', down the hill and stopped near the sign, where I awaited Dave and Ron. Ron showed up, shortly followed by Dave.
Again we discussed the sign, but as Dave's GPS showed the AZ BDR going on this trail, past the sign, (MY GPS was now showing that this was the route to Globe) we decided that the tracks would NOT be over places we were forbidden to ride, so we decided to press on. About another mile along and the trail "Y" d, the right leg of the Y ending at a LARGE steel-pipe gate holding ANOTHER "PRIVATE - NO ENTRY" sign, a BIG padlock, and NO way to ride around...!
We rode back up the 100 feet or so to the other leg of the Y, badly eroded, uphill and out of sight. Ron volunteered to ride up to check it out while Dave and I talked about options. Soon Ron reappeared
telling us that after about 1.5 ROUGH miles UP that slope we would be at the Forestry Road for Prospect Mountain, but that the traction was VG up it. I started, back on the 'pegs headed UP. He was right - traction was good, but there was NO WAY I was going to stop as long as I was still moving, and a few minutes later the sign for Prospect Mountain came into view, Ron along side, and I stopped, putting the bike on its stand W/ OUT falling over, THIS time! Ron commented that one of his friends had a Versys, and wasn't sure it would "go" off-road, asked if he could take 'our' pic? Of course I agreed. I was REALLY hoping Dave would ride up OK too (I did NOT relish going back down either riding OR walking - about 90F), soon hearing the Rat's exhaust note.
We all started off, following the roads to Globe where we pulled in to a station for gas at 1600. At THIS point we'd been 'rolling' for 7.5 hrs, covering 126 miles!!! I was beginning to have doubts about the whole AZ BDR, wondering if it shouldn't be re-named the AZ EMXBDR (Expert MX riders Back Road Discovery ride!).
As we talked about where we were going, Ron mentioned that his plan the NEXT day was to ride to Young along the AZ BDR route, which he's read on the 'net was the TOUGHEST part of the whole route, so I told Dave that I would NOT ride that, but instead would take him to Young via 27 miles of passable dirt, so we waved to Ron, thanked him, heading N.