Tuesday, February 21, 2012

You Can Lead a Burro to Water… But Will it Swim? (Ironwood Forest National Monument)

Per my prior kvetching, there’s not much opportunity for riding this time of year, even if the weather couldn’t be better.    I’ve been plagued with (or blessed, depending) not just with a heavy work load, but a dead battery or two here, flooded carb there, flat rear tire, insomnia… all of which have conspired to keep me from even the short rides that I wouldn’t consider newsworthy.  So the Ducati has been languishing under its cover, while the Yamaha’s wheels took up a lengthy residence in the trunk of my car.

You know, I don’t trust that Yamaha one bit. I put both wheels back on (after taking them off, of course, for some re-shoeing) and the job did not require one swear word. I was sure something must have gone terribly, terribly wrong, I just didn’t know it yet, because that simply is not the way I roll, in regards to mechanical repairs.  You haven’t finished the job if you haven’t had to throw a tool at least once.

This week I did get out a bit, and decided to give the newly-shod burro a test ride through little known and undeveloped Ironwood Forest National Monument.  There’s a 23 mile rocky, rutted, dippy turny dirt road that loops through the incredible scenery and it seemed like just the thing.  (It seemed a bit less like just the thing after three people warned me of the violent drug smuggling crime there, and that the area was sans-cell-service, so at that point I reminded myself if I had any question as to the route, or felt like I was getting in at all over my head, technically speaking, I could and would turn around sooner rather than later.  Not quite the best place to get stranded, yanno?)

Ironwood Forest National Monument Map
Avra Valley Road, Silverbell Road, Sasco Road

But I happily putted along, at my inexperienced off-road pace, meeting my little challenges successfully and without undue concern.  A few “mogul” fields (which for me, consist of about 3), some areas rough enough for bucking burro moments, steep blind dips into dry washes lined with loose rocks…. that sort of thing.  It was beautiful and green, full of happy desert plant life, with curious mountains and rocks left and right (including a great view of Ragged Top Mountain, whose craggy jagged silhouette never fails to take my eyes off the road when it I see it from afar on I-10), yet I didn’t stop to take one photo. I just didn’t feel like it, and my current burro packing system is not at all convenient as far as accessing anything but water goes (HAH!*), so I justified my laziness by telling myself that perhaps it was best not to stop in what is considered a dangerous area, anyway (didn’t see a soul for the first 21 of  the 23 dirt miles).  It was simply one of those days when I wanted to enjoy the ride and the surroundings in a simpler fashion.

I was almost back to the safety of asphalt, in a relatively civilized area, with other travelers here and there,  when I came across an obstacle one simply doesn’t expect ‘round these parts…

XT225 Meets the Mighty Santa Cruz River
The Li'l Burro meets the Mighty Santa Cruz! 

Yes! Yes I did!  And no, remarkably, I didn’t**!
Lil’ adventure for a Li’l Burro.

*Turns out my current packing system is a bad one. I was warned that luggage doesn’t stay put when riding off road, so I diligently strapped my Camelbak down, tying it directly to the grab rails, before topping it all off with a bungee net.  Guess those bucking bronco moments were enough to launch the entire reservoir out from inside of the secured pack to who-knows-where.  I’m glad I didn’t know I had lost all my water (and ability to carry it) until I was almost home. That’s scary stuff out here.  Time to buy a new reservoir, and to start appropriately outfitting “Eeyore.”

** Didn’t hurt that two Italian tourists were contemplating crossing in their little car at the same time, and when asked if they’d help me haul my bike out of the river if things went wrong replied, “Maybe.”   We saw a 4x4 plow through, so I knew, at least literally, I wouldn’t be in over my head.  The trick of it, of course, is that you can’t see and avoid any potential obstacles in your path.  And you certainly don’t want to find yourself so deep that your bike starts inhaling water instead of air.  One of the Italian tourists videotaped my success, and as always, these things always look utterly unimpressive on tape.  So I’ll leave the execution of the escapade to your imagination!  The tourists... well, they turned around.


noresize said...

we didn't turn around... we have been walking in the desert for a couple of hours... ;) (that's not tourism...)

Paula said...

Really! Did you get to Sasco? Great!

Paula said...

And did you happen to find my Camelbak bladder? :p