|01-16-2014, 09:12 PM||#1|
Joined: Aug 2005
Location: Harrisville, Utah
"Hooked on Phoenix" - Supercross 2014
Hooked on Phoenix Adventure Ride Report
January 8-13, 2014
The King of Supercross, Jeremy McGrath, was riding a Suzuki. The entire start line of both the 125 and 250 main events were filled with nothing but 2-strokes.
Lance Smail was trying to make history by being the first four-stroke to make a main event aboard his KTM 540SX a year before Doug Henry and Yamaha revolutionized the sport with the YZF400, and the 30-second board was held up by a burly AMA employee, rather than a voluptuous and barely-clothed Monster Energy girl.
Such was the state of professional Supercross in 1997, the last time I attended the Phoenix Supercross.
Since that time, I have continued to remain a fan of the sport, and enjoyed a lot of my own riding and racing. However, these days my time is spent more on supporting my sons who all enjoy riding and racing, and my limited ride time is often spent in the growing adventure riding segment of motorcycling.
So, when an e-mail was forwarded my way from 2 adventure riding friends, for a contest being held by Rocky Mountain ATV/MC to be a guest on their 2nd annual “Hooked on Phoenix” adventure ride, I jumped at the chance. A handful of participants would be selected based on their submission explaining why they would be a good choice to attend the ride.
I felt like I had won the lottery the day I received an e-mail informing me that I had been one of 8 people selected from across the country to join the Rocky Mountain gang on a 5 day adventure ride. The plan was to start from Mesquite Nevada, ride two days across the Nevada and Arizona deserts camping along the way. We would spend a night in Phoenix, and be their guest in the Rocky Mountain suite at the Phoenix Supercross, and then spend two days riding and camping along a return route back to Mesquite. It doesn’t get much better than that, so I prepped the big KTM 950 and headed to Mesquite last week.
The following is a summary of my experiences of this incredible ride.
We met the first night for dinner in Mesquite. Sitting down with a group of 14 riders who all share the same interest is a funny experience. It took about 10 seconds to discover mutual acquaintances from all over the world and instantly, the bench-racing ensued. Motorcyclists are a curious bunch.
The next morning could not come fast enough. With everyone geared up and ready to go we left Mesquite and headed for the hills.
There was quite the mixture of bikes, ranging from Justin’s resurrected 1987 KLR 650 that had been purchased for $500 to the brand new KTM 1190R Adventure, and a few Yamaha Super Tenere’s thrown in for good measure. Over half the group was on KLR’s.
We hit the powerline road directly south of Mesquite headed for Overton Nevada. It became quickly apparent who had experience riding in sand and who did not, but everyone in the group was very supportive. Rocky Mountain had provided their Sprinter Van as a chase vehicle, with some additional tools and spares, but otherwise everyone was self-sufficient.
From Overton we left the dirt and headed towards Lake Mead Recreation Area.
This was a great stretch of slab with minimal traffic and terrific views the entire time. I had to keep reminding myself that it was the middle of January and just the day before I had left the snow, ice, and frigid temperatures at home.
We headed around Lake Las Vegas and then picked up a section of gnarly washes over the mountain to Boulder Nevada. Here is Scott, the “No Toil” guy with Vegas in the background. Scott was full of energy and seemed to always be enjoying the ride.
Jason, from St. George Utah, tests the dirt worthiness of the big new KTM 1190R.
This is one of my favorite pics of the trip. This is Eric, also known as “WolfMan” of Wolfman Luggage fame. He was an excellent rider on his big, and might I ad incredibly prepped, Yamaha Super Tenere.
Rob from Utah, on his KLR 650 in the same section with Vegas in the background.
After Boulder we hit some dirt super-highways and laid down some miles.
Jason on the 1190 again.
Being winter, nightfall came early and before long we were navigating in the dark. The last 5-10 miles were through some really soft and gravelly washes. A lot of guys were getting tired and riding in the soft washes was proving to be a handful. This was actually one of my favorite sections of the entire trip. There is something about twisting the throttle on a 100hp big “A” dirt bike and sending the back-end sideways in the sand. The addition of Rigid D2 LED’s to my bike was worth their weight in gold. They lit up the night sky like a spaceship. Here, Larry from Iowa contemplates his ride on his big Tenere. Larry was an excellent rider.
Before we knew it, we rounded the corner and saw this. Kind of fun to be out in the middle of the desert and round the corner and find your support vehicle sitting there, ready to setup camp for the night.
This was the reward for the days riding. Nothing better than a campfire and some bench-racing for the day.
Camp for the night was “Christmas Tree Pass”. Many have taken the name to heart and decorated the trees accordingly.
All the bikes lined up in Oatman Arizona while we had lunch and watched the mock Western gunfight in the middle of the street.
My big KTM in Oatman on Route 66.
Upstairs above one of the gift shops is a small motorcycle museum. There were 4 Harleys of very early 1900’s vintage that are probably worth more than the whole town.
Everyone kept talking about wanting to see the “Asses” in Oatman. I wasn’t sure what they meant until now. Shortly after the daily “gunfight”, these wild burros wander in from the hills and meander down main street looking for handouts and attention from the tourists.
After Oatman and a great stretch of slab down Route 66, we eventually peeled off into the hills again. Here is Larry from Iowa navigating the many rocks.
At a certain point, our ride leaders let us know that there was an “A” loop up and over the mountains….not recommended for big bikes, but leaving it up to our discretion. I love a good challenge so I opted in. The group split in 2 groups with the plan being to meet up in about an hour at a pre-determined location on the other side of the mountain. Those of us riding the A loop included myself and the other Mike from Texas on a KTM 990. There were 5 others on KLRs. There did prove to be a few challenging , rocky, and steep uphills. Taking the entire group through there probably would have been a disaster. As it was, we still had our share of problems. The big bikes handled it fine, but the steep hills and large loads proved to be murder on the KLR clutches.
To see some of the carnage, here’s a little clip of Brandon from Texas enjoying the hill on his KLR.
He ended up with a broken rear fender, smashed crashed guards, and a severely bruised ego, but he was otherwise a good sport about it.
Mike from Texas on his 990….small guy, big bike, but big smiles and a great rider.
Another hot KLR clutch victim. This is Ray from Rocky Mountain’s KLR 650. This was the mule that liked to get whipped. Ray is not a small man by any stretch of the imagination and he was flogging that KLR the whole weekend.
The KLR needed to have a reprieve of a smaller rider to make it the rest of the way up the hill. Justin, who weighs as much as a wet noodle jumped on it and nursed it to the top. The Quote of the day occurred at this point. Justin got on Ray’s bike and said, “Who farted?”, to which Ray replied, “…that is my clutch”. It was so hot, it was emitting a rancid smell.
Justin and I made it to the top and were rewarded with this view. A pretty good view for the middle of January for a couple of guys from Utah.
More great views from the KTM cockpit.
Me soaking it in. It was a beautiful night and we had just enjoyed a fun challenge riding the big bikes up some gnarly ATV trails….but the evening was about to get interesting.
A few miles later I rounded the corner and saw this.
Rob had smacked a rock in just the wrong way and ripped his drain plug right out from his case (yes, he just had the stock “skidplate”). Don’t worry, we cleaned up all the oil spill.
This was the carnage. A hole about the size of a silver dollar right in the bottom of the case. We’re at the top of a mountain, separated from the other half of our group who were expecting us in an hour (and it had been an hour to this point already).
Time to let the red-neck engineering begin. Give a Texan a knife and a beer can and he can work wonders. Actually, with a whole tube of quick-steel and 2 quarts of oil, we were able to nurse the KLR back on to the trail.
Rob coasted off the mountain to this point just as the sun was below the horizon.
We eventually made it to the meeting with the van and the rest of the riders, 2-3 hours late and it was completely dark. At that point, some additional repairs needed to be made. Time for a new chain and some repairs on Scott’s KLR (one of the advantages of having a chase vehicle was carrying some spares and more heavy duty tools).
We then hit another dirt super highway in the dark. My lights were great once again and although I don’t have any pictures, this was another highlight of my trip. Mike and I from Texas were riding side by side on the dirt, doing 70-80 mph, lit up with my LED’s, and getting the butterfly’s in our stomach from cresting small rises in the road.
Our destination was Alamo Lake. We made it but not after navigating many miles of rocky jeep road, followed by a few miles of ATV trail, and then a final crossing of a huge wash filled with super deep sand that was swallowing up the big bikes. By the time we hit camp, I was exhausted. I crawled in my tent, ate a granola bar, and didn’t wake until morning. This was my view in the morning.
After some breakfast and a good night’s rest, I was rejuvenated and ready to head for Phoenix. It was great to see the desert terrain in the daylight after riding many hours in the night.
First flat of the trip occurred on the KTM 1190. Everyone jumped in for a quick repair.
And we eventually made it to our hotel in Phoenix. Everyone was anxious for a shower, change of clothes, and looking forward to a great night at the Supercross.
|01-16-2014, 09:30 PM||#2|
Joined: Aug 2005
Location: Harrisville, Utah
We were treated to a tour of the Rocky Mountain ATV/MC supercross team rig.
And then eventually made it to the suite. It was sweet!!! Nothing like watching the supercross live, with your own kitchen, bathroom, drinks, and more food than we could eat.
Here, Big Ray from Rocky Mountain gets interviewed on the stadium floor about the support and programs Rocky Mountain sponsors toward the Supercross. I found it funny knowing that just hours before, he was flogging his KLR 650 across the desert, sleeping on the ground, and enjoying a great ride with his friends.
Did I mention great food and more than we could eat.
Our view from the suite.
Larry and Rob do rock-paper-scissors to see who gets the money from the little wager we all had, since they tied in their score. It was a great night of racing and a pretty rare treat for us humble peasants.
The next morning the big girls were ready to hit the road again.
But not before a tire swap on Ray’s KLR….he had been spitting knobs of his new Dunlop on the slap section the day before.
After a good section of slab to get north and out of town, we hit dirt, but not before another tire repair.
….and not before Scot tried to strap a tree to his bike.
Proof of how great and accommodating the Rocky Mountain crew was, here Rob rides Eric’s KLR for the remaining two days of the trip. Rob was the “guest” on this ride so Eric loaned him his KLR for the balance of the trip and rode in the Sprinter van the rest of the time. A great move by a very generous guy.
Justin proves you don’t need to spend thousands on a fancy adventure bike to go out and enjoy the same things. His original ’87 KLR worked just great and in fact, Justin was probably one of the best and most capable riders on the entire trip….doing wheelies and getting both wheels off the ground on many occasions while others tried to hang in his dust.
Larry from Montana….easily the most improved rider of the whole trip and a joy to be around…always a smile on his face.
But once we hit this road, it was all worth it. Easily the most scenic road of the entire trip, with saguaro cactus and beautiful desert everywhere.
Dan from Rocky Mountain enjoying a beautiful stretch of dirt road.
A handful of us eventually split off and took another short “A Loop” section that was a total riot. Jason once again tests the dirt worthiness of the big KTM 1190.
Yours truly with a smile on my face.
Big Ray was a hoot to ride with and be around the entire weekend.
Eventually we hooked on to another dirt super-highway and pointed ourselves towards Wickieup Arizona.
Dinner in Wickieup….Justin found a new muscular figure.
After dinner, it was getting dark….a perfect time to fix another flat.
We headed for the hills south of Kingman Arizona. We enjoyed another great night around the campfire and a VERY chilly night in the tents. My campsite that night, but it doesn’t show how cold it really was.
We then slabbed it to Hoover Dam for a quick peak at the Dam. The last time I was there, this bridge was being built.
Time to replace some oil in Justin’s KLR after that much highway riding.
Group shot of those of us that remained on the last day. We dropped a few riders during the return route as folks had to get back to various locations.
We backtracked on the same rocky wash route outside of Vegas, but still had a great time.
And around Lake Mead again.
Final stretch of dirt under the powerlines and back to Mesquite.
I was sad to know it was all coming to an end. I didn’t want to stop riding.
We made it, excited to be there, but sad that this ride I had been so looking forward to for months was now over.
That night, we enjoyed an awesome catered meal of Prime Rib at the Virgin River Casino in Mesquite.
….and the Rocky Mountain crew handed out some goodie bags to the riders chalk full of cool stuff.
They even gave John a new GPS for being such a good sport on the ride. Everyone on this ride was a total class act.
Group shot of those of that remained for the final night. Huge thanks to Rocky Mountain ATV/MC for being willing to get creative and host a ride like this and demonstrate their commitment to the industry, their customers, and the sport as a whole.
|01-17-2014, 09:43 AM||#3|
Gone and back again.
Joined: Nov 2003
Location: Never Banned
Wow, great report and photos.
Everbody's preachin' at me that we all wanna git to heaven, trouble is, nobody wants to die to git there.-BB King
Reality is what does not go away when you stop believing in it. -Philip K Dick
I wanna be skinny, but my ass is too big. - Charles Barkley
When choosing between two evils, I always like to try the one I've never tried before. - Mae West
Experience is what keeps a man who makes the same mistake twice from admitting it the third time around.
|01-17-2014, 01:54 PM||#4|
Joined: Jan 2014
Wow awesome ride and awesome report. Had a blast just reading this! Seems like a trip of a lifetime!
XR400 - Plated - Dual Sport/Adventure Bike
|01-18-2014, 10:31 AM||#7|
See Ya, Bye.
Joined: Oct 2004
Location: The great state of Utah
I had totally forgotten about that ride. I submitted an application to go a while back. I'm glad they invited some guys from around the country so they could experience this part of the world. Well done, way to represent.
A ride you say? When and Where?
My Favorite Pics
|01-19-2014, 09:38 AM||#8|
Joined: Aug 2011
Location: St. George, UT
Great ride report. Motos, camping, and sounds like a bunch of great guys!
RedRockRider - WR250R, TW200, Versys, Vulcan 900 LT, Zuma 125
Southwest Utah: Dual Sport Riding from St. George
|01-21-2014, 08:52 PM||#9|
It's in the blood.
Joined: Sep 2006
Location: Layton, UT
Nice photos and write up..
How many miles daily and overall did you travel?
You don't know if you don't go
|01-22-2014, 08:31 AM||#10|
Joined: Aug 2005
Location: Harrisville, Utah
|01-22-2014, 06:55 PM||#12|
Joined: Jun 2007
Location: North Phoenix
Very cool, great RR and photos.
"Single Trac is like Scotch, you have to aquire a taste for it!"
|01-22-2014, 07:28 PM||#13|
Joined: Jun 2008
Location: Nor. Utah
A+ As expected
Shout out to RMATV/MC for going above and beyond in support of the sport.
Perhaps the begging in my application narrative implied a high maintenance whiner, hence I'm on the reading end of this trip.
Thanks for another great write up Mike!
|01-24-2014, 09:36 AM||#14|
Joined: Oct 2011
Location: Wickenburg AZ
Great report... Know some of the area's you were riding.
Brown crossing above Alamo Lake in the dark can be quite intimidating... Soft sand , end of a long day... Know that tent looked good that evening!
Mark, a Misplaced Farm Boy....
|12-29-2014, 06:55 PM||#15|
Joined: Mar 2010
Location: Just a Plain City in Utah
Great report Mike;
I am one of the lucky few to do this trip coming up in a week ! I am pumped. RMT looks like a great bunch to ride with. I hope the weather holds and it isn't to COLD But hey I rode the CDR last summer when all it did was rain , still a great trip. So with my luck It will snow in Phoenix just because I am in town
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