11/28/08 - Box Canyon, Cove Ovens, & Battleaxe Trails, AZ

Discussion in 'Epic Rides' started by ta2rob, Nov 28, 2008.

  1. ta2rob

    ta2rob 2 longs, 1 short, 1 long.

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2006
    Oddometer:
    307
    Well, here it goes:

    The weather: cool, a little humid, mostly sunny with patchy clouds threatening rain here & there ... not bad at all!

    The players:

    KTMSER, winterhk, ta2rob, Big E, seebee1, RussL, & Rick Lee

    1 KTM SE, 1 XRR, 1 XRL, 1 KTM Adventure, & 3 R1200GS's (in that order) - sorry if I got anyone's name or bike incorrect!

    Met @ the Florence Chevron @ ~0900 - we departed after much b.s.ing @ 0945. To Price Rd. off 79!

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    Price Rd. was fast dirt ... Spencer & Brian were running wide open ... & hit triple digits as verified by their GPS's! The rest of us rode a 'bit' slower.

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    Onto Box Canyon trail, which started mild enough. Then it got technical quick! Stair-step rock ledges both up & down steep hillsides, peppered with loose rock, & covered with mud puddles made the group plod along. Many a bike was dropped & the carnage insued! Some of the trail smoothed out, but just when you thought you were through the worst sections, another EVEN HARDER portion appeared. It was intimidating when you saw Spencer stopping his KTM and just shaking his head in disbelief.

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    This video of me was shot by Brian using my camera:

    http://s365.photobucket.com/albums/oo98/ta2rob/?action=view&current=100_0449.flv


    But this group of riders has BALLS of STEEL! After pushhing through 1/4 of Box Canyon, the group decided to do the Coke Ovens Trail. Off Box Canyon, it was the toughest trail that we had info on. How little did we know ...

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    I think JD called it a 'death march', or something to that effect. Truer words could not have been spoken regarding this trip. The lack of riding skill of most of the group didn't help at all. Seemingly every 5 minutes or so, someone was helping someone pick up someone's bike. Or grab a structural point & help push, pull, and guide the bike out of some horrible danger & into more. I took a header into a cactus after launching my XRL off a sizable boulder. Rick & Russ tested the craftsmanship of the GS - over and over and over again. Don saw just how well his panniers stood up to the abuse the trail dished out. Eric got both Spencer & Brian to pilot his KTM out of harms way. We were making great time, too - to the tune of about 5 miles an hour! Nice!

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    This was how the day went. S-L-O-W. Lots of GS parts strewn about the trail. Curses were shouted (mostly by myself). Brian & Spencer smoked & shook there heads a lot. But we kept going. That was the motif of this trip, that & nobody left behind.


    So, around mid-afternoon, we came to the turn off for Battleaxe Trail. Cell phone service was in short order & it seemed Verizon phones worked somewhat. Calls to family were placed, letting them know this 'jaunt' would run late - very late. After some soul searching, the disappearing afternoon, the encroaching darkness, & rain clouds moving in overhead, the group decided to skip the rest of the Coke Ovens Trail (which deadends @ the Gila River) & opt to tackle the 'Axe. At least that trail would prove to be our way to pavement, fuel, & home. Big bike friendly, back by noon - sure.

    So, according to MY sources, namely a 4x4 truck AZ trail textbook, the '7' difficulty Coke Ovens Trail was ditched for a nice '5' rated Battleaxe Trail. Well, the beginning of 'Axe that connects to the 'Ovens Trail was tough.

    And if things didn't seem bad enough, a section of the 'Axe was washed out and replaced with a HUGE, bike-swallowing sinkhole!! Even Spencer & Brian just laughed when they saw it. It was just adding more insult to injury, more salt to our festering wound. Here's some videos of how we traversed it:


    http://s365.photobucket.com/albums/oo98/ta2rob/?action=view&current=100_0498.flv


    http://s365.photobucket.com/albums/oo98/ta2rob/?action=view&current=100_0499.flv


    http://s365.photobucket.com/albums/oo98/ta2rob/?action=view&current=100_0497.flv


    More dropped GS's & broken parts. We learned that R1200GS also like to shed their skidplates ... so bailing wire was employed to resecure the pieces.

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    Even the KTM needed a quick front end fix! Sorry Spencer!

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    I stalled out & dropped my XRL a second time, but panic struck when I pressed that magical little starter button and ... silence! That's right - nothing. No cranking, no movement, nothing. Great!

    So after about 20" of sweating, cursing, & wrenching, sprinkled with some rewiring on the fly, I got it started. THANK GOD! Oh, the pounding of the battery & starter solinoid might have had something to do with it. But WHO CARES?! We were rollin' once again.

    Or were we ...?

    Just up ahead a yellow GS wandered off the beaten path. Apparently Russ wasn't satisified with the damage already on his bike, so snapping off the shifter & some throttle-valve-fuel injection-sensor-thingy was in order. Apparently, GS's don't RUN without this crucial part, and after much deliberation, & with a heavy heart, the yellow GS was parked trailside pending a rescue the next day. That's right, we were down to 6 bikes, & two-up on one of them!

    By now, darkness was setting in. Sunglasses were switched for clear ones & lights were turned on bright. Cameras stowed. GPS's were consulted frequently. And thankfully the 'Axe began to live up to its '5' difficulty rating and smooth out somewhat. Steep ledges and tough, boulder-strewn paths were traded for muddy & sandy higher-speed terrain. 'Primitive Road' signs popped up. Power lines towered overhead. We were nearing civilization finally.

    After hitting pavement on 177 between Superior & Mammoth, a quick sprint to a gas station in Superior was in order. It was getting cold, which was amplified by our sweat-soaked clothes. After taking on fuel, rehashing the day's colossal ride, & surveying some of the damage to the bikes, we all took the 60 from Superior, exiting as need be, home.

    One, very expensive, bike was stranded until a day break rescue. GS attributes & weaknesses were exposed. Tank & tail bags failed. Handguards, windscreens, mirrors, aftermarket lights & turn signals smashed. Mufflers dented, plastic panels torn up, & bag mounts & rear racks scratched. The smell of burning clutches was in the air all the time.

    But NO bodily injuries, thankfully. All were tested, some more than others. And all came through to ride another day. Bravo to all the riders ... and kudos to all who selflessly stopped their ride to help out another rider in distress. True spirit against seemingly unbearable adversity won out. Gentlemen, dare I propose another go at it?! We'll see ...
    #1
  2. Rick Lee

    Rick Lee Long timer

    Joined:
    Apr 1, 2007
    Oddometer:
    1,254
    Location:
    Cave Creek, AZ USA
    You guys are the best. I can't think of anyone I'd rather have get my back. Thanks so much for the great ride, comedy, photos and keeping my spirits up. It was a hard day for me, but meeting you guys made it worthwhile. Photos coming tomorrow. Bike repair will keep me busy once I'm no longer sore. Man, I did some damage.
    #2
  3. seabee1

    seabee1 we build, we fight

    Joined:
    Aug 9, 2008
    Oddometer:
    2,478
    Location:
    Scottsdale, Arizona
    almost everyone did some damage, don't feel bad about that. and you have to admit, you improved yesterday. just remember to pick a line, and gas it. momentum is your friend.:D
    #3
  4. RussL

    RussL Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Nov 23, 2005
    Oddometer:
    260
    Location:
    Phoenix, AZ
    Thanks to everyone for their support and putting up with a noob on a pig on a "7" trail. Despite a few broken parts a stranded bike, and an aching body, I had a great time. I'm leaving right now to rescue the GS with a buddy in a 4x4 pickup. Will post up a report when I get back.
    #4
  5. GB

    GB . Administrator

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2002
    Oddometer:
    57,309
    Location:
    Toronto
    That's some very tough riding for such big bikes!! Looks like quite the adventure!! Thanks for the report, the carnage and the pics :thumb
    #5
  6. scottcolbath

    scottcolbath Long timer

    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2004
    Oddometer:
    7,177
    Location:
    The north edge of 85050
    You know it's bad if Spencer is shaking his head. :rofl

    Russell, good luck on the bike rescue.

    S.C.
    #6
  7. Nightstalker

    Nightstalker YO BUDDYPAL!

    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2003
    Oddometer:
    5,961
    Location:
    Sunny Phoenix, AZ
    I wish I could have been with you guys yesterday!
    #7
  8. Rick Lee

    Rick Lee Long timer

    Joined:
    Apr 1, 2007
    Oddometer:
    1,254
    Location:
    Cave Creek, AZ USA
    I was so busy dropping and picking up my bike, that I didn't have too many chances to break out the camera.

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    Here's best surface we were on outside of pavement.
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    Some of my battle scars.

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    My repairs parts shopping lists includes a set of handguards, both valve covers and I can probably rustle up everything I need around the house or local Lowe's. I'm surprised my $20 homemade light bar made it as long as it did. Looks like a pretzel now.
    #8
  9. AZ-Twin

    AZ-Twin Dusty and Thirsty

    Joined:
    Oct 20, 2007
    Oddometer:
    1,326
    Location:
    Sierra Vista, AZ
    Wow, what a tough ride on big bikes. Glad you guys came out okay (no broken bones). Thanks for sharing the experience. Good luck with the GS rescue.
    #9
  10. tn-steve

    tn-steve Addicted

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2007
    Oddometer:
    1,598
    Location:
    Clarksville, TN
    I just rode that same area (Box Canyon) last month on an xr650r. NO WAY I would have done that on a big bike! A ton of fun on the 650 though.

    For you guys that did it on the big bikes - RESPECT :beer Wow!
    #10
  11. fuzzydude2

    fuzzydude2 CMA'er

    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2008
    Oddometer:
    212
    Location:
    Phoenix, Az
    thought I might have made it too, but things just wouldn't have worked out. would have been a bit much on my new bike so maybe better I did not go :huh What are those oven things out there for anyway?
    #11
  12. KTMSER

    KTMSER Big bike friendly

    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2006
    Oddometer:
    2,759
    Location:
    Six feet from hell Phoenix AZ
    Here are a few more pictures..

    Big-E
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    winterhk
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    ta2rob
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    Rick Lee
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    seabee1
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    RussL
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    RussL
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    The hole that was over six feet deep..

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    More to follow..
    #12
  13. ta2rob

    ta2rob 2 longs, 1 short, 1 long.

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2006
    Oddometer:
    307
    PM sent! Let me know if there's anything I can do to help.

    - R
    #13
  14. scottcolbath

    scottcolbath Long timer

    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2004
    Oddometer:
    7,177
    Location:
    The north edge of 85050
    KTMSER............Turning fun into work since 1980. :rofl

    S.C.
    #14
  15. ZONKR

    ZONKR Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2006
    Oddometer:
    537
    Location:
    Valley of the Sun
    They burned mesquite in them to make coke and used the coke to burn in the smelters.
    #15
  16. KTMSER

    KTMSER Big bike friendly

    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2006
    Oddometer:
    2,759
    Location:
    Six feet from hell Phoenix AZ
    This shot sure looks smooth..:huh

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    You had to go up here and do a two point turn then head hard right..

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    I cannot believe the punishment Rick Lee's 1200 took and still made it out..That thing was on it's side at least thirty times..:lol3

    When we going back? :rofl
    #16
  17. Utah Bones

    Utah Bones Gas X ready!

    Joined:
    Apr 20, 2008
    Oddometer:
    1,607
    Location:
    Brain in Utah but homeless in Wisconsin....
    Wow great ride.:eek1
    #17
  18. Corky1

    Corky1 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Mar 29, 2005
    Oddometer:
    372
    Location:
    Prescott, Az.
    Maybe I have this ADV rider thing all wrong.:dunno
    I thought motorcycles were to RIDE.:dunno

    If you guys enjoy draging around heavy things and lifting heavy things, I have a friend that runs a concrete pumper that is looking for helpers to drag and carry 6" hoses filled with concrete.:getiton

    Nice pictures, nice riding ares,
    wrong bikes?????:dunno:dunno

    Corky:ksteve:ksteve
    #18
  19. seabee1

    seabee1 we build, we fight

    Joined:
    Aug 9, 2008
    Oddometer:
    2,478
    Location:
    Scottsdale, Arizona
    yeah, i guess for the weak and feeble. perhaps you should stick with the small light bikes.:rofl
    #19
  20. Groo

    Groo The Wanderer

    Joined:
    Jun 25, 2006
    Oddometer:
    539
    Location:
    Seattle
    I want to see some pics of the GS's by the coke ovens! glad nobody got hurt. Jeezus
    #20