Cave Creek to Strawberry
It was time to take the Super Enduro on a real adventure. So far, I'd only done a couple of shorter rides to get a feel for the bike. But I was itching to take it a little deeper into the Arizona wilderness. It turns out a couple of the guys I used to ride with had also picked up 950 SEs, so we decided to meet up and give the back way to Strawberry a go.
The trail takes you from Cave Creek (just north of Phoenix) up through Seven Springs and all the way to Strawberry. The last time Carl and I tried this route, we ran into a little obstacle -- a guy walking lost through the desert, about two steps away from death. (Ride report here.) So we never made it to Strawberry on that run. But I was determined to make it all the way this time.
When we met up in Cave Creek, it turned out that there would be three 950 SEs on the ride. (There would have been five, but Gary couldn't make it due to a family emergency and Spencer's 950 was waiting on some triple clamps, so he brought his tricked-out 625 SXC instead.)
Once on dirt, we made quick work of the road up to Bloody Basin. But Mark (Misery Goat) caught a nail on the way, so we had to do a quick trail-side tube swap. There were plenty of 21" tubes to go around, but none of us had packed an 18" tube for the rear. So we went with the old standby of running a 21" tube in an 18" tire. (Works just fine, by the way.) Mark's bike didn't have a center stand mounted, so we also had to fashion a make-shift center stand using river rocks. Check out the pic below of the tube. It was completely shredded...
Once you cross Bloody Basin road, the trail turns into a fun, high-speed jeep track with the occasional rocky section to keep you on your toes. The Super Enduro was made for this kind of stuff.
Then came the fun part... crossing the Verde River. I had done this once before riding the DR650, but hit a rock about half-way across that nearly threw me off. A couple of the other guys had similar experiences, so we decided to play it safe and walk the bikes across. (Nothing kills a great ride faster than a waterlogged bike.) It wasn't that deep, but a lot of large rocks were lurking under the surface. One thing's for sure... the water was nice and cool.
Once we were on the other side, it was starting to get late. Mark and I decided to ride on into Strawberry for some food, then slab it back through Payson into Phoenix (we both had dates with the wives). But Spencer and (the other) Mark wanted to do a bit more dirt, so they headed back west toward I-17 through Dugas.
The climb back out of the valley was picturesque as always, so Mark and I make frequent stops to soak it all in. After a great meal in Strawberry and some much needed fuel, we hit the highway and blasted back to Phoenix.
At least this time around, there were no shirtless guys wandering around aimlessly.