The Long Way to Young
It had been a while since we'd had a good group ride, so Paul, Jim, Carl, Bruce and I decided to make a run up to Young -- a small town in the higher elevations south of Payson. The route would take us up to Four Peaks, back down to Punkin Center, and up to Young via some dirt trails. Unfortunately, Jim developed a touch of stomach flu shortly into the ride and had to turn back. But the remaining crew had a blast tackling the dirt roads up and over Four Peaks.
After making it down the back side of Four Peaks, we found a nice spot with a little jump and plenty of landing room, so we had a lot of fun seeing if pigs can actually fly. Turns out they can.
The trail from Punkin Center up to Young was a lot of fun, with differing terrain and some great scenery. Best of all, it didn't take long to get up to higher country and cooler temperatures. But not before we encountered one little rough spot in the trail.
After reaching the small town of Young, we stopped at a local watering hole for some refreshments. Young is one of those places that is just far enough out of reach that it hasn't been spoiled by the usual influx of city folk looking to glom on to a piece of "the country." You get a real sense of the wild west out here. While pondering the route we would take to get back home, one of the locals mentioned a trail that would take us back toward town through Gisela. So we decided to give it a go. (Mistake.) Soon after leaving Young, the trail became strewn with boulders, and it only got worse.
I gotta hand it to Bruce -- he never flinched at taking that new GS (with street tires, I might add) on trails that would make a DRZ400 blush. Even after dropping the bike a couple of times, he still had a grin on his face. It finally got to the point, however, when it was clear we couldn't go any further (despite Paul's best efforts to drive us forward). So we headed back the way we came.
Shortly before making it back to Young, the valve stem on my rear tire decided to go its separate ways from the tube. So I was once again able to field test my tire changing equipment. (One discovery -- three tire irons make it a lot easier than two.) After changing out the tube, we headed on our way to find a nice, easy dirt road up to Payson. On the way, Bruce was nice enough to let each of us take a turn on the new GS. I have to say, that's one nice bike.
Once in Payson, we sat down for a nice dinner and waited for the sun to set before heading west to Phoenix. All told, we put nearly 300 miles on the odo, with about ten hours in the saddle. Now that's a good day.