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  • Writer's pictureKelsey

Big bike up the Crown King Backroad. R1200GS

Updated: Nov 29, 2020

I decided that I wanted to take the R1200GS onto some real dirt. It's not up for any true singletrack, but I wanted to use it for what it's meant for. Doing some big sections of dirt followed by blasting along the highway when needed, all while carrying plenty of fuel and gear! Here is a little map of my adventure. It ended up being about 260 miles in total. More than half of that was dirt. I headed out at about 6AM and got home just afternoon. It was a lot of miles to hustle into a half day ride, but what a journey!

Given that I actually wanted to ride and "get on it" most of the day, I didn't take many pictures, but I'm already looking forward to doing it again. Making a run for dirt along Carefree Highway watching Hot Air Balloons and ultralites dot the sky around me.

Almost there, I'm rounding Lake Pleasant right now. The are is already warm like a hairdryer on low. Yuck.

Dirt will be a relief though. Something about it lowers my heart rate and blood pressure. Get me to dirt. Just another mile to go.

Ahh, a taste of freedom. It's going to get very hot, well into the 100's and possibly even 110 today. Time to make tracks and leave the people behind.

Not a bad place to live, but no AC, let alone windows, so I'll keep riding.

The turnoff. I've ridden motorcycles and driven countless 4x4's up this road, not to mention the time I mountain biked it from Prescott one time. This would still be different. A barkalounger with street biased tires should make it interesting. I passed the first and last person I'd see on dirt all day within the first mile. Then the trail was MINE. Just how I like it.

Someone had been playing out here the night before. Did I remember a side arm? Were they still out here? Would I come around a corner and surprise them this early in the morning?

So far so good. I came around a corner and thought to myself, this is fun. I'm getting some air on this big fat bike even. I'm one with the bike. I'm a little tired already, I'll just relax a bit. ...then I saw it, a water crossing that was only 10 feet across and about 8 inches deep. Just after it was a hill filled with "baby heads" or "bowling balls" or whatever you want to call them. I am now calling them devil's cow pies after the next few moments. I knew I had lazily chosen a bad line while I was day dreaming. I commited and once I hit this rock with the front tire I went airborne. The rock I hit upon landing was enough to twist the bars and pull them out of my hands. I was going down. That hurt. No time to whine. Shut the bike off, pick it up, stabilize it, assess the damage. Foot peg bent up out of the way, shifter broken off, hand guard broken.

Take a rock the size of my head, bash the peg back into place... fixed enough. See if I can shift, it seems to sort work if I paw at the stubby leftover of a shifter with my foot. Well, suck it up buttercup and let's go.

Keep moving. Stay focused. Keep It Simple Stupid! Enjoy the ride! It's finally cooling down as you ascend.

Around each corner is a new surprise even with knowing the trail. A rock ledge on a small KTM or in a big 4x4 doesn't even stick in your memory until you are on a low clearance 400LB plus bike. Each one I am fully focused for and keep taking good lines.

I shiver and say out loud. Soak it in you lucky bastard. It will be hot later. Keep moving.

It's getting colder. The shadows make the air icey and the sweat makes me shiver now. I love it!

Still at road PSI, it seems to be working well, enough.

You made it to the Senator Highway. Graded-ish road from here out. Just don't get cocky. No Whiskey throttle. THis bike has more HP than your first car. Keep it smooth. Slide the rear tire on corner exists, but don't get greedy with it.

It's like a roller coaster. The streams are full and my boots and pants are soaking from hitting each stream crossing at speed. This is perfection.

Averaging about 45MPH, lug the engine. Avoid shifting when possible with that broken shift lever.

Palace station. I can taste Prescott.

Gassed up, chugged more water and headed out to Williamson Valley. After a quick hello to K's parents I hit the road to the sound of thunder. The weather is so different than Phoenix it's startling.

Time to hit dirt again.

Down to Skull Valley and it gets muddy. Beautiful, but muddy. This water buffalo of a bike likes to squirrel away. Just like on sand, let it dance, just keep your balance above the moving beast.

Made it to pavement.

Food at last. Fries, coke, sausage, french dip roast beef and a cookie to go that disappears before I remount the bike in the rain. Time to head into the heat! Down Yarnell Hill I go. Into the fire. Concentrate, stop for a water break, make it home. Consume beer and chuckle with a smile what a great and insane half day trip it was. Time for second lunch!


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