February Trail Ride

Some club trail rides are better than others, some days are better than others, some days it seems it would be better if you just stayed in bed. As ride leader for the club ride from Punkin Center to Young, it would be easy for me to say many negative things about the trail ride. That is not my way. Yes, we had one side x side with ignition issues and had to go back and we one side x side with broken welds on the driver’s side upper A arm that had to be trailered off of the mountain. I guess you can say those two events were the down side of the day. The day certainly had more positive events than down side events.

Twenty riders arrived at the staging area after crossing the very dry and dusty Tonto Creek. The write-up about the ride did mention crossing the creek which can sometimes be a real challenge due to high water. High water was not an issue for this event. The dust certainly forewarned all of the day’s riding conditions. The weather was perfect, sunny and cool in the morning and warming as the day progressed. The warming was tempered by the change in elevation as the ride progressed from the valley floor up into the Sierra Ancha Mountains. The area has had very little moisture, so the riding conditions was very dusty. The day’s ride was to be from Punkin Center area to the Antlers Café in Young, a round trip distance between 80 to 90 miles. Many of the riders had never done the ride and were amazed how you go from desert and cactus to high mountains and tall pines. A favorite of the ride is a stop at a large cave under the road. Those riders with lights and no fear of caves had time to explore the cave.

This was also the end of the trail for the trail leader because his side x side had the broken weld and was definitely out. Many riders that are a lot smarter about field repairs than the ride leader agreed the machine would have to be trailered off of the mountain. At time like these you really appreciate friends and fellow off-road riders who are willing to step up and do whatever is needed to make things better. It was agreed the group would continue onto Young and a wonderful lunch at the Antlers and then return back to the staging area. Bill Fort agreed to transport me back to the staging area and Pam would remain with the downed unit. After reaching the staging area we drove Bill’s pickup and our truck and trailer around Roosevelt Lake where we picked up the Young highway. We then drove to where the forest road connected with the Young highway. The plan was to have Bill and I travel up the mountain in his pickup pulling our trailer. The only problem was the trailer was locked to our truck and the keys were in the glove box of the RZR. Fortunately, many of the ride participants have communication radios. I was able to contact Chris Compton and ask him to bring the keys back down the mountain to us. It was 10+ miles up to where the RZR was parked.

When we arrived, we discovered Bear Nelson and Gary Slaughter had put the RZR back together and had put away all the tools I had taken out and had scattered around the site. The RZR was ready to be loaded on the trailer. Some may wonder why we took Bill Fort’s truck up the mountain instead of our truck. Our truck is a crew cab dually, long and wide. Some local folks we talked with advised us to not bring the dually up the trail. After we got the RZR loaded and back down the mountain it was obvious that the larger truck could have made it up and down. The only problem would have been passing oncoming vehicles, someone would have had to back up until a suitable wide location could be found. Pam and I finally made it to the Antlers for some supper around 7 pm, a really long and tiring day. I simply cannot say enough about the wonderful club members who chose to help in anyway necessary. Two things came out of this experience, you learn the value of fellow riders who are willing to step up and do whatever is needed to provide assistance and it is really foolish to ride alone. If Pam and I had been alone on the mountain when the RZR broke down, it could have been a bad situation.

The story does not end here, believe it or not. Sunday morning as we are leaving Payson and heading home a driver signals me to pull over. When I stop I discover I have a broken trailer spring. Changing trailer springs is not a big deal, except on Sunday when there is no place to purchase one. Jeff and Renita Olson to the rescue. They stopped to offer assistance in the form of a large and strong tie down strap. We manage to re-center the axle, it was rubbing on the fender, using the two tie downs. This “shade tree mechanic” procedure got us home where it would be easy to make repairs on the trailer. Repairing the RZR will be another issue, that is for another day.

What were the positives? It was a beautiful day for riding surrounded by many friends, the weather was perfect, no one got hurt, there were many willing helping hands, the breakdown helped Pam and I make the decision to replace the aging RZR.

The only downside I can see to the day was the need to cut the ride short. This meant cutting out the Cherry Creek section of the ride.

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