Sunday, April 20, 2014

AZBDR Preparations

AZBDR = Arizone Backroad Discovery Route

UTBDR, COBDR, Continental Divide, Trans American Trail, Mex2Can, the list goes on. These are the rides I've always dreampt of doing but didn't know how to plan, execute, and complete. Now I do, and hopefully I have the time to do them all. My first ride through Utah and Arizona was fast and on-road only. As I looked off the pavement in the distance I knew I was missing some spectacular back country, I vowed to return one day. Fast forward to today. After reading a few AZBDR ride reports like ElleDubs, and drooling over dave6523’s Grand Canyon Backcountry Adventure Ride report I realized I’m not getting any younger and needed to get working on the many rides it will take to cover all the places I want to see on two wheels in AZ and UT alone. I had a week of leave left to burn so planned on a early May departure but my Daughter asked to ride along so I moved it up to her spring break hoping not to hit snow at the higher altitude destinations. Alexandra would ride her 09 KLX250S, I on my 96 DR350 (the achilles heel for this trip, or so I thought).

One of the biggest obstacles to doing a big off-road ride is mapping it out. Thanks to the folks who produced the AZBDR and its supporting resources (Butler Maps, Touratech, GPS Tracks)  all this is already done for us to a great degree.Food, camping, fuel, etc are all highlighted in the great AZBDR Map and waypoints included in the GPS files.

The Plan
Slab it (ie ride on the road) to Mammoth AZ where we would hop on the AZBDR and ride it until Marble Canyon where we would hop off and head to Gunsight Pt along the North East rim of the Grand Canyon. Then slab it home on the more scenic roads through Sedona, Prescott, staying off the interstates as much as possible. The 9 days would be tight, no room for deviations. We would camp entire trip, boondocking as much as possible. There is something satisfying about being able to camp without paying a toll.

Planning a trip like this and looking for remote camping sites has taught me that if you want to find the cool places to camp, you won't find them easily, they aren't advertised. In fact you will likely be led away from them by all the developed areas, fee areas, private camps etc. To find the free places which there are many will take some research.

Some helpful boondocking resources:

We took an old model Garmin GPS we got off eBay as a primary device for staying on the route, but we also setup our Android phones with the MyTrails app which is a far better GPS except for not being able to see the display in direct sunlight. Tools, paper Map, light camping gear, minimal clothes all meant we were travelling relatively light. We took a simple folding stove with sterno fuel cans so we could also use wood fuel when available.

Prep Bike
Fresh oil/filter changes, Air filter clean, maintenance checks that would come up during the ride, grease, and other items were done to ensure the bikes should make the 2000 mile journey without needing any major maintenance. Basic spares like tire tubes and spark plugs were packed, other potential items like cluctch cables, oil filters, air filters, were labelled and located so my wife could FedEx them to us if we needed them.

A funny name it is but what a difference it made. Sometimes the simplest solution is the best one. 5-10 hours of riding on a dual sport seat is nothing less than torture. Sweetcheeks changed this completely, making our upper body endurance the limiting factor rather than a painful bottom. The Sweetcheeks also ended up being our water storage, we filled them daily and never worried about running out of water. These along with a sheepskin pad made for very comfortable seating.

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