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Thread: Tucson to Big Lake, AZ

  1. #1
    Senior Member DonBenito's Avatar
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    Tucson to Big Lake, AZ

    So I found myself with a few days off, and I decided it was time to finally take the TW out for an over-nighter. 3 nights, in fact.

    I rode from Tucson up to Big Lake (with a little detour to Show Low) on the first day and set up base camp.

    Tucson to Big Lake.png

    Crawling up out of the Salt River Canyon was a chore, so me and the TW took a break to enjoy the view.



    I'd been riding for several hours at this point, and the engine was getting pretty hot but it kept going! Sitting still here I reached my peak reading at the spark plug of 342 degrees f.

    I continued climbing up and up, sometimes gradually and sometimes steeply. As my elevation passed 5000ft or so I noticed a slight loss of power climbing hills. I spent a good chunk of time climbing hills at 45mph WOT in 4th gear. 4-wheeled traffic was surprisingly patient and understanding on the few occasions they had the misfortune of getting stuck behind me!

    Finally I reached FS 48 to get a break from the blacktop.



    At this idyllic spot I took a break to drink some water and check on how the luggage and bike were holding up. All my straps, brackets, boxes, and bolts were in place! Much to my chagrin however, the oil level in my little window was hovering dangerously close to the low mark. I guess all those WOT hill climbs were taking their toll.

    Luckily, I was only about 10 miles from Show Low so a detour to pick up some oil was no big deal.



    Topped off the oil level and high-tailed it back down to FS 48. Had to stop for a pick of this wild/free range/loose? white pony grazing in the distance behind my own.



    I saw some deer and turkeys along this dirt stretch too, but they were too quick for me to get a picture. I followed FS 48 over to AZ 73, then took 73 to AZ 260.

    With the rain starting to fall and my engine losing lots of power with the elevation, I decided to pull over to put on my rain pants and pull the duct tape off of the holes in my airbox. The airbox mod actually helped quite a bit, although there was still no comparison to performance at lower elevations.



    I rode through the rain to AZ 273 and on to Big Lake. I checked in with the campground attendant and purchased a bundle of firewood from them before setting up my base camp.



    The rain broke just as I pulled in to camp, and I was able to set up my tent and enjoy my dinner and a nice fire. Right around 280 miles on day one, not to mention around 300cc of burnt oil.

    On day two I took it pretty easy. Slept in late, then fought this squirrel for my breakfast!





    Then I took out a rowboat and tried my luck with the trout.



    The fish weren't biting and a big thunderstorm was rolling in, so I spent the afternoon snoozing in my tent while the rain fell. There was a long enough break in the evening to get out and cook some dinner and have a nice warm fire, all in all not a bad way to spend a day.
    B-dub likes this.
    2011 TW200 - Sold - after 9700 miles and 1,000,000 smiles. So long Tee Dub!
    2012 KLR650
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  2. #2
    Super Moderator littletommy's Avatar
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    SWWWeeeeeeeet!
    Very nice!

  3. #3
    Senior Member DonBenito's Avatar
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    Days 3 and 4

    Big lake had a nasty algae bloom going on, so I decided to go check out nearby Crescent lake which was mostly clear.

    I got distracted by this path along the way and rode down and back a few miles to check it out.







    Saw some cows and rode through a few mud holes, then headed for the lake.



    After a few hours with no luck there either, I decided to get back on the bike and do some riding. The rain returned and things got pretty soggy, but I was in an exploring kind of mood.

    I rode out towards Reservation lake on the well graded FS roads. I tried a couple detours but the side roads were clogged with deep mud because of all the rain. This road was fun for awhile but with the heavy panniers the fishtailing in the mud was too much so I turned back, snapping this pic at the gate.



    This whole area burned back in 2011. You might have seen something about it in the news. The damage is still very evident.





    I saw a mother elk with a youngster, but in my hurry to get out the camera and frame a shot I parked my TW in a precarious place, so it fell over and scared them off! Hey, at least the ammo can panniers and Tinman Tim's brackets held up through the fall!

    I carried along and found my way to the East fork of the Black river. Not much compared to the Mississippi or anything, but I don't get to see much live water anymore living in Tucson!



    Poking around I racked up about 60 miles for the day, mostly above 9000' elevation near as I can tell.

    On my fourth and final day I broke camp early and hit the road back to Tucson.



    The ride back was mostly uneventful, although I did burn through another 300cc or so of oil. Ambient temps were getting pretty high towards the end of my journey, and at a stop after some hill climbing my temp gauge topped out at 371!

    The ride back was about 260 miles since I got to skip the leg up to Show Low, making the whole trip right around 600 miles.

    The TW got me there and back, not to mention a bewildered "You're kidding!" from a fella at the Big Lake marina when I told him I had ridden it there from Tucson. Not bad for a little trail bike loaded down with 70lbs of luggage and gear.

    I'll be keeping an eye on the oil level now to see if it's an ongoing thing or just an effect of running WOT for hours on end.

    Either way, it was a fun trip and a nice chance for me to do something new with my TW.
    TheRedRider and B-dub like this.
    2011 TW200 - Sold - after 9700 miles and 1,000,000 smiles. So long Tee Dub!
    2012 KLR650
    - Sold
    2013 Tiger Explorer XC
    2014 CB500X - RRP L3

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  5. #4
    Senior Member Wingnut's Avatar
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    Great pics and report!

  6. #5
    Senior Member JS5owner's Avatar
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    I enjoyed your write up and pictures. Our mighty Tdubs will get ya where you want to go...just not so fast! BTW, I like how you packed all that gear.
    2007 TW "Muley": Cyclerack rear, 55 tooth rear sprocket, Duro Power Grip & Shinko SR241, Clarke tank, Ricochet bash plate, Mule hitch pin quick seat removal, Trail Tech Vapor w/ Dashboard, hardwired Garmin 60csx & 205w, 12vdc adaptor, independent high beam off/on and signal beeper, modified seat.

    2000 Yamaha V-star 650 Custom - [sold]

    2009 Yamaha WR250R - "Willie Boy" the slimmer faster brother of my Muley.

    2009 Hidden Content . Wow, what fun on the highway!

  7. #6
    Senior Member B-dub's Avatar
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    What an awesome adventure! That surely is some beautiful country. Everything looks so green. Kind of a bad deal that it rained so much, but also good to see that you're not a fair weather rider only. Around here we can't complain about the rain because things have been pretty dry, and we need all we can get. There have been some pretty impressive rain and thunderstorms around here in the last few days.

    I like your setup on the bike. With the panniers and ActionPacker your load looks well balanced and organized. In fact your whole bike looks great. I think also that you're correct in your assessment that the oil loss is just from a combination of the temps and the load on the engine from the climb. You would probably be a good candidate for Lizrdbrth's oil cooler kit. With your and Admiral's endorsement of the air box mod I think I will follow suit.

    It's cool that you got to see some wildlife. You really do have to be extra fast to catch them with a camera. The TW is pretty quiet, but I might at some point in time add a second muffler like Ronnydog and Trikstr to see how much difference it makes in wildlife sightings. I enjoy that.

    All in all it looks like you had a great time. I enjoyed your great pics and report. Thanks for sharing your ride with us.
    My handle is B-dub, I ride a T-dub, and drive a V-dub.

  8. #7
    Senior Member admiral's Avatar
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    With the rain comes tricky riding conditions, when it comes to dirt roads, but I bet with all the heat down there, it may have come as a little relief. I do lots of camping and riding, but not been able to put together a multiply day trip. Had one in the planning stages for this year, but put off till next. I should maybe follow your lead and put together a couple of short "shakedown" trips like you've just done. Being up in the mountains down there is sure different than the dry desert area's. Both are beautiful in there own way.

    Quote: "The airbox mod actually helped quite a bit, although there was still no comparison to performance at lower elevations."

    I couldn't have said it better myself. This mod is exactly how I feel. Not bad for a temporary altitude adjustment eh? Glad it worked out.
    Hidden Content A ride in the woods helps me relax and release tension. The fact I'm dragging a body should be entirely irrelevant?

  9. #8
    Senior Member RisingSun's Avatar
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    With those long trips you make I think you should get a oil cooler from Lizardbrth on this forum

  10. #9
    Senior Member RisingSun's Avatar
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    "With the rain comes tricky riding conditions, when it comes to dirt roads" Tell me about it. It gets muddy and slick sometimes
    trail-in-the-jungle-ishigaki_zps97f36ab1.jpg


    6a00e54ee8a8ff88330148c785796d970c-320wi_zps2df63cdc.jpg
    walking-the-hills_zpsd6671fda.jpg
    img_3615_zps14c1186e.jpg


    Attached Images Attached Images
    Last edited by RisingSun; 07-26-2013 at 05:30 PM.

  11. #10
    Senior Member DonBenito's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by littletommy View Post
    SWWWeeeeeeeet!
    Very nice!
    Thanks!

    Quote Originally Posted by Wingnut View Post
    Great pics and report!
    I took what should have been some way better pictures of my bike at the Salt River Canyon, but condensation on the lens made them come out all foggy. Oh well, good enough reason to make a trip back I guess!

    Quote Originally Posted by JS5owner View Post
    I enjoyed your write up and pictures. Our mighty Tdubs will get ya where you want to go...just not so fast! BTW, I like how you packed all that gear.
    Thanks, I just kind of packed everything as best I could going off what I'd seen from more experienced tourers here and on ADVrider. I was happy with it, if anything the extra weight made for a smoother ride cruising down the highway. I just took it a little easier on turns and off-pavement and everything worked out pretty well. The Action packer behind me and the bed roll to my left made for something of an easy chair at stop lights!
    2011 TW200 - Sold - after 9700 miles and 1,000,000 smiles. So long Tee Dub!
    2012 KLR650
    - Sold
    2013 Tiger Explorer XC
    2014 CB500X - RRP L3

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