Ride report to St George UT, Toroweap Overlook, Jacob Lake, North Rim, Sunset Crater and more

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#1
Hi there all, I made it back safely. My ride report will be in a few separate posts. I'm still recovering from yesterdays ride home in the brutal wind!

Super Tenere loaded and ready!!
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Day one 397 miles:
This was pretty much all freeway to St George UT. I just set cruise control and stopped once for fuel and lunch at State Line. Just when I start to think about what an adventure I’m on, I meet a guy from Spain who is riding a KTM 500 from Canada to the tip of Baja almost all off road!! This guy is an animal!! BTW, he is doing it solo most of the way.
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From State Line it was drama free all the way to St George and I’m calling it a good ride for a for a first day. Not many pictures. I just rode and enjoyed the great weather and was able to relax stress free with very light traffic. Once I was out of the city it’s a whole different world!! Drivers and riders were actually polite and give a flash of lights for passing and waved. It was a nice change from the insanity that we see daily here at home.
 
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#2
Day two 195 miles (over 150 off road):

If I was to describe this day in one word it would be “intense”. It started a few miles out of town to the dirt road for a 88 mile ride to Toroweap Overlook. First few miles and I had to stop and tighten up my brake perch and zip tie the GPS mount to keep it from moving. This was the first and last time I had to touch the bike during the trip. I set the tire pressures at home (32 front/36 rear) and left them alone for the whole trip.

This leg of the ride was really strange. I did not know what to expect. The BLM gave me fair warning that the road from St George via Mt Trumbull is not the normal route to Toroweap. It is nothing but a desolate road that seems to take you to the end of the world. After about 30 miles or so I was getting a strange nervous feeling in my gut. Then I came across some cows and I started to feel “at home”. After about another 20 miles I stopped at a schoolhouse in the middle of nothing. How weird!!

At this point I met with a dual sport club going to the same place as me. I let them go ahead as they were on lightweight bikes that were much faster than mine in the dirt. Without realizing it I had climbed from 2800’ to almost 8000’!! All of a sudden I start going up these rocky switchbacks and I’m wondering if I should turn around. I decided to just go slow and see how far I could go. Thankfully this only lasted a mile or so. At this point I was thinking I might have bit off too much for my skill level.

After that huge climb I started the decent from over 8000’ in the pines to around 4000’ in the sagebrush to the desert floor. I finally reach the sign for the last 13 miles to the overlook. The warning sign states that it’s very rocky and to have high clearance vehicles only to the overlook. The dual sport club had some GPS tracks that were marked green (which means easy) so even beginner riders could make it. I figured I was good to go.

HOLY CRAP!! What BS!! I ended up hitting 2 sections right after the start that tested every last bit of my skill. The first one was some deep sand. I ended up putting traction control to the number 2 setting and blazed through it in third gear doing about 40-50mph. I was standing, keeping light on the bars, using short bursts of throttle, and just letting my 700lb beast do all the work. It was wandering but staying balanced and stable. The 2nd section was really spooky! It was very fine and deep red silt. Underneath it were solid deep ruts that were hardened from guys going through there when it was muddy. I ended up just dropping into a rut and riding it until it ended on rocky hardback. Normally on a lightweight dirt bike with 21” wheel, you can climb in/out of the ruts with little drama. On a 700lb bike with 19” front wheel, all you can do is hang on, stay in the rut, and trust the stability of the bike. Main thing is to stand up and stay balanced and light on the bars.

After those 2 sections I thought that was the end of it. Not so!! Another warning sign for the last three miles for high clearance vehicles only. At this point I had to make a hard decision. I decided to see how far I could go. If it got too bad I would turn around. It was pretty darn tough!! I made it but stood on the pegs and did some foot dabbing the whole time in mostly 1st gear. I abused the hell out of the clutch and used a lot of rear brake/weighting the pegs for direction changes. My skid plate was scraping hard. The rock was solid, super slippery with a light coating of loose dirt and descending all the way to the parking area. This is not a sit down section. You have to be comfortable standing on the pegs for most all of the last three miles.

The Overlook was actually disappointing for all the riding I did. The only way to get a good picture was to hang off the edge. I took enough chances for the day. 3500’ drop into the Grand Canyon does not appeal to me. The overlook was pretty crowded. After a quick lunch and a few pics it was time to head back into the same stuff I came through.

Once I got to the split on the dirt road, I headed back about 74 miles on the easy dirt road to Fredonia AZ. Fueled up and took pavement to my 2 night stay at Jacob Lake Cabins.

So now some pictures:

Miles and miles of nothing but sagebrush and fire road.
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Here is an old school on a dirt road over 50 miles from the city!!
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What have I got myself into? I chose a different route at this point.
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This was as close as I dared to get to the edge!
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This looks easy but trust me it gets harder and is very challenging on a big adventure bike!! The harder
sections I did not take pictures. I was too busy concentrating on picking good lines and keeping my beast upright.
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There are plenty of "chest pounding" blogs and videos on how easy this trail is. A few guys even bragging on doing it with smooth tires. I call BS to anyone who says this trail is easy on a bagged up 700lb Super Tenere. I was fortunate to have just enough skills to keep the bike upright. And the knobby's were my saving grace and a big help keeping me stable in the deep sandy/silt sections and loose slippery rock. I would not recommend this ride out to the overlook unless you are prepared with serious off road riding skills, full knobby big block tires, and a good tool kit. If you do not feel comfortable standing, weighting your pegs/using rear brake for controlling direction for long miles, this is not a trail you want to tackle.

FWIW at no time did I feel a need to disconnect the antilock brakes. IMHO, you need to work on your riding skills if you feel a need to delete the antilock to lock up the rear tire. I had no issue at all skidding the rear wheel to change direction and turn the bike. With proper clutch and footwork on the rear brake, it's easy to slide the rear wheel in loose sections. OTOH, if you want to do 180 pivot turns, fast brake lock slides, etc, then I suggest a lighter bike.
 
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thughes317

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#4
FWIW at no time did I feel a need to disconnect the antilock brakes. IMHO, you need to work on your riding skills if you feel a need to delete the antilock to lock up the rear tire. I had no issue at all skidding the rear wheel to change direction and turn the bike.
Beautiful pics and a great write up, thanks for sharing!

Regarding your above assertion that one needs to work on one's riding skills if one feels the need to disable ABS: I'm pretty sure a long, steep downhill section completely covered in tennis ball-sized loose rocks with the occasional rock ledge thrown in, providing almost 0% traction, may cause a change of heart. When you're wheeling down that rock-covered hill a bit faster than you want to be traveling (gravity is a bitch) and find that applying either brake does absolutely nothing due to the ABS kicking in as soon as the brakes are applied, it is nice to be able to lock up the rear wheel to provide some reduction in speed (albeit a skidding rear wheel is not very effective at stopping but it beats the hell out of having NO brakes at all). Just my experience.......
 
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#5
Hi there thughes, There were a few sections of steep downhills with loose rocks and I was able to control the bike. I guess it all depends on your riding style. For me it's all about the front brake for stopping and rear brake for controlling the bike. But as you say as time goes on I just might have a change of heart. I'm still a greenhorn when it comes to this huge bike. I was actually shocked at what it could do fully bagged up and as heavy as it is. The fear of dropping it is what prevents me from getting to gnarly.
 

Mak10

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#6
I agree, nice write up and it sounds like a great ride.

I am also in total agreement with thughs317 about being able to turn off the abs. Loose Rocky, steep, downhills are spooky and not enough braking action. If riding with abs works for you, great. To tell those who prefer it turned off, that they need to work on their skills is a bit presumptuous and condescending. We all could improve our skills.

I prefer to turn off both traction control and abs when going off road. Traction control has no use whatsoever in deep sand or loose, steep climbs for me. If it works for you great.

The new “modes” on the Africa Twin have no appeal to me at all. In my opinion it’s just gimmicks to attract buyers.

I’d love to come and work on my riding skills, and the weather here is getting cold. A southern trip would be great.
 
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I am also in total agreement with thughs317 about being able to turn off the abs. Loose Rocky, steep, downhills are spooky and not enough braking action. If riding with abs works for you, great. To tell those who prefer it turned off, that they need to work on their skills is a bit presumptuous and condescending. We all could improve our skills.

I prefer to turn off both traction control and abs when going off road. Traction control has no use whatsoever in deep sand or loose, steep climbs for me. If it works for you great.

The new “modes” on the Africa Twin have no appeal to me at all. In my opinion it’s just gimmicks to attract buyers.

I’d love to come and work on my riding skills, and the weather here is getting cold. A southern trip would be great.
Not being presumptuous or condescending at all. I figure that if there is a need for turning off the ABS, then I need to be on a lighter bike. Now that might change as I continue to ride off road more. But yes it's all about rider skill when it comes to handling these big bikes. My skills are mediocre at best. Traction control works really well in loose climbs and certain sandy conditions such as the stuff I was in. If I was to take this beast into the sand dunes then traction control would be off for sure. I'm of the opinion that Yamaha designed this bike to ride at a certain level of "gnarlyness". Anything more, and we are riding beyond the intended purpose of the machine.

You and others might have different riding styles than me. I come from a practical and safety viewpoint. Just from reading some of your ride reports I can see you ride way above and beyond my comfort/safety zone on this bike. I remember you showing your bike in Moab running the stock smooth tires.

I have been taught and learned the hard way that smooth tires are 100% unpredictable in the dirt. You might get away with it for years. At some point they will let loose without warning and do the smack down. I'm not saying this to offend but to maybe save someone from a hard crash. I only wish I would have know sooner of the extreme dangers of smooth tires on the dirt before I was hurt.

And please don't take my word for it. Simply go to a Jimmy Lewis riding school with your bike equipped with street tires. You will have to spoon on a set of knobby's before you can even be allowed in his class. Scroll down to what tires:
https://jimmylewisoffroad.com/faqs/
 
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#9
No ABS or TC for me and I am really crappy off road but when I need to hook up.....I need to HU. Stopping there are some you tube videos showing stopping distance off road with and without ABS. No ABS Wins! Cliff coming OH NO Mr. Bill I have ABS. Love both on the street...life saver for sure.
 
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#12
Day three 92 miles:

This was a really mellow day. I checked into my cabin at Jacob Lake pretty wiped out. No pictures of the lake because there isn't one. Just a mud hole. the cabins are old but clean and cheap. There is also a motel and hotel on the property.

For 122.00 you get a basic 2 room cabin with a small bathroom. The shower is really small. 36x27!! Plenty good for me though.

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It was really nice to relax and unwind!!

After waking up I had a quick breakfast and headed up the mountain to North Rim. This place is amazing. Pictures do no justice. Only 40 miles up from the lake to the rim.

Saw a few bison right inside the gate:
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I hiked in my riding pants and boots to the view points. Maybe a total of one mile all together:
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Another interesting thing were all the old old Fords (Model A's?) that drove up to the rim!! It was some sort of car club. I passed all these snails going about 22mph max up the grade. Suddenly I'm doing 60 and one of them was pulling away!! What the heck!! Come to find out he had a small block Chevy stuffed into it. Skinny tires and all!!

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Heading back from the rim I took some photos of some of the most amazing trees and meadows. The meadows are not dead. Just beautiful golden grass and colored trees that stretched for miles!! It was a really fun day. Low miles and enjoyed the great weather.

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#15
Thanks for sharing looks like you had a great trip. Hope you have many more.
Me too!! I'm really blown away out how nice of a bike this is. I planned on doing this trip 2 years ago when I had a medical issue. I was going to do it on my Beta. I'm happy I waited.

Speaking of prepping for this trip, I had an almost major setback a few days before I left. I would come into the garage after work and smell gas. I figured I filled my tank with too much fuel. Well the day before taking off It was really bad. Oh crap!! My 7 year old MSR dromedary bag filled with fuel finally gave up the ghost and ruptured inside my Kriega bag. I came home after work and figured it out. 0330 in the morning and I was pouring fuel out of the Kriega bag and letting all the straps and other crap air out. I quickly realized that the 160.00 Kriega bag is not only not waterproof but was destroyed. After cleaning everything up with water and airing it out I threw it in the trash along with my old MSR bag. I ended up using my R15 Kriega backpack as a tail bag that held my tools. I replaced the MSR bag with two 1 liter MSR fuel bottles and my 2 liter Touratech plastic fuel bottle. They fit perfect in my rear 4 liter Mosko Moto pannier bags. Problem solved!!
 
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fac191

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#16
Me too!! I'm really blown away out how nice of a bike this is. I planned on doing this trip 2 years ago when I had a medical issue. I was going to do it on my Beta. I'm happy I waited.

Speaking of prepping for this trip, I had an almost major setback a few days before I left. I would come into the garage after work and smell gas. I figured I filled my tank with too much fuel. Well the day before taking off It was really bad. Oh crap!! My 7 year old MSR dromedary bag filled with fuel finally gave up the ghost and ruptured inside my Kriega bag. I came home after work and figured it out. 0330 in the morning and I was pouring fuel out of the Kriega bag and letting all the straps and other crap air out. I quickly realized that the 160.00 Kriega bag is not only not waterproof but was destroyed. After cleaning everything up with water and airing it out I threw it in the trash along with my old MSR bag. I ended up using my R15 Kriega backpack as a tail bag that held my tools. I replaced the MSR bag with two 1 liter MSR fuel bottles and my 2 liter Touratech plastic fuel bottle. They fit perfect in my rear 4 liter Mosko Moto pannier bags. Problem solved!!
 

fac191

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#17
A very honest ride report. Glad you pushed on and the bike looked after you. Such an amazing area to ride in. Have been looking at some photos of Bryce Canyon WOW ! . Didn't know about it before but looks incredible. Love the color of your bike aswell havent seen it before.
 
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#18
Thank you Fac. I am really blown away at how capable this bike is. For me, I'm really liking all the features such as different traction controls, antilock, heated grips, cruise control, etc. Yamaha really know how to build a bike!
 
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#20
Day four 232 miles: This was an interesting day. At this point of the trip I had not made any prior reservations so I did not know where I would end up. My tentative plan was to head down the 89 and do part of the Butler Maps AZ Back Country Discovery Route. My Navajo Nation permit was already secured and it was all set. I was going to some of it backwards from Marble Canyon to Cameron 133 miles all off road. Then a partial bit from Cameron to Sunset Crater. I was then going to see how far I would get on the 40 before calling it a night.

Well the plans went haywire! I headed out all bundled up in my gear, rolled down the 40 degree mountain and had breakfast at Cliff Dwellers Lodge. PA080174.JPG

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Vermillion cliffs were pretty nice. I just got a picture of them from the road. If you hike inside it's a wonder of rainbow colored rock flows.
PA080182.JPG At this point I was down in elevation and the sun was out and bright. I opened up the vents on my gear, fueled up in Marble Canyon, and turned on the tracks for my off road ride through Navajo Nation land. First thing I saw upon entering was this no trespassing sign:
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As I got further up the road I got that strange feeling in my gut again. At this point I called my wife and decided to call off this part of the ride. She had a map, tracks, and route of every single bit of the ride I was doing. We had an agreement that I would call at first cell reception if routes changed. This was a no brainer. Seeing as I was solo, I did not feel comfortable going out into the abyss once more. Another thought I had is that this is like a different country. You are under the jurisdiction of Indian law once you go past the gate.
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It ended up being a good decision. I headed down the road to Sunset Crater Monument and had a disappointment. There is no hiking, no viewpoint, or any possible legal way to see inside the crater. It's just a mound of a volcanic hill. I did not even bother getting a picture of it. All was not a loss though.

I was really excited by being able to get into the Cinder Hills OHV park. There were signs as you entered the the National Monument there was no access to the park. Gates to access road were closed and locked. However the ranger drew me an unmarked forestry road on the map that would take me in the back way. This was some of the funnest riding ever!! Only way to describe it is deep "cinder sand". The whole park is black. I set my Super Tenere on Traction Control 2 and went for it. I was amazed at how smooth and flowing the terrain was. It was almost like riding at Pismo Beach!! I ended up doing about 6 or 7 miles total up and back. The ranger told me I could go all the way through the park and come out on the 89. But it was getting sketchy. Cinder was getting deeper and whooped out so I turned around.

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After that it was just how far on the 40 I could get before calling it a night. I settled on an early day and stopped in Williams AZ. this was my first night on the trip with no reservation. And I paid dearly for it!! The town was packed on a Wednesday and only three rooms were available at the Holiday Inn Express. Even as a rewards member I ended up paying 238.00 for the night!! I'm sure I could have found another room in town for cheaper but I was there and was ready to call it a day. My bad for stopping in a tourist town.
 
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