Day 3: GPS Woes & Dirt RoadsWe were stirring at daybreak once again in anticipation of a huge mileage day to finish off the tour. Stopping short of the Kelvin trailhead left us roughly 85 miles from the finish. That ruled out any play time at Area 52, so we'd take the bypass through there. My GPS was charged, so I thought, as we began pedaling sometime after 7a.
|Our campsite down by the river.|
|A river of life in the otherwise arid desert.|
|The Gila can be a dangerous place if you're not paying attention!!|
|The guardsmen were keeping a watchful eye on us.|
|Tire sniper!!! Gah!!|
|This pea-sized pebble sliced my tread like an arrowhead piercing flesh.|
A couple of miles later the GPS died for good. This was now the second time during a 3-day ride that I've had power issues. I had been typically getting 3 or 4 full charges on a set of AA's. The only thing I can think of is the charger doesn't power off during the night after supplying a full charge to the device, draining the batteries. The charger was giving me enough juice to power up the GPS long enough to see if we were on/off route. That was the game we played until the finish.
|Larry making his way up the Electric Ave climb.|
|Getting close to Kelvin, one 'little' climb left.|
|At the top the wildflowers were once again on display.|
|Climbing away from the Gila River on the AZT.|
|Kelvin trailhead, end of our AZT segment.|
|A 6' Bull snake lying across the Florence-Kelvin Hwy.|
|Larry topping out the F-K Hwy climb.|
|Sandy, yes. Still riding and trending downhill was a bonus.|
|Great fun for a 4x4 enthusiast.|
|Area 52. A giant freeride rock outcropping in the middle of nowhere.|
|Looking back at the Gila River Canyons.|
The afternoon wore on and our discussions trended towards topics of food & drink. We were ready for Florence!! I was ready to see the gauging station signaling our crossing of the now diverted Gila waters leaving us only 7 miles from dinner.
|Getting close now.|
|Two happy campers at Arturo's SAG wagon.|
|Walker Butte in the distant far left, Poston Butte in the foreground right.|
Across the tracks there was a road littered with 'Keep Out' signs, I consulted the GPS one more time. This wasn't our turn, ours was another 1000' feet down the road. We started really cruising on the well graded smooth dirt road. Larry found his legs and began to pull well ahead of me. I was feeling good, enjoying the nice evening, glancing up at the stars, trying to begin to process the incredible three days of riding we were about to finish when I looked down and saw the road disappear!! I came skidding to a halt less than a foot from diving into a severely washed out section of road. That could've been bad, very bad. It was at least an 18" drop and 3-4' across. I was thankful I was able to stop in time.
My heart, now racing, had me focused on the road for the remaining miles back to the Hunt Hwy. I met up with Larry at the gate and was about to consult with the GPS to find our next entry point back onto dirt when something wasn't quite right. The GPS was GONE!!
I have two mounts on my handlebars, the main centered mount I use all the time and a second mount to the right that I use when I have to run the unit directly off of the charger. Unfortunately, the second mounting clip has been broken. My short-term remedy was to use a couple of zip-ties to secure the GPS to the handlebars. It has worked a few times recently, but not on this night. Somehow, the unit slid off the mount and worked its way undone from the zip-ties somewhere along the remote dirt road. I was very upset. I can't afford a new GPS right now, plus all our ride data was gone. Boohoo. Larry kindly offered up his GPS if I couldn't find mine as his was the same model and he rarely used it. I opted to not go looking for it in the dark, but would come back early the next day. It HAD to be there, lying in the road.
We still had one more off-road section to complete over towards San Tan Regional Park, but there were a few new wrinkles I had added and without a GPS we chose to skip it and finish up on the road. I was a bit bummed about not finishing with a fun whirl down the Dynamite Trail, but more upset about losing the GPS. The pavement miles went by quickly and we finished up around 10p back where we started.
|Final slightly modified route. 201.4 miles & 13k of climbing right from my front door.|
Postscript: The next day I went back out to that lonely dirt road in search of my lost GPS. I headed south scouring the almost white graded road for a black piece of electronics. The miles went by and nothing. I made it out to the last known location I had it. Still nothing. I hoped on my way back the shadows would be different and I simply missed it heading south. One thing I didn't miss was seeing the washed out section of road I almost crashed in.
|I came a bit closer to a certain wreck the evening prior.|
|Not sure how I missed that on the way south.|