Dakar De Tucson

by Mike Hoppe

So I’m standing in the middle of my garage scanning the shelves and cabinets looking for more stuff…”Aha, that will work” as I dig out my 5 gallon Gatorade cooler that hasn’t been used since I quit roadracing in ’95.  That and my parts bin for the Honda XR finally at least cover the floor space in the back of my Isuzu Trooper.  This car camping thing is a new mindset…heading out for 3 weeks on my GS Adventure is an exercise in minimalist camping…here I am feeling guilty because I have space left over!  Better be careful, easy to get spoiled having all this food and gear along… 

Our Baja trip had been scrubbed (six days on dirt bikes with backpacks) and Phil Curtis and I were determined to not let the space on our calendars get swallowed up by “life”.  After thinking thru the normal destinations for a mid-winter adventure, we decided to do some extensive exploring in our own backyard.  We decided to base camp at Caballo Loco RV park which is 11 miles south of Three Points and 9 miles down a dirt road nestled up in the hills.  This was originally a ranch in the 40’s but had been converted into a members only resort shortly after that…a funky but very cool place out in the boonies with the nicest people you could hope to find.

The best part? The campground is right in the middle of a huge network of serious off road riding that we had only begun to explore.  Previous jaunts into this area constantly had us lost and making wrong turns so part of our plan was to get to know the area, and more importantly, get the tracks laid in on the GPS!

Wednesday afternoon Max (ex-Ironhorse now fireman), Mike Bartz, Phil Curtis and Mike Hoppe rendezvoused at the RV Park to get camp set up and get a good nights rest before heading out.  Breakfast was a full course meal complements of Chef Bartz to be topped off by Susie’s (Phil’s wife) homemade Cinnamon rolls!  Steve Gabany rolled in just in time for breakfast and the first days ride.

Thursdays ride consisted of the west route (easier, yeah right!) down to Arivaca and then an exploratory route that took us all the way to Sasabe.  Another new route was found coming up from Sasabe that eventually linked into Batamote Rd. that took us thru some really interesting scenery.  7 hours on the bikes in extreme terrain makes for a huge appetite…and Chef Phil was prepared.  Before leaving that morning he had plugged in a monster slow cooker with a ten pound chunk of venison that he had bow hunted in Michigan and about 20 onions…THAT dinner was off the charts!  Max had to bail to go fight fires and Michael Lansky (Ignore Amos) pulled in Thursday night on the trial run of his new toy hauler.   

Friday morning we were all getting up a bit slower but looking forward to another day on the bikes.  Unfortunately Sr. Lansky had a business emergency and had to head back to Tucson so it was just the 3 of us (Mike, Mike, Phil…sort of like duck,duck, goose J).  Bartz and Curtis took it upon themselves to lead the “training” ride which consisted of 90 miles of rocks and technical sections the likes of which I had never ridden before!  So of course, at the  end the grueling day Phil diverts us off for a “treat”…a 4 mile climb on river rock.  Of course, as I finally get to the two of them waiting at the top, I’m looking around for the “treat”, view, whatever…and Phil announces the rocks were the treat and now we are going back down them!  Needless to say, Bartz’s killer steak dinner was well earned that night! 

Our final day the troops rolled in for breakfast: Brian Blangsted (owner of Tucson Moto Tours  http://tucsonmototours.com/index.htm ), one of his clients from Texas, Jim, Blaine Baxter (owner of Southwest Moto Tires http://www.swmototires.com/ ), and Brian Sterrett.  Brian Blangsted runs pro tours of this area and took us on yet more unexplored routes and technical challenges including a loop by Arivaca lake that would scare a mule! 

Three full days of riding, great company, great food and only and 90 minute drive home made for an awesome adventure that will soon be repeated!!  And, oh yea, this car camping thing?  Between the queen sized air mattresses, gas grills, compressed air, and all the tool and parts we would ever need…and of course THE FOOD…well, let’s just say there are some good things about the NECESSSITY to trailer  dirt bikes…J

Mike Hoppe


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