Rain Riding

by Mike Hoppe  

About 9:30 last night I called Skip Page knowing that he was just nuts enough to show up even if it was pouring rain in the morning…he did and we rode!  In between the massive downpours (when it backed off to just a deluge) we departed from Dove Mountain.  By the time we got to the powerline (about 6 minutes) we were fully soaked and grinning ear to ear!  A run up the beer-can-tree trail proved entertaining as all (about 10) of the washes were already running and all the woops had mini-lakes to splash in.  As we started up the big wash to cross over to the road, we watched the first mini-wave of water make it’s way down the wash.   

The run along the fence line was starting to get sloppy, and a couple of major sections of road were gone.  Just before the gate, I bounced off a rock (couldn’t see squat in the downpour) and narrowly missed sliding into 4 foot deep wash out when my (very wet) brakes failed to have any effect.  The pic attached is the wash at the gate a couple of miles before the power station…I’ve never seen any water in it!!  Too cool! 

It continued to pour as we reached the power station (4 miles north of Oracle Junction) and seriously considered bailing out to the road.  The fun factor got the best of us and we pressed on, knowing that IF we could cross the washes, we might not even be able to back track as they were rising rapidly.  All the washes were running and probably 50% of the trail was running water as well.  Approaching the big “T” just past the pond, Skip hesitated on which of the 3 directions to take and before he knew it cruised through a whole that was filled with water…up to his seat!!!  He made it thru but it killed his engine.  Fortunately it was brief enough that nothing got sucked into the motor…just a little momentary lack of oxygen! 

From there we angled off toward Catalina in the sand wash that is smooth and 6-8 feet wide with 2-4 foot high vertical banks on each side.  There was 4-8 inches of water bank to bank and the sand was really soft.  A little (visually) weird but we got used to it pretty quick.  It was still raining really hard  so the sections out of the wash were getting pretty muddy, but what I was most concerned about was the last (lower) section of the trail (wash) that was certain to have even more water in it… 

Well founded fear!  That last wash which is only slightly wider (10-12 feet) and vertically banked would have been fun in a kayak!  It even had little waves in it!  Unfortunately we sort of “merged” into it before we realized we had connected to it (visibility sucked) and we were running down the middle of this thing at about 25mph (to keep the bikes from sinking)!  It was sort of like running in deep sand except the water was about mid-calf and there was absolutely no way to see what you were riding over.  The further we rode (we were running with the current) it got deeper and faster…finally Skip found a spot to escape over the bank and we came out screaming and laughing!   

A stop at Starbucks was in order as we were a little cold and VERY wet.  The street ride back to my house absolutely froze us (it had dropped to 48 degrees) but it was a small price to pay for the adventure!


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