ANATOMY OF A DUAL SPORT RIDE
OK, OK...I know, in the past I have been hard on Cliff Allison, our friend at Cochise Motorsports in Sierra Vista, for the motorcycle industry's general apathy for the dual sport riding community, sighting their slow response to upgrading dual sport offerings and focusing more on things with high sales numbers like cruisers and ATVs. So you can imagine my elation when Cliff approached Steve Brown, his parts manager, and I to put together a one day organized dual sport ride to commemorate St Patrick's Day. On the surface this may seem like a trivial request when you consider every weekend someone is putting a ride together with their riding buddies, but when you are putting together a ride for the general public, with varying riding skills and time constraints, it takes on a new level of effort.
The course needed to be interesting, scenic and be easy enough for relative beginners to complete in the time allowed, while offering interesting attractions to more skilled riders. Since we had to plan for participants that had no familiarity of the San Rafael Valley, roll chart navigation was selected as the means for guiding riders through the 116 mile course. For those that have never had the opportunity to navigate by handle bar mounted roll chart, it can be intimidating at first but once you get the hang of paying attention to your odometer and taking navigation cues from the roll chart, it can be very interesting. On the other side of the coin, if you let your mileage get out of sync with your roll chart directions, you're on your own until you can find the next odometer reset point and begin the next section.
Scouting various scenic routes and collecting mileage data over several weekends, Steve and I selected a series of meandering forest roads which took riders over the Coronado Pass toward Parker Canyon Lake, veering south toward Lockiel and the ghost town of Duquesne, and on to Patagonia for rest and gas. After gassing up in Patagonia the route took riders past Saddle Mountain, back into the San Rafael Valley, over Canelo Pass, through the West Gate of Ft Huachuca and back to Cochise Motorsports in Sierra Vista.
After collecting the mileage data, building the two inch wide by seven foot long roll chart on the computer was relatively easy. Then it was off to the printers to get the continuous length roll charts reproduced in quantity, right? Wrong! After contacting every printer in Sierra Vista it became painfully evident that no one in Sierra Vista had the vaguest idea of how to do the continuous two inch wide document we were asking for. The only recourse we had, other than cutting and taping, was to contact our good friend Maurice Brea at Desert Motorcycle Promotions in Cave Creek for help. Maurice puts on some excellent rides in Prescott (Bradshaw Mountains) , Payson and New River that several of us SEAT riders attend frequently and building navigation roll charts is a necessary evil in his business. Not only did Maurice advise us on how to get the roll charts produced, he volunteered to take the computer file we built with the arrows and directions on it and get them produced in quantity and donate them to our cause. Who says dual sporters aren't a tight group!
Once the course was selected, and the roll chart hurdle taken care of, we could concentrate on making the ride fun. Since many of the participants would be familiar with the area, we had to make it interesting enough for them to actually navigate the course. Enter the poker run theme. While collecting data for the roll chart we identified four questions to be answered along the route and included them in the roll chart itself. Additionally, Steve Brown placed a sign with a number on it at a previously undisclosed location along the route during the early morning pre-run. Correctly recording this number on the answer sheet allowed the rider to draw an extra card upon return to Cochise Motorsports. Bottom line was, correctly answering all four questions got you a five card poker hand with a bonus card if you got the number correct. By the way, the number was 50, which just happened to be Cliff's age that day...Happy Birthday Cliff!
Other logistics issues had to be addressed in our planning also. Break downs and injuries had to be planned for and a complete sweep of the course had to be performed following the last rider's departure. To make sure we could contact help in an emergency we noted the various locations along the route that we could acquire cell phone coverage and annotated that on the roll chart. Pat Hopkins served double duty by working with Randy to get everyone registered in the morning and then deploying to Patagonia with a motorcycle trailer in case we had to haul anyone off the course. This contingency plan was tested when the sweep riders (Gary Burrows and I) came upon one of the participants whose bike had broken down on the optional challenging section (2A). A quick call to Pat determined she was already across the valley in Patagonia so we contacted Cochise Motorsports to get a recovery vehicle to the location. After ensuring the rider had water and arrangements were in place to recover him, Gary and I continued our sweep through Duquesne and on to Patagonia where we met up with Pat and some of the slower riders. A quick dash across Canelo Pass and through Ft Huachuca got us back to the shop in time for free hot dogs and refreshments provided by Cochise Motorsports. Cliff gave away some great prizes for the winning poker hands (off road helmet and new tire) and an off road riding jacket as a door prize. Additionally everyone got a bag of goodies just for attending. Maurice also gave a couple coupons away good for free registration at any one of his great dual sport events.
Did everyone have fun?...We think so. Did we have fun putting it on?...Yes! Will Cliff sponsor another one?...We hope so!
A special thanks goes to Cliff
Allison and Steve Brown for sponsoring the event and to Maurice Brea of
Desert Motorcycle Products for riding with us and taking care of our roll chart