This year, we just can’t get enough of Arizona! With its stunning desert scenery, rugged beauty, western ambiance, and good country living, it’s truly a phenomenal place for an adventure ride.
On March 20-23, 2014 Backcountry Discovery Routes hosted its First Annual Fundraising Ride at the historic Boyd Ranch in the old Western boomtown of Wickenburg, Arizona, just 60 minutes from Phoenix. The ranch is nestled in the Hassayampa River Valley, in a beautiful High Sonoran Desert setting, defined by the stands of saguaro cactus, staggering vistas and surrounding mountains.
Riddled with Southwest character, the secluded Boyd Ranch was the perfect setting for the first BDR event. The ranch grounds included spacious camping spots, running water and hot showers, a replica saloon, a covered pavilion for gatherings, and cobblestone fire pits. The chuck wagon meals and service were in the best tradition of western hospitality. Our hosts even took care of the weather, which was heavenly all weekend long.
Nearly 40 BDR supporters, volunteers and industry professionals from around the country gathered at the ranch for three days of desert riding, outdoor living, adventure riders’ camaraderie and raising money for the BDR cause.
BDR Board member and event host Rob Watt prepared great GPS routes for all levels of riders. Following a hearty breakfast in the morning, we broke into groups and rode until late afternoon, exploring the rugged beauty of the Hassayampa River Wilderness, and putting our riding skills and machines to the test.
Post ride, it was everyone’s favorite happy hour, spent relaxing and socializing over a drink and hours d’oeuvres, and sharing tales of the day’s rides. The nightly three-course dinners were followed by discussions about the future of the BDR organization, and challenges and opportunities that lie ahead. The days turned to night around the campfire, making new friends, sharing life stories, listening to the pulsing sounds of guitar music and singing by BDR’s official troubadour Evan Firstman.
Participants of the Wickenburg Ride event raised significant funds for the BDR mission to establish routes and preserve backcountry riding opportunities for the adventure motorcycling community. BDR also allocated a portion of the proceeds to the Desert Caballeros Western Museum, whose goal is to preserve the Western lifestyle and the cultural legacy of American West, through educational programs and equestrian activities for children and adults.
Like most backcountry adventures, the Wickenburg Desert Ride had its share of laughs, surprises, rider’s misfortunes and miscalculations, bike malfunctions, flat tires, and stories that are better left in Wickenburg.
We had a surprising celebrity appearance by Quinn Cody, the professional off-road racer, 4 Time Baja 1000 Champion, and Dakar Rally vetran. Not all of us had the skills to keep up with Quinn and the guys in his ‘expert’ group, but we’ve confirmed, he does have magical off-road riding skills, and is prone to flat tires.
On the first night of the event, the Desert Caballeros Western Museum’s board members Betty and Tom Watt treated us to a very special peach cobbler, made on the back of their collectable, registered historic Chuck Wagon.
The Hassayampa River is an oasis in the desert with lush, streamside habitat. You won’t expect to find two BMW1200GS’s stuck in the middle of a drying river. Until, of course their fearless riders drove them there on two separate occasions. With their engines flooded, the bikes were promptly rescued and repaired by the BDR support crew. Special thanks to Jason Houle and Mick Williamson for their help and expertise. That was a good reminder to always test the depth of the water before crossing it.
One of the intermediate groups had a true BDR scouting experience. They conquered some challenging terrain, and even got to work on repairing a trail. The girls in the group loved the physical adventure and the technical riding off the beaten path. They won due respect from the guys who later admitted they actually prefer riding with the ladies.
For more adventures and to make your own BDR stories join us at next year’s BDR Fundraising Event. Event dates and details will be announced at the beginning of 2015.
BDR would like to thank the following companies and individuals for their support of the Wickenburg Desert Ride and the BDR organization.
Rob Watt and Trailmaster Adventure Gear
Eric Hougen and Wolfman Motorcycle Luggage
Thank you to the Wickenburg Desert Ride participants and donors.
Report filed by Inna Thorn