Sliding down Montana Mountain


New Member
Oct 12, 2022
It's probably been 4-5 years since I've ridden Montana Mountain in Queen Valley, Arizona. The last time we traversed the mountain I was on a 2013 KLR 650. This time around, the bikes about twice as fast and 100 pounds heavier. We decided to climb the mountain counter-clockwise. In hindsight I'd come to regret this decision as It put us going up on the steeper end of the very eroded switchbacks, but we made it work. Right away we found ourselves navigating 2 river crossings. The washes were flowing from the previous weeks rain. I found these river crossings to be a lot of fun, and was able to complete them without much issue.

About an hour into the ride we hit the steep set of switchbacks. Because of our mistake of riding on a Saturday, we waited for a large Jeep group to pass through. One of them mentioned on the way passed that we should probably turn around, as the trail was still muddy from the previous storms. Again, hindsight shows we probably should've listened. We continued on, and about halfway up one of the steep switchbacks I found myself stuck in a side-by-side rut. Down the bike went, with me sliding a few feet before it. Now I re-discovered how heavy 600lbs truly is trying to pick up on a downhill slope. We stood up the bike, and traversed the remaining trail without too much difficulty.

The summit of the mountain was sparcely populated, only a few jeep groups taking a break. I probably should've taken more of a rest at the top, but my partner was on a deadline to get to work so after about 15 minutes we started the descent to the bottom. About half a mile down the mountain is where the trail turned to absolute turds. Rain and melting snow from the previous week , coupled with large groups of side-by-sides and jeeps had carved away large parts of the trail in the steepest sections. I dropped the bike 2 additional times in this section, each time picking up the bike grew more difficult as I grew more tired and frustrated.

Relief presented itself in the form of about a 45 minute patch of pretty flat, somewhat sandy trail. As much as I dislike sandy washes, it was a welcome change to the mudfest I had just stumbled down. I was able to somewhat get my bearings again as we encountered the last major climb and then decent to the staging area. The final hill was extremely rocky, which was great for keeping the dust down but provided no clear path for a smooth ride. As I crested the hill, I swore to myself as this final decent was muddier and more torn up than the previous sections I had endured. With not much confidence I decided to send it, and started down the winding trail. I was relying pretty successfully on engine braking, but with a sharp turn coming up I managed to brake too hard in the front, and off I went, flying off the bike and into the dirt. I hit pretty hard on my head, instant headache and slid about 5 feet. bringing myself to my feet, I began assessing the bike for damage. I managed to put a slight dent in the exhaust running near the brake pedal, the brake pedal was bent in completely, and I managed to catch a rock at just the right angle it pushed my front brake line, turning and loosening it slightly. As I uprighted the bike, using the front brake I noticed a slight leak. Luckily, with the tools I brought I found that tightening the Allen bolt on the brake line solved it, no actual leak present. Somehow my tank bag caught the ground, and one of the straps completely broke off. Nelson Rigg warrantied it and I've already got a new one in hand. Massive fan of them. I bent the brake lever back in place, and we took a much needed hydration break. One more river crossing and we were back at the start, and on a very welcome ride back home. My helmet took a pretty hard hit that day, I went ahead and ordered a new one which should be here this weekend, along with some Mosko Pants. The Tusk Pilot bags probably surprised me the most. I had some hard slides, specifically that last one right on top of the bags and not a single issue. Very pleased with how they held up.

I took away 3 things from this ride.
  • It's ok to turn around. There are plenty of trails out there I could've had a blast on, but I ignored the advice from the previous drivers. Ego costs more in the long run than a shortened ride.
  • Know my physical limits. Understand when I need to take a break, and don't push it beyond what's reasonable. Pushing the limits is what makes us more successful, but there comes a point when it's just dangerous. More frequent breaks for hydration and food. I could feel my body really lagging behind as the day went on and recognized at a few points I should probably stop.
  • Always bring a friend to help you pickup the bike on steep ascents. It's really a pain in the ass. IMG_4533.jpeg70033473428__09E3B358-FFE7-4E8B-8FC8-C3A97253A8C5.jpeg70033474838__17B1C015-10AD-4BB4-B020-6ECB7F1BBB09.jpeg