Mogollon Rendezvous Roars Into Rim Country

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Andy Towle/Roundup - atowle@payson.com

ATR is a nonprofit group with about 180 members of all ages and riding abilities.

The highways, byways and back roads of Rim Country will rumble with the roar of motorcycles later this month. Dual sport adventure riders from around Arizona and across the country will gather Oct. 24-25 in Payson to participate in the Mogollon Rendezvous.

The event is sponsored by Arizona Trail Riders and is a stop on the American Motorcycle Association Dual Sport series sponsored by KTM and BMW.

Dual Sport riders are motorcyclists who ride both on- and off-road with a goal of promoting responsible cycling.

Dan Basinski, better known for his mountain biking feats than for motorcycling, is among the locals who will enter the Mogollon Rendezvous. He also is helping plan the event.

“I’ve been riding dual sport motorcycles for a lot of years,” he said. “It’s fun.”

He says the two-day ride features routes suited for all levels of riders on twisty paved highways and challenging off-road sections.

The routes will include A (expert), B (intermediate) and C (novice) courses, but it is not a race, said event director Don Hood.

“It is a self-navigation ride,” said President Frank Staley.

This year, the rally will be headquartered at the Payson Elks Lodge. Each ride begins at the lodge with a breakfast buffet before riders descend either to rugged high desert riding or climb to elevations that reach 7,500 feet atop the Mogollon Rim. All routes will lead to Young, where the group will have a fund-raising meal to benefit the community’s volunteer fire department.

On Saturday evening the Elks Lodge will provide a buffet for all riders, along with raffles and more.

ATR, the sponsoring organization, is a nonprofit group that has about 180-plus members of all riding abilities and includes riders as young as 9 and as old as 70. While its main focus is trail riding, ATR also promotes desert racing and dual sports events. Though the dual sports events are a relatively new addition to the 22-year-old group’s activities, having started only about four years ago.

Members also participate in numerous trail maintenance and cleanup programs in conjunction with state and federal agencies including the U.S. Forest Service, Arizona Game and Fish Department and the Arizona Department of Transportation.

Through AZGF the group has adopted a ranch near Wickenburg and twice a year the members do work projects for the rancher. They have built fence, moved a road and more. ATR participates in ADOT’s Adopt a Highway program and is responsible for a stretch of the Carefree Highway.

Last year, ATR sponsored a local cycling event similar to the upcoming Mogollon Rendezvous. It was headquartered at Tiny’s Family Restaurant and was a GPS rally.

On a warm fall day, the cycles roared onto Highway 260 bound for an off-highway scramble that would take the riders over Rim Country Jeep trails, fire roads and deserted highways.

The event was a bit unusual in cycling circles in that riders were asked to rely only on GPS units rather than the route sheets and roll-charts they are usually given for navigational purposes.

Basinski said that event was a success prompting ATR officials to plan other events in the Rim Country.

About 80 riders took part in the 2008 event. Organizers are expecting as many as 200 riders for the Mogollon Rendezvous Oct. 24-25. If the 200-participant number is not reached by sign-up on Saturday morning, the ATR will take walk-in registrations. Staley said about 20 to 25 percent of the riders currently signed up will be women.

Trish Ciscolini and Pammy Grim are two of the women who will be here. Unfortunately, they will not get to participate in the formal ride; they will be handling administrative duties. The group always likes to have two or three members as base camp for riders to call in case they get lost or are injured.

Grim plans to do some riding after the event and Ciscolini regularly rides in the Rim Country during the summer.

Ciscolini has been a member of ATR for 12 years and in September was inducted as a lifetime member.

She has been riding since the age of 9. Growing up on the upper peninsula of Michigan she would go out on her motorcycle to find places where she could ride her horse. She gave up riding when she went to college and started her career, but took it back up 12 years ago.

“Much to my mother’s dismay,” she said.

Riding dirt bikes in Arizona for 12 years Ciscolini said she has seen so much more of the state than even many natives.

“I get out to see the scenery and explore and learn the history of the state,” she said. One of her favorite ways to spend a summer weekend is to pack up and head to the Rim Country, get up in the morning, pack a lunch, grab a map and head out and ride all day. She doesn’t ride alone though and said when you are riding the trails, you have to be focused on what you’re doing.

Ciscolini’s favorite area to ride in the winter is west of Lake Pleasant.

“There are packs of wild burros out there and they will run alongside with the bikes,” she said.

She encourages other women to get involved with ATR. “They are the best group of people to be with. Women riders are such a novelty still that they get a ton of support from the guys. The guys want to make sure they have a positive experience and they know that the more women who are involved the better.”

Grim has been riding street and dirt bikes for four or five years, but has only been a member of ATR for about a year.

“It’s a good bunch of guys,” she said.

She said she joined the group as a way to give back and to have something in which all her friends could enjoy.

The trails in the Tonto National Forest are some of her favorites to ride because of the different terrain.

To encourage other women to participate Grim said she would tell them ATR is a really good organization and very family oriented.

“It’s very safe. Members take care of one another. The guys don’t try to show women up or leave them someplace.”

Grim is so enthusiastic about the group, she always tells people she has a spare bike and equipment and is willing to let them use it to try the sport for themselves. She even volunteers to teach them about it.

“I love the organization and I love to give back and ATR makes that possible,” she said.

For more information about ATR, visit: http://www.arizonatrailriders.org.

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