Road to Bagdad Fun Run

The Turnout

Last Saturday, I went on my second actual fun run with the Dynamic MINI Collective. Approximately 30 MINIs made the trek from Wickenburg at 9:30 AM up the 93 and over the 97 to Bagdad, Arizona. That section, as you can see from the map, is extremely twisting and was quite exciting to drive.

Since it was a fun run, I decided to ease my speeding restrictions. Realistically, I had to or I never would have been able to keep up with my fellow club members. I was still way more conservative than I used to be, but not nearly as aggressive as the rest of them.

One Slow Motor Home

We were repeatedly cautioned by those who did the run last year that the 97 was an extremely twisty stretch of road. There were dips, blind turns, and countless curves in addition to gravel beds brought about by rain. We decided to take the road cautiously for the first time and then go more aggressively on subsequent passes.

They weren’t kidding. I think I kept it under 50 MPH the entire time and frequently dipped down into the 20s. By the time I got to the end, I was thirsting for some action. We turned around at the end and I started going briskly. Until that is, I caught up to a silver MINI that was still in caution mode. Grr. So I slowed down and two cars behind me did the same.

When we got to the end of that pass, my thoughts immediately drifted to how I could beat that guy to turn around and really open her up. Obviously, the two MINIs behind me had the same thought because they U-turned earlier than me—I would have done the same but I wanted to get where I could see oncoming traffic.

Luckily, the two in front of me were going fast. I kept it above 50 MPH for the most part (couple dips into the 40s, sadly) and even got it up to 84 MPH sometimes. Then it happened. The fun came to an end.

I came over a small hill to find the first car in our little pack (the third on the previous pass, who made a U-turn first) on the left side of the road in the scrub, the second car stopped, and debris strewn all over the road. My first thought was that the first car had hit an oncoming MINI but I couldn’t see anyone.

After stopping myself, I saw a crunched up Rhino in the desert on the right and someone lying down with the passenger in the second MINI looking at him. The passenger of the second MINI is a nurse and so she started helping the injured hunter. I sprinted up the road a bit and instructed traffic to slow down while Sandi went to see how she could help the nurse.

Soon, a Forest Service ranger was there and gave some order to the proceedings. He also contacted Bagdad emergency services. The MINI driver and passenger were slightly injured by the air bag deployments; the hunter had a head injury but was conscious the entire time. With the situation under control, the chapter president stuck around while the rest of us went to the meeting spot to let everyone know what was happening.

It was quickly decided that knowledge about this being an organized car club event was not helpful. We dispersed and met up again in Kirkland Junction, about 20 miles south of our position. We had lunch there in the bar‘s parking lot. The bartender was a grade-A witch, who instructed us that we couldn’t use the bathroom and that there was no lunch for us. Given that we probably were half the Kirkland population, you’d think that they’d love the business. (I’ve heard that this was quite the normal reception.)

Pit Stop in Yarnell

The leg from Kirkland to Yarnell was uneventful, but the section of road after Yarnell on the way back to Wickenburg was some of the twistiest (and cliff-hugging) road I’ve seen short of the PCH. I could rarely go past 40 MPH and often spent time in the 20s. But I was enjoying every minute of it nonetheless!

We regrouped in Wickenburg and waited for the chapter president and the totalled MINI owner before dispersing for our homes. Sandi and I went down the Vulture Mine Road and continued along its variations until we met up with I-10 at 335th Avenue. It was some boring highway driving from there on and we arrived home at about 4:30 PM.

There was a lot of pre-run hype about how this was the best run of the year and I was a little skeptical since the 191 run last year sounded like as good as it gets. I think this really lived up to its billing and I can’t wait to do it again on my own!

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