Day 3: Sunday Nov 5

Sunday began a little later, but somehow the extra hour of sleep was not enough. I was tired and groggy, and still woke up freezing cold. If this was summer, it would probably be too warm, right? I started the day with a sticky bun I'd saved from BJs Cafe in Camp Wood, and washed it down with some apple juice from the vending machine.

There was a slight drizzle already going by the time we hit the road, this time the 'other' Steve was leading and Steve and Rita were bringing up the rear. We stopped at the storage shed to say our goodbyes to Bob, who was already up and arranging storage for the bike until a truck could come for it. He was moving well, but was still in pain. With a tip of his cap, he bid us farewell and we were rolling.

We headed toward Lukenbach on single-lane roads, but maintained a moderate pace. With Bob's crash still fresh on the mind, nobody was in a hurry to slide around on wet pavement. Once there, we settled in for a look around and some refreshments. The sun was starting to peek out from behind the clouds and the day was growing warmer and more comfortable.

Steve and Rita decided to split off for home through a more direct route than the rest of us. The FJR with two riders isn't nearly as comfortable on these poorly paved roller-coaster roads as the rest of us singletons on our road warriors (especially 'other' Steve and I on our Stroms). After a quick fuel stop in town (and a chance to remove our liners), we headed for lunch in Buda (pronounced biew-duh) at Bill Miller's BBQ. It was standard BBQ fare and reasonable priced, but nothing to write home about.

We said sayonara to Brian after lunch, as his route home took him north toward Austin. The remaining foursome headed west down 21/71 at a wrist-numbing crawl. The traffic was backed up for what seemed like miles because of construction, but after it cleared we all had a chance to rest our clutch hands. I waved goodbye to the others as I headed for Bastrop State Park, and Mother Nature was in agreement that the day would get better. It grew warmer, and I now needed to open the vents on my jacket to remain comfortable.

I decided to use a route that I'd programmed into my GPS weeks earlier to get out here to the park, only reversed. It took me a few minutes to figure out how to reverse a route on-the-fly, but somehow I did it. What I didn't realize at the time was that the route was experimental...
Often times I'd ridden through the park with street riders in tow, glancing down dirt roads that spanned out to either side. With nowhere to be and nobody with me to complain, I decided it was time to take the plunge and see where a few of them went. The first one was mostly gravel and headed south, but was level and had only a few turns. This is the kind of dirt road I like! It left the park and entered a small grouping of mobile homes, so I turned around and headed back. The next road I took was more heavily rutted, but was passable by truck so I knew I'd be Ok.

Or would I? The road (if you could call it that) became a little steeper and the tree cover had prevented the ground from drying out after the recent rain. The rocks and mud were slick, so I took it down to first gear. I tried to avoid the larger branches in my path while at the same time keeping my eyes up and pointed where I wanted to go. A medium-sized deer ran across my path about thirty feet ahead, but because of my speed it wasn't really a close call. I avoided panic braking somehow, but came off the throttle enough to slow down to about 10mph as I passed a group of three or four of his friends. Ok, this is scary. I wanted to go back, but there was no way I'd manage to turn the bike around in here. I had to keep going.

The trees opened up and the ground became drier just in time for me to come to an intersection. The GPS said to turn right to get back into the park, but the road ahead looked easier to navigate. I decided the electronics are smarter than I am in a situation like this, so I put both feet out for balance and went back toward P1. The rocks and dirt weren't as bad as they looked, but as soon as I realized there was a stop sign ahead and hit the brakes (yes, my instinct was for the back brake so it was Ok) it was too late and I went sliding straight through the paved intersection to the continuation of the dirt road on the other side. Wow, that could have been REALLY ugly. Not wanting to tempt fate, I brought the bike to a full stop and turned around to take the pavement through to the Buescher exit.

Once out of the park, I settled into "the groove" as I followed 153 toward La Grange. Once I hit 77, I knew exactly where to go - Post Oak Road. This is the gravel road that I typically take to bypass the street route south and then back up north. At the start of the unpaved section, a sign declared "Road Closed Fresh Oil". The sign was off to the side of the road though, so I figured it was outdated. I was wrong. I didn't realize gravel roads were oiled, but this stuff was slick. I don't think I got out of second gear on the straights, which helped me slow down in time to avoid the dozen or so goats that had gotten through the pasture fence.

Post Oak eventually passes over to 2981, which continues to wind eastward toward Cedar Creek Reservoir. I've never been over to it, so I followed the signs up Park Prarie Road. Once at the entrance booth, I gave a wave to the attendant and read the sign touting what the park had to offer for the $4 entrance fee. No time to go in today, but it might be worth coming back for an afternoon in the Spring.

I turned onto Ch Allen Rd, which was more graded gravel and rocks and eventually turned into Haw Creek Road. A few of the turns were pretty tight, and one almost got me - my eyes were focused on the ditch separating the ditch from the field instead of where I wanted to go. I managed to pick my eyes up and get the bike slowed in time, and the bike wobbled to a halt right in the groove. Whew!

I continued on down Hwy 1457through Rock House and Industry. The sun was now setting, but I was glad it had at least made an appearance for my ride home. I started cutting out section of the GPS route when more of the roads became familiar. I stopped briefly in Sealy to get off the bike and stretch, something I'd forgotten to do without being in a group setting. This whole riding alone thing is pretty neat.

I finished up my fun on Racer Rd just before it got dark, then hopped on I10 in Brookshire for the home stretch. It was dark and a little chilly by the time I got home, but the weekend had been another fun one for the books. Despite Bob's crash, we'd all made it home in one piece and that's what we treasure most. Well, that and the friendships that tie us together both on and off the bikes.

1076 miles in 56 hours with 7 friends. Not bad for a weekend.

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