It’s amazing that I even woke up when my phone alarm went off at 6:50 am. I had fallen asleep with the phone in my hand, so it got jumbled in the blanket and sheets overnight. When I opened my eyes, the room was still dark and quiet. Could I possibly have woken up first?
Nope. Becca was already in the shower and preparing for the 500+ miles she had in store for us today. Once she was out it was my turn, then we geared up and headed out. We filled up our Camelbaks with ice from the machine in the hallway, then headed for the free continental breakfast. The coffee was hot, but worth the burnt tongue for a little pick-me-up.
Mile Marker 330.6
Fuel: 4.210 gal / $11.78
Although we probably had half a tank of gas left, the Town & Country filling station next to the hotel was the fastest and easiest way to fill up before heading out toward some of the best roads in central Texas. Becca wasn’t looking much more awake than I was feeling.
I would have led the morning route, but I all could remember was “go down to one of the lights, make a right, then go down a long while after that”. Becca wasn’t amused. She led us over to Stonehenge, which I had heard was out there but had never seen in person. It’s really just a replica of the real thing across the pond, but without the authenticity. Go figure, you can’t get the bike up close and the fence makes the bike pic kinda fugly.
The roads were empty, the sun was rising, and we had miles and miles of this ahead.
We pulled off at a small water crossing to take some pictures. It’s remarkable how little water there’s been at all of the creeks and streams we’ve passed. It’s been a while since this area’s gotten the kind of rain we get (and curse) closer to the gulf.
Leakey, TX / 10:00 am
Frio Canyon Motorcycle Shop
When we got to the intersection in Leakey, Becca didn’t immediately notice the MC Shop on the corner. I motioned her over there, and it was very quiet for a Sunday morning. Maybe it’s too hot for the typical weekend rides in the area? Oh well, more open pavement for us!
Becca’s real uneasy tip-toeing her bike on uneven pavement, so I give her lots of credit for some of the maneuvers we had to do throughout the trip.
Some water crossing near the end of FM 335
We pulled over, but this time for a “dangerously tired” break. I needed a minute to stretch, sit, and get my head in the game. I was exhausted, but it was going to be a long day and I’d need to know I could do it. I don’t think I was the only one with me head in the clouds, though - Becca thinks she saw a camel.
We head back around the loop towards Leakey, and it’s time for lunch. The Mexican place we ate at on the rally last year was closed, so we looked for anything with cars in the lot and found the Frio Canyon Lodge Restaurant. The parking situation turned out to be a little hairy, but we managed to keep the bikes on their feet this time.
The both ordered the special, roast beef, veggies, hash brown casserole, desert and a drink for only $6.99. I love these places.
There were two bikes outside when we came in, a Hyabusa and a new ZX14. It would stand to reason that there must be (at least) two riders inside. The restaurant was pretty full, but I didn’t immediately spot any helmets. We sat and ate, talked about the roads, and continued to discuss the length of the return trip. We were continuously rehashing the idea of cutting out roads as we went.
I spotted the two riders as they were heading out, so I grabbed two TWT cards from my wallet and went after them. Scott (Tourmeister) has gotten some of us in the habit of chasing down riders to let then know about the forum. When I introduced myself and handed a card over, I was told they'd gotten one of these last weekend when they met Deb and... "the other guy" in Fayetteville. Must be Erik. We got to talking, and they said they'd gotten another business card too - Four Bikers and a Monkey. I proudly declared myself to be one of the four bikers!
Wow, we're famous!
"So not to be mean, but are you the one that only made it four miles into that great road and had to be brought back down?"
Ok, make that infamous...
As we headed out of town and through more twisty bits, it was becoming clear that fuel needed to be a part of the not-so-distant plan. We ran down FM 337, but the only gas stations we saw were primitive and closed. There was an apple festival going on, but apparently everyone attending that thing must have known to fill their tanks on Saturday…
We turned around and headed for what the GPS said was the closest filling station. It was 14 miles away. We’d ridden almost 215 miles since the last refueling. I’d never toured with someone who could keep up with my fuel consumption before this, so I suddenly found myself as the ‘short tank’ on this one. Running on fumes, I did everything I could to keep the revs low. I was running in 5th gear at 40 mph, keeping it barely above lugging. We entered into a set of tight switchbacks, the sharpest we’d encountered so far. Although I’d prefer to ride low gears and power through a bit, I didn’t have the fuel to do it and instead I almost coasted through some of it. As the elevation began to level out, my oil light came on and I suddenly found myself without any go-go. Uhhh… Becca’s got to be about a half mile ahead of me by now.
I start walking my bike, hoping to get some momentum out of the remaining downhill slope. I wanted to get out of these curves at least, because this was not a spot you’d want to have to pull over at. When the road flattened out and I couldn’t get much push from my toes (yeah, the bike’s still a little tall), I decided to try something I’d read online. I rocked the bike back and forth hoping to move around whatever gas might still be in the bottom of my tank, closed my eyes and made a wish as I pressed the magic red button. It started back up!
I got down off the hill as fast as I could and found RocketBunny on the side of the road ahead. I pulled past her, hoping that if the bike died again, at least she’d be behind me and see that I’m in trouble. We finally made it to the gas station, and she told me she thought I might have panicked in the curves when she didn’t see me behind her right away. When I told her what had happened, she and I both had a good laugh.
Mile Marker 556.2
Fuel: 5.499 gal / $15.39
Keep in mind, my tank holds 5.8 gallons and I filled it on the side stand. I don’t think I could have made it another mile.
Just a few of the bugs I scored along the way…
We decided to circumvent San Antonio by taking Hwy 46, but at some point I got us lost. I could have sworn I was just going down the same road, but it turned into a rural street and dead-ended. Becca saw what was going on and passed me to lead me back over to where we were supposed to be. I took the lead again… and got us lost again. Not lost really, just not where we thought we were or wanted to be. It was time to pull over and figure this out.
New Braunfels, TX / 4:45 pm
We stopped at a gas station to stretch, look at the map, and recalculate the route. We were now getting closer to the end of the trip and the planned route was not going to fit into what was left of the day. I went inside for a Starbucks Double Shot (YUM!) and more ice for my Camelbak which was again empty. Considering how much water I’d gone through, I hadn’t needed to pull over nearly as often as previous trips. It must be the heat.
As we sat around talking about the route with the map and GPS, many of the locals came to give Little Caesars their business. Something had gone wrong inside the store and a sign on the door notified customers that they were closed. This did not sit well with many people who apparently HAD to have their fix of pizza pizza or go hungry. They argued with the clerk, asked where the next closest store was, and some waited outside in the parking lot for the store to reopen. It finally did, and they all swarmed in. I guess there isn’t much to eat in this part of town…
Heading back, we stumbled on FM 535, which was a nice road that neither of us had ridden before. Becca was dancing in the saddle to Whitney Houston, while I was bopping my head along to Clapton.
A few traveling shots…
It seems RB only gets pictures of her and/or her bike stopped on the side of the road. Nobody ever takes pictures of her moving – so I felt obliged. Without trying to scare her too badly, I was able to pull up alongside her on a long straight section and snap this. Looks like a BMW ad, doesn’t it?
As we neared La Grange, we opted to head towards the gas station instead of pushing our luck. It meant skipping the dirt section on Post Oak, but it would avoid the potential for running out of fuel again.
Mile Marker 748.0
Fuel: 4.37 gal / $12.59
I looked over at the still-singing RocketBunny, and she was actually smiling! I guess she’s not tired or bored with my pace, so the weekend is working out after all.
We took a wrong turn in Cat Spring. Well, I took a wrong turn on 1094 and Becca assumed I knew where I was going. It didn’t get us lost, but we ended up on 36 just north of Sealy and had passed up a few good roads along the way. These were close enough to hit any weekend, so it was no big deal. We decided to stop at Sonic for some ice cream and picture swapping before getting on the freeway and high-tailing it home. We waited and waited for someone to answer the little red button…
When they finally did, we ordered our ice cream and were told that they were out. Yup, out of ice cream. It was the only reason we were here.
We reluctantly got back on the bikes and headed next door to McDonalds. Frozen yogurt would have to do. We each got a sweet treat and a double cheeseburger to hold us over, and we got the laptop out to laugh at ourselves in pictures as we copied them for each other.
According to her GPS, it was 43 mi from her to Becca’s house. For me? Who knows. We were both content with taking I10 to the Beltway, which is where we split off. Halfway up the ramp, we waved goodbye and parted. The “Odd Couple” had not only survived their first weekend trip, but we’d also grown closer as friends and touring companions.
Mile Marker 851.2
My driveway. Nobody really looks forward to a trip ending, but my body was tired and my mind was exhausted. I didn’t have the energy to take the tailbag off the bike, so I rolled myself into the house, got out of my gear in the kitchen, then called it a night.
A BIG thank you to Becca for inviting me out there for the weekend and putting up with my silliness, pace, and lack of road and route knowledge. Also, thanks to Taryn and her family for accepting me into their home so willingly.
Can’t wait to do it all again!