Going Out West Where the Wind Blows Tall: Fast Roads, Big Bend and Lithium Springs

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Day Trippin'' started by G-Tex, Mar 1, 2011.

  1. G-Tex

    G-Tex Sneaky Bastard

    Joined:
    Nov 24, 2005
    Oddometer:
    345
    Location:
    A Heavily Fortified Compound in North Oak Cliff
    Last week, a few of us rode out to West Texas to see what we could get into...we figured out that we could get into some serious weirdness and a good time.

    The Riders:

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    Left to Right: Zach, Grant, R-Dubya, Clinton

    The Route Down from Dallas to Terlingua:

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    Zach, on the 2010 F800GS (Z-Tex), and I, on the 2004 R1150GSA (G-Tex), have done some riding together in the past, with one major trip Looping the Southeastern USA...this trip is Zach's first foray into the desert...

    Clinton is Zach's brother and recently bought my 2002 F650 DAKAR. He is relatively new to on-road riding, but has a motocross background. We've been to Arkansas together and his off-road confidence far exceeded his on-road skills. Before this trip, we all knew that it was going to be interesting to see how he would handle the mileage and terrain awaiting us all along the way. This trip is Clinton's first foray into the desert...

    R-Dubya, on the 1996 R1100GS, is an old acquaintance who recently got reengaged with motorcycling. RW had gone out on a couple of day rides with the group, but had never done a trip of this distance or scope...This trip is RW's first foray into the desert...

    If you're noticing a trend, good...I was the only one who had ridden Big Bend/Chihuahua before. This trip was set up to prove the merits of planning something further, more complicated, and grander for the future...

    More to come on prep-work, riding, and hippies...
    #1
  2. istandalone

    istandalone Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jul 2, 2010
    Oddometer:
    40
    Can't wait, good to get the presidents together. . . . Oh wrong dubya!

    Well Grant, Clinton and ol "rough and ready" can chat about being commander and chief.
    #2
  3. BluesCruiser

    BluesCruiser Adventurer

    Joined:
    Dec 14, 2010
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    Location:
    East Bay
    Subscribe! Keep it coming!:deal

    Dave
    #3
  4. G-Tex

    G-Tex Sneaky Bastard

    Joined:
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    Oddometer:
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    Location:
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    Wow...funny insight on the names...:freaky
    #4
  5. tfitch03

    tfitch03 Turkey

    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2011
    Oddometer:
    163
    Location:
    Dallas, TX
    I wish I could have gone with you guys.
    #5
  6. G-Tex

    G-Tex Sneaky Bastard

    Joined:
    Nov 24, 2005
    Oddometer:
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    Location:
    A Heavily Fortified Compound in North Oak Cliff
    Oh Fitchster...T-Tex? You were there in spirit and there will be many other opportunities...:deal

    Now, on with the show...:freaky
    #6
  7. B-Tex

    B-Tex n00b

    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2010
    Oddometer:
    3
    Don't forget Zachary...he was a President too.
    #7
  8. scarysharkface

    scarysharkface Imbecile

    Joined:
    Nov 22, 2005
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    Location:
    Vigo
    :lurk
    #8
  9. istandalone

    istandalone Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jul 2, 2010
    Oddometer:
    40

    He's "rough and ready" (nickname earned during war.)
    #9
  10. G-Tex

    G-Tex Sneaky Bastard

    Joined:
    Nov 24, 2005
    Oddometer:
    345
    Location:
    A Heavily Fortified Compound in North Oak Cliff
    For those who care...sorry for the absence...the intervening Dallas to Mardi Gras AMTRAK train trip adventure was quite an interlude and a great success...except that our train hit a Big Rig outside of Beaumont, Texas...no big deal.

    NEWS ARTICLE ABOUT TRAIN SMASH

    ---------------------------------------

    Back to the goodness.

    About 6 weeks before the trip out to Big Bend, we started having "bike nights" around town.

    At one of the bike nights, we gave RW's R1100GS a pretty thorough go-through to see what needed attention.

    The bike felt stable and solid, the final drive drain was clean, and nobody in 2011 has seen a cleaner '96 R1100GS than RW's.

    However, there were a couple issues. So, RW set about planning/ordering/fixing these myriad issues...

    1) The final drive could have been clean because everything had drained out of it...that would need attention...FD Oil Change was a snap.

    2) The last oil change was...by the last owner when RW bought the bike years ago...Oil Change was a snap.

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    3) The starter was...fidgety...subsequently replaced with a Motorrad Electric unit which looks much beefier. I have one on the R1150GS and it has been fault-free to this point...

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    A little rust in there...

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    4) The rubber boot at the pivot point of the front suspension was torn...

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    5) The old tires were not up for an 1800 mile trip...Shinko 705s were ordered up and installed!

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    RW was ready! :clap

    -------------------------
    Meanwhile, Clinton needed to install various parts that I ordered for the F650Dakar when he purchased it from me. We did a little "Bike Day" over at La Casa de Madera Compound.

    After changing the oil, spilling most of it on the garage floor, and halfway cleaning it up, we got down to restoring the DAKAR to the "factory" chain tensions that were "lost" when I was in Cabo San Lucas...

    Here's a pic of the "replacement" chain tensioners that were "Fabricated" for me in La Paz, BCS...STORY AT POST 10

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    They SHOULD look like this...

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    Anyway, with the guts and integrity of the DAKAR restored, we set about to improve its dignity with a full set of BMW OEM torx bolts to replace the ones that litter the highways between Dallas,Copper Canyon and Cabo San Lucas.

    Clinton was READY!!!

    ------------------------

    The Big Pig was ready for some maintenance as well, so I ordered a set of Shinko 705's for the R1150GS and did a full fluid change on transmission, engine, and final drive.


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    Grant was READY!!!

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    Zach's bike is brand new...it's only been on one big trip...a great one, at that (CLICKY), but it didn't need any maintenance...or did it?

    Let's just assume that....ZACH WAS READY!!!!

    Ride Report Maintenance portion finished...roll credits.

    ...........MORE TO COME!
    #10
  11. G-Tex

    G-Tex Sneaky Bastard

    Joined:
    Nov 24, 2005
    Oddometer:
    345
    Location:
    A Heavily Fortified Compound in North Oak Cliff
    The gentlemen got together at my house on Wednesday afternoon to depart for Big Bend. Temperatures were in the 60s and rain was threatening...actually, the skies were spitting on us intermittently.

    Clinton rolled up first...itching for a ride...ready to run! Except for iPod...he got my backup for the trip.

    Zach rolled in about 15 minutes later...

    Finally, R-Dub came to the party and it was time to leave.

    Our intentions were to make it as far as possible that evening; Brady being the goal in the back of MY mind, but wheels pointed towards the southwest on US 67 was "The Plan"...

    Getting out of Dallas was a pain in the ass. I35 HOV lane to I20West...about midway through Arlington, the pace of the traffic picked up and we were making some time; until Zach's gas light came on.

    Not-so-quick stop outside of Aledo remedied Zach's . It was the beginning of the trip and "Fill-'n-Haul" rules were not in effect yet...we were back underway in about 20 minutes. :deal:cry

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    Sun was going down by the time we crossed the Brazos; we made time to the US-281 exit and we shot down towards Stephenville. I say, "WE", but Zach was rolling about 1/2 mile behind us...certain "papers" were not in order, or some such was offered as an explanation for why he shot past the Stephenville cut-off where we were waiting...

    Ducks collected, we ran fast on US-67...got to Comanche in time for a meal at Star Beau's...it was only 8:30. We were doing well.

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    Quick parlay with all members of the BRAINTRUST over dinner and Dr. Peppers... Brady became THE TARGET for the night! :ricky

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    All lined up!

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    Time to Roll!

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    Back on US67, Brownwood blazed by...

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    Brady was on the horizon...

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    Just as we were pulling into town...2 deer crossed in front of me...apparently, 3-4 more passed in front of Zach...we had made it to Brady without any "incursions..." with...:grim
    With luck on our side, it was time to take a break for the eve!

    Holiday Inn Express looked great! We were in the hotel and enjoying the cold beers, procured in Brownwood, before midnight...

    Stories and :slurpand :topes...eventually, it was time to sleep...

    Executive Summary after Day 1:

    220 Miles
    6 Slow Hours
    1 Meal
    No Hit Deer
    24 Beers

    Clinton: riding well!
    Zach: a bit slow for a change.
    R-Dub: Riding well, taking crazy night pics at speed...definitely going for Trip MVP.

    More to come...Big Bend, Amazing Single-Armed MC Riding, Hot Springs, and Setting Up "The Stage"...tomorrow.
    #11
  12. Mike92

    Mike92 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Feb 15, 2011
    Oddometer:
    356
    Location:
    South Texas
    Keep it coming fellow Texans!:thumb
    #12
  13. mikegc

    mikegc Long timer

    Joined:
    Sep 29, 2008
    Oddometer:
    2,291
    Location:
    High Point, NC
    :thumb

    Mike
    #13
  14. achesley

    achesley Old Motorcyclist

    Joined:
    Mar 16, 2003
    Oddometer:
    3,532
    Location:
    Jennings, Louisiana
    When I saw the sunset picture , my mind was thinking, Time to get off the road, prime deer time " . Then when I saw ya'll were riding at night on two lane roads > "Asking for it " came to my mine. Glad ya'll did not get to eat raw deer. Only saw them.
    Looks to be a great trip. :clap:clap
    #14
  15. G-Tex

    G-Tex Sneaky Bastard

    Joined:
    Nov 24, 2005
    Oddometer:
    345
    Location:
    A Heavily Fortified Compound in North Oak Cliff
    Oh yes...we were asking for it that night...and the next...and the next...and...

    As anyone who has done these "kind" of rides knows, WHEN you get off schedule, you inevitably start running fast and blind at night.

    The Western Reaches of the Texas Hill Country are not a place to screw with deer...The good thing is, 281 from 20 to Stephenville is deer prone, but short. 67 between Stephenville and Brownwood is 4 lane and mostly protected....however, Brownwood to Brady is dicey and we got lucky! :lol3

    ...more to come!
    #15
  16. G-Tex

    G-Tex Sneaky Bastard

    Joined:
    Nov 24, 2005
    Oddometer:
    345
    Location:
    A Heavily Fortified Compound in North Oak Cliff
    Ding, ding, ding...time to get rolling on Thursday morning.

    The plan:


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    Motivate 3 Big Bend first-timer's through the desolate environment of the Western Hill Country and into the Trans-Pecos...


    Get to Terlingua for dinner.


    Sounds simple, right?


    Actuality:

    Woke up to this:

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    Ate breakfast downstairs with some Australians who were in Brady on a mission to buy a sheep ranch…pretty interesting folks in a pretty out-of-the-way spot in Texas, but bidness is bidness.

    Got the bikes loaded up and it was time to go.

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    Made it over to the gas station and the Sheriff pulls up, right on Clinton’s back wheel.

    Now, I’m known to engage strangers quite frequently in all sorts of random conversation, but this Sheriff started into the conversation with me…wanted to know where we were going, where we were coming from, talked about the weather, and basically assured us that there would be little to zero traffic in between Brady and Iraan. After a few more topics were dispatched, he bid us farewell and drove off. I was careful to watch which direction he was headed, as I didn’t want any surprises along US190.

    Fed, fueled, and fired-up, we got on the road and headed West. Our Sheriff friend had not gone out on US190 and the skies were beginning to clear from the mornings light showers. Temperatures were in the mid 60s and the roads were wide-open…time to haul some ass.

    We made it to El Dorado in no time, the 84 miles flew right on by, but it was SUPER WINDY and fuel mileage was suffering greatly. The 41 liter tank on my big pig was keeping me in the game, but everyone else had to gas up. Clinton was taking quite a beating on the F650 and I wanted to make a run on the old girl, so we swapped bikes.

    Back on US190, I’m gripped down and ducking….squeezing every last bit of power out of the rotax mill. Fully loaded with a 230 pound rider, she was making 96 miles an hour, flat out. The Western Hill Country Steppe slowly changed into the Trans Pecos Scrubland and the sky OPENED up; we were now in WEST TEXAS. The mesa country that surrounds Iraan, and the oil-wealth created in the area, is famous amongst Texans as some of the most rugged terrain in our fair state. Add a 40mph headwind and things stay very interesting, especially when descending the windward side road-cuts along the way. After slightly more than 2 hours, we arrived in Iraan…

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    We settled in at Los Arcos for a tasty meal!

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    A little info on the Yates Field and Iraan:

    http://www.fracturedreservoirs.com/niper/FIELDHIS.HTM
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iraan,_Texas

    Reinvigorated by our Grande Lunch, we hopped back on the bikes and headed towards Sanderson on TX 349. All of “The Presidents” of the group work in the Energy Business and riding through the epic Yates field was very interesting. We crossed I-10, passed Sheffield, Texas and we were in the wild Trans-Pecos. We had great roads on rolling to hilly scenery all the way into Sanderson, home of the least-used AMTRAK station in the United States. Sanderson wasn’t too much to look at, but it had a very pleasant and peaceful way about it. Then it was gone in the rearview mirror.

    I had never come into Marathon on US 90 from the East before, so everything was new and very interesting on this leg of the route. The mesa-country gave way to the foothills of the Big Bend region and the road straightened as we approached Marathon. Upon arrival, we gassed up and decided it was a good time for a photo-op in front of the Gage Hotel, our accommodation for the coming Saturday night. We grabbed some cold cervezas from the gas station!

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    We then rode down to the Gage. A real nice guy took a few pics for us:

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    Photo-op over, we decided to make time and hit the Hot Springs in Big Bend National Park.

    On-on!

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    Everybody was getting giddy, as we were in Big Bend! A “Destination of Destinations”…US 385 South out of Marathon was a decidedly HAUL-ASS road. We could barely keep the bikes from running full out towards Mexico…

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    We got to the Big Bend National Park Entrance, paid our fees and we were IN! IT was about 3:30 and we were making time towards the Hot Springs. It felt great to pull off the black-top and onto the dirt Hot Springs Road. 400 or so miles on pavement makes an immediate change to dirt feel a bit awkward, but the beckoning Hot Springs kept us on track.


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    Upon arrival, we cracked a few beers, asked the folks if they had any cups to pour the beers into, decided to improvise our legal-containers when nobody stepped up, and simultaneously got ourselves into bathing suits with the requisite flip flops. During this time, a fellow rider on a blue and black KLR came up and proceeded down the trail to the Hot Springs. A quick swig or two of beer and we were down the trail, cameras in hand, to take in the healing waters of the Big Bend Hot Springs.

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    The Hot Springs were pretty busy. The usual crowd of cowboy intellectuals, hippy dippy weirdness, motorcycle riders, and counter-cultural hangers-on were in mid digression as the Dallas BMW riders entered the pool. We made ourselves comfortable and settled in for a bit of a soak.

    The talk turned to the Copper Canyon, Mexico, and the Troubles. We were, after all, just 20 feet from the border and most of our view was of old Mexico. Having ridden the Barrancas before, I interjected with some details as distances, road quality, cultural hot-spots, and general advisability of a trip into “Scary Mexico”. Clearly, there were some Hot Sports Opinions about travel into our southern neighbor and my beliefs about the “must-do” nature of such trips may have run counter to the prevailing wisdom of the springs. Nothing was overtly awkward, but the fear of the unknown shut-down those who had assumed travel south to be an unnatural act.

    Time to go. We left the tub after another 10-15 minutes, refreshed and ready to get to our campsite. As we were toweling off, the fellow rider who pulled up earlier on the KLR, introduced himself to us. He had been sitting across the springs from us and had been one of those talking about Old Mexico. He was a very nice guy and clearly a capable and knowledgeable rider by his statements. What we had not noticed while we were in the springs, was that his right arm was lame. The conversation never made it to the point where we discussed it, but we were amazed by the fact that we had not noticed his one-armed riding when he came up to us before our trip down the trail. We bid him farewell and made time down the trail.

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    As we were changing back into riding gear, we were amazed to see the one-armed rider reappear fully-clothed, put his helmet on and secure it with one hand, mount his bike, and ride off effortlessly. The whole scene made quite an impression on all of us. This guy was a TRUE RIDER and nothing was going to stop him from getting his share of the thrill of Adventure.

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    Dumbstruck, we all remounted and proceeded west through the park, towards Study Butte and Terlingua beyond.

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    The sunset was one of the most beautiful I have ever seen; the sun slowly setting over the Chisos and Christmas Mountains. It seemed like the sunset took an hour and a half. We were more-or-less following the 45mph speed limit and were very watchful for animals crossing the road.
    Pulling into Study Butte, we upped the beer supply, gas, and snack supplies…

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    We then made tracks for the weirdness of Las Ruinas.

    Las Ruinas is more of a thought-experiment than I had ever assumed from previously passing-by. The four BMW Riders pulled in and were met by a guy, let’s call him John. Here’s how the conversation with John went;

    Grant: “Hey man, is this Las Ruinas?”
    John: “Sure is.”
    Grant: “So, do we just set up wherever or is there some sort of order? I tried to call 3 weeks ago, emailed twice, but I never heard back from anyone…so…”
    John: “Well, yeah man, you can stay here, but I’m not sure where you guys should go…”
    Grant: “OK, well…is this your place?”
    John: “Well, yeah…I mean, I’ve been here for 3 months and I’m staying here…”
    Grant: “So do we pay you?”
    John: “Well, yeah…you COULD pay me…I mean, you know, there’s this other guy who will be around….”
    Grant: “OK, well, what should we do?”
    John: “Hey, just go check around and see where there are tents that are open…”
    Grant: “OK, see ya John”

    It was clear that John had a big day that day.

    We proceeded down the hill and looked at a couple of the 10’x10’ canvas tents. Most were occupied and as we were looking around, a fellow ADV’r came out of nowhere and pointed out where they were camping, with an open tent right there&#133;well, he wasn’t pointing it out to invite us to stay, he was basically doing everything he could to have us go up the hill. His group had a huge fire going, all of their trucks arranged with their attendant trailers, and their hard enduros scattered about. At their core, this group was not very inviting and we were told that there was a spot “up the hill” “where his trailer was parked” that “would be perfect for you guys”…

    Taking note of the tribal warfare possibilities, we proceeded up the hill and found a flat spot…next to…a trailer, a stage and “The Boathouse”…which we had no idea about…it was already dark, so we decided to make camp and figure it out later if we needed to find a different spot.

    Tents up, we decided to grab some food at the Starlight after finishing up our beers. However, RW’s bike wouldn’t start due to some vapor-lock issue, so he rode two-up with me to dinner…a fabulous scene for über manly West Texas…
    We had a good dinner with drinks and headed back to camp for more beers, ghost-stories, and finally…some sleep around midnight…it had been a damn good day.

    Stats:
    482 miles…
    1 Hot Spring
    1 Single-Armed Rider
    3 Big Bend Novices , Nevermore Novice
    #16
  17. G-Tex

    G-Tex Sneaky Bastard

    Joined:
    Nov 24, 2005
    Oddometer:
    345
    Location:
    A Heavily Fortified Compound in North Oak Cliff
    A few more pictures from Day 2...

    R-Dub on US190:

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    Clinton...making a move...

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    Entering Big Bend:

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    View from the Hot Springs Parking Lot:

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    KLR650 Set Up for Single-Armed Operation:

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    #17
  18. Z-Tex

    Z-Tex n00b

    Joined:
    Dec 8, 2009
    Oddometer:
    5
    #18
  19. G-Tex

    G-Tex Sneaky Bastard

    Joined:
    Nov 24, 2005
    Oddometer:
    345
    Location:
    A Heavily Fortified Compound in North Oak Cliff
    Zach's photos...

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    #19