LoneStar's Little Tale: Blue Skies, 3 Sisters and a coupl'a dirt roads...

Discussion in 'Epic Rides' started by LoneStar, Nov 19, 2007.

  1. LoneStar

    LoneStar WhoopDeDoofus

    Joined:
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    Sunday morning was misty, drizzly and rainy in the Kerrville area and my ride to Biker Church was a bit damp to say the least. I'd had plenty of mist, fog and rain the night before while riding back from Austin so I was bummed by the weather. But miracles do happen and by the time "chuch" was over, the skies had begun to clear and a beautiful day was forming.

    Drawn by the great weather and blue skies, I headed south on 16, enjoying the smooth purr of the GS on the twists and turns of the road to Medina. The leaves were falling, the sun and sky were clear and the fresh cool air was invigorating.

    I'm blessed to live in an area of Texas with the best motorcycle roads in the state, short of the Big Bend area. TX 16 leads south to Medina, TX where one can catch 337 to Leakey (pronounced "Lakey") and then connect with the roads 336 and 335. The three are affectionately known as the "3 Sisters" or "Twisted Sisters" and are the best rides around. Tight, high, twisty and with roller coaster valleys in some of the highest hills in Texas. I usually head their direction when I have some free time to ride.

    Stopping to top off for gas in Medina, I headed west on 337 to Vanderpool and then on to Leakey. I had no plans for the day but can't resist riding any dirt roads I find along the way.
    Leakey was dead for such a beautiful day - no bikes and mostly closed up. I had seen only 2 bikes on 337 - the rest of the afternoon was similar with only one or two other bikes on the roads. Maybe the misty morning weather had kept riders away... a good thing since I was able to ride with a sense of being alone.

    Topping off at the Oldtimer in Medina
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    *KLR riders take note - they rent tubes here :evil

    I hadn't had a chance to explore FM 3235 and FM 2631 yet and the dual sport ranch road that connects them. These cut through and connect 336 and 335, so I headed north on 336 to find 3235. It was one of those days where you and the bike seem to be one. The ride was beautiful and smooth, the GS riding on rails through the curves, the cattleguards slowly marking the way north until 3235 appeared to my left.

    FM 3235 was easy and fairly straight after 336, at typical Texas Farm-Market road. Wide, clear and in excellent condition. The blacktop eventually ended in a gravel and rock coated caliche road. Google shows the old ranch road as "Bullhead Road", but of course there are no markings. I continued on until the dirt road forked with "Fair Ranch" to the right and no markings to the left. Staying left I reached a cattle gate, locked only with a metal snap and chain and a sign asking those passing through to please close it behind them. Many of the backroads in southwest Texas pass through private ranch land and it is common to pass through gates as you ride. Just make sure you're on a county road or yore in a heap o' trouble boy...

    After closing the gate, the road got rougher and narrower, deep white powder silt abounding and winding tightly through oak clusters and cedar clumps. As I approached a narrow, blind corner turning downhill, a teenager in a pickup came blowing around the curve in a huge cloud of white dust, locking his brakes and skidding in an attempt to get back in control before nailing me. We narrowly passed and he waved, quite shocked to see me suddenly appear in his familiar territory.

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    After the dust cloud settled, I changed my shorts and headed on. The road got rougher and looser, heading downhill and through several dry river washes filled with rounded stones. In places the road became two tracks through the grass and eventually led again into dry river beds. I stopped counting, somewhat thankful these beds were dry as I wouldn't relish crossing so many on a GS with water and the Green Slime of Death. Most of the washes were wide and full of stones, the road passing down lengths of them as a roadbed of sorts. For those who don't live in the area, it is hard to imagine the amount and ferocity of water that can flow through these beds after a storm. Flash floods are a part of life in southwest Texas.

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    They call these "baby heads" in Colorado... not sure what we call 'em here :D
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    ***Spookyville alert! I just noticed the one looks kinda like a skull looking up at me - yikes***



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    The old ranch road required constant attention on the pig, with areas of loose rock piled in curves, downhills and in the ever present washes. It led through some beautiful terrain, made more interesting by the gold of the slowly setting sun. I stopped in a dry bed for a couple of pics and to water some cactus, then continued on until finally reaching a crossing with a bit of water, held back by a somewhat homemade-looking dam. Stopping for a couple more pics, I stretched a bit and took off my jacket to cool down. The road had become work in some areas and I had gotten a bit warm keeping the skittish front end of the GS on track :D

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    Classic Texas hill country scenery
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    A bump gate signalled the end of the rough road and back to civilization (barf) on FM 2631. FM 3235
    connects to FM 2631 unofficially by way of the old ranch road I had just ridden, and 2631 was a nice wide, well maintained blacktop road. Few folks live off the road, so it seemed apparent someone of import and influence must live there, as the road is quite nice for such a remotely inhabited area. Probably a big rancher with some influence.


    Bumpgate
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    Post bumpgate
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    The deer had already begun to play on the roadsides, selecting who would be kamikazes for the evening, much to my consternation. Lots of fawns and doe, with a few wild turkeys for good measure. Before reaching 335, I passed a dual sport rider coming in the other lane, but couldn't tell what bike it was as we passed quickly - sorta looked like a BMW XChallenge or similar.


    Reaching 335 in the lengthening shadows, I headed south to Barksdale and decided to loop out west on the county road that then returns into Camp Wood. Google maps shows it as CR 210, but the sign says CR 380 and my Roads of Texas atlas doesn't list numbers but clearly shows it as a public loop road. At any rate I headed west on it, passing the Barksdale cemetery and eventually coming to a fork in the road. To the left was a water crossing and several yards straight ahead there was a sign with CR353 on it parallel with the water crossing. I headed over, but was blinded by the sun reflecting directly on the water the entire length of the crossing. Nothing like riding over a slime crossing entirely blind. Sheesh.

    I stayed on the road as it got a bit rougher, passing another right fork eventually with a green county road sign saying "CR 385" - wasn't sure if the fork was 385 or the road I was on was 385. Eventually I hit a gate with warning signs all over it and since it was getting pretty late I decided to forego any potential adventures involving men with guns and banjo music. I'll save the remaining stretch for another time. I reversed and eventually got back to Barksdale where I headed south.


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    Camp Wood came up fast, and as the sun set I relaxed for a few minutes at the gas stop and had a Coke, watching the locals pull in in various old cars and return from the store with various items, mainly involving cigarettes. Since I don't smoke I don't know, but maybe the setting sun triggers a "better buy some smokes now" jones... At least that was what the locals were doing tonight :D


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    The ride back to Kerville from Camp Wood would take a while and the sun was very low, triggering my deer avoidance phobias. I still had to pass the high road twisties between Camp Wood and Leakey as well as the next batch between Leakey and Vanderpool, not to mention the road to Medina and then back up 16 and over "the hill". Oh well, just slow down and enjoy it!

    And enjoy it I did. I had never ridden 337 so late in the day before and it was stunning. The low golden light shot narrow shafts through the gaps in the hills and hilighted the tops of the trees and curves. The air was crisp and cold down low and warm as you rose, alternating and adding to the intensity of experience.

    As I eventually pulled into Leakey, a Highway Patrol car turned onto 337 in front of me heading towards Vanderpool. Darn! At least he'd keep me honest but I had no desire to poke along behind a trooper on the narrow twisty road for miles and miles. Little did I suspect how fast the dude drove 337! :O Approaching the highest part of the twisties I began to catch him, only to round a curve with several bikes parked on the roadside and the riders waving "down". Around the curve the officer had slowed almost to a stop and was turning around on the roadway. I couldn't see any obvious problems with the group of riders and apparently the trooper was turning around to talk with them. Much appreciated guys! Last thing I needed to do was centerpunch a State Trooper on a blind curve...

    By Vanderpool, the softest pink highlights of the setting sun were gone and the cold air of night was falling. I saw few deer until the last 15 miles or so and enjoyed the ride home, crossing over "the hill" on 16 just at dark. What a great day of riding!

    Today's ride:
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    #1
  2. klrmtn

    klrmtn Been here awhile

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    Nice looking ride, glad you avoided the 4 legged vermin, more commonly called deer. Though they're not dear to me.
    :clap
    #2
  3. GB

    GB . Administrator

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    That's one great ride.. and love that 75th anniversary paint scheme on your GS!! Thanks for the pics and report :thumb
    #3
  4. achesley

    achesley Old Motorcyclist

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    Love running about in that area of Texas. Base in Kerrville and do a different route everyday for a week is a good way to spend the Winter out there.
    Have you ever done the Hunt Rock Store or the Stonehedge and statues that rancher has out there?
    I need to make a trip out there this winter, been awhile. Thanks for the memories and pictures.
    Through out the USA I have never seen so many deer as the southern Texas Hill Country. In the winter I'm looking at a motel by 4PM ;-).
    #4
  5. LoneStar

    LoneStar WhoopDeDoofus

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    Hey Andy - it is a great place to ride for sure. Spending a week would be good as you say since there are so many directions one can head :D
    I pass Stonehenge every few weeks and usually drop in to the old store to get a snack and a break.

    PM me if you head this way and maybe we can meet up :thumbup
    #5
  6. achesley

    achesley Old Motorcyclist

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    sounds good to me, I'll yell when I get a chance to head that way. Over due for a run out there since I don't do many BMW rallies anymore.
    #6
  7. Sasquatch2112

    Sasquatch2112 scatology expert

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    Bought some land in Dripping Springs. I can't wait until I can retire there and ride the Hill country. :clap Thanks for posting the pixs. It is great to read about the backroads.
    #7
  8. Lobby

    Lobby Viel Spass, Vato!

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    :clap

    Right in my backyard, too. :nod
    #8
  9. LoneStar

    LoneStar WhoopDeDoofus

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    Dripping Springs should be a good investment based on Austin's growth - you'll enjoy Texas once you adapt :D
    #9
  10. Sasquatch2112

    Sasquatch2112 scatology expert

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    The first things I noticed: I had to slow down ~20 mph, it seems that we are always in a hurry out here. The second, EVERYBODY waves and says hi. Those are a couple of the reasons why we bought. Now we have to suffer the wait!
    #10
  11. Teeds

    Teeds Don Quixote

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    Don't wait too long.

    I looked at Dripping Springs once for a while, but have my sights set farther out now.

    Great report LoneStar! I love that area.
    #11
  12. Ginger Texan

    Ginger Texan n00b

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    Rio Grande Valley, Texas
    Have only gotten to ride it once on my own bike, but am going back for seconds during Bandera Ralley end of march 2012....:clap
    #12
  13. LoneStar

    LoneStar WhoopDeDoofus

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    :thumb :D

    3 Sisters and Hwy 170 from Terlingua to Presidio are my favorites in Texas :norton
    #13
  14. VietHorse

    VietHorse Long timer

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    Recalculating... recalculating.... HCMC-Vietnam :)
    Joseph, I was there on the Three Sisters. Great motorcycle road in Texas.

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    #14
  15. LoneStar

    LoneStar WhoopDeDoofus

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    Hey Viet! Very cool man! You probably passed my house if you came from Kerrville to Medina and then over to the Sisters. They are a lot of fun - my favorite Texas road is from Lajitas, Texas to Presidio, Texas along the Rio Grande river out in the Big Bend region. Hope you get to ride it sometime :D

    Been reading your Viet Nam page and would love to get to take a trip over there :clap
    #15
  16. arraflipper

    arraflipper Been here awhile

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    Been a few years since I lived in Kerrville, hoping to get back there this fall to do some riding. Way to many pretty FM roads that just beg to be ridden.
    #16
  17. LoneStar

    LoneStar WhoopDeDoofus

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    Say hello when you come thru :D

    Yes there are so many little Farm to Market roads and county roads meandering through the hills that it's hard to get bored. Especially when the flowers are in major bloom in May - some great stuff
    #17
  18. TxTiger

    TxTiger Been here awhile

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    Nice write-up Lonestar. I'm leaving tomorrow and going down there. I keep my toyhauler at Hill Country Resort and Event Center on Hwy 16 for months at a time and try and get down there once a month for 5 days to a week of riding and relaxing. I've seen those ranch roads between 336 and 335 but have never taken one as I've been on road bikes. I've recently purchased a set of DRZ 400S wheels for my DRZ SM and plan on doing some dual sport riding in the area soon. It looks like there are some interesting gravel roads that I want to try, one connects 470 (west out of Bandera) to 337 taht looks like a pretty long ride.

    The roads are great riding regardless of the type bike you have. I have several rides and enjoy them all on those roads. I'll be there through Sunday. PM me if you want to ride.
    #18
  19. LoneStar

    LoneStar WhoopDeDoofus

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    Hey TX

    I buzz past there frequently when I need a break and head for Bandera for Mexican food :lol3

    There are a lot of little off-shoot ranch and county roads around the region - most are private but a few are open for when the DRZ gets set up.

    Can't meet this weekend but would love to ride when I get the chance - bike is in the shop getting a new clutch and some doodads tweaked. How'd you manage to get a week off a month? :clap Retired?

    Oh and 470 is a good ride, not as dramatic as 3 Sisters but still nice and there used to be a gourmet food stand in Tarpley - believe it or not lol. Not sure if it's still there as I haven't been through Tarpley in a while
    #19
  20. Rutabaga

    Rutabaga Been here awhile

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    I like your writing style, easy and well paced. Enjoyed your day out.
    #20