2007 - Big Bend

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Teeds, Mar 16, 2007.

  1. Teeds

    Teeds Don Quixote

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    I am starting a series of Big Bend trips that I will put up in order of occurrence. Not exactly in my back yard, but close enough that I get down there often, Big Bend occupies a large corner of my wayward heart. Perhaps it is the tension of the past and the future, colliding within my mind, that conspires to draw me back. The wild west and the Republic of Texas are alive and well in the hearts and minds of many of the inhabitants of the region. Many of the folks could be classified as, at least, a bit crazy.

    I am lucky enough to work as a historical preservation architect, and being self employed is the icing on the cake. Having projects in Pecos, Fort Stockton, Ozona, Big Spring and hopefully Colorado City and Sonora soon, that keep West Texas in the forefront of my mind and Big Bend just over the horizon, doesn’t hurt. I often manage to set up meetings that conspire to align with or cause trips to the Big Bend region.

    Not all the photographs taken will be done so from a bike, but the majority will. Big Bend is both large and small. Some areas are better experienced behind the wheel of a cage, because of the constraints of time. Some areas can only be experienced on foot. Many areas defy time and can only be experienced over the course of multiple visits. I will try and weave a story line of characters that will introduce you to the folks I find along the trail.

    As an introduction I will start with myself ...

    As the sig line indicates, I am Tony Eeds aka Teeds aka Dad aka Grandpa. Soon to be 56 years young, I have been riding bikes for many many years ... 36 and counting. Like many of us, I got wrapped up in raising kids and away from bikes for a period. I purchased my first "modern" bike in 1999, and my first dual sport in 2005.

    I have walked thousands of miles carrying backpacks, paddled the same on quiet water, as well as climbed in Colorado and elsewhere, so the outdoors is my friend. I get there every chance I can. My dual sport has become my ticket to adventure, in a region that has long recharged my soul.

    Sadly, I first visited Big Bend in 1986. Already 35, I had waited a long time to finally get there. Big Bend lived up to my every dream. In 1991, a gathering started that continues to this day. The last week of every year is "reserved" for Big Bend. A gathering of friends that have become as comfortable as old shoes, this is not a riding trip, rather a trip of true and lasting friends. Scott and I made the first trip in 1991 and the cast of characters has grown, as the legend has grown.

    This is my all time favorite photo of those trips. Taken just before dawn, it captures the mood of why we go better than any other of the thousands, that I have taken.

    Scott is on the far left. Here’s to you buddy! A guy could not ask for a better friend!

    [​IMG]

    After wadding up myself in Mexico in January, I was wary about my knees. Self doubt was creeping into my soul. Am I too old and out of shape? Is motorcycling a sport of younger people?

    In the Mexico Intervention, everyone conspired to convince me that my XR650R was too big for me to handle. Now truthfully, I already knew that, but macho kept me on the bike. Perfectly suited for rapid assaults on the likes of Baja, sans extraneous weight and gear, my XR-R does not suit me as a DS "tour" bike. I will not rehash my feelings, as they can be found in the Intervention.

    So much for introduction ... on with the show!!
    #1
  2. Teeds

    Teeds Don Quixote

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    Big Bend I

    Skinny and I were both jonesing for a ride since being hauled out of Mexico. His Husky was ready to go again, and he had a spare ignition module to boot. He offered up his DRZ400 for me to try out and I jumped on that like a bird on a june bug.

    February 23<SUP>rd</SUP> became the appointed meeting time and Big Bend became the place. Riding a new scoot in familiar territory removed one of the variables. Skinny was set up in room 12 of the Chisos Mining Company Motel when I arrived.

    Like a rocket sled that had dawdled, I had stopped in Ozona for a quick meeting and lost track of time, so there would be no riding on Friday. My truck&#8217;s computer kicks out at about 98, as I discover a number of times.

    Saturday dawned late, as Big Bend is near the change between the Central and Mountain Time Zones. Stoked with a great breakfast of pancakes and coffee, I was ready to try out a new mistress. At the crack of 10ish, we were ready to depart.

    The appointed route was one I had ridden on the Friday before the Terlingua Dual Sport Ride in November, so it would be a relatively fresh comparison of equipment. Eastward into the park, we were to head south on Glen Springs Road, southwest on Black Gap Road to the River Road and westward to the blacktop. Map Link

    Using the asphalt as a practice run, I tried to take a few photos while in motion. Judging by the results, I need to practice more.

    Oops, it fired before I even got it up ... (bad pun!!!)

    [​IMG]

    A little better, but the earth is tilting ...

    [​IMG]

    Here you go ... Skinny on his Husky ... Hi Skinny!!!

    [​IMG]

    Hoping for a shot of behind me ... oops, I forgot the strap ... duhhhhh

    [​IMG]

    Soon we hit Glen Springs Road and my first shot at gravel with the DRZ. Way lighter than my R, the DRZ still felt squirrelly in soft gravel. Well it was a new ride and sometimes the saddle is not chinched down tight the first time you ride. Soon I was more comfortable and only wary of dropping the bike and have to repair it. I have a phobia about dropping other peoples bikes.

    Glen Springs Road yielded to the Pine Canyon Trail where we soon found ourselves at the parking area for the trailhead.

    Skinny and his Husky

    [​IMG]

    Skinny - By his own admission, Skinny has spent a number of years working himself into a position where he can ride any time he wants. Living in West Texas, Big Bend is only a 3 to 3 ½ hour drive (or ride) away. Skinny and I became fast friends in Mexico, having met a few months earlier during another Big Bend ride. More on Skinny as the ride progresses ...

    [ ... to be continued ... ]
    #2
  3. GB

    GB . Administrator Super Moderator Super Supporter

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    Big Bend reports are always great.. just be sure to post lots of pics.. and the odd face plant adds spice to any report! :lol3

    :thumb
    #3
  4. judjonzz

    judjonzz Beastly

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    :lurk
    #4
  5. RumRunner

    RumRunner Sit there, turn that

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    Nice intro:thumb

    Bring on the tales of adventure.

    DW
    #5
  6. Yellow Pig

    Yellow Pig Allergic to asphalt! Supporter

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    Wow! :eek1

    What a great picture.

    Front page material:

    [​IMG]
    #6
  7. Lobby

    Lobby Viel Spass, Vato!

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    :lol3

    Troublemaker.
    #7
  8. Geek

    Geek oot & aboot

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    We used to go to big bend every thanksgiving... during the "redneck race" down there the results were always the same...

    The fords & chevys would hit the electronic limiters at 93-95mph and the tacoma would eeek by with a limiter of like 97... only to have the Toureg go buy at 105 :)

    We also started the tradition of the "90mph food fight" during long deserted hauls to the fun. With just the right vertical toss out the window, Lunch meat makes a great splat on the windshield of the squids towing behind you. :)

    Great story thus far! Cheers!
    :lurk :lurk :lurk

    p.s. Down there on sportbikes running the 10+ mile straightaways south of alpine, I almost went over the freakin handlebars of my gixxer at 180+ with my buddy on a hayabusa beside me when we realized the car coming across the valley at us had cherries on top; only to realize it was a border patrol. :huh :D
    #8
  9. Teeds

    Teeds Don Quixote

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    No faceplants in BB I, but BB II happens in a couple of weeks. We have to start documenting the next Terlingua Dual Sport ride and Easter Weekend the process begins. This type of thread has been on my mind for a while. I will write all reports in this thread and number them.

    Frankly, I lost count of how many times I was there last year, nevermind I broke my shoulder and could not ride for 2 months. Does riding 400 miles back to my truck with a broken scapula count? I don't have any photos though ... :cry

    I'm getting my DR tomorrow. Part of this exploration will be seeing how Big Bend changes when viewed from the seat of a DR, as apposed to an XR.

    We added up the ride experience of the four guys that will be riding BB II the last time we rode together. It was in excess of 140 years of experience. At 56, I am the youngster.
    #9
  10. Teeds

    Teeds Don Quixote

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    Leaving off, we were at the trail head in Pine Canyon. Skinny had suggested that we take the road less traveled and this appealed to me. I have explored much of Big Bend National Park, but time and riding partners had conspired to never present the opportunity to stop at many of the places we passed, nevermind exploring dead end roads. Skinny and I were in tune with our desires and goals for the trip, which is funny when you consider that neither of us spoke about them. It was spooky actually.

    No one in their right mind would call me fast. Always looking for an opportunity to stop, dawdle, take photos, I often find myself chasing the group I am supposed to be with. Now mind you, I can go fast and sometimes do, but I am looking at life as a journey rather than a goal now.

    I am reminded of the lyrics of As Good As I Once Was by Toby Keith.

    I ain't as good as I once was
    that&#8217;s just the cold hard truth
    I still throw a few back, talk a little smack
    when I'm feelin&#8217; bullet proof
    so don&#8217;t YOU double dog dare me now
    'cause I'd have to call your bluff

    I ain't as good as I once was
    but I was good once, as I ever was
    maybe not be good as I once was
    but I'm as good once, as I ever was


    There are days that I am in tune with my bike, and days that I am not. The DRZ is feeling good and I am enjoying the rhythm of the ride so far.

    Looking westward
    [​IMG]

    Back to the east
    [​IMG]

    Skinny trying for the money shot of his Husky
    [​IMG]

    My attempt ...
    [​IMG]

    Soon we were on the road and heading back to Glenn Springs Road.

    Along the way we came upon a couple in a SUV. Needing all the good karma I could muster, I stopped as I passed and pointed out a soon to be flat left front tire. For maximum brownie points, I should have stopped, but Skinny had moved on, so I did as well.

    Glenn Springs Road between the highway and the intersection with Black Gap Road crosses a number of small washes as it meanders southward. With promise of water about, much of the flora and fauna struggles to survive in this harsh environment. In the shadow of Chilicotal Mountain, we ride in the rhythm of the sun, jumping back and forth between sunny and shaded areas. This rhythm has me a bit off, or is it the new bike I am riding? I&#8217;m not sure, but onward we charge into the day.

    An aside on the weather ...
    Spring comes early in the Big Bend region. I am not sure when the average latest freeze is, but many wild flowers were already peaking above the ground looking for the warmth of the sun. We could not have asked for a more perfect day for riding. It dawned clear as a bell and about 55~60 degrees. It promised to be even nicer in the afternoon. Only the windy conditions conspired to lessen the weather score of the day.

    Soon we arrived at the next road less traveled, Black Gap Road. Officially "not maintained" by the National Park Service, Black Gap Road had deteriorated into the best road in the park. Full of washouts and exposed baby head rocks. Black Gap demanded (shouted actually) for attention when riding the road.

    I knew of a great little place I had always wanted to stop and briefly considered catching Skinny and flagging him down to stop. Only the fact that there was a wicked S turn with a good size drop in the middle held me back. I didn&#8217;t want to run up his tailpipe. Remember what I said about us being in tune regarding goals? Well than, guess who was stopped when I rounded the corner where the stream crossed the road? Yup, Skinny. As far as riding buddies go, Skinny moved up a notch or twelve at that point.

    This stream had never failed to flow in all of my trips to Big Bend, so there is an oasis at the junction. Although there were no animals present, there was a great number of tracks, indicating that this water hole was known to more than just us.

    I bounded off in search of photos.

    The DRZ
    [​IMG]

    The stream ...
    [​IMG]
    Sorry I could not find the name on the park map, but it just a scant 100, or so, yards beyond the intersection of Glenn Springs and Black Gap roads.

    The stream heading south towards Marascal Mine and the Rio Grande beyond
    [​IMG]
    As the crow flies, the Rio Grande is maybe 5 miles south of us.

    At the top of the large downhill ...
    [​IMG]
    Trust me on the description, you will recognize it when you arrive there.

    The bottom of the road about a half a mile and 250~350 feet below from where we stopped.
    [​IMG]

    Speaking of stopped, Skinny&#8217;s DRZ was nice. Although I could not plant my feet, the DRZ was not competing for attention. I could enjoy the experience of taking a photo without the fear that I was going to drop the bike.

    I can only remember one ride on the XR that I did not drop the bike ... yup, just one. Many were 0 MPH falls that were more embarrassing than injurious. Nothing like dropping your bike when surrounded by buddies. Of course, nobody laughed harder than I, never mind I was not a happy camper inside.

    In any case, back to the ride ...

    A quick shot along Black Gap Road
    [​IMG]

    Stopping along the way ...
    [​IMG]

    Intersecting the River Road at approximately at the mid point of its journey across the park, we motored westward towards pavement.

    Along the way, I grabbed a quick shot of a canyon going back into the bluffs along the south side of the Rio Grande. The entire bluff is in Mexico.
    [​IMG]
    The sun, being overhead, made it more visible than usual.

    The River Road varies in experience throughout the course of a year. Spring is the busiest part of the year in Big Bend and in preparation for the onslaught of SUV driving "adverturers", the National Park Service had graded the road. Darn it, with washouts galore it was everything an adventure rider could ask for last November. In August of last year, we found a huge 1/4 mile long mud puddle that stopped us for a while. As I said, the experience varies. This trip, it was a bit blah. Heck, we didn&#8217;t even have to watch for bike swallowing washouts!

    Soon we reached Castolon. Again, I wanted to stop but didn&#8217;t catch Skinny as he swept like a fighter jet along the asphalt southward.

    Back to Skinny for a moment. Skinny told me on our trip in January that, given his druthers, he would have been a road racer at an earlier point of his life, had life not conspired. There were tales of fast runs to the border on Hayabusas and other exotic machines. He clearly trusted the edge of the knobbies more than I. No amount of throttle in the straights was going to make up for his speed in the corners.

    Well, cresting the last rise before Castolon, who do you think is stopped point up the road? Skinny! Whoo Hooo, I haven&#8217;t stopped there in years and the store was closed the last time I did stop. Grabbing a Dr Pepper, Skinny bailed us out with the proprietor and we ambled outside to talk with two leather clad Harley riders.

    My snack ...
    [​IMG]
    I carry Spam singles, I had four in my backpack. Meal fit for a king!!

    Seeing the Harleys in the parking area, I had sneered upon arrival, but not once I met the folks. Nice folks, they were out enjoying the warm weather like us. The fellow was a big guy and looked to have many miles of experience. His wife was smaller than a church mouse ... tiny tiny tiny. We watched them depart and I must say she seemed to be holding her own with that big hog.

    Next up is our walk into Santa Elena Canyon.

    [ ... stay tuned ... ]
    #10
  11. 'Flagger

    'Flagger ..this space for rent..

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    Visited the Big Bend for first time this past Christmas at the age of 36. I hope to make BB a regular part of my motorcycling life, just as you have.

    Thanks for posting this. Looking forward to more.

    B
    #11
  12. waverider

    waverider Been here awhile

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    BB is a magical place!

    I have had many good times in the BB region.

    These are a couple of pics that I shot down there last May:

    Juan

    [​IMG]

    Hustler

    [​IMG]

    I cannot wait to get back down there!

    Keep the report and pics coming...

    Cheers
    #12
  13. Teeds

    Teeds Don Quixote

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    Thanks for the encouragement.

    Waverider: Beautiful photographs!!

    I was not thinking ahead when I started this idea running through my head. Actually it formed after I had completed the ride that day. I am going to get closeups of folks and cronicle their history (at least what I can learn) as I move forward.
    #13
  14. gaspipe

    gaspipe Wandering Soul

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    Thanks Teeds. I'll be watching for the updates.
    #14
  15. cagiva549

    cagiva549 whats a cagiva

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    When you stop and talk to the locals , I mean the REAL locals there stories will screw up your ride , you want to listen for hours . We were talking to the lady that runs the store in Riodosa last trip , She grew up at the ranch below the window in the park . I cant get enough of BB . SEYA
    #15
  16. DarkRider

    DarkRider Curiously refreshing

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    +1 on the pics Waverider...amazing!

    +1 on the SPAM!!! :spam I like to think of spam more as a reward than as a snack.
    #16
  17. Teeds

    Teeds Don Quixote

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    Good point David, but that is part of the point of going for an adventure ride, for me anyway. Blowing through somewhere like I am trapped on a roller coaster at 6 Flags, is not what I want. Life is best viewed at speeds appropriate for the experience at hand. Many times that is zero MPH, which is the wonderful observation that you made.

    Reading the latest Baja Saga by Gaspipe and Big Dog, reflecting on the thread from last year and reading all Shog's threads brought me to a clearer understanding of the nature of my rides. I don't want to take away from anyone here, but Shoganai really led me to the light, with her wonderful stories of the simple experiences that surround us. Simple experiences that all to many of us rush through. "Epic" adventures have always be chronicled, but often the simple daily adventures have far more affect on our daily existence.

    In many ways Big Bend has become old hat. I am known by many folks by facial recognition and by name by some. It is time to explore how Big Bend changes, as I change my viewpoint of Big Bend.

    In 20 plus years, Big Bend has gone from being completely wild and a backwater to mostly wild and inhabited by a zoo like collection of characters that have found inner peace while running from perceived, and sometimes real, societal pressures.

    All of those folks have wonderful and colorful stories to tell. Some will tell me their stories, many will not. That is the nature of people on the run from the noise of society. I will learn a great deal about myself in the course of this experience as well. Preconceptions will be challenged, to say the least.

    My brother from another mother says that I can talk the nuts off a Fire Plug. We will see, I know I have never met someone that I will not talk with. The fact of the matter is, I love talking with people. It is when I feel most alive.
    #17
  18. DarkRider

    DarkRider Curiously refreshing

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    The stories are as much a part of the ride as the food.
    #18
  19. judjonzz

    judjonzz Beastly

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    :clap +++
    Well put, and right on the money.
    #19
  20. SKINNY

    SKINNY Been here awhile Supporter

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    Graceful as a gazelle...or a dung beetle... this photo begs for the "Help! I've fallen and can't get up" caption...:rofl...great thread, Teeds...
    #20