Category Archives: Motorcycles

Motorcycle Diaries – ROT 2015

The ROTten Truth

One of the most enjoyable things about being a motorcycle enthusiast is going to rally’s. I have been to rally’s practically all over the countryState---Texas and I have been to this Republic of Texas (ROT) rally four previous times and this makes number five.  Over the years my tribe has dwindled down and the rally has been more of a been there done that type of thing. But since this was the 20th year I got a last-minute wild hair and decided to ride down and see what I have been missing. I mean my last time there was 2009, so it seemed time to check it out.

So the trip down there was one of unusual circumstances. Late start means you have to take the highway to get there…one of the things I loathe the most is running down I-35 at 80 mph. Talk about one of the more boring rides, ugh it was dreadful. With temps in the 90’s I also was getting cooked during the midday ride, but at least I was getting tan! If you have ever been on a ride with me, you know I am a back roads cruising, seeing the cool ass shit America has to offer.

Arriving at the rally I was pretty excited to see how much bigger this has become over the last 6 years. Unfortunately, I have to report that this has become the biggest waste of time and money I have ever gone to. This is one of the few rallies that charge to get into rally itself, but it is definitely not worth $75.  What used to be a pretty full area of vendors was really only two rows and the ones that were outside were just as bad. I guess if you want to camp, set up pools and run around naked and drunk then this is definitely worth going to. But otherwise, I recommend you just stay away, this was lame and the only fun part was going out on 6th street, but you know what? I can do that pretty much anytime of the year and I don’t need a ROT rally to bring me to Austin.

So the rally is bad and since it was a short trip, I didn’t go explore around the hill country like I usually do. But I managed to get off the highway and get lost on some awesome Texas back roads dodging the rain and chasing the sun on the way back.

ROT2All in all it was two days, 500 miles, got the patch and T-shirt. Until next time, keep the rubber side down!

My name is Travis and I talk to strangers.

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3 Men – 3 Sisters (Guest Post)

Three Men Ride to Meet Three Ladies.

By: Brett “Bubba” Blythe

My infatuation for all things motorcycle all started when I received my first dirt bike at age 10.  The Honda 50cc dirt bike, small in size large in fun.  We would take many dirt bike trips as a family that lamented my love for the two wheeled machine.  Fast forward to age 16, I received my cycle endorsement and my first road trip as a driver to Sturgis.  This trip sealed the deal for as the best way to take a vacation and see America.  We have taken vacations, small trips, big trips, pulled trailers filled with clothes and dirt bikes.  All of these trips have led the following account of my trip to Texas to ride the Three Sisters with my dad and older brother.

This trip was the first time the three of us have taken a trip together.  I live in Michigan and I flew down to Dallas to where my dad and brother live.  This was sure to be a trip for the bucket list, I was sure even before the plane left Grand Rapids that this was going to a great trip.

I have ridden some beautiful highways and byways in my day, from the Blue Ridge Mountain Parkway in North Carolina to the Black Hills of South Dakota.  I was sure that Texas being as big and beautiful as she is that she also had some great scenery to offer, and boy was I right.

The route that my brother had planned for us had us stopping at many great landmark destinations on our way to ride the Three Sisters. We saw the original Dr. Pepper plant, the Enchanted Rocks, a Castle, and many food stops recommended by the Thunder Roads magazines top 10 burger joints.  I will have to say that while the landmarks were cool the real crowd pleaser had to be the roads and views.

The Three Sisters did not disappoint with their twisty turns and their great expanses.  I can honestly say that the views and wide open spaces that are Texas are truly gorgeous.  It was a weekend of many emotions for me.  The beauty of the landscape, the excitement and thrill of challenging roads and laughter and bliss that time spent with my father and brother.

Although we had a few rainy patches that led to mocking and digital evidence that indeed I do not have great rain gear, it was truly a trip to remember.   I am glad that I had the opportunity to not only ride some great roads, see some outstanding landscapes but more importantly spend some time with my dad and brother.

Thank you Texas a great weekend and a lifetime of memories.

EAVB_VYBQYFUENL

The Motorcycle Wave

Ever since I can remember, from the very first time I sat on the back of my father’s motorcycle as a young child, one of my favorite things was waving at the other motorcycles. At first I had no idea why we were waving at random people driving by us.  My father always told me we “just do” and so we just did!

The first thing I noticed was that the “Harley” riders never waved back at us, or rarely waved back I should say. Since at the time we were a Honda family, we were met with waves from every other brand except the Harley.  As the years progressed this remained the same everywhere I went.  I however wave to everyone, even if they don’t wave back, I still throw out my wave.

Fast forward to 2002, when I purchased my first Harley.  Now I was accepted into the fraternity so to speak.  But one thing I have always remained true to myself was that I wave to everyone.  It seemed that magically over night, all of the bikes that used to never wave, now did, like my cloak of invisibility had worn off.  But I do wave to everyone, my motto is as long as it is on two wheels, then I will say hello.

Now I know that some car brands do the wave also like some secret society, yes I am talking to you Mr. Corvette driver and you Ms. BMW and I have heard that even the Jeep drivers do a wave.  That makes me chuckle some, because then every car brand should wave at each other or hell, lets just all wave at everyone and be a waving society! No, you cage drivers can not have a wave, you will never be as cool as us no matter how many “members only” jackets you have or even when you wear your “driving gloves” which make you look like a dork.  We wear gloves for totally different reasons.

Sorry to get of topic for a minute there.  Back to he biker wave…I came across many blogs and articles on this topic recently and I decided early on I was not going to tell you the “types of waves” or even the “wave etiquette” but what I don’t get are he rules for waving. If you read the above article, the following rules for waving were listed for NOT waving: 1)interstate; unnecessary, 2) in a curve; unnecessary 3) in the rain or at night; unnecessary 4) on a mellow two lane; proper. 5) a highway with little traffic; proper 6) A rally, unnecessary and 7) in traffic, unnecessary.

I have a problem with some of these and let me give you my thoughts:

1. Interstate: While I understand we are cruising at this point traveling anywhere from 70-80 MPH, this is actually the easiest wave to pull off a wave is it not? I mean you are just rolling down the road.  On many a trip across the country, I find it awesome to wave across the median at fellow road warriors. So I veto this and change it to a PROPER!  I further question the divided median.  I know this was not mentioned, but why is it okay to not wave just because there is a center divder? I mean you can still see the bike and it’s rider, it is not like there is a 10-ft wall you can’t see over.  So I also say PROPER to wave when you have a divided road.

2. Curve: If you read that article then you saw there were a ton of variations of the wave.  If you are that scared to take your hand off the grip or handle bar, then use the “left handed forward wave”or the crotch rocket wave, where you lift your fingers off the grip.  I have ridden in many switchback type roads in my time and I have never found it difficult to give a full on wave to some in mid corner or turn.  If you know how to ride at all, you can still follow the turn with one hand. I will not ignore my fellow brethren just because we are at 10,000 feet spiraling down the mountain! I veto this and make it PROPER, if you don’t wave it is just a little rude.

3. Rain/Night: Well, I really do not see what a little H2O has to do with anything.  Most of us if we are riding in the rain are prepared for it so we have our gear on. Unless you get caught in a terenchal  downpour and you are in shorts and a t-shirt with no helmet on, then you better wave at your fellow biker. PROPER! Now at night, that is somewhat tricky because you really can not see the other person. I don’t ride much at night, but if it is a well lite area, I would wave away if you can.

6. A Rally: while there are usually thousands of bikers everywhere at a rally, this seems to be the most accepted rule of thumb I do come across.  Sometimes you would be waving and just keep your arm up if you did.  I think that you need to be safe, but you should at least do your best.  I don’t know about you, but I like being waved at and acknowledged.

7. Traffic: Here I have to say, while yes sometimes you can not take your hand off the clutch, the head nod works just fine and is an acceptable substitute for a wave.  The other person can usually see you need that clutch hand, so PROPER in my book, I do it all the time at stop lights and what not.

So all in all, as you can see I wave at everyone and yes even though I own a Harley, I still get snubbed by my fellow American motorcycle owners for some of the “rules” above, but I don’t care.  Should you encounter me, I will wave and I will always wave to my fellow 2-wheel modern knights. Yes I did the research and from what I could find, the wave started with the knights on horseback when they greeted each other in passing. I wonder if they had rules on waving? (all the smart-ass thoughts I am thinking of writing about horse riding)

If you wonder why some people don’t wave back at you, here are some top 10 lists I found on both Harley and Goldwing riders, enjoy:

Top Ten Reasons Why Harley Riders Don’t Wave Back

  1. They’re afraid it will invalidate their factory warranty.
  2. Leather and studs make it too hard to raise their arm.
  3. They refuse to wave to anyone whose bike is already paid for.
  4. They won’t let go of handlebars because they might vibrate off.
  5. The rushing wind could blow the scabs off their new tattoos.
  6. They’re angry over the second mortgage needed to pay for the new Harley.
  7. They just discovered the fine print in their owner’s manual revealing that The Motor Company is partially owned by rice-burner manufacturers.
  8. They can’t tell if other riders are actually waving or just reaching up to cover their ears, like everyone else.
  9. If they wave back, they risk being impaled on their spiked helmet.
  10. They’re upset that after spending $30,000, they still don’t own a bike that’s as comfortable as a Goldwing.

To be totally fair, let it be noted that sometimes Goldwing riders don’t wave back, either. Again, to facilitate a better understanding….

Top Ten Reasons Why Goldwing Riders Don’t Wave Back

  1. They aren’t sure whether the other rider is waving or making an obscene gesture.
  2. They risk getting frostbite if they take their hand off the heated grip.
  3. They have arthritis and it is difficult to raise their arm.
  4. The reflection from the etched windshield was momentarily blinding.
  5. The on-board espresso machine had just finished.
  6. They were asleep when other rider waved.
  7. They were involved in a three-way conference call with their stock broker and accessories dealer.
  8. They were distracted by an oddly shaped blip on their radar screen.
  9. They were simultaneously adjusting the air suspension, seat height, programmable CD player, seat temperature and satellite navigation system.
  10. They couldn’t find the “auto wave-back” button on their dashboard.

Until next time, keep the rubber side down!

My name is Travis and I talk to Strangers!


South Texas Tour – Day 3

By: Travis “Blydawg” Blythe

Enchanted RockWhen we last left you, I told you that day two ended with us arriving safely back into Kerrville.  Well that is true, but it was not the end of the day.  A couple of things happened throughout the evening I thought I would share. The first being how I almost rear ended an SUV, Bubba almost falling over, and the great Thirsty Murphy adventure.

On our way through Kerrville back to the hotel the “road snakes” just about got me.  Of course I was also day dreaming so that didn’t help the situation. I was thinking about how I needed to create a cool patch to commemorate the 3-sisters ride, at the same time thinking about how I still needed to get my wife a present and then it happened.  I didn’t realize there was a stop light, it tuned yellow and the SUV decided to stop.  Now while of course all of this is happening my brain didn’t quite process what was going on.  When I realized that I needed to stop, with my cat-like reflexes I applied the brakes in my non-locking up controlled stop, like we were taught at motorcycle school, unfortunately what they do not teach you is how to apply your controlled stop on road snakes.  Road snakes are those stupid rubber fillers they put on the road as a kind of patch.  These are different then the tar they use to fill in pot holes.  As I applied my breaks, my rear tire slid on the snake and caused my bike to start a sideways slide.  I did a quick pump of the breaks three different times and all three times I went sideways. While my brother and father were fearing I was going to rear end the SUV, I at no time thought that.  I was worried about going into the intersection! I finally got stopped, I had to weave into the turn lane at the light to do that though, no snakes in that lane!  Boy that gets the blood pumping and the heart racing.

We went to dinner at Acapulco Mexican restaurant, which was voted the best Mexican restaurant 2009 by the Kerrville Daily Times.  I have to admit, it was good! They even had my favorite Mexican dish Carne Guisada!  Now after dinner is when the fun really began, starting with Bubba almost falling over in the parking lot.  As we are leaving, Bubba takes the lead and he politely lets two cars go by.  After he gives the head nod to go, he is barely moving and he just about falls over because he is moving so slow.  He had the proverbial tire jerks to the left at slow speeds and bike tips over causing you to throw out your foot in order to not tip over.  I guess it was just funnier to watch because he was acting so cool with his head nod to the cars.  Seriously, you just can not script this kind of stuff!

After dinner we then walked next door from out hotel and spent some time at Thirsty Murphy’s.  Colin Gunn is the owner and also works as a pilot during the day.   We proceeded to attempt to drink all of the Shiner Bock Beer in the fine establishment.  I know this may not be a milestone to some people, but I was able to hang with my father beer for beer all night long, while little Bubba was only 2 behind (he didn’t have anything at dinner).  As a matter of fact, we were ready for another round when the old man threw in the towel.  A shocking look came across the faces of my brother and I as we could not believe he was throwing in the towel.  We packed it in that evening and headed back to the hotel.  The next day we were shocked again as our father aka “Old Skool” was in the bathroom purging himself of the beer demons from the night before!

Day Three started out with a wee bit of a headache, dad tossing his cookies and top that off with the fact that it was raining, we anticipated a long day ahead.  We departed Kerrville, Texas and headed north on HWY 16.  Just outside of Fredericksburg, Texas we stopped at Enchanted Rock State Natural Area.  This is a great park to visit; the enchanted rock has mystical powers the native Indians believed in and many people come to hike, backpack, rock climb and camp.

We departed the area and headed on HWY 16 north.  Since the day was pretty crappy, we decided to haul butt and make it for home.  Finally the sun came out the closer we got to home and made the day somewhat more enjoyable.  We made our way up to Dublin, Texas the home of Dr. Pepper. In Dublin, they use the original recipe which makes the Dr. Pepper with Imperial Pure Cane Sugar.  You can take a tour of the bottling plant and take home all of the DP you can drink.  You cannot find this in stores, so it is well worth the trip if you are a DP drinker.

After we left the DP plant, we concluded our trip and headed on home. The three day adventure totaled just less than 830 miles. This little Texas trip will give you plenty of riding mixed in with great sites, history and Texas landmarks.  You can be your own judge on the restaurants we stopped at, tell me what you think.  Until the next adventure, keep the rubber side down!

South Texas Tour – Day 2

By: Travis “Blydawg” Blythe

There is nothing like planning a trip, putting it on the books, taking time off of work, and then having good old mother nature throw in a monkey wrench.  When you plan a trip over a month in advance, most of the time you don’t think of the weather unless you plan something outside or on motorcycles.  Of course once you plan, buy flights, and book hotels, you are pretty much committed.  Watching the weather forecast for our south Texas trip turn into 3-days of rain was not something I had pictured.  We couldn’t exactly not go and no where around was it not forecast to rain, and not just rain, but thunderstorms.  Lucky for us, we encountered about 30-40 minutes of very light rain.  Not that it was pleasurable by any means, have you ever stuck your head out the window of your car and just let the rain hit you in the face at 70 miles an hour?

Once we holed up for the night, we watched the news in anticipation of what we would have for the following two days.  It was not very promising, rain everywhere and severe flooding. We didn’t think our luck would last very long, we were ready for a long weekend of rain-gear and being wet.  So day two actually starts at about 2am when the hotel door flies open because it is storming so hard and the wind is blowing (apparently we didn’t latch the door very good after the Pizza girl delivered our dinner). All I could think was “oh great, can’t wait to ride in that later today”.

But to my surprise, we awoke to the sun shining! After breakfast at the adjoining restaurant and taking our picture with the Betty Boop statue, we took off for our daily adventure.

Knowing the main goal today was to conquer the “3-sisters” loop, we were pleasantly surprised to find a good stretch of road on Hwy 16 just south of Kerrville, TX en route to the first sister FM 337.  Our first taste of the fun to be had was just starting.  We made our way on to Vanderpool, TX and our first stop was the Lone Star Motorcycle Museum. This little nugget in south Texas has over 30 vintage motorcycles on display ranging from the 1930’s to the 1960’s.  It also has a nice little café inside called the Ace Café, the owners being from Australia, claim to have the best and most authentic meat pies around.

Upon departing, we continued westbound on the first sister and stopped at The Frio Motorcycle Stop in Leaky, TX.  Here we obtained our “we did the twisted sisters” t-shirts and then had lunch at the attached Bent Rim Grill.  The Bent Rim Grill is a great biker bar and restaurant, we had the burgers and I would highly recommend them.

We continued on with our adventure and finished the first sister and jumped right onto the next one, FM 335.  Filled with twists and turns and some of the best scenery the hill country has to offer, we breezed through the second sister.  The third sister FM 336 didn’t have as many hills, but didn’t disappoint when it came to twists and turns that keep you on your toes.  Although I have personally ridden on much more challenging roads, the sisters did not disappoint with the changes in altitude, switchbacks, and scenery.

We exited the sister’s loop and headed back north towards Hunt, TX were we went to visit the Stone Henge II. This is a 2/3 scale version of the famous Stone Henge or at least the interpretation of it by its builder.  He also threw in a couple of Easter Island heads on both ends just for good measure.  Definitely a must see if you are in the area.  The road leading up to Hunt, TX, TX 39 runs along the Guadalupe river and again is a great road for its views, twists and turns.

We ended the day back in Kerrville, ready to rest our sleepy heads!

South Texas Tour – Day 1

By: Travis “Blydawg” Blythe

It has only taken 18 years since my brother turned 16 and was old enough to legally drive, for us to take a trip together along with our dad. Don’t get me wrong, we have all done a ton of separate trips and met together in D.C. one year, but the three of us have never taken a trip together, just us guys.  Seems pretty odd, since we have been taking cross country trips since I turned 16, but living in different parts of the country does make it hard sometimes.
So here we are, taking a trip soon to become legendary, the Blythe boys, Travis “Blydawg” Blythe, Brett “Bubba” Blythe and Don “Old Skool” Blythe, two brothers and their father. We decided to take a south Texas tour and show my little brother what Texas has to offer.
Leaving Ft. Worth, we headed south towards the town of Hico, TX (pronounced Hi-Co) where our first stop was the Koffee Kup restaurant. I have been stopping here on my way to Austin for over 5 years and I love this place. They now have a banner from the Texas Monthly Magazine as one of the 50 Best Burgers in Texas for 2009. Unfortunately, we arrived early and had breakfast, which as always was pure awesomesauce! I am definitely suggesting to ThunderRoads Texas to add this place for the Points Across Texas Program!

We stayed in Hico, and went over the Billy the Kid’s Museum. Legend has it he actually was killed in New Mexico. You can Google that story; however, this town believes he actually moved here and lived to be an old man. They even tried to prove it, but didn’t convince the New Mexico government, so says Ms. Sue Land the Curator. So we have two places where tourism thrives on the dead outlaw. By the way here in Hico, they believe (according to the real Billy the Kid) he really only killed 9 people and not the reported 21, and one of those was self defense. This is a great little place and the curator is just Awesome to be around and full of great knowledge. She told me to bring at least 100 bikes to town next time and she will throw us an old west style party complete with Billy, saloon girls and cowboys. How can I turn that down?

We left town and headed south to our next destination. Along the way we encountered our first bit of bad weather. We had been chasing the rain all day and it finally caught us about 30 miles north of Burnett, TX. So we donned our rain gear and pushed on. Note to self, make sure you check your gear before you leave; I didn’t realize that I grabbed two right handed gloves for the rain gear (I have two sets). Ummm…yeah, wearing a glove upside down is a tad bit uncomfortable and makes it a wee bit difficult to pull the clutch lever.

We arrived to the Falkenstein Castle and the sun was actually starting to emerge. Just outside of Burnett, TX is the Falkenstein Castle. What an awesome site this is, a freaking castle in the middle of Texas. Although you can’t drive up to it, there are a few places to get some great pictures.

We drove down the road to Marble Falls, TX where we were in search of one of the great Hamburgers in Texas. Well, a disclaimer should be said here if you follow Ride Texas Magazine, it appears the 10 Best Burgers which are voted on. Plain and simply don’t go anywhere this magazine recommends when it comes to food. I should have known when they listed Whataburger in the top ten, something was up. I am not knocking Whataburger, I believe out of all of the fast food burgers this is my favorite. However, we searched out #4 on the list, Storms restaurant and were greatly disappointed when it turned out to be a copy of Sonic but with a hamburger theme. Hoping to sit inside and relax, we left and moved on to another “Must Eat” place in Marble Falls.

We arrived to the Bluebonnet Café. Another “Must” eat at place according Ride Texas magazine, they even had all of the hoopla and awards since 2003 from the said magazine all over the walls. Being hungry (Bubba gets grouchy when he is hungry) we were stoked to try this place. We all concurred and we do not recommend you get the burgers here. Although the pies looked awesome and huge, it appears those are the claim to fame at this place, they have a pie happy hour. Unfortunately we didn’t have any pie; we choked down our burgers and took off.

Back on the road, we headed further south, things are looking up, as we can see the sun off to the west and we know we are heading that way. Our next pit stop was the famous Luckenbach, TX. Upon arriving to Luckenbach, it was everything we know and love about the place. Friday evening and there was a good gathering and random musicians playing. We sat and listened as one guy grabbed his sister and a guitar and played the famous Luckenbach song as we sang along. I gave my brother the total Luchenbach experience and I think he actually liked the place a little.

We finished the day and headed to Kerrville, TX and settled into our hotel, the Bestwestern. I am glad they have on the sign, “New beds to rest your head”. Yes thanks for that, we need the rest.

Of course our day was filled full of humor and good times. Some of the funny moments have to be watching Bubba shift to neutral then proceed to stomp on the shifter to get the very high revving engine back in to gear and out of the middle of the road, while curing profanities the whole time. Then there was me, missing my eye with the eye drops and squirting them right on to my shirt instead. I also had the two right gloves and Bubba’s rain suit was a tad bit too small, the big banana coming at you down the road. It was only fitting his pants were flooding as we rode in the rain!

Starting tomorrow, we tackle the 3-sisters loop!

Texas Bluebonnet Ride 2010

As you can probably tell already, I have a very non-traditional family.  We all really enjoy taking off on our motorcycles and traveling.  So in the spirit of staying true to our tradition, we decided to skip the “normal” Easter Holiday festivities and go riding on the bikes.  What originally started as a tour of blue bonnets turned into the usual over the top ride planning by yours truly to get the “total experience” of the area.

So, as I always do, I researched the area to find the “lost treasures”.  I searched high and low, looking through Roadside America, Ghost Towns and Weird Texas.  I managed to find a couple of interesting places to see which coincided with our planned route.

We departed Denton, Texas on US HWY 380 heading west.  Our first stop was Decatur, TX where we were to find the “Petrified Texaco Gas Station.”  From US 380 exit on FM51 and turn left.  Follow to the T-intersection of US 81/US 287 business and turn left again.  You will find the gas station just around the curve on the right hand side.  E.F. Boydston built a gas station in 1927.  In 1935 he decided to cover its exterior with chunks of petrified wood. He later covered the walls of his next-door cafe and motor court as well (it is rumored, one of the motor court cabins was rented by the infamous Bonnie and Clyde a couple of weeks before they died).  This landmark signifies the contribution to the early auto boom and was one of the first gas stations where you could also camp out at night.

Once we took all of our photo’s to remember this place by, we made our way back to US Hwy 380 and headed West.  Once we got to the US 287 interchange, we took US 287 North towards Wichita Falls, Texas.  Not much to mention here, this was pretty much a “haul ass” leg to get up to Wichita Falls to jump on the “Blue Bonnet” roadways.

Upon arriving to Wichita Falls, we took the Texas 325 SPUR north (exit 3b) towards Sheppard AFB.  Turn left at Burkburnett Rd/TX-240 west. Instead of listing the whole route, that is kind of boring, I am just going to tell you from here the roads we took to get to St. Jo, Texas.  Turn left onto FM1177, right onto FM171 (at Byers, TX make sure you stay on FM171. follow the signs through town), left on FM2332, left on US 82 (east), in Nocona, TX turn left on FM103, left on FM2953, and continue on FM677 into St. Jo, Texas.

Along that route, there are plenty of interesting things to see, there are a few orchards with rows and rows of some seriously old trees, plenty of Texas cattle, old abandoned houses and in Spanish Fort, Texas there is a very cool abandoned high school that was built in 1924.  Now the only occupants are a few horses grazing on the playgrounds behind it and many of the windows are broken out.  This poor town is close to becoming the next casualty of time passing it by and ending up on the list of Texas ghost towns.  If you actually continue down the road and don’t turn into town, you will find a couple more really old buildings, which are broken down, falling apart and close to rubble.

I know we took this route a little early, but it is not Easter in Texas without Blue Bonnets.  I have heard this route is littered with them and both sides of the roads just literally look blue.  However, on this day it was not the case. We finally found our elusive Blue Bonnets in St. Jo, Texas.  Oddly enough they were growing in a Texas Historical marker site and graveyard.  Poor St. Jo, the original settlers were killed soon after setting up camp by Indians in 1874.  This particular cemetery held the original members of the town.  It was sad to see that a couple of them were civil war veterans who survived the war only to be slaughtered by Indians.

Our next site was actually just down the road. If you continue on FM677, proceed through town and just out of town, you can not miss the road side art.  Apparently some not so famous person, built a bunch of “art” and placed it on this piece of land.  The art consists of a wooded fan arrangement, a windmill looking contraption, two cactus made out of iron and wood that look like goal posts, five sunflowers made out of engine parts and five peach colored VW Volkswagen bugs.  It was rumored that the bugs were to be painted a different color every year, but they still appear to be the same color as they were in 2004.

From here we continued down FM677 to FM455 to FM1655.  Once we got back to US287 we traveled back East towards Decatur, Texas until we picked up Hwy380 and took it back to Denton, Texas.

This is our 2010 Texas Blue Bonnet ride.  It is almost 300 miles as laid out above. If nothing else it is a great back roads ride, with plenty to see, lots of twists and turns and hills.  If you take this route, let me know what you think.

Safe Travels, God Speed and Keep the Rubber Side Down!

Points Across America 2010

Hello! Welcome to my page! I am so glad that you made it here.  I am assuming that you want to know more about the Points Across Texas program.  Well there was the link, so I hope you got started.

I currently am a correspondent for Thunder Roads Texas Magazine.  I am challenging all of my HD brothers and sisters to earn more points than me.

As I mentioned if you can beat me in getting points, I will do something really cool for you.

Some of the things I can do?

  • Buy you a GC of your choice
  • Write a cool ASS article about you and get it published in ThunderRoads Texas Magazine
  • Get you some Marketing help for your business
  • Make a Commercial for you or your business
  • Go Riding together and document everything and try to get famous
  • Buy you a beer
  • or have you come up with a creative idea!

Whatever we decide to do, make sure you keep the rubber side down!

Good Luck and may the schwartz be with you!

Blydawg

Snowball Express 2009

   Snowball Express 2009

Every December, there are numerous charity events, toy rides and volunteer events which consume the entire month.  It always makes me feel so good inside to be able to give toys to the various charitable agencies for the local children who are less fortunate than I was growing up.  As a child I never heard of these types of things and I assumed that every young child had the same type of Christmas as I did.  Santa would come on Christmas Eve and put presents around the tree, drink my milk and eat my cookies.  The next day I would get up to be in awe of “how good” I really was throughout the year.  Now that I am older and wiser, I understand there are children in this country who were not as fortunate as I was growing up.  It warms my heart to be able to be part of some of these massive toy runs in Dallas, TX and to see how excited the children get from one single toy.

This year has been no exception in the amount of toys, blankets, coats or angels needed for our city.  With this economic downturn, more than ever people are in need.  This year, the Snowball Express came to Dallas and I was fortunate enough to be part of it.  It you are not familiar with the Snowball Express, please visit

Our Bikes

www.snowballexpress.org to learn more or donate if you can spare anything.  The Snowball Express is the charity for the children of our fallen military heroes.  They started in 2006 with a simple idea: Provide hope and new memories to the children of our military heroes who died while on active duty since September 11, 2001.  For the past several years this event was held in Los Angeles, CA.

So, you are probably asking yourself, “How exactly did you get involved with this and what does it have to do with motorcycles?”  The answer is simple, I am an active participant in the Patriot Guard Riders (PGR) and this year we were fortunate enough to be asked to escort the families and children of the Snowball Express while they were in town.  From Wednesday, December 9, 2009 from the time they landed at DFW airport (courtesy of American Airlines) until they were taken back on Sunday, December 13, 2009, the PGR lead them throughout Dallas and the Metroplex.

You may be wondering who or what are PGR.  The PGR was formed in 2006. Initially it was formed to shelter and protect the funerals of fallen soldiers from protesters from the Westboro Baptist Church who claim that the deaths of American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan are divine retribution for American tolerance of homosexuality. The PGR positions itself to physically shield the mourners from the presence of the Westboro protesters by blocking the protesters from view with their motorcade, or by having members hold American flags. The group also drowns out the protesters’ chants by singing patriotic songs or by revving motorcycle engines.  The families of the deceased typically contact the PRG organization to escort the funeral procession from the funeral service to the cemetery.

I was able to sit down with Mike “Gunner” Lambert, Deputy State Captain of the North Texas Patriot Guard Riders. Mr. Lambert a United States Navy Veteran who served our country in the Vietnam conflict, has currently been involved with the PGR for 2 1/2 years.  He has been overseeing the PGR’s involvement with the Snowball Express event held in Dallas. This years event has been in the planning stages for well over a year.  The PGR has chapters from Oklahoma and Wichita Falls making their way down for this event. “This event is all about the children, it is not about us, so no matter rain, shine or what the tempetature is we will be out there.  For some of these kids this is the only Christmas they will have this year.” said Mr. Lambert.

The Snowball Express has held the event in California for the past 4 years.  In 2008 they had approximately 1,472 children, parents and loved ones. This year, with a goal of 2000 in mind, approximately 1,789 children and their families made their way to Dallas with the help of American Airlines, who provided air travel from all across the country on American Airlines’ own dime.

This years event held numerous activities including going to Southfork Ranch, the Mesquite Rodeo, Dallas City Hall, a Dallas Mavericks and a Dallas Cowboys game.  I was fortunate enough to participate in the activities on Saturday, December 12, 2009 which involved escorting the families from Downtown Dallas to the Dallas Cowboys Football Stadium in Arlington, TX.  The Children had a fun filled day with players from the Dallas Cowboys, the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders and enjoyed a performance by Gary Sinease and the Lt. Dan Band.

This was not just an ordinary escort for the PRG.  With the temperature in the low 40’s and a misting rain, close to 230 motorcycles arrived to escort the 43 buses the 20 miles to Arlington.  The elements would not deny these riders on that day. ” When those families stepped off the bus in the morning, waving and thanking us for being there, it became much more than a bike ride. Our focus completely changed, and no amount of cold or rain could dampen our spirits” said Darla Parsons, a PGR Rider.

The Escort

Of course, none of this would have even been possible if not for the help from the Dallas Police Department and their motorcycle division.  There was a Police escort the entire way and I-30 West was completely shut down for the 3-mile convoy.

Merely escorting the families to the stadium was not our only mission on that day.  While the children and families were inside getting their faces painted, playing in the bouncing houses and mingling with the local celebrities, we waited outside for another surprise.  When the families sat down for dinner on the stadium floor, the PRG once again brought smiles and laughter to the delighted faces of the Snowball Express families by roaring into the Cowboys Stadium and circling the field on our motorcycles. The PRG was the entrance for the Lt. Dan Band as they took the main stage and provided the grand finale.

During the final 2 hours, I experienced an event of a lifetime.  While I do not consider myself  of much importance, I was asked to sign footballs and t-shirts for children as they wanted to remember this day for a long time.

Nicole & Maddie

I met some very special children, like Nicole “Stormin'” Norman and Maddie Bancraft who became each others BFF’s over the four days.  They wanted all the PGR riders to sign their shirts, because they both recently crashed on their “mini-bikes” so they felt a special bond with the bikers in attendance.  I also got a chance to meet Leanne Ray and she was collecting

Sydney Elizalde

signatures on her football and thanking us for the escorts.  I could not forget Miss Sydney Elizalde, who traveled all the way from Oregon and was just looking for a pink motorcycle to sit upon.  Although we could not find one, she settled for a red one and even donned the maltese cross cap to prove she was a “biker” too.

This event put a lot of things in perspective for all of us in very different ways.  While I never served in the Armed Forces, my father did.  He was in the United States Army 11th Armored Cavalry and served our country in Vietnam.  He is a dedicated PGR member and it always brings tears to my eyes when I see him get emotional at events like this.  While many people thanked him for participating in the event, many more welcomed him home and thanked him for his service to our country.  That means more to him than I will ever know, because for last 30 plus years since he has been back, those “thank you’s” have been few and far between.

Ken Parsons, a United States Airforce Major reservist, met a woman and her daughter and learned they were from a town in Massachusetts, near the base where Major Parsons has been stationed for the past 18yrs.  Both she and her daughter had flown on the C-5 Galaxy out of Wesotver Air Reserve Base, to and from Germany where her husband had been stationed. The woman teared up when she realized that Major Parsons may have even flown her at some time or another, and both her and her daughter hugged him and thanked him. “That in itself made me forget about the cold and rain, and just how awesome this event is” said Major Parsons.

I have heard from a reliable source inside the Snowball Express organization that the event is planned to continue in Dallas for the next 5 years.  I can only imagine how great this event will be next year and how much it will grow.  Thank you, Jerry Jones, for opening your stadium to these children for the day and for allowing PGR onto your field. Thank you, American Airlines, for bringing these families to Dallas.  Thank you, Dallas Police Department,  Southfork Ranch, Mesquite Rodeo, Dallas Mavericks and the various busing companies and  the local Independent School Districts for utilization of their buses.  Last but not least, thank you, to the Patriot Guard Riders, who braved 16 degree wind chills on Wednesady, the day of the arrivals and the rain on Saturday.

If you have not hugged a Veteran, what are you waiting for?  You cannot do it once they are gone. Welcome them home and thank them for what they do or have done for our country.  Remember that freedom is NEVER free and the Partiot Guard Riders are standing for those who stood for us.

“There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are messengers of overwhelming grief…and unspeakable love.” Washington Irving

 

For more information on the PGR or how to get involved please visit http://www.txpgr.org/

Here are a few links to video taken of the event:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EVms1JKBPSM&NR=1

Red River Enduro 2009 – Part Deaux

Red River Enduro 2009

Hole Shot1

Last year I got a wild hair and I decided that I was going to race my dirt bike in the annual Red River Enduro Race in Bulcher, TX.  Well, if you read my blog from last year you know how well that ended.  Well, this year, I decided that I needed to redeem myself.  I was going to finish!  So I undertook the quest once again to race.  Wow, what an adventure it was this year!

I have always wanted to compete in the “6 Days of Michigan” since I was a little kid with my first Honda XR200.  There is nothing more fun then racing through the woods as fast as you can, going through the trails which are just wide enough for your handle bars to fit through, practically sitting on the gas tank  to get better control and maneuverability.  What a rush!  Of course I am super competitive and I have to always be the best and fastest!  We raced from start to finish, last one was a rotten egg.

So last year, when my parents finally moved to Texas, I convinced my dad to not sell my beloved dirt bike and bring it with him.  Although it was close to 20 years since I rode it last, I was on cloud nine when it came home to me.  It is a shame that I neglected one of the things I love to do the most for so long.  Unfortunately when I moved to Texas in 1993, I could not bring my dirt bike with me.  Life seemed to get busy for me and took it’s twists and turns and I never met anyone else interested in the sport.  So I put it on the back burner, that was until my baby came home to pappa!   As you read last year, I went nuts, buying all new gear in order to “look good”.  I didn’t even make it 20 minutes into the race when I broke downa and ended up DNF because I didn’t have any parts to fix it.

So, a year has gone by and I have had this date on my calendar ever since.  My plans of training, conditioning and getting ready to conquer this race was my mission.  Ok my first goal was to fix the bike, I thought it was a tougher problem then it actually was, so of course I neglected it for about 6-months.  I thought I needed a couple new parts and since I have a 1982 CR250R, they don’t make hardly any parts anymore.  But after further review all I really needed was just a bolt.  So I got it fixed and I let it sit in the garage some more.  I joined a couple of online forums and I tried to find some friends to ride with.  I really hate riding alone (so does everyone else, not sure why they assume I am going to break a leg or something), so I tried to find new riding buddies.  But the Texas summer heat deterred several hopeful candidates and the rest of the time I couldn’t meet anyone to ride (it really sucks not having a truck to haul your bike around).  Well it was safe to say that I only ended up practicing twice before the big day.  But, I am pretty confident in myself and I had “No Worries.”

I remembered that last year everyone had camelbak’s on and I thought to myself, self, you need to have one of those.  So this year, I went out and got one along with the fanny pack to hold the essentials, I forgot were necessary for riding.

  1. First aid kit
  2. Spare bolts (got me last year)
  3. zip ties
  4. duck tape
  5. electrical tape
  6. tools

So this is going to be my year! I am ready, I have all of the extra gear, tools, and heart!  Once again I got up at the butt crack of dawn and headed to Bulcher, TX, home of the Red River Motorcycle Park.  I am pumped, I aim to finish this year, that is my goal, I don’t care how I place, just as long as I finish.  While standing in line I meet a couple of guys that end up being brothers, Britton and Winston.  As we approach the registration window I convince them that we should ride as a group since they told me they “don’t ride much” and I figured at least I would know someone here and they would help look out for me. Well, I was half right!

So this year as I stated, I bought a camelbak, I was going to fill it with my PowerAid and hydrate myself and quench my thirst out on the trails.  It was quite chilly on this particular morning, a bone chilling 45 degrees and by the start of the race it still was cool and I figured I wouldn’t need the camelbak yet, so I left it in the truck.  Biggest mistake I made this year!

Ok so the race starts and we head out, 9 minutes later we hit check point one.  What a rush! I didn’t fall or crash and I am only 20 seconds behind my group mates.  They were hauling butt and I tried to stay in control and keep up at the same time.  We get to the waiting area for us to begin the 2nd leg and I am pumped.  Fist bumps and smiles all the way around. We waited about 10 minutes and then we were up for leg two.  Off we went and that would be the last time I would see the Foster Brothers until they came back from checkpoint seven.

We head out into the great unknown, I pictured the course to be like what I had just encountered.  But no, that was a warm up to get the blood pumping and bikes warmed up.  For the next two and half hours, I went through hell.  If you were to speak in downhill snow skiing terms, they label the hills or runs by a symbol and color.  A green circle is the easy hill, followed by a blue square and a black diamond being the hardest.  Well, this course was a black diamond, possibly a double black diamond!  We went up and down hills filled with rocks (boulders), tree roots, and deep ruts.  This had to be the hardest task physically I have ever under taken.  I am sure that plenty of people quit and if I was not so darn stubborn, I may have quit myself.  Honestly, it took every bit of my fortitude to keep going.  The first hour or so I was on fire, just going through everything like no big deal.  Then my conditioning or lack there of started to set in.  When I crashed the first time, and no it was not some horrible over the handle bars type crash but a “damn!, I can not believe I just did that” type of crash!  The sand monster got me.  So by the time I picked the bike up and kicked it a couple of times, I was pretty much winded.  But I forged on.

Here is where my knowledge of two-stroke engines dirt bikes and how to properly get the best out of them came to haunt me.  When we got to the hellish hill climbs, these things were nasty, large rocks, straight up hill most of the time and just my luck that there would always be other people stalled or crashed when I get there.  So I have to try to avoid running over someone and at the same time try to maintain my speed to get up the hill.  Probably about 60% of the time I stalled out about 1/4 to 1/2 way up.  So I either rolled back down the hill, fell over, or got stuck.  Needless to say that it took endless amount of time kick starting, balancing, and trying again.  At least four hills I can remember took me more than 3-4 tries to get up.  One time one of the officials came and helped me push my bike up the hill. I know you maybe laughing right now, but that guy helped about 5 people while I was there.  This has to be the single most energy draining part of the whole thing.  I can remember breathing so hard, my chest protector felt like it was choking me like a python around my chest.  Another time I wanted to throw up in my helmet!  This is where the camelbak may have come in handy. Note to self, just wear the damn thing!  I could have used the liquid to re-hydrate myself.

Ok, so last year I gave an exhausting play by-play account of my wonderful fifteen minutes.  This year, I could go through all six check points, but I don’t want to have a 5000 word blog.  So I felt as if I was riding for an eternity trying to reach the checkpoints.  One by one I arrived only to find that I was to continue onward, no stopping.  I ended up getting behind a father and son (about 13) and lucky me, either up every hill they were stopped or at the bottom they were crashed.  I never caught a break, I couldn’t build up any momentum and I continued to stall out myself because of the slow speeds.  I was glad to see however, I was not the only one exhausted from this.  I remember after check point three, I asked how much further and I got “just around the corner” which ended up being over an hour and a half!  So anyway, at this one hill the kid crashes and can’t get up and I stop and wait (unlike many of the other contestants who would just blow by and didn’t care about anyone).  When I stopped there was another guy, his number was in the 60’s I remember and I thought to myself, wow, I don’t feel so bad, he started over 20 minutes before me and I caught him!!!  (I was #89A)  This guy had his elbows on his handle bars and looked at me as I was catching my breath and said “how much longer” like he was going to die.  I laughed and said, “it should be just around the corner!”

I passed checkpoint four and five and thought I was doing so well.  I guess I had lost track of all time and had no idea how long I had been out in the woods.  I eventually had to stop for about 10-15 minutes and I just sat down and rested.  I was just exhausted, dehydrated, and sweating my butt off.  I thought for a minute of just taking a nap and forgetting the whole thing.  I had no water, and I had not seen or heard anyone in quite a while.  But the competitor in me would not let myself give up.  My legs were so tired I could hardly lift them to kick start the motorcycle and at times barely enough to lift them back onto the pegs!  So, I missed a turn and I ended up on this service road.  Now guys with numbers in the top ten were catching up to me and I ran into these guys on the road and I asked them where the trail was (yes they were race marshals) and they told me that I was real close to check point six just go down the road, and I was like “no, I’ll go on the course” then I was politely notified that I was starting to get lapped and I timed out of the race.  So I hung my head and headed to check point six.  Yes indeed I had timed out I was told, they wouldn’t even give me a time.  But they did have some fine quality H2O!  I asked how far til camp and I was told about a mile on some easy trails. Yeah right like I am going to believe that.

So I am headed back to the truck, one last leg to go.  It was actually the best riding I had encountered, some nice whoop-to-do’s and jumps.  But I was too tired to stand on the pegs and try to do any worthwhile jumps.  I motored my way back and I relief came over me as I headed back to the truck.  I later learned that there was another loop (number 7) and it was projected as an hour and half to complete it.  I was in shock, needless to say I was out on my loop so long that they were going to return within a half hour.  So I waited and saw my group mates return.  I was glad they actually finished in one piece.

What a ride, even though I didn’t get to complete the whole course, I was surprised at myself.  I actually finished without breaking down or getting hurt.  So, I technically had another DNF this year but I finished #27 out of 36 riders in my group (30+ Novice C, short course) and in the novice class over all I finished #132 out of 141 riders.  Definitely something to build on for next year.  I was also told that this was the hardest enduro course in the country, so that made me feel good, I was able to compete and almost conquer it.

I now have the 3rd weekend in October blocked off, if all goes well, I am going to retire my 82 pinger and get an up dated 2000 something model thumper.  I am going to condition myself physically as my mental conditioning seems ok, and I am going to practice more and rock the Enduro 2010!