Friday, January 29, 2010

BBFO'10 - Day 1

Don't let the title fool you, this won't be an epic month long journey, only a 5 day trip. But considering the time of the year and the little things wrong with my bike that's probably a good thing. More about bike issues later.

This weekend is the annual Big Bend Freeze Out, aka the BBFO. Fred says he's been coming out to the area for at least 24 years. When he's feeling nostalgic he'll talk about what it used to be like out here and how much it's grown up over the years. To listen to him talk the River Road (FM170) wasn't much more than a dirt road back in the day. Now it's a fun, twisty 2 lane with the occasional patch of gravel in the corner. This will be my third year coming out here, I've been looking forward to this trip for months.

Just like any night before a trip, I had a very fitful night's sleep. I had set my alarm clock for 4:15 with plans to leave by 5am. Well, at 1:15 I woke up ready to leave because in my dream I had over slept. The next 3 hours were an excercise in futility but I figured it was best to try and rest as much as I could. When the alarm finally went off I sprung out of bed and got dressed. Everything was packed on the bike so there was no reason I shouldn't have been able leave on time. That is except I sat down in front of my computer, oops! The next thing I know it's 5am and I still have to move Reagan's bike out of the way, gear up and go. I kissed Reagan good bye and ran out to the garage. By 5:15 I was on the bike and pulling out of the drive way.

It seemed like I hit every light along 90A and 99 leaving the Sugar Land area. Plus it was raining so visibility wasn't great in the dark. On more than one occasion I ended up behind slow drivers taking up both lanes of the road. I wasn't so annoyed at the slow drivers as I was with myself because I hadn't filled up the night before and I didn't want to be the reason the group got a late start. I finally made it to Brookshire a few minutes before 6am and filled up my tank. I had passed Andy along the way so I knew we had at least one more rider to wait for. He was at the pump before I finished filling up.

At 6:03am, in the dark and with a light rain, 6 of us donned our rain gear and mounted our motorcycles. The first leg of trip was 60 miles to Schulenburg for breakfast at Franks. Since I hadn't been at a Sunday breakfast many weeks earlier I was assigned to be the ride leader. So I set the pace and tried not to run into anything in the dark. When I left my house it was around 65 degrees, when we were still 30 miles away from Franks it had fallen into the upper 40's. I was OK, but not exceptionally warm. As planned we got to Franks about 7am and they were open for business.

Breakfast was good and service was quick. While we ate the rain let up and the skys seem to clear a little but the temperature was falling. Everyone decided to put on their electrics and change out some layers. Then it was back on the bikes and down the road. The next stop would be the Bucky's gas station in Lulling as Tony needed gas sooner than the planned stop in Seguin. The rain had all but stopped for this leg of the trip and the sun was coming up although it was hidden behind the dense cloud cover. At least we were able to see the road as the wind knocked us around.

We arrived in Lulling and pulled off of I-10. For those who have never been to a Bucky's, it's a mega-gas station for automobiles. They don't cater to semis like truck stops do. The nice part about stopping at a Bucky's is there are plenty of pumps and the restrooms are very clean. So everybody was able to get to a pump and fill up pretty quickly. Gary and I finished first and moved our bikes out of the way. We walked under some cover 10 feet or so away from the bikes and then when it appeared no one needed to go inside for any reason we began to get ready to leave. This is where the first comedy routine of the day occured. Appearantly when Gary got off his bike he put his key in his right pants pocket, or so he thought. When he couldn't find his keys several of us began searching all through out his bike and around it on the ground but there were no keys. He checked his pockets and his rain suit several times without luck. Finally Doug started to pat him down like a police officer would do a criminal and Doug found the keys in the bottom of the right leg of Gary's Frog Toggs. It was entertaining to watch, I wish I had thought to pull out my phone and take a movie.

So with keys found and bikes running we pulled out of Lulling and resumed out westward trip on I-10. The wind knocked us around but the sky was clearing and the roads were drying. When we were still a few miles east of San Antonio we saw a rainbow to the north east. The sky was getting bluer and bluer by the mile.

In San Antonio we picked up 90 and continued west toward Sanderson. We stopped at the rest stop a few miles west of Hondo. As with most state rest stops, this one had WiFi so I pulled out my netbook and checked on the other group who had left the day before. They were a few hours ahead of us but the plan was to meet up with them at the Pecos river.  From the rest area, our next stop would be Brackettville for the final fuel stop and to grab stuff to eat at the Pecos river over look.

It always seems to amaze me when I ride through towns in West Texas. It seems like people out here haven't seen motorcycles before. I wonder what sort of reaction Reagan's Spyder would get. I mean when I'm riding through town and people are staring at me it sort of makes me nervous. But I digress, our ride to this point was pretty uneventful. We got through Del Rio with only 1 wrong turn and that wasn't really a wrong turn so much as it was a delayed turn. We rolled into Bracketteville and stopped at the Valero for gas and snacks.

As guys would fill up their bikes they would move them out of the way. By the time I finished and moved away from the pump, Gary was already taking off his gear to make some adjustments. he was trying to put on some suspenders and had himself all tangled up. It was quite a site to see, finally it was Doug to the rescue (again). I had gotten a report from Fred and the other group that it was too windy for them to stay at the Pecos river so they were heading up the road to Langtry. Then the question was what did everyone want to do for lunch? The decision was made to eat next door at the Crazy Chicken Grill.

Now the Crazy Chicken Grill isn't some high class fancy smancy joint like you might find in a metropolis. No this was a country grill built on to the side of a gas station. The waitress/clerk took your order and just over her shoulder was the fry cook with a large flat skillet top and a deep fryer. The waitress talked me into the fajita special instead of the taco salad. Diet? What diet? I don't need no stinking diet....

Well the food came out slowly at first but everyone finally got what they ordered. The conversation went from the president's speech to alternative energy sources to the silliness of making ethanol. It was quite and interesting lunch. Oh, and the food was decent. 

With everyone fed and the  bikes filled, we hopped back on 90 heading west toward Langtry.  The wind seemed to have increased it's intensity for that last stretch and I was feeling it. Along the way, Gary comes on the radio asking if something fell off his bike. Then I hear Doug confirming that indeed something had and he was picking it up. "Dougie" to the rescue! Andy and Dan come on up to where I'm stopped and tell me we are to go on and that Gary, Doug and Tony will catch up. So we take off and a few minutes later I hear Gary talking on the radio and a few minutes after that we are all back together at the Pecos river bridge where they are still doing construction a year later. After a breif wait at an automated traffic light for a one lane bridge, we resume our travels.

We took the turn off for Langtry and pulled up to the Judge Roy Bean Museum. One of these days when I have time I'd like to come back out and check it out, but today was not that time. But there was time for a bio break and then our small group of 6 became a larger group of 9 with Fred in the lead.

I hung toward the back and just watched the country side as the miles rolled on. With the exception of passing one orange Schieder semi it really wasn't an eventful ride. We pulled into Sanderson just after 4pm and checked into the Outback Oasis Motel, then went across the street to the gas station to fill up. The day's ride had come to an end, for my group it was a 433 mile, 10 hour 44 minute trip together.

As time passed in the late afternoon more and more of this year's group showed up. I got to see people I'd met from past rides and met some new folks too. But the one person that was missing was my buddy from Ft. Worth.

A quick blurb about Chuck, my buddy from Ft. Worth. He called me this morning at 8:45am to say he was just leaving. And then he called me at 4:20pm saying he was in Brady, TX and the GPS told him he had another 4 hours to go but he didn't believe it.  Huh??? It took almost 8 hours to go from Ft. Worth to Brady? I'm no routing genius but that's about 200 miles and should've only taken 4 hours, maybe 5 with long breaks. But it had taken him almost 8hrs and the GPS was saying he still had 4 hours to reach Sanderson. As I write this it's 5 hours since he called from Brady and there's no sign of him around here.  Chuck is a big boy and hopefully has the common sense to pull over for the night and find a place to stay. As it is he's riding at night, in the cold, without electrics, in deer country. Any 2 of these ingredients can spell disaster, all 4 are definitely not good. I'm hoping to have a funny update for you on Chuck's adventure in tomorrow post.

Well the guys have contacted the cafe owner down the street and she's agreed to open tomorrow morning at 7:30 for breakfast so it's side stands up at 7:30. Fortunately it's only 3 blocks down the road. But since I didn't get much sleep last night and because I'm tired from today's ride I think it prudent to get some sleep now.

Oh and one more thing. The wifi internet at the Outback Oasis Motel is squirrelly. At first it worked fine when we got here. Then there were problems on the eastern side of the property. Now there's problems on the western side of the property. I don't know what they've got here but it's definitely not very good if it can't handle a few netbooks at one time. Thank goodness I have my sprint card, or this post wouldn't get published tonight.

No comments: