Saturday, January 30, 2010

BBFO'10 - Day 2

Great news! Chuck rolled into the motel last night at 9:30pm. It was dark, cold and he was tired, but he made it. We walked across the street to get him some food from the deli. Then a little more visiting and we both crashed out.

This morning we were all up before the 6am alarm clock. I packed up the bike and visited while we waited for 7:30 to come. As it got close to time we all started our motorcycles. Well almost all of us. I tried cranking and cranking but the bike just wouldn't get started before the battery gave out.  So then I started looking for jumper cables and Doug came to the rescue. Dan was the nearest with a running bike so he graciously pulled his access panel and we started my bike up without any problems. Folks were heading to the cafe and Gary told me if I wasn't there in 15 he wasn't coming back to check on me. Since it was so cold I figured I'd let the bike idle for 10 minutes or so to let the engine get really warm. I rode down to breakfast without incident and nervously ate breakfast. When I turned the key back on the temperature gauge hadn't moved a bit and it fired on the first try. I knew I'd be good for the day. Tomorrow might be another story but for the rest of the day I could enjoy my ride.

There's a saying among our group that when Fred gets up to put on his jacket you'd better get your gear on and be ready to ride. Well, I came up on the short end of the stick this morning after breakfast because he pulled out of town while I was still getting dressed. At least I had the bike running so I wasn't too worried and figured I'd eventually catch up with him. Chuck and Dan hung back with me and when we started cranking up the speed to catch them, Chuck was doing all he could to ring some speed out of that Vulcan 800. We did finally catch up with them before we got to Marathon where Fred stopped to let some of the bikes top off their tanks. Again I was the last one out because I ran inside for the restroom. It just wasn't shaping up to be my day.  Chuck hung with the group so I was able to twist the throttle and catch up in a few miles.

We had turned onto 385 south in Marathon, and then turned left onto FM2627 to go to the Black Gap canyon. When we turned onto the road I saw a sign for the Hallie Stillwell Hall of Fame Museum. I thought it was odd to have a hall of fame museum out here so I keyed up the mic and asked if anyone knew who Hallie Stillwell was and why she had a Hall of Fame museum out here. Well Fred didn't let me down. He told us the Stillwells were a well known ranching family out in the area and they had been there a long time. Fred had met "Old Lady" Stillwell before she passed away. And told us that she served one mean burrito that had him and the bathroom on intimate terms for a week. (OK, those of you who know Fred realize he didn't say it quite that nicely.)

We stopped at the Stillwell Museum / Campground / General Store and then proceed down the road until it dead ended at the river. The group had spread out along the 20 mile stretch and by the time everyone had gotten down there a fella on his Harley pulled up and started visiting with us. It turned out he lived just up the hill and provided security for the wildlife management area. He invited us up to his landing strip for a better view of the area. It was a great view and I hope my Sony camera does it justice. The guy lived out there alone and I think he enjoyed the company as much as we enjoyed the view. But like all things when traveling with a large group, those of us who road up to the strip had to cut it short and get back down to the group.

The ride back out to US385 seemed to go quicker. Then we turned south and headed to Big Bend National Park. Now I'm no fan of traveling the 26 miles on the eastern side of the park and today I ended up as the caboose. But with just a little extra touch of throttle the ride seemed pleasant and I was pulling into Panther Junction about 30 minutes later. We took a short break, I'm sure for the guys in the front it seemed like they had been there 30 or 40 minutes already. Then it was time to ride west through the park and stop at Stude Butte for gas and some food. We decided not to stop for lunch at the Chisos Basin since we had at least 17 bikes and the restaraunt isn't the zippiest service in the area to begin with. But you don't ride in the park for the food anyway, it's the scenery that makes a 45mph speed limit bearable.

We rolled into Study Butte and stopped as planned. At first I wasn't going to eat but then decided that maybe a salad would be a good thing. I asked the waitress for a salad with grilled chicken. And she fixed me up with a great salad. It was huge but good. The Ft Bend riders decided to head up to Ft. Davis and call it quits for the day. That would end the day around 300 miles and get us off the road at 4:30 or so. Just before we got to Alpine the guys had pulled off for a break to wait for Chuck and I who were bringing up the rear. When I pulled over I announced that I need to spend some time in a bathroom (No I didn't say it that nicely either) and then I took out in a spirited manner. There's some great twisties on that 10 miles stretch of 118 going into Alpine.

My initial plan was to push for Ft. Davis where the motel was but, I saw the golden arches when I got to Alpine so I figured that would be acceptable. 10 or 15 minutes later I was back on my bike and heard the guys on the radio. I pulled some money out of a near by ATM and then stopped at AutoZone to get some parts to work on my throttle lock issue. Then I hussled toward Ft. Davis trying to catch Chuck who was bringing up the rear. It turned out that I didn't catch him until he stop at the Exxon gas station in Ft. Davis. I guess I spent more time than I thought at Autozone.

We checked into the motel and then unpacked. Tony let me borrow his Battery Tender Jr to see if it can keep the battery charged up over night. I'm hoping it'll crank in the morning without incident. Then while everyone was sitting around imbibing adult beverages I worked on my throttle lock. I had a washer that was just a little too large and needed to be filed down. That seemed to take longer then planned but I got it done while the sun was still up. Then I made a hot cup of tea and joined the conversations.

Some of the parts of the ride weren't at quite the spirited pace that I like to ride when I'm out here. But other parts were great and spirited. Then there was the bumpy start to the day that made wonder if I was even going to stay out  here this weekend or give up. I came to my senses quickly enough though. All in all, it was a great day today and I had fun. We rode 309 miles over the course of 9 hours. No one went to the hospital and no one went to jail. This was a good day in my book.

I think the nearly 800 miles Chuck put in over the course of the past 2 days has worn his butt out. He's talking about leaving tomorrow and splitting up the ride home over 2 days. But he came and he road more miles on the Vulcan in a weekend then he's done since he bought the bike.

1 comment:

Chuck Kelley said...

Well, Chuck here... Definitely determined to get there Friday... Through rain and snow and wind and a long winding road, I made it.

Had a great time riding with all of you, really enjoyed my first time. Definitely not going to be my last...