Sunday, January 31, 2010

BBFO'10 - Day 3

This morning we had breakfast down the street at the Chuck Wagon. The group was a little smaller as some had decided to sleep in, so the waitress was able to handle getting food out reasonably quick.

After breakfast, people started breaking into various groups headed in various directions. Chuck decided that he wanted to split the ride home into 2 days so he was leaving. Doug, John, Fred and Dan wanted to check out the fort so they stuck around town. Gary, Tony, Ben, Dick, Andy and myself wanted to go ride the river road so we headed to Presidio to run it west to east.

I ended up ride leader so I tried to keep the pace just a little bit above the 75mph speed limit but not so far above as to worry about any law enforcement problems. We stopped in Marfa to top off the tanks and then continued down to Presidio. When we rolled into town we stopped off for a motel site survey. The Riatta Inn just north of town looks to be a newly built single story motel with a nice parking lot, friendly staff and clean rooms. The rate was less than $75/night for 2 people. They have wifi if you get one of the rooms closest to the office. It looks like next year we'll be staying in Presidio one night to allow folks to completely explore the park or wear out the river road if they like.

After the motel stop, we headed through town onto FM170. I told Andy to take the lead once we got on the river road because I didn't think I would be riding at his pace. Sure enough he passed me once we got out of town and Ben followed. They were definitely faster than me but they never really got out of site. The GS was sticking to the road and I was really having a good time. When we got to the look out point, everyone stopped to let the group gather back up. Gary and Tony were in the rear and they weren't very far behind.

With everyone together, we talked about what we wanted to do next. Gary and Tony wanted to go eat in the park at the Chisos Basin so we decided that's what we'd do. Of course, there was still some river road left over to Stude Butte so we geared up and took off with Andy and Ben in the lead. This time though, they never really got away from me. I hung with them the whole time and felt totally comfortable with the pace.

We stopped in Stude Butte for gas and then headed into the park. We got to the basin restaraunt by 1 and enjoyed a great lunch. Order the Texas Beef Chilli if you go to the park. It's not spicey unless you chop up the roasted jalepeno included on the plate. During lunch we talked about what to do next and Ben suggested going to Boquillas Canyon which is on the east side of the park. It was about 25 miles from the basin so we paid our bills and headed east.

Once we got to the canyon parking area I realized most of the group wouldn't be going to see the canyon as it required a hike up and over a hill. So Ben and I took off up the trail with Gary in tow while the others hung out watching the bikes. Gary decided he was done when he got to the top of the hill and turned around. Ben and I got all the way down to the river and walked up into the canyon until it got difficult to walk on the large river stones. I was getting nervous as there was a singing mexican across the river and once we passed him I saw a mexican pop up out of the weeds on our side of the river and then the singing mexican came across in a canoe. This was shaping up to be a bad situation.

Ben took some pictures of the canyon and we turned around. As we did there were more people walking toward the canyon so I relaxed and figured there were too many people for the mexicans to cause any problems. We hiked back up the trail and regrouped with the gang. It was 3:30 by the time we were done and with only 2 and half hours of day light left we started planning how to get back to Ft. Davis.

It was decided we'd go all the way across the park to Stude Butte as it was the shortest distance through the park, plus it would get the western travel done while the sun was still up and out of our eyes. Dick took the lead and picked the pace up above the 45mph limit. Since we had left the park rangers at the canyon and since it was Sunday we figured patrols would be light. Well, that didn't turn out to be true. Dick encountered another park ranger on the west side while he was going 60 but the ranger didn't seem to want to stop us and just kept going. I guess he knew we were leaving the park and maybe he realized we were racing against the sunset. Whatever the reason, we kept moving but did slow the pace a little.

In Stude Butte we stopped for gas and then it was back on the road running up 118 toward Alpine. I was in the lead at first until Andy just couldn't take it and he cranked up the speed and took off. I didn't feel like going over 80mph in a 75mph posted area. So I just let him go and no one else wanted to follow. We encountered 2 sheriff deputies with their radar on. I just knew Andy was pulled over but it wasn't the case. We finally caught up with Andy at the Border Patrol check point where he said he'd only been waiting for 3 minutes. He took the lead into Alpine and then on up to Ft. Davis. The last stretch from Alpine to Ft. Davis was the slowest I'd ever seen Andy ride. We were actually going under the posted speed limit as he was searching for any deer that wanted to jump out in front of us.

We pulled into the parking lot of the motel around 5:30. It had been a great day of riding with some spirited sections along the way. The day's mileage was 361 miles over an 11 hour period. Once everybody put up their bikes and changed into more comfortable attire there were adult beverages to be consumed. And since I had gone hiking I figured a sip or two wouldn't hurt much. Well I drained my flask and then started working on a bottle of crown. So much for my sip or two.....

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