I’m going to have to come up with some different titles for these blog posts because I can see myself exploring the smaller county roads of Texas quite a bit! Today I had a few hours of alone-time and decided to go for a long ride. Actually, I knew I would have this “time off” for a few days now so was just hoping the weather would be nice for a ride. As it turned out, the weather was beautiful! I didn’t really have a plan, except that first I would stop by the library to return some books. After that, who knows?
Leaving the library (I used the drive thru dropoff which is kind of fun on a motorcycle) I found myself traveling north to see a newly developed neighborhood in Cedar Park. Just new houses, but it seems like the traffic-circle is making a comeback around these parts. Just for the record, I enjoy them. Some people seem to freak out on them, but these little circles are nothing compared to the insanity that is the traffic circle just south of Signal Hill in SoCal. I remember having to negotiate that thing when we would go to Zed Records’ location at that time. I actually thought that was pretty fun too.
Continuing on, I traveled north (while keeping an eye on my GPS unit) into the Blockhouse Creek neighborhood. I’ve never been there, but it seemed pretty nice. A couple good-sized swimming pools were being put to good use this afternoon. As I rode by I caught the sweet smell of sunscreen. Eventually, I found myself on 183 and headed farther north. As soon as I could, I made a left onto a county road, hit the insane cruising speed of 35mph, popped the visor open and took in the scenery.
It’s interesting to me to see how people live farther out in the country. As someone who has only lived in the suburbs and larger cities it’s kind of fascinating to wonder how life is on a ranch house with a few acres of land. You know, I don’t even know how big an acre is! So cruising past these homesteads is really fun to me.
I also get a kick out of seeing different animals while out riding these back-roads. On this particular trip I saw some of the widest horns I’ve ever seen on a bull before. Yes, there are lots of longhorns here in Texas! In addition to those, I saw plenty of smaller cows, horses, mules, jack-rabbits, goats, and I even saw Tina. But the highlight of the ride was probably when a blonde-colored snake, about three feet long, slithered across the road in front of me. That thing was moving! It kind of shocked me. I realized that this is maybe only the 2nd snake I have ever seen in the wild. The first was in the backyard of my old house, so that wasn’t really wild, was it? Anyways, I continued riding the backroads enjoying the sights and smells or rural Texas.
I did ride a little bit of hard-packed dirt, which is always a little sketchy. But it all turned out fine (it was only a hundred yards or so). Another really cool stretch of road went parallel to some train tracks for a mile or so. I stopped on that road to have some water and could hear gunfire in the distance. I guess some folks were enjoying their Sunday afternoons with some target practice. Of course, for the next few minutes, I kept expecting to get hit by a stray bullet. Anyways, on the way back home there was a mini-water crossing which added a little more dicey-ness to the day. Hey, even these slow rides have excitement!
One of my favorite bikes ever is the Yamaha XT660Z Ténéré. I think it looks so cool, has a nice sized engine, and I like Japanese engineering. Unfortunately, it’s not sold in the States at this time. Plus I would probably need to grow a couple inches to ride it. At any rate, I can dream! My friend Jeremy sent me a link to some excellent photos of the bike. And below is an ADV rider on his Ténéré in Africa. Living the dream!
I’ve had my motorcycle for a whole year now and I haven’t washed it once. It’s kind of a tradition that GS’s are supposed to be dirty. I’ve read that at some GS rallies, your bike will be disqualified from show contests if it is too clean. I guess since it is an “adventure bike”, it’s meant to be covered in mud. This lack of motorcycle hygiene suits my lazy demeanor just fine. Actually, I do take care of maintenance and clean/lube the chain pretty often, but most surface areas never get cleaned. I just wipe the headlight, taillight and blinkers every so often and that’s enough for me. A couple Sundays ago my kids and I were washing my wife’s car for Mother’s Day and the kids said they wanted to wash the bikes, including my motorcycle. I wouldn’t call it a proper washing (more like a rinse) but I guess once a year won’t hurt, right?
Had a great ride this morning! I decided to explore some back roads relatively nearby which I haven’t really done before. I usually zoom past the side roads while putting miles on the bike, and since I’m going the speed limit (around 60 mph) I don’t have enough time to slow down and turn in. Plus u-turns were a little sketchy for me. But since I’ve been practicing slow-speed manouevering a bit, I am a lot more confident doing those u-turns. And the fact that not being able to flat-foot both feet is not a worry anymore (I usually shift to the left and get one foot firmly planted, which is perfectly adequate) makes these smaller roads more accessible to me. At any rate, I decided to just wander around the area with a loose plan of where I was going. Basically take 1431 to Nameless Rd., left on Round Mountain Rd. and from there make my way up north of Liberty Hill.
It was a little cold and I was wearing my mesh jacket, so I was shivering a bit until the sun came up a little higher and started to heat the air up. I was happy to have the heated handgrips! But soon it got warmer and I was really enjoying the ride. It was nice to ride the small back roads at the slower speeds. There was hardly any traffic so I could ride whatever speed I wanted to, which was usually around 35 mph. Riding slowly like that has some advantages. First, I didn’t have as much cold wind chilling me. But more importantly, riding slowly lets me take a look around at the scenery. The back roads I took today went by ranches and farms so I saw lots of horses, a few cows, and several goats. Also, traveling slowly makes stopping to take photos a lot more convenient. The fact that there was no traffic meant I could just pull over to the side of the road and not need a turn-out. The times I did stop, I didn’t see a single car or truck pass me. It really felt like I was in the boonies!
Riding a motorcycle fast is certainly fun, but I really enjoyed slowing down and taking in the sights. I’m working my way up to gravel/dirt roads in the future and I’m sure there are even more cool sights to see farther off the beaten track.
The route I took. 80.2 miles, with a moving average of 38.2 mph.