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Riding

Lunchtime Ride

image

Rode around the neighborhood at lunch and ended up at the skatepark. Didn’t even know we had one!

Categories
BMW F650 GS Riding

Some Old, Some New

Morning Sun

This morning I went on a ride, but didn’t really have a set route. It turns out I rode some new roads and visited a few favorites. Which is fine by me! The weather this morning was nice, starting out at maybe 78°F with some light clouds and a nice breeze. It was beautiful! I accidentally took a wrong turn and thought I was going to go down 2222 but it was actually Anderson Mill. Go figure. Oh well, that meant I could head south on 183 and take Old Spicewood Springs which I haven’t ridden for a while now. That would eventually drop me out at 360. Old Spicewood was fun as usual, with almost no traffic on this Holiday weekend. After that I headed south on 360 and noticed that the police were out in force pulling over speeders. I always try to keep my speed at or below the posted limit but you know with a bike it’s a little harder to regulate a consistent speed. But I did ok today and the police pulled over the giant SUVs and left the fellow motorcyclist alone. 🙂

A Break in the Shade

After 360, I took Bee Caves out toward the Hill Country which was kind of the general plan that I wanted to go with. Vague, I know, but I had a morning pass from the familia! I thought about going down the road towards Hamilton Pool and Pedernales Falls, but kept on going up 71. As I passed over a couple bridges I saw that the water level was really low, if not completely dry. Therefore I decided to head to CR310 and do some light dirt. I figured I wouldn’t have to worry about any water-crossings today! CR310 was fun and sure enough, the water crossings were dry. It was a little sad because we are having such dry weather, but as I looked at the dried-up algae I thought I could live with it today. I continued on CR310 to a section I hadn’t been on before (CR308), and enjoyed it a lot. Riding on the gravel is so fun. I found my way back on the pavement at Farm Road 3347 for about 50 feet and then more dirt!

Dry River

This road goes by the 3347, CR310, and the Althaus-Davis Road. It’s fantastic! And exciting too. I was riding along when a large snake, about a 2-footer slithered across my path and reared its head right before I ran over it. I looked in my mirrors to see if it was dead but I didn’t see anything! The thought crossed my mind that the critter could be latched on to the bike and/or my leg, so I stopped the bike, jumped off and had a look. It was nowhere to be found. I guess when I ran over it, the snake just got pushed into the dirt and kept on wiggling to the side of the road. My heart was still racing a bit as I continued on and was interrupted by a group of about 7 birds crossing the road in front of me. They looked like a cross between a turkey and a roadrunner. I stopped to get a better look at them but they had disappeared in the brush.

CR310

The gravel eventually gave way to pavement and turned into Althaus-Davis Road. This is a really fun stretch. Definitely a road I’d like to come back to. In fact, I thought about turning around and doing the road again from the opposite direction. I kind of wanted to look for that snake too. But I continued on to Willow City and since the sign for Willow City Loop was staring me in the face, I decided to ride it for the third time. No wildflowers this time of year, but still some great views of the Hill Country to be seen, and no traffic!

After the loop (which isn’t really a loop) I headed to Llano and then west on 52 to the small town of Castel. It was around noon by now and time to head back. It seems that I always end up on Hwy 29 for the ride back, and this was the case today. It’s a straight shot over to Reagan/Parmer and then home. Really a great ride and Kiki seemed to like the fresh engine oil and new battery. Boy do I love my motorcycle!

9-3-2012 - Ride Route

Odometer: 229.73 Miles

Categories
BMW F650 GS Riding

Four-State Ride

So I decided to go on a nice long ride this past weekend and visit (briefly) a few states that I’ve never ridden in before. In fact, it was my first time ever to visit Arkansas and Oklahoma! You know, Texas is so huge that it takes quite a while to reach any border if you live in the center of it, which I do. However, I love long-distance riding and since I had two days free I figured I would do it!

Thorndale, TX

My route took me east on Hwy 79, and actually continued the length of it into Louisiana. From there I continued north into Arkansas and to my stop for the night in Murfreesboro. The next morning it was off to the Ouachita National Forest and Oklahoma before heading back south and home again. All in all, I traveled about 1,040 miles, 30 of which were because I missed a turn off to Hwy 79 on the way back. Doh!

Ouachita National Forest

Ouachita National Forest

My favorite part of the ride was definitely the forest area in Arkansas and Oklahoma, and Talimena Scenic Drive in particular. There were lots of nice vistas and plenty of clean air and I wish I could have spent more time there. And the riding around there was super! Lots of twisties and elevation changes to keep things fun. Not everything went smoothly, though, but at least it was nothing major. The USB to cigarette lighter adapter connection came loose and wouldn’t stay tight which meant I couldn’t have my GPS running all the time. I blame that for my 30 mile detour. I have batteries in the GPS, but they ran out of juice quickly. Secondly, one of my earpieces on my earbuds went out which meant no music on the way home. Lastly, when I arrived home I dropped my bike in the driveway. Ouch! I bent the handguard and the bike suffered a few scratches (adds character to a GS) but no real damage. I did manage to lift the bike up on my own so at least I know I can do that.

Ouachita National Forest

At any rate, it was a really fun trip and I can now put on three more state stickers on the bike! I’m up to five: Texas, New Mexico, Louisiana, Arkansas, and Oklahoma.

At the Queen of Diamonds Inn

Categories
BMW F650 GS Riding

Saturday Ride to Regency Bridge

I was browsing around the Ride Dual Sport forums and I came across a short ride report and photos of Regency Bridge near San Saba. I’ve ridden around the area a couple times before, and I really enjoyed it so I figured I’d go again and see the bridge. I had the whole day to myself so I decided to take my time, ride on country roads and avoid the highway if I could. Just north of the town of Burnet I made a left onto County Road 106/San Saba Road and proceeded northward in the general direction of San Saba. This was a really nice stretch, with a speed limit of maybe 45. I must have ridden about 30 though, just taking in the sights and smells of the countryside. It went on for several miles and the only other vehicles I saw were two bicyclists out for a leisurely ride. It was great.

Nice Morning to Ride

Still Wildflowers

Local Flora

I kept wandering around the back roads, occasionally looking at my GPS to make sure I was headed northwest and eventually hit FM580 at Nix. I had never ridden on 580 and it was a fantastic stretch of twisty road with almost no traffic. I’d definitely recommend that for a Butler Map! I continued on past Bend and then spied a nice gravel road on the right hand side. I saw on the GPS that that road was a loop, so I caught County Road 420 on its north side, turned off the ABS, and took the road east. Riding on the gravel roads is a lot of fun and I look forward to riding on some each time I go out now. I stopped at Colony Cemetery to take a couple photos and had a drink of water, then proceeded on the small loop east and then south.

Colony Cemetery

It was tons of fun standing on the pegs and putting the training I got riding off-road to use. The gravel got deeper than I’ve ridden before but my bike and tires handled it with ease. There were some small hills to go up and down, and a lot of really cool scenery to take in. There was even a small water-crossing. It looked a little slick but was pretty short and wasn’t a problem.

CR 416 Water Crossing

Duck Xing

The hill after that was rutted with erosion for rains, but standing on the pegs made it easy and actually a lot of fun! It was great just finding a relaxed stance and letting the bike wiggle underneath me, while keeping a light touch on the bars just enough to control the throttle but letting the bike just do its job. After riding like this for a while, I have a lot of confidence on gravel now. I remember being semi-terrified of the stuff before, but that seems like ages ago! I’m no expert by any means but I have expanded the limits of what I know the bike can do safely and that takes away a lot of the apprehension.

CR 416

Back on the pavement I continued on to San Saba where I made a quick gas stop then headed north on 16, then followed the signs to Regency Bridge northwest on Ranch Road 500. After a few miles there’s another gravel road (yay!) that heads north to Regency Bridge. I met a KLR rider at the bridge and we talked for a little while about riding, bikes, and the bridge. He lived nearby and had a lot of great stories and told me the history of the bridge. I think we were very different people but because we were both riding motorcycles, and specifically dual-sports, we had some things in common and I enjoyed meeting him.

Regency Bridge

The bridge itself is pretty cool. It’s one of the oldest suspension bridges in Texas, with wooden planks to ride across. The “railing” was pretty low and you can see through the cables so it’s quite a hairy ride Especially because you’re up about 75 feet above the Colorado River! I decided to just get across, the park my bike and walk back over the bridge. Much safer that way! The view from the bridge is really great and riding across this old bridge is something I’m glad I did.

Regency Bridge

I continued on County Road 433 north, then east on 432. It was all gravel, with plenty of soft spots and a few stretches of dried up tire tracks to add a little excitement. I rode this for several miles and many smiles before finding the pavement again. By this time it was getting on mid-afternoon so I headed back home thinking about having a nice meal and a cold drink. Regency Bridge is a nice destination and I imagine I’ll be back again, not only to see the bridge, but to ride the gravel roads which there seemed to be quite a lot of!

6-9-2012 Ride-Route
Odometer: 236.33 miles

Categories
ADV Riding

World Tour on the BMW GS

I just never get tired of these videos/stories!

Categories
ADV BMW F650 GS Riding

RawHyde Rider’s Clinic

Lone Star BMW/Triumph recently hosted an off-road clinic given by RawHyde Adventures, which is an official BMW training center. The clinic is basically a short intro to what you learn at the full RawHyde Camp, and it was free so I made sure to RSVP as soon as I could. The clinic was held at the Capitol City Trap and Skeet Club which was about a half-hour ride from my house.

The Big Trailer

The class was scheduled to start at 10am and I decided to go early. I arrived at 9:15 and was glad I did. I was a little nervous riding in since it was on gravel and I’m not so comfortable riding on the stuff, especially at slow speeds. By arriving so early, there wasn’t a huge audience to scrutinize my riding ability! I really didn’t want to drop my bike just pulling into the place. But it was all good since everyone seemed pretty cool and probably wouldn’t care. We’re all there to learn, after all! (I did just fine, btw)

My Bike

I was maybe the fifth person to arrive and got to chat with a couple of the riders. The cool part was checking out the other bikes, which were, of course, BMW machines. It turned out there were a couple Yamaha TW200s that Robert Krull (one of the owners of Lone Star BMW/Triumph) had trailered over just in case someone wanted to train on a smaller bike. There were several 650cc bikes like my own, but most were the big 1150 or 1200 GS models with a couple 800cc bikes thrown in for good measure. Besides myself, there were several other newbies in the group. Everyone was really cool and the two instructors from RawHyde, Shawn and Lance, put everyone at ease and made sure everyone felt comfortable.

Demonstration

We started out with a general overview of the clinic, and then a demonstration of proper riding posture and technique. It was really interesting and neat to see some real experienced riders explaining how riding an adventure bike is properly done. Next came individual one-on-one bike inspections, where Shawn and Lance went to each bike/rider and evaluated the riding position, lever position, and made recommendations on any kind of upgrades we may want to make in the future. They also performed adjustments to pegs and handlebars right there and then if needed. It was so cool! When Shawn took a look at my bike, he recommended some lower pegs (which I knew about) and some guards for the radiator. He said that the 650 single’s radiator was prone to damage from the side if you dropped the bike. Other than that he said my bike was nicely equipped with the handguards, Heidenau tires, and bar risers. It was funny, but because I had taped over the Barkbusters logo on the handguards he asked what kind they were. When I told him about the tape, he (and the others standing around watching) said that was a cool idea. Apparently, other people felt like I did and would rather not have the big white advertisement on the front of the bike. We also aired down the tires to 25psi in preparation for the riding and learned how to disable the ABS systems on our bikes. Shawn showed me how to semi-permanently disable the ABS on the 650 by simply disconnecting the front sensor cable. Good to know!

Prepping the Bikes

After the inspections were done, we hit the course for some training. This consisted of riding as slow as we could over the dirt/grass. The point of this exercise was to keep your focus towards the distance (don’t look down), get proper riding posture, and get comfortable using the friction zone. It was pretty fun, and riding around the small range was really confidence inspiring. The instructors said that each exercise builds upon the previous ones and that we’d be learning about 5 of the 30 or so techniques they teach at their full camp.

More Attendees

There were a lot of bikes at the clinic (maybe about 30?) so the queue was a bit long. But I have to say that I learned a lot just being in line. Moving forward over the uneven ground for 20 feet, then stopping, then doing it again was nice practice. Especially having to turn, while scooting along over small rocks and washes was kind of fun. I thought for sure that I’d drop my bike at some point but I made it through the day without any mishap! While in the queue, there was a bit of excitement behind me. I’m not sure exactly what happened but I heard a revving of an engine, then saw a bike on its side. Then I saw another bike behind it on its side as well, running into the first bike. It was just a small collision but I think one of the bikes had a broken auxiliary light.

The Queue

After another time around the range, this time with Shawn trying to distract each rider, it was time for a break. Burgers, beans, and iced tea were provided by Texas Rib Kings and we all sat at the covered pavilion and chatted about bikes and rides. It was fun and I met a few of the other riders. It was getting really hot out so the lunch was a good time to cool down and get hydrated. After lunch, there was another demonstration of how to pick up a bike that is on its side. The two ladies in the group each picked up the huge 1200GS on their own using the technique shown to us. It was pretty cool.

Look Ahead

Back on the range our next drill was executing a “trail stop”, which is coming to a stop then accelerating again — all while standing on the pegs. We also were told to use only our front brake. This was really good because everyone got to put away the notion that you should never use your front brake on dirt. Sure, you can’t use it as forcefully as you can on the pavement, but it is effective. When I first did the trail stop, Shawn said I was stopping too slowly and that I should grab more brake. He said that if you come to a stop while deccelerating too gradually, you’ll lose your balance a lot quicker. So the next time, I braked a bit harder and sure enough, I had more balance and could easily do a trail stop. This stuff really works!

Training

The next drill was the one I was really looking forward to: tight turns. This was an exercise in body positioning and counter-balancing, and also looking ahead to the next turn. I did pretty well at it although I did go through the turns a little fast. But the more I practiced, the better I got. There was a second part of this course which was a series of even tighter turns, but I wasn’t successful in pulling those off! Some of the other riders had a ton of skill and could do those turns on their monstrous 1200 GSs. It was really impressive! I did stall my bike’s engine a few times during this section of the clinic, but I always started it up while still standing on the pegs. I got pretty good at that!

At around 2pm, the clinic came to a close and everyone packed up their things, aired up their tires, and rode off. It was a fantastic day and I think everyone enjoyed themselves. I know I did, and I feel like I learned a ton! I know that I can trust the bike more and that by using the proper technique, some of the things I was really worried about can be overcome. In fact, that apprehension that I had about arriving in front of all the other riders is gone now. And I’d love to take the full RawHyde Adventure Camp sometime in the future!

During a Break

Categories
Riding

Wildflowers and a Flat

Well, I finally had my first flat tire on the bike. I was on the return trip of a really great ride when I felt the rear of the bike get a little squishy so I pulled off to the side of the road and into the parking lot of an antique store. Sure enough, the rear tire was flat. I put the bike up on its centerstand and rotated the tire to find the cause of the problem and it turned out to be a nail, about two inches in length. Luckily the shop owners were really nice and offered to find someone to help. After a few phone calls, we decided to take the wheel off, then drive down to a tire shop in Kingsland to have a new tube put in. I actually have all the tools required (including extra tubes) to fix the flat, but since help was generously offered, I accepted. It took a couple hours to get it sorted out, but the repaired tire was mounted back on the bike and I was on my way home. It’s funny, but I rode over 6,000 miles on my previous set of tires without a problem but only after a couple weeks of having new tires, I get a flat! But, I do consider myself lucky that it didn’t happen way out in the boonies, or while I was riding the Saddlesore 1000. BTW, if you are using tubed tires, I recommend taking spare tubes and not just a patch kit. The nail I ran over only made a tiny hole in the tire, but ripped a huge v-shaped hole in the tube. Definitely not able to be patched!

CR409

Aside from the flat, the ride that day was pretty great! I rode a bunch of miles on gravel roads and saw more wildflowers than I’ve ever seen before. It was really amazing! I’m not going to elaborate much more, but here are some photos and a video to look at. I love taking the back roads!

CR409

CR310

CR310

CR310

Wallace Creek Road

3-24-2012 - Ride Route

Odometer: 220 Miles

Categories
BMW F650 GS Riding

St. Patrick’s Day Ride

The morning’s weather looked a little sketchy, but the rain held off and it turned out to be beautiful here in Central TX. I was itching to try out my new tires on some dirt but didn’t want to ride too far, so I decided to just wander and hopefully I’d run across some nice dirt roads. With that in mind I went north from my home in Cedar Park, up Reagan Blvd. and then took some back roads to Florence. I was a tiny bit worried about the front tire since I changed it myself, but it felt pretty good at highway speeds. When decelerating, the Heidenau K60 tire was a bit louder than the Tourance and there was a some vibration, but nothing crazy.

Sharp Cemetery Road

I continued up Highway 195 north and saw a sign for Sharp Cemetery. The road looked like it might be interesting on the GPS so I pulled off the highway and almost immediately there was a cattle guard and Sharp Cemetery Road turned into hard-packed dirt. Just what I was looking for! The road looked well traveled and smooth and the views were very nice. The sun was coming through the clouds and overhanging trees making it almost perfect riding, for me at least. The tires are well suited to this kind of road and I didn’t feel much wiggle. I have nothing to compare the tire’s performance to, but the reputation of them did instill some confidence.

Sharp Cemetery Road

I followed the road until it ended at the cemetery itself. I spent a few minutes there reading the historical marker and taking a break, then headed back the way I came. The weather was perfect, about 76F on my thermometer and a nice combination of sun and clouds. I flipped up the chin of the modular helmet and enjoyed the fresh air and smell of wildflowers. This was the kind of riding I really enjoyed! I wish the road went on for several miles, but I’ll take this little bit of heaven anytime.

Sharp Cemetery Road

Back on the pavement I headed west along FM2670 and then took a right on Maxdale Road. I rode over a cattle guard and the road turned to gravel/dirt and I saw a huge military transport plane gaining altitude in the distance. It occurred to me that I might have ridden into Ft. Hood and that I should probably turn back. So I made a u-turn and headed back south. I guess it was ok for me to be in that area as I found out later that it is the Killeen airport area. At any rate, I continued along Maxdale Road to Oakalla and then I saw on the GPS what looked like a fun road that headed off north. CR223 was another little gem of a road which wound past ranches and farms, then met up with the Lampasas River. There were a couple teensy water crossings (just enough to get your feet splashed) and lots of gorgeous scenery.

Lampasas River

CR19 turned into hard-packed dirt again, and I enjoyed more of the perfect riding. The combination of weather, light dirt, and scenery was awesome and I was stoked.

76/366 - Somewhere Along CR4390

But all-too-soon, the road met up with Highway 190 and I sped on into the town of Lampasas, then rode back home along 183, then across to Andice and back south along Reagan/Parmer and home. I have to say, this was one of the best rides I’ve ever had. Might not seem like anything special to anyone else, but I do remember letting out a couple “woohoo’s” along the way. 🙂

3/17/2012 - Ride-Route

Odo: 135.11 Miles
Moving time: 3H 12M

Categories
BMW F650 GS Riding

Hitting the Dirt

CR-310

One of the things I want to do this year is to go on some dual-sport rides. That means taking my bike on some more dirt roads in addition to street. To that end, I added some handguards (to protect from lever-breakage caused by a fall) and am planning on getting some more aggressive tires. The Metzeler Tourance tires are 90/10 and have worn pretty nicely, but both the front and rear are nearing their end-of-life. I haven’t decided exactly what kind of tires I want, but one choice is Michelin Anakee 2 tires, front and rear, or perhaps a Heidenau 76 rear and 60 front.

Up the Hill

The other day I was at the bookstore and came across the Adventure Riding Techniques book by Robert Wicks and Greg Baker. It’s filled with a lot of information on taking a large “Adventure Bike” off-road. My bike is not quite as large, but at 425 lbs is a bit heavier than a smaller 450cc Japanese bike. I’m planning on taking a dirt class this year, and will take my F650 GS of course! But just reading the book and looking at the great photos got me all reved up to hit some dirt trails.

26/366 - Book Haul

On the Two-Wheeled Texans website there are several good beginner dirt roads listed so I decided to give it a go. I’m glad I did cuz riding on dirt (even easy dirt) is a blast! It’s so much fun standing on the pegs! I even did a couple small water-crossings. Those were pretty tame, but still a bit hairy.

Water Crossing

After riding on the dirt I can say that I agree with most everyone who rides an F650 GS single when they say the stock pegs are too narrow. My feet are only sized 7.5 (US) but even I can tell that the stock pegs need about an inch more width. Unfortunately, a good pair of replacement pegs is $100+ so I might just stick with stock.

Tree Canopy

As I was approaching where CR-310A intersects with 310, I saw three other riders on the trail, but they zoomed off and I couldn’t catch them. I would have liked to find some more roads to ride on, but I have a list of good ones bookmarked on my computer so I think I am pretty much set.

1-28-2012 Ride Route

ODO: 171 miles (About 6 miles of dirt)

Categories
BMW F650 GS Riding

Saturday Morning Ride

On Saturday I had the morning to myself so I decided to head out for a ride. It was a bit chilly at 49°F and I made the mistake of putting on my mesh jacket instead of the warmer non-mesh textile one. I did have a few layers on underneath, but it was a mistake I was regretting about 15 minutes into the ride. I did decide to look for the slower backroads that I enjoy so much so the wind wouldn’t totally freeze me and since the morning sun was getting higher in the sky, I figured I would warm up quickly.

Today's View

The ride itself was enjoyable and I did see several interesting animals, such as roadrunners, horses, cows, and goats. I stopped to take a photo of these goats but as soon as I shut off the motor, the ran away from me! I could only snap a picture of their butts…

Goat Butts

Riding the smaller county roads is pretty fun to me. You pretty much only see locals on these roads, since there wouldn’t be any reason to take these roads unless you were going to or from your house/ranch. It’s cool because the locals are very friendly, waving from their yards, or as they pass by in their vehicles. On this morning, I passed a couple of cowboys riding their horses and they gave me a big wave. Yep, this is Texas!

Obligatory Moto shot

Typical County Road

Odometer: 82.15 Miles
Moving Time: 2H 4M

1-7-2012 Ride Route

7/365 - Spaceman

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