I went for another longish ride this past weekend, down to Blanco and Luckenbach before hitting Fredericksburg and then back home again. There were a couple exciting parts of the ride, or I should say frightening parts of the ride. First, I didn’t have my sleeves tightened around my wrist, and some bug flew up my left sleeve while I was going about 60mph. I quickly tried to squash whatever it was by banging my forearm against the left grip. When I stopped, I shook out the sleeve and out dropped a good-sized dragonfly.
Make sure to fasten those sleeves tight, especially in the morning! Next, there’s a really sharp curve just west of Hamilton pool. What makes it challenging is that it is at the bottom of a steep little hill. So the downhill braking, then a sharp left made for a pucker moment. After that, it was just a really relaxing ride through the Texas Hill Country towards Blanco, then northwest to the tiny community of Luckenbach. I stopped to take photos of my bike in front of a few courthouses along the way.
It seems like it’s kind of a tradition over at the TWTEX.com site. Anyways, it was a really nice ride even though temperatures were climbing near 100 at noon. 230 miles in total.
The other weekend I went for a nice long ride out to Pedernales Falls State Park. The morning air was so crisp and clean and smelled great. When I arrived at the park, it was already getting hot and when I hided down to the overlook I was sweating like a pig! It didn’t help that I was wearing my Revit overpants and Gaerne boots. But I did get to try out something that I heard about on Sidestand Up: cooling down using a wet shirt and letting the wind bring down the temperature. It really works! My textile (not mesh) jacket isn’t really made for summer riding, but it does have vents in the front and back, so air can pass through easily. What I did was to dunk my undershirt under the park’s bathroom sink and get it all wet from the chest up. Then when I was on the road at about 30mph and up I was nice and cool. It really did work! The only problem was that my shirt is the synthetic athletic shirt that wicks away moisture real quick. So after about a half hour of riding, it wasn’t so cool. Maybe I will try a regular cotton shirt next time.
After leaving Pedernales, I headed north and visited Inks Lake State Park. (I have a park pass, so no need to pay admission) While Pedernales only had a few visitors who were hiking or fishing, Inks Lake was packed with picnickers and boaters. It was kind of a madhouse. I pretty much just used their restroom, cooled down again, then rode around the park a bit before leaving. The ride home via Highway 29 was fast and fun and I was back home around lunchtime. Another nice Sunday morning ride!
We’ve been away for over a week on vacation and while it was a lot of fun, I did miss riding my GS. This week has been pretty rainy during the day so I haven’t had a chance to ride it until this evening. Riding off for a very quick 15-minute cruise was super-fun! The bike felt so nimble and easy to ride. The controls felt natural and shifting was a breeze. It’s the best taking off out of my garage and up our inclined driveway while standing. So simple but feels so good. And during the ride I didn’t really have to think of riding procedure either. In other words, when I was accelerating I just thought about getting up to the right speed as opposed to “twist throttle, let off throttle, pull in clutch lever, toe-shift up, out with clutch lever while matching throttle”. All that procedure was done without thinking. Also, when coming up to a stop, the braking, downshifting, and stopping was all so smooth that I could focus on traffic and other drivers. I was actually kind of surprised that it seemed so effortless! Even though motorcycling is always a learning experience (as I have heard and read), I think I just completed an important step towards safer riding. Now I can focus more attention on situational awareness and enjoying the ride and less attention on the mechanics.
Oh, and I can get into my ATGATT gear in less than a minute, plus change the helmet faceshield in a few seconds!
My wife granted me the entire Sunday morning to go riding and I decided to go west again, with my rough destination being the area around Inks Lake. I have a Texas State Parks pass so I thought I might visit the park for a break before heading back home. As usual, I left the house at around 7am. The sun is coming up earlier now so I can head out the door probably by 6:30 soon. I like riding when it’s dark out, but it’s pretty dangerous around here because there are lots of deer and other critters active in the early morning hours. Instead of making coffee at home, I went to the local coffee shop and had a double-espresso and a banana. I figured that would get me going and I would pick up something later on to eat at Inks Lake.
After fueling up my body and bike I rode up Ronald Reagan Blvd to Highway 29, then west past Liberty Hill and Bertram. I stopped to take a photo of the little train station in Bertram and almost dropped the BMW while going over some gravel and rock. Well, it wasn’t that bad but it got a little squirrely.
After that I kept heading west, enjoying the cool morning air and light Sunday morning traffic. My new dark faceshield is excellent, by the way. Really clear and improves vision quite a bit.
I took a right at Hwy 690 and took that lovely curvy road along the north shore of Buchanan Lake. But the curvy road soon had signs that indicated “Loose Gravel” which kind of freaked me out, so I turned around and headed back to Hwy 29 and then further west. I passed the Buchanan Lake Dam and for some reason kept going all the way to Llano. That stretch is not too interesting, but there are a couple stretches where you can really open up the throttle (if you are into that sort of thing).
In Llano, I gassed up again then backtracked to Buchanan Lake and then took the road to Inks Lake. That road to the park is really a nice ride, with some 30mph hairpins and elevation changes. I saw a few other motorcyclists on this road, all having fun it seemed. When I got to the entrance to the park, I didn’t really feel like stopping (I was having too much fun) so I rode past until I hit 1431 near Kingsland. I found a scenic overlook and pulled over to have some water and take a few photos. The view was really nice.
After that short break I went through Marble Falls, then did a little loop around Horseshoe Bay and saw some really nice homes and exclusive neighborhoods. It was about 11:30 by then (time flies!) and I started back home. Taking 1431 from Marble Falls to Cedar Park was great fun as always. It’s like being on a rollercoaster, and I kept the bike in 4th gear and the RPMs from 4,500-5,500 the whole way. It was a blast. I think for a future ride out that way, I’ll pack some food and have a little solo picnic. Maybe even pack a fishing pole!
The ROT Rally was this weekend but I didn’t go. Maybe someday I will head downtown to check it out. Just not this year. Instead, I went for a really nice ride on Sunday morning. When I left my driveway, the ground was wet with a recent light shower but then just out of my neighborhood the roads were dry and the sky was filled with puffy white clouds. I topped off the tank at the gas station (averaging about 63 mpg now) then headed down 620. We drove down to Lakeway the previous weekend, so the route was still fresh in my mind. I knew it would be really fun to ride 620 on the bike and it didn’t disappoint. The downhill by the Oasis and Steiner Ranch towards the dam was really enjoyable, and there were hardly any cars on the road. I kept it at the speed limit which was I think 65mph so not too slow. I rode all the way past Lakeway the took a right at Bee Cave and took Highway 71 northwest. It’s funny but while riding it seems like the time just flies by. The ride down 620 seemed like it took only a couple minutes, but I’m sure it must have been about 20 or more. Anyways, 71 was a nice stretch also and before I knew it, I was at 281 and heading north into Marble Falls. I wish I had extra time to explore that town on the bike or even find a nice coffee shop, but I knew that the kids were probably awake and waiting for some breakfast. So I started east on a stretch of road that is one of the best (supposedly) in Central Texas. There was almost no traffic the whole way from Marble Falls to Lago Vista and the sun was high enough that it wasn’t in my eyes too much. The stretch of 1431 between the nature preserve and Lago Vista is so much fun, I cannot wait to go back and ride it again. Driving it in a car just cannot compare to riding it on a motorcycle. So far this ride was the most fun I have had on my bike.
I had a couple hours free on Saturday morning before we went camping so I took a ride out on 1431 east from Cedar Park. 1431 is supposedly one of the better motorcycle routes in Texas and the many times I’ve driven it in a car I have seen tons of motorcyclists. I knew I didn’t have too much time so I figured I’d just ride a little bit of it until 8:30am, and then turn around and head back home.
My weekend morning rides have been lots of fun. There aren’t a whole lot of cars on the roads, but I do see a lot of other motorcyclists which is pretty cool, Usually they give a wave to me and I’ll wave back. Everyone is enjoying the morning! 1431 just past Lago Vista changes from four lanes to just two and is filled with lots of twisties and elevation changes. As a new rider, the curvy roads are pretty exhilarating even though I’m not traveling too fast. Usually I keep a little below the speed limit. It’s still really cool to lean into the turns.
I turned off 1431 and followed a sign to the Gloster Bend Recreational Area. I’ve never been there before so I thought I’d explore a bit. The road was narrower with a speed limit of 40 and decorated on the sides with the occasional mailbox. I only saw one other vehicle on the road, and they were just cruising along at around 30mph, and I decided to do the same. It’s so relaxing to just ride and take in the sights (while still keeping an eye out for deer or other critters) especially after the faster riding on 1431. I eventually found the recreational area, which looked like just a boat ramp and some nice picnicking areas. I stopped and had a drink of water and took a couple photos, then headed back home. It was a really great ride and I cannot wait to ride farther on 1431 to Marble Falls at some later date.
I went for a couple nice rides this weekend and put 179 miles on the bike. On Saturday I rode up Parmer north past 1431 where it turns into Ronald Reagan Blvd. I had never been up that way before, so it was fun to head out somewhere new. The street was nice and deserted: only a few cars and a lady riding her trike were on the road with me. Soon I found myself all alone riding past older homes on their plots of land and a few sprinkles came down from the sky. The temperature was perfect, in the low-70’s. I rode to the end of that street, where it Ts at 2238 and I took a right and headed towards Georgetown. The low-fuel light came on so I stopped at an Exxon and filled up the bike and had some water.
Crossing I-35, I continued on the road towards the town of Weir and then Granger, where I went the previous week. I decided to head around the lake again and I took a little break near the dam.
It was here that I put in the earplugs to try them out. I only rode a couple miles before I decided I didn’t like the isolation so I took them out. Next I headed down 95 through the town of Taylor. The winds were pretty strong, and heading south at more that 60mph was difficult and not at all enjoyable. I ended up pulling off the main highway and rode on some county roads, so I could just cruise at a slower 35-40mph speed and take in the sights This was really enjoyable. The people who lived in the houses I passed were all friendly and waved as I rode by. Returning to Taylor and route 79, I headed west back towards Hutto, then Round Rock where I turned south and rode through Pflugerville and Wells Branch near our old house. I eventually made my way to Lonestar BMW/Triumph where I took a nice little break and checked out all the nice bikes. They had a G650 GS like mine there, but it was a police model with sirens and lights. Was kinda cool, but also a bit odd seeing my bike kitted out like that. After that I headed back home via Rutland, Metric, then Parmer. It was a total of 132 miles and a fair share of regular in-town riding.
Sunday morning I struck out west on 1431 from Cedar Park. I only went as far as the outskirts of Jonestown, where I turned right on Nameless Road. This is another road sign that I had seen many times and wondered about. This time, I saw two bikers on their Harley’s leaving Nameless Road, so I decided to go check it out. It’s a pleasant little 45mph two-lane road with a lot of elevation changes and a few twisties to keep it fun. I passed four other motorcyclists on this road, I think they were coming from Leander towards 1431 and then Marble Falls.
I didn’t have too much time so after a little side trip down Round Mountain I turned back and headed to 1431. I knew that I needed to pick up some breakfast tacos so I decided on Rudy’s. I went down Lakeline Blvd south, Cypress Creek, Anderson Mill and then took a quick 65mph run down 620 to get the tacos. After that, I was back home with the breakfast delivery for the family. A nice 47 mile Sunday morning ride in beautiful weather.
A couple things I noticed while riding this weekend:
Strong headwinds/crosswinds suck. Not only does it blow you around your lane, but it makes the ride a lot noisier.
I don’t like wearing earplugs while riding. Maybe this will change, but I felt that I was too removed from the environment while wearing them. Some people really swear by them, so maybe I just need a different kind of earplug.
Feeling my backpack/tailbag hitting my lower back is reassuring. It doesn’t provide any kind of support but it makes me feel more protected and therefore more comfortable.
I learned to use my knees to stabilize myself on the bike. Now I can keep my arms and hands more relaxed which is much less fatiguing plus it’s easier and quicker to maneuver the bike when I don’t have a deathgrip on the handlebars. Also, by pivoting my body at the waist, it’s a lot quicker to lean the bike into a turn.
Accelerating while exiting a curve is a heck of lot of fun.