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Trail Boss
11-25-2005, 10:28 PM
Dual Sporting in the 3 Sisters’ Neighborhood


What an excellent day it was. True, it was a long day – the odometer on my KLR read 334 miles when I got back home to Austin and I had been on the road for 10 hours – but those 334 miles were all good to great miles. I love motorcycling on days like today.

My KLR riding buddy Mike McSpaddin and I had plans today. Big plans. We were going to spend the day exploring some new-to-us dirt roads south and west of Kerrville. My BMW R100GSPD riding Uncle had given me a dual sport route he had gotten from the BMW group he rides with. I hadn’t ridden any of these roads previously so today was as good as any to do some exploring. The thing was, the roads weren’t very close to Austin – it was about 100 miles just to get to them – hence the reason this was going to be a big day. I figured it would be 300 miles and about 8 hours long. Start early, ride all day, keep moving, don’t stop much or for long. There are roads to be ridden and new places to be explored.

Mike and I decided to meet up at the Dairy Queen in Blanco at 9 a.m. this morning, rain or shine. The weatherman was predicting showers for this morning and thunderstorms for this afternoon. Nothing serious or steady, just passing showers and/or thundershowers. It shouldn’t be enough to stop up, so rain or shine we were going to do it. After meeting up, we were going to fly south and west to Comfort, TX and then on to Center Point, TX at which point our dirt road explorations would begin.

Blanco is about an hour west of Austin, so I rolled out of my driveway at 7:45 a.m. No showers, but lots of really thick fog. I’m glad it wasn’t raining, though the fog was quite thick. Visibility was really poor and it didn’t help that my visor kept getting condensation all over it. I discovered that when I turned my head to the side the wind would blow most of the condensation off half my visor. When I turned my head to the other side the wind would blow the water off the other side of my visor. The fog was s thick I had to turn my head to the side every few seconds or my visibility got really bad. As long as I kept the condensation on my visor down, visibility was acceptable. So I rode down the road turning my head first left then right. Yes, my friend, I drove for 2 hours in the fog today continuously shaking my head “no”, which seemed to really amuse those following behind me for some reason.

Mike showed up at the Dairy Queen, but surprise, surprise, no KLR. It turns out he hasn’t totally unpacked from his recent trip to Big Bend and the KLR is one of those unpacked items. Instead, he rode his big BMW R1100GS dual sport.

Mike & his GS at a brief stop in Comfort, TX. With a name like Comfort, you just gotta stop.
http://i27.photobucket.com/albums/c178/rgibbens/Dual%20Sporting%20in%20the%203%20Sisters%20Neighbo rhood/1MiketheR1100GS.jpg


After a quick trip west on 473 to Comfort, we ran hwy 27 west over to Center Point. Luckily, by the time we hit Center Point the fog was totally gone. The sun was out and the skies were now blue with a few cloulds. Game on!

We grabbed 480 south through the heart of Center Point, watching our speed due to the local yokel that followed us through town. I think he just happened to be going in the same direction we were and wasn’t deliberately following us – there is no mistaking a KLR or a GS for many of the sport bikes that pass through the area on their way to ride the 3 sisters. My guess is the sports bikes likely draw the unwanted attention of local law enforcement as the few other police we passed today payed us no mind at all.

Speaking of the 3 Sisters – this is what I call the 3 most famous roads in this area. Roads that riders far and near journey specifically to ride. These 3 roads are County Roads 335, 336, & 337. Others call them the Holy something or the other, but I prefer to call them the 3 sisters. 3 sisters that are sure fun to ride. :)

Anyway, back to the story. As we made our way through Center Point we were on the lookout for Elm Pass road. According to my map it would lead us to Old School Road, which would, in turn, lead us to Prestige Road. We weren’t completely clear about any of the details on where to find Elm Pass road as even the dual sport route I had gotten from my Uncle didn’t include it on the trip. But, find it we did and off we went.

Elm Pass road turned out to be quite the twisty, up and down roller coaster. It’s an excellent road that I recommend to you. However, we rode all the way to where Elm Pass ended at Hwy 173 and no Old School Road. Retracing our steps back up Elm Pass, we kept our eyes peeled hoping to spot the turn off to Old School Road. No luck – no Old School Road anywhere.

I flagged a car down to ask if he might be able to direct us to Old School Road and disaster struck. Mike had a Pink Floyd moment (A momentary lapse of reason) and neglected to put down his kick stand before letting go of the bike. Down went the big GS, despite Mike’s best efforts to stop it. The bike was down and Mike’s shoulder was wrenched from trying to stop 600 lbs that was firmly in the grip of gravity. I quickly helped him pick up the bike, which was no worse for the wear. Mike’s shoulder bothered him the remainder of the day, but it wasn’t bad enough to keep us from continuing our journey. To top it off, the dude in the car didn’t know where Old School Road was. Sorry, no pics of the downed GS.

After a little more exploration we found Mason Creek Road (or something similar), a dirt road, generally heading in the direction we expected Old School Road to head. Off we went. Sure enough, a few miles later Mason Creek intersected with Old School Road. We turned onto Old School Road, crossed a pretty valley, and then climbed one of the many hills in the area.

The view from Old School Road, looking back over the valley we had just crossed.
http://i27.photobucket.com/albums/c178/rgibbens/Dual%20Sporting%20in%20the%203%20Sisters%20Neighbo rhood/2OldSchoolRoad.jpg


My KLR really likes this kind of stuff. I like it too.
http://i27.photobucket.com/albums/c178/rgibbens/Dual%20Sporting%20in%20the%203%20Sisters%20Neighbo rhood/3OldSchoolRoad.jpg


After topping the hill, we ran a ridge line for quite a ways until again dropping down into a valley. At this point we came upon the turn off to Polly’s Chapel. This chapel is named for Policarpo Rodrigues (1829-1914). He was a Texas Ranger, army scout and guide who settled in the Privilege Creek community in 1858. He converted to the Methodist faith and built the chapel of native stone with his own hands in 1882 where he later preached. The chapel is still in use today.

First view of the chapel on the only road to it.
http://i27.photobucket.com/albums/c178/rgibbens/Dual%20Sporting%20in%20the%203%20Sisters%20Neighbo rhood/4PollysChapel.jpg


KLR and GS enjoying the tranquility and silence at the chapel.
http://i27.photobucket.com/albums/c178/rgibbens/Dual%20Sporting%20in%20the%203%20Sisters%20Neighbo rhood/5PollysChapel.jpg

Texas recognizes this chapel as a historical site.
http://i27.photobucket.com/albums/c178/rgibbens/Dual%20Sporting%20in%20the%203%20Sisters%20Neighbo rhood/6PollysChapel.jpg

Inscription on the chapel. Note the date this was inscribed.
http://i27.photobucket.com/albums/c178/rgibbens/Dual%20Sporting%20in%20the%203%20Sisters%20Neighbo rhood/7PollysChapel.jpg

From there we headed south, following Privilege Creek Road to Hwy 16. Our next target was Kyle Ranch Road.

More to follow.

Desert Skies
11-26-2005, 07:03 AM
Good stuff Richard. Sure hope a map shows up in this report somewhere.:thumb:

Trail Boss
11-26-2005, 07:12 AM
Desert Skies,

If I can figure out a way to post a map, I will. I've got Microsoft Streets & Trips so there must be a way to get a postable map from that.

Speaking of "head of ranch security" my kid used to love those "Hank the cowdog" books. We kid around now that our dog, Pete, is head of security at our house.

Desert Skies
11-26-2005, 07:37 AM
Richard, I have Streets and Trips as I'm sure a lot of other rider on this board have. The files would also be useful. As for Hank, the tapes sure kept the "Are we there yet?"s to a minimum on long trips. Sure wish I could get them into MP3 format. Then I could listen to them on the bikes, hehe.

Wasabi
11-26-2005, 08:36 AM
[QUOTE=Richard_]Desert Skies,

If I can figure out a way to post a map, I will. I've got Microsoft Streets & Trips so there must be a way to get a postable map from that.
QUOTE]

Great report. I tried to follow your route using mapsource and came up with this. To get the map I print screen the mapsource and paste to MS Draw , cut out the map part and save as a jpg. resize with irfan,

http://wasabi.smugmug.com/photos/45993551-M.jpg

I got lost at the Klye Ranch road. Looking forward to more pics and directions.

http://wasabi.smugmug.com/photos/45993554-M.jpg

Trail Boss
11-26-2005, 10:01 AM
Okay, picking up where I left off. Starting at Center Point, TX Mike and I had successfully found and run Elm Pass, Upper Mason Creek, Old School, and Privilege Creek roads, ending up Hwy 16. We turned west on 16 and headed towards Bandera. After a brief fuel stop for bikes and humans, we were back on our way. About 8 miles west of Bandera on hwy 16 we reached the turn-off for Kyle Ranch road. More serious fun was at hand. I understood Kyle Ranch road to be dirt, but it started off as paved. Luckily, a few miles later it turned to gravel. The paved section ran through a valley, but when we hit the gravel part it quickly headed up into the hills.

In the background you can see the hills we are headed for on Kyle Ranch Road.
http://i27.photobucket.com/albums/c178/rgibbens/Dual%20Sporting%20in%20the%203%20Sisters%20Neighbo rhood/8KyleRanchRoad.jpg

The colors are fantastic. The leaves have all changed into the fall colors and the view of the hills is fantastic. If you like fall colors, now is the time to head out to this part of Texas – it’s gorgeous out there.

We ran Kyle Ranch road south to its end at Hwy 470. We headed west on 470 to Tarpley, TX where we turned south on hwy 462. A short distance down 462 we turned west onto Ross road. About 200 yards or so down Ross Road we reached the first of 6 – yes, I said 6 – water crossings.

First view of the first water crossing. This was the widest crossing of the 6 we crossed today.
http://i27.photobucket.com/albums/c178/rgibbens/Dual%20Sporting%20in%20the%203%20Sisters%20Neighbo rhood/9FirstWaterCrossingonRossRd.jpg

I’ve got a motor drive on my point-and-shoot Olympus digital camera, so I thought I would test it out while Mike crossed the creek. The motor drive worked great and took about a dozen pics of Mike during his crossing. I won’t post them all, but here are some of them to give you a flavor of the crossing.

Mike getting started.
http://i27.photobucket.com/albums/c178/rgibbens/Dual%20Sporting%20in%20the%203%20Sisters%20Neighbo rhood/10Mike.jpg

Mike a little more than ¾ across.
http://i27.photobucket.com/albums/c178/rgibbens/Dual%20Sporting%20in%20the%203%20Sisters%20Neighbo rhood/11Mike.jpg

Surprisingly, the crossing wasn’t very slick. Many times water crossings in Texas have an abundance of green algae on them that seems to be as slick as anything on this planet. One minute you are riding along doing just fine and the next you are down in the water wondering what the heck happened. I guess since this was a natural rock crossing, and not the concrete the state likes to pour at these types of locations, that the irregular rock surfaces helped with traction.

After Mike’s successful crossing, it was my turn to make the KLR earn its pay.

I’m just getting started in this photo.
http://i27.photobucket.com/albums/c178/rgibbens/Dual%20Sporting%20in%20the%203%20Sisters%20Neighbo rhood/12Rich.jpg

Note the impeccable dirt bike riding form – elbows up, overgrip on the bars, head up, good speed (as you can tell from the water the tires are kicking up) :-D
http://i27.photobucket.com/albums/c178/rgibbens/Dual%20Sporting%20in%20the%203%20Sisters%20Neighbo rhood/13Rich.jpg

A little past half way across. The KLR just seems at home in this kind of stuff, doesn’t it?
http://i27.photobucket.com/albums/c178/rgibbens/Dual%20Sporting%20in%20the%203%20Sisters%20Neighbo rhood/14Rich.jpg

After we both successfully navigated the first crossing, we ran Ross Road down to CR 211. At some unmarked point Ross Road became CR 121, but I never saw a sign. Once we reached CR 211 we turned west for a really long (20 miles or so) of pretty straight dirt road riding. 211 runs pretty much due west with few turns. The view is nice though, as you cross a fairly large valley with views of the hills all around.

At the intersection of CR 211 and CR 111 we headed north on 111. We followed CR 111 north all the way to Hwy 470, doing 5 more creek crossings in the process.

Here’s Mike at the 2nd crossing. This one wasn’t as wide as the first but the water was deeper. Mike hit it kind of fast and was throwing up some water. :-)
http://i27.photobucket.com/albums/c178/rgibbens/Dual%20Sporting%20in%20the%203%20Sisters%20Neighbo rhood/15Mike2ndWaterCrossing.jpg

Mike’s GS seems to like this kind of stuff too.
http://i27.photobucket.com/albums/c178/rgibbens/Dual%20Sporting%20in%20the%203%20Sisters%20Neighbo rhood/16Mike.jpg

Almost finished.
http://i27.photobucket.com/albums/c178/rgibbens/Dual%20Sporting%20in%20the%203%20Sisters%20Neighbo rhood/17Mike.jpg

Once we reached Hwy 470 we headed west to Hwy 187. A right turn (north on 187) for a short distance and we reached our next destination – West Sabinal Road.

West Sabinal Road turned out to be the roughest road of the day. It had numerous ruts, a few pot holes, and a non-level surface in quite a few places. Basically all fun stuff, but we had to watch our speeds closer than we had to on the previous dirt roads. A few miles down Sabinal and we reached a “Y” in the road. The “Y” wasn’t on my map. Which way to go? Luckily, there was a fellow fishing Sabinal creek right there so I asked him where each fork went. He didn’t know where the right fork went, but he knew the left fork was a dead-end. So, right fork it was, which turned out to be the correct choice.

Man, it is really nice out in the hills. Here’s a valley we stopped to admire.
http://i27.photobucket.com/albums/c178/rgibbens/Dual%20Sporting%20in%20the%203%20Sisters%20Neighbo rhood/18WestSabinalRoad.jpg

There was a nice cut in the background hills that I decided I needed a picture of. There were a lot of hunters in the area, according to the fellow fishing back at Sabinal Creek, so hopefully Mike’s red sweatshirt should help keep us from being shot.
http://i27.photobucket.com/albums/c178/rgibbens/Dual%20Sporting%20in%20the%203%20Sisters%20Neighbo rhood/20WestSabinalRoad.jpg

Another shot.
http://i27.photobucket.com/albums/c178/rgibbens/Dual%20Sporting%20in%20the%203%20Sisters%20Neighbo rhood/21WestSabinalRoad.jpg

West Sabinal road ends at Hwy 337 (one of the 3 sisters). Time was getting late and if we wanted to be home before dark we were going to have to make a spirited run for it. Darn it, what’s worse than having to ride the twisties at a brisk pace? ;-)

We headed east on Hwy 337, intent on running east past Medina to Hwy 2828.

I couldn’t resist stopping for a pic of this valley south of 337.
http://i27.photobucket.com/albums/c178/rgibbens/Dual%20Sporting%20in%20the%203%20Sisters%20Neighbo rhood/23LookingSouthfrom337.jpg

A little further up the road, Mike and I swapped bikes. He kindly offered to let me ride his big GS and I jumped at the chance. Not much further we ran across a herd of buffalo.

Mike and a buffalo.
http://i27.photobucket.com/albums/c178/rgibbens/Dual%20Sporting%20in%20the%203%20Sisters%20Neighbo rhood/24MikeandtheBuffalo.jpg

Buffalo are cool.
http://i27.photobucket.com/albums/c178/rgibbens/Dual%20Sporting%20in%20the%203%20Sisters%20Neighbo rhood/25Buffalo.jpg

Buffalo are big too.
http://i27.photobucket.com/albums/c178/rgibbens/Dual%20Sporting%20in%20the%203%20Sisters%20Neighbo rhood/26Buffalo.jpg

At the intersection of 337 and 2828 we headed north east on 2828 to Hwy 173. From there we ran 173 north to 480 east back to Center Point.

As my buddy Jeff says, “folks, it’s getting hungry out.”. We had skipped lunch, and other than a few snacks here and there we hadn’t had any real food since our 10 a.m. stop back in Comfort. I spotted a small restaurant in Center Point that had their “open” sign on, so I persuaded Mike to eat there. It turned out to have only been open for a month. One of the owners, Emmet, came out during dinner, introduced himself, and made sure our meals were satisfactory. If you are in the area, this is a good place to eat.

The River Road Restaurant in Center Point.
http://i27.photobucket.com/albums/c178/rgibbens/Dual%20Sporting%20in%20the%203%20Sisters%20Neighbo rhood/27RiverRoadTexMex.jpg

The food was good and the waitress kindly took our picture. Mike had the catfish special while I opted for chicken enchiladas.
http://i27.photobucket.com/albums/c178/rgibbens/Dual%20Sporting%20in%20the%203%20Sisters%20Neighbo rhood/29RichandMikeattheRiverRoadRestaura.jpg

Gloria, our waitress, and Mike. She did a fine job of taking care of us.
http://i27.photobucket.com/albums/c178/rgibbens/Dual%20Sporting%20in%20the%203%20Sisters%20Neighbo rhood/30MikeandGloriaattheRiverRoadRestau.jpg

Bellies full, Mike and I made a bee-line for home, racing the sun. The shadows were getting long and I knew it was going to be close. We retraced our steps back across 473 to 281. Mike peeled off at Twin Sisters, TX while I continued on to Blanco and then cross country back to Austin. Almost made it home before dark, but EENT (end of evening nautical twilight) caught me about 10 miles west of Austin. I rolled into my driveway about 6:15 p.m., having put 334 miles and 10 hours of fun on the KLR.

What a great day.

Trail Boss
11-26-2005, 10:03 AM
Here's a link to a map I did in MS Streets & Trips.

Unfortunately, MS Streets and Trips doesn't have all the roads we rode on today or doesn't show them connecting to other roads where they do, in fact, connect.

http://i27.photobucket.com/albums/c178/rgibbens/Dual%20Sporting%20in%20the%203%20Sisters%20Neighbo rhood/DualSportRidingthe3SistersNeighborh.jpg

Trail Boss
11-26-2005, 10:09 AM
Our route, starting in Center Point, TX.

1. South on 480
2. South on Elm Pass Road
3. Soutwest on Upper Mason Creek Road (I think this is the correct road name. It's not on my map, so I might be a little off on the name.)
4. South on Old School Rd.
5. Old School Rd becomes Privileage Creek Rd.
6. West on Hwy 16 through Bandera.
7. South on Kyle Ranch Rd.
8. West on Hwy 470
9. South on Hwy 472 in Tarpley, TX
10. West on Ross Road
11. South on Ross Road / CR 121
12. West on CR 211
13. North on CR 111
14. West on Hwy 470
15. North on Hwy 187 towards Vanderpool
16. West, Northwest on West Sabinal Road
17. East on Hwy 337, past Medina
18. Northeast on 2828
19. North on Hwy 173
20. Northeast on Hwy 480, end of route back in Center Point

Wasabi
11-26-2005, 12:35 PM
Richard, thanks for the route directions. I was able to track all the roads using mapsource except West Sabinal road. This is a keeper. Hope to test my KLR on the route in the near future. :chug:

Excellent report and pics,

Map Source version of the route.

http://wasabi.smugmug.com/photos/46016046-M.jpg

fastmonstr
11-26-2005, 01:03 PM
It looks like a good ride. I'll check it out in a few weeks.I might make a weekend out of it and camp at Lost Maples.

I followed your directions and created a gpx file. See attachment.

Trail Boss
11-26-2005, 01:54 PM
Wasabi and Scott,

Thanks for posting that map and the GPS files, respectively.

The route was really fun to ride. I had not been on any of the dirt roads we rode yesterday and Mike had been on some, but not all, the dirt roads we hit yesterday. Mike told me that several years ago he had crossed the 2nd river crossing and the water came up to the bottom of his gas tank on the GS.

So, note that the crossing may be quite a bit deeper following a periord of rain. Plan accordingly (as in plan to get down there after a rain :-D )

Tourmeister
11-27-2005, 01:45 AM
:tab Looks like it was a blast. I really look forward to more of your reports of DS riding in that area. I have been wanting to get out there to explore but seldom have the opportunity. The detailed route descriptions are great!

Trail Boss
11-27-2005, 07:34 AM
Scott,

Thank you for the comments. It's just the type of encouragement that will keep me posting ride reports.

Next on my list is a dirt road I heard about that is west of Llano and is 28 miles of dirt with 3 water crossings. Rumor has it the first of these is really, really wide - 50 yards or so. I'll let you know what I discover.

Hillcountryrambler
11-27-2005, 07:56 PM
Great trip report, again, Richard. Not kidding. Great photos and interesting commentary. You could give up your regular line of work and do this full time. Of course, I've had such ideas before, and they typically led to my being single. Women, for some reason, are generally unsupportive of men doing work which is fun.

Trail Boss
11-27-2005, 08:44 PM
Thanks so much for the complements. If some magazine came along and offered me the opportunity to ride and write for a living I'd have to seriously consider doing it. :-D

In the meantime, I'll keep writing stories and posting them here. :)

Tourmeister
11-28-2005, 01:55 AM
You can find them that will pay, but seldom enough to make a living, or hardly even enough to cover the cost of the ride ;-)

Hoop
12-01-2005, 08:56 PM
I got a kick out of your report, especially the food sections. I have a former dirt biking buddy, who is now a GWRRA-type, and his ride reports never failed to include descriptions of everything they ate. Great trip down memory lane.

Teeds
12-02-2005, 07:37 AM
Great report Richard.

I wondered many of those roads on my travels back and forth from Dallas to Bandera while building Bandera Chevrolet last year. Unfortunately I was in my truck, but onece a biker, always a biker.

I did collect a number of great routes I want to check out on my XR-R.

Larry_77084
01-10-2006, 11:45 PM
Desert Skies,

If I can figure out a way to post a map, I will. I've got Microsoft Streets & Trips so there must be a way to get a postable map from that.

Speaking of "head of ranch security" my kid used to love those "Hank the cowdog" books. We kid around now that our dog, Pete, is head of security at our house.

I have streets and trip too, email me the file would ya, Larry_77084@yahoo.com Thanks

whoa
01-11-2006, 01:52 PM
Excellent write-up, thanks so much for posting. I've been trying to get out there for weeks now and you show me I just need to wake up early one morning and hit it.

I just want to do the hard top, but looking at your pics makes me think I should get the Tiger's feet wet. May need to rent a room in Kerville and try both.

I've made a mental note on using side stand. Learn from others...:mrgreen:

David