View Full Version : A Big Water Crossing and a Busted Hamstring

Trail Boss
12-03-2005, 08:40 PM
A Big Water Crossing and a Busted Hamstring

The anti-inflammatory is finally starting to work and I’ve iced my left hamstring once already. I’ll be icing it again later this evening. I’m hoping it’s not too tore up, but based on the swelling and pain, I’m not holding out much hope. Was it worth it? Maybe. I will say that, worth it or not, it sure was fun. Let me tell you about it, but I warn you in advance if you go try it yourself and end up like me with a bum leg, it’s not my fault. Consider yourself warned.

I had heard there was a really wide river crossing southwest of Llano, TX but I didn’t know where exactly it was. Then I read about 3 river crossings and 25 miles of dirt road south of Mason, TX in the book Motorcycle Journeys Through Texas. Surely, both sources were referring to the same crossing? Obviously, with this little bit of bait I was hooked. Today was as good as any to go find those crossings, verify they were there, and then come here and shoot off my big mouth telling all of you about them.

I put the call out to the Central TX KLR 650 Riders Google group and also posted an invite here on Two Wheeled Texans. Five other hardy souls answered my call for water crossing exploration. Four of my KLR riding brethren joined in and Claire showed up on her beautiful red Wee Strom.

Claire and her red Wee Strom. She’s had it a year and has already put 10,000 miles on it.

On his way to our meeting location the wet streets caused Marco to slide out in a turn. His new M-60 machine gun ammo can panniers are now battle scarred.

Leaving Austin we headed west on 290 to Fitzhugh Road west, headed for Johnson City where we would be meeting up with Ron and Mike. Randy joined us during our ride down Fitzhugh. Once we reached Johnson City our team of 6 was all together and ready to ride.

From Johnson City we headed west post haste. We ran back roads all the way past Willow City, passing south of Enchanted Rock, with the ultimate goal of getting to and riding the James River Road south of Mason.

Welgehausen Road gave us a marvelous view of Enchanted Rock. None of us had ever been on Welgehausen Road before, so it was a new treat for all of us.

KLRs and Enchanted Rock

We reached the first water crossing of the day at Threadgill Creek Road. It wasn’t a big crossing and the concrete didn’t seem to be covered in slime either, so it was a good warm up for the other crossing we were riding in anticipation of.

Randy at the first crossing

Claire’s first water crossing (I think)

Ron crossing over

Mike got a little spirited with the throttle while crossing but managed to save it.

Our next crossing was a little further up Threadgill Creek Road. This one was quite a bit bigger than the first crossing we had done earlier. This particular crossing had a big, dirty puddle of water right at the beginning of the crossing. There was no way to tell by looking how deep it was or what the surface was like. It could have been an inch deep and a dirt bottom or it could have been 3 feet deep and full of football sized rocks. I was in the lead so I decided to reconnoiter via KLR and simply plowed right into the water. Luckily, it wasn’t full of football sized rocks, though the water was kind of deep. Once safely on the other size, I broke out the camera to record the crossing for all posterity.

Marko ½ way across the 2nd crossing.

Randy crosses over

Mike crossing over

Ron likes water crossings. That is the big, dirty pool I mentioned above.

Claire and the Wee Strom had no problems with the water crossing.

No long after our 2nd crossing, Claire had to leave the group. She had a new puppy at home that needed care and she couldn’t be gone the entire day. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you view it) she missed the really big crossing that was coming up.

We had been on the road for about 4 hours at this point and had been on dirt roads for an hour or so. At the intersection of Salt Branch Road and River Road we needed a little break. The terrain out here is interesting. It’s not as hilly as the terrain east of here, but there is a ton of scrub brush, short trees, and lots of rocks.

There aren’t a lot of houses out here. Just scrub brush, cactus and trees extending to the horizon.

Seemingly in the middle of nowhere there is a road sign. At least you will know where you are.

After our brief but refreshing stop, we were finally on the road that had dragged us all out here in the first place – James River road. Remember, there were supposed to be 3 good water crossing on this road. The first crossing we came to was dry. Hmmm, not a good sign. It looked just like a typical Texas creek – dry except following a rain and there hasn’t been much rain lately.

A little further up the road, things started to look lots better. Looming in front of us was the widest crossing I’ve ever done. The water wasn’t too deep but it clear and flowing quickly. This is really a beautiful area and the water had a really nice greenish tint.

Randy at the first crossing of the James River (that would be the James River in Texas, not the one in Virginia).

Ron at the same spot.

Mike made it across safely.

My KLR makes this whole scene even more beautiful, doesn’t it?

Our confidence high, we continued on our way. I knew there was supposed to be 1 more crossing up ahead, the biggest of them all. How bad could it be?

First view of the last and largest crossing. HOLY MOLY!

Dude, this looked serious. That photo doesn’t do it justice. This crossing was serious stuff. It was really wide – maybe twice as wide as the last one – the water was quite deep and it was moving pretty darn fast too. I’m not a veteran water crosser or anything and this one made me pause to consider whether I really wanted to tackle it or not.

Not wanting to draw out the suspense (or delay so long that I chickened out) I plunged in, with the other 4 watching closely to see how I faired. Things started off okay. I entered the water on the right side of the crossing and the bike was handling okay. I noticed that it was quite a bit deeper on the right side, so I made a slight correction to move to the left side of the crossing and that’s when things took a turn for the worse. What I failed to notice was that about ½ way across the left side of the crossing was covered in silt, algae, moss, oil, grease, ice – whatever it was it was friggin slick. It wasn’t the typical green algae I’m used to; it actually looked like a combination of moss and silt. Whatever it was, the KLR decided it didn’t like it. The back end of the bike decided to swing around and become the front of the bike. I wasn’t having any of that and got the bike straightened out. No sooner that I had the bike straight, the front end decided to make a left turn. Again, I got the bike mostly straightened out. The third time, though, was a doozy. The back end had another go at swinging right and out while the front end took advantage of the situation and made another left turn. With the back of the bike swinging out to the right and the front end turning left, I was overwhelmed and down went the bike. I put my left leg down in the hopes of getting things straight, but no luck. The best I could do was slow the rate of fall in order to keep the damage to a minimum.

At that point, I felt a pop in my left hamstring. “Oh”, thinks I, “that’s gonna be hurting really bad in not too long of a time.

So, there I am. I’m ¾ the way across and the KLR is down. My left hamstring is sending me some alarming signals. I quickly try to pick up the bike but am confounded by the inability to fully use my left leg and by the bike sliding away from me each time I try to lift it. I lift the bike ½ way and both tires slide away from me. The bike falls back into the water. I try again with the same results. Dang it.

Mike and Randy, who are next in line to cross, see my predicament and immediately plunge into the water with their bikes. Taking a clue from my crossing problems, both stay to the right side and cross over with no problems at all. Parking their bikes on the far side of the crossing, they wade into the water to help me get my bike up. However, the slick stuff proves too much and down goes Randy. Luckily he isn’t injured and only gets soaked up to his waist.

Finally Mike manages to skate his way to me and we are able to get the bike up just as Randy reaches us too. We start pushing the bike toward the far side but that slick stuff isn’t done with us yet, oh no. The back end of the bike swings out to the right one more time and down the bike goes. We catch it, get it upright, and try again. Sliding and skating we finally get the bike out of the river. It was tough just trying to stand up in that slick stuff, much less ride in it. I’m glad we got the bike out without further injury or insult to it or me.

With adrenaline still coursing throughout my body I ignored the pain in my left hamstring, grabbed my camera and positioned myself to capture Ron and Marko crossing.

Marko is ¼ of the way across in this picture.

Marko making waves.

A little past ½ way

Ron just getting started, wisely staying as far away from the treacherous side as he can.

Ron looking good so far.

Ron rockin’ and rollin’

My favorite picture from the entire day - Ron and his KLR patrol boat.

With all of us now re-grouped on the far side, I checked my bike out. Would it start after being on its side in the water for a couple of minutes? I hit the start button and ‘ol Bessie fired right up as if nothing had happened. Sweet! But, dang, my left hamstring was starting to throb.

After a 5 minute break and a few chuckles about my mishap, we continued on our way. Our next destination was lunch in Mason, TX for lunch. It was about 1 p.m. at this point, we had been on the road for 5 hours, and we were all getting a little hungry. Luckily, Randy knew a good little café in Mason, the Willow Creek Café, that would fill our need.

Parked outside the café with Ron, on the left, giving us a big waving. Hi Ron!

The Willow Creek Café – nice place, good food, not expensive.

Well, that’s it for the day. All during lunch my left hamstring was really giving me grief. I decided that a straight shot back to Austin would be in the best interest of my leg. I headed south on 87 to Fredericksburg and then grabbed 290 east back to Austin, where an ice pack, more anti-inflammatories, and (hopefully) an understanding wife awaited.

Thus ends my story. Was it worth it? I will let you know in the next few days after the full extent of my injuries become apparent. Would I do it again? Oh yeah!

Though my story is over, here are some of the comments from my riding buddies and the adventures they had after leaving the café.

Ron sent this message this evening: “Richard--outstanding route today, which, of course, only adds pressure on you to top today's sojourn with one even more spectacular. The view of Enchanted Rock would melt the coldest yankee's heart.

Randy, Marko and I on 29 continued to Llano, very little traffic, and then s. on 71. Randy headed home (at a high rate of speed, I might
add) and Marko wanted more dirt so Marko and I went W. on 308 to E. 310, then S. on 310A, to E. 3347, S on 962. I took 302 and Marko continued n 962 to 71 and home.

Fantastic day. 225 miles for me and I know more for you and probably
everyone else.

thanks for organizing and leading the tour.”

(Ron, you are welcome. Thanks for not making fun of me. I’m not sure I can top this one – let me think about it while my leg heals.)

Marko followed up Ron’s message with this: “Marko was a dolt and decided to take the 962 spur that said it went to Bee Caves..(thinking 2244) that I could take to Mopac...

Ended up on hamilton pool road, and dropped the bike on a 40 degree incline going up the mountain cuz I wasn't in 1st gear. Bike stalled, then leaned over.. Started spewing fuel ouf of the gas cap. Caught fire and exploded! No I'm just kidding. I do have a very interesting front brake lever. Its bent into a hook shape now and barely engages. Ended up on 620 to 2222 to 360 to Mopac to home.

I need a GPS. :)


(Marko, my wife and I were reading your message together and as she read she kept saying “oh no” in an increasingly alarmed tone. Then she busted out laughing when the depths of your deceit was revealed. We are glad you didn’t catch on fire and burn up.)

Bonus Section: In case my story of fun and woe has cast a spell on you, here is today’s route starting in Austin and ending at the Willow Creek Café. I used the “Roads of Texas” to plan this route.

West on 290
West on Fitzhugh / 2766 to Johnson City
North on 281
West on 1323 to Willow City
West on Eckert Rd
West on Crabapple Rd
North on 965
West on Welgehausen Rd
North on Keese Rd
West on Keese-Sagebiel Rd
South on 2323
West on Cherry Springs Rd
North on 87
West on Threadgill Creek Rd
Rt turn at intersection of Threadgill Rd and Jack Rabbit Rd
Wst on Gestweidt Rd
North on Onion Creek Rd
West on Salt Branch Rd
North on James River Rd
North (left) on 2389
North on 1723
North on 87 into Mason, TX
Willow Creek Café is on the square in Mason

12-03-2005, 09:24 PM
Hi all, this is Marko with a few pictures that I managed to take...

to see them all go to http://www.nexuslabs.com/~marko/klr/ride-12-3-05/

Speaks for itself.

The water looked incredible. I think Richard and Randy got a real _taste_ of it tho.

It was a little too mesmerizing...for Richard..

Yeti quality zoom...

And my Lord of the Rings style Elven Brake Lever

12-03-2005, 09:33 PM
West on 290
West on Fitzhugh / 2766 to Johnson City
North on 281
West on 1323 to Willow City
West on Eckert Rd
West on Crabapple Rd
North on 965
West on Welgehausen Rd
North on Keese Rd
West on Keese-Sagebiel Rd
South on 2323
West on Cherry Springs Rd
North on 87
West on Threadgill Creek Rd
Rt turn at intersection of Threadgill Rd and Jack Rabbit Rd
Wst on Gestweidt Rd
North on Onion Creek Rd
West on Salt Branch Rd
North on James River Rd
North (left) on 2389
North on 1723
North on 87 into Mason, TX
Willow Creek Café is on the square in Mason

Curse ye! I'm on my way!

Seriously, I'm sorry I missed out, and I'm even sorrier I got beat to some of those roads... A few weeks ago, my dad and I set out on a route that included several of those roads; Eckert-Salt branch portion, only reversed, only to end up sitting in the Llano ER for 4 hours after Dad took a high-speed detour through a ditch that ended at nasty waterbar...:-(

Trail Boss
12-03-2005, 09:59 PM

I hope your Dad is okay.

I recommend the James River road to you, though I suggest you take somebody with you when you go. :)

One of these days we are going to get to ride together.

12-03-2005, 11:01 PM
I forgot to add that when Ron, Randy and I left the diner, we were tooling along a road at a pretty brisk pace... There was a falcon of some kind standing in the center of our lane (2 lane road) and all 3 of us rode within a foot or two of it and it just stood there transfixed. I don't know if it dodged any cars that were behind us or not.

That goes up there as one of the wierdest riding events I've experienced. Not as bad as when a bird dive-bombed a half-eaten half-alive huge red wasp onto my jacket while riding tandem with my girlfriend. She says she did not hear my screams....


12-03-2005, 11:43 PM
Yeti quality zoom...

:rofl: :rofl:

Awesome report! It is killing me to read them and to not be out there with you guys :suicide:

Not sure how hard it is to pull the spark plug on a KLR, but on the GS, had I gone under, I would have pulled both plugs and cranked the bike a few times to make sure there was no water in the cylinders. IF there is and you crank it, it can be serious bad news for the motor... :brainsnap

Great pics! Thanks for the detailed route description. I wish one of you guys would get a GPS and make track files ;-)

12-04-2005, 07:37 PM
Wow, I'm sorry I missed the most exciting part of the ride. :shock: I hope your hamstring heals soon Richard. Thanks for the route planning and leading, this was a real enjoyable ride, and a great bunch of guys to ride with. :chug:

That muddy pool on the second water crossing really had me nervous, what with the loose softball size rocks in it. If I'd been alone out there, I would have done a u-turn. But after watching the 5 KLR's make it safely across, I couldn't wuss out... Upon splashing into the pool, I thought "ah crap, I should have put my visor down so that I don't get a facefull of muddy water when I dump it". But the Wee-Strom performed like a champ. What a rush!

Here's a few pics:

Richard, somewhere near Pedernales Falls State Park:

Harry's in Willow City:

After I headed back towards Austin, I took a little detour off Rt 152, onto Llano Co Rd 103, and this low-water bridge:

Excellent ride, can't wait to do it again!

12-04-2005, 07:45 PM
I wish one of you guys would get a GPS and make track files ;-)

Missing the most westerly portion of the ride, but here ya go. I'm trying to attach a gpx file, hopefully this works...

12-05-2005, 04:00 PM
Richard, how is the hamstring? Getting better or worse? Thanks for sacrificing yourself for our enjoyment ;-)

Trail Boss
12-05-2005, 04:30 PM

I'm happy to report that my hamstring is improving rapidly. The pain peaked Sat evening and has been decreasing steadily since. I'm still walking with a limp, but it is only a slight limp now as compared to my "leg dragging" style from Sat afternoon. I'm thinking I may make a complete recovery without having to even see a doctor. Sweet! And best of all, I should be completely healed by the time I get out to Big Bend on the 23rd where more dual sport adventures are even now calling to me.

Thanks for asking.

12-05-2005, 06:56 PM
Wow, that looks like my kind of ride...except for the water part. I'm a chicken when it comes to water or mud. Glad your leg is better.

12-05-2005, 10:17 PM
What a fun story to read complemented with good pictures.
Sorry about droping the bike and hope your hamstring will be ok soon.
Thanks for sharing...

12-06-2005, 07:41 AM
Richard, how is the hamstring? Getting better or worse? Thanks for sacrificing yourself for our enjoyment ;-)
Yea, some of us do that ;-). What is it about leading these rides that destins us to become the featured injury (or silly photos of a 500+lb bike rubber-up)?

12-06-2005, 01:44 PM
Being first means you don't have the luxury of watching someone else's mistakes and learning from them ;-) Of course, it is more excting because you are the one blazing the trail!

Tx Rider
12-14-2005, 04:00 PM
Well if I'm along I'll always volunteer to go first into the water or mud or whatever... :)

12-14-2005, 04:04 PM
Well if I'm along I'll always volunteer to go first into the water or mud or whatever... :)
Oh good, we'll need you in AZ... ;-)

12-14-2005, 04:05 PM
Just make sure he waits for you to get your camera out and ready :-P