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Trail Boss
03-25-2006, 11:21 PM
Some Days Are Just Better Than Others


It’s true, you know. Some days are just better than other days. Today was one of those days. I’ll admit up front that any day spent riding a dual sport motorcycle is likely to not only be a pretty darn good day, but also a better day than a non-riding day. Even so, some riding days are better than other riding days. Not only are the roads perfect, but the weather cooperates, the traffic cooperates, heck even the bugs cooperate and stay off your face shield. Today was one of those days. To top it off, we discovered some wonderful dual sport roads that we had never ridden before. As an added bonus, we even stumbled upon a spectacular paved road (If any of you reading this are pavement only riders there is a road in my story you will definitely want to add to your “must ride” list – it’s that good.) After surviving cancer it’s understandable why Lance Armstrong said, “I now have only good days and great days.” In line with Lance’s way of thinking, today, for me, was a great day.

The plan was to spend a day exploring some potential dual sport roads in the Texas hill country. I had spotted several roads in the hill country that my Roads of Texas atlas indicated were unpaved. If it’s unpaved I want to go ride it. The Roads of Texas atlas is a pretty good atlas, and was even recently updated, but sometimes the atlas is wrong and previously unpaved roads are now paved. And, while the atlas is pretty good about distinguishing paved from unpaved, it doesn’t tell you the quality of that road. Is it a twisty road, with lots of elevation changes and some unbelievable scenery and vistas? Or is it a boring, run-of-the-mill unpaved road with few curves or views and whose only redeeming factor is that it’s unpaved? There is only one way to find out and that is to go ride those roads. That’s what I set out to do and all I needed was a good day to do it.

Wednesday night the weatherman said the weather on Saturday was going to be sunny with a high of 72 degrees. Sounded like perfect riding weather. I put the call out to the Central TX KLR group and to the dual sport crowd at Two Wheeled Texans – who wants to go exploring on Saturday? Despite the late notice, several riders answered with “Let’s ride”.

Three of us met up early Saturday morning and pointed our KLRs west toward Boerne, TX. Randy “Old School” Jackson, who has ridden with me several times before, had one of his infrequent “Saturday off” days and was able to join in. Tom “dirtdauber” Wiley joined in for his first group ride on his new-to-him KLR. Tom had recently picked up a primo red 2005 KLR that the previous owner had put all of 1800 miles on, so it was barely broken in. Tom has had the KLR for a few weeks and has ridden about 1000 miles on it so far. A fourth rider, Marko, was forced to cancel out at the last minute.

Tom Wiley
http://i27.photobucket.com/albums/c178/rgibbens/Found%20some%20new%20Hill%20Country%20DS%20roads/TomWiley.jpg

Today was also a test day for some side racks and saddle bags I had just put on my KLR (hey, it’s my story so I get to include this stuff too. :-P ) The KLR is a great bike, but if you put saddle bags on it the right saddle bag and side plastic will melt against the exhaust. (I know this because the previous owner of my bike tested it. :doh: Really, it was the previous owner and not me.) The solution is to buy some aftermarket side racks that will keep the saddle bags from pressing the side plastic against the exhaust. I’m planning a couple of multi-day trips for later this year and needed more storage capacity. I bought a set of side racks from an ebay seller so I could add saddle bags to my KLR and today was the first test of the new side racks. I swiped the saddle bags off my streetbike for my test.

Left side saddle bag.
http://i27.photobucket.com/albums/c178/rgibbens/Found%20some%20new%20Hill%20Country%20DS%20roads/Leftsaddlebag.jpg

Right side saddle bag. You can see the end of the side rack sticking out by the muffle.
http://i27.photobucket.com/albums/c178/rgibbens/Found%20some%20new%20Hill%20Country%20DS%20roads/Rightsaddlebag.jpg

Rear shot of both saddle bags. (For those bored with my saddle bag pictures, note the Jim’s Restaurant in the background. Jims serves a great breakfast. I recommend the omelet. My wife recommends the “Rustler’s roundup”.)
http://i27.photobucket.com/albums/c178/rgibbens/Found%20some%20new%20Hill%20Country%20DS%20roads/Saddlebags.jpg

The good news is that the side racks did their job. No burned side plastic or saddle bags. Sweet! Looks like the saddle bags are finally ready for the Copper Canyon run later this year.

From the Albertson’s parking lot at the “Y” in Oak Hill we headed west on Hwy 290 to Dripping Springs. Here’s our route. Grab your “Roads of Texas” atlas and follow along:

Hwy 290 west to Dripping Springs
West on Creek Rd / CR 190
South on CR 220
West on CR 219 (unpaved, scenic)
West on RR 2325
South on CR 113 (paved and unpaved, good road)
West on CR 408 (paved and unpaved, okay road)
South / West on CR 407 (mostly paved, but fun)
West on RR 165
South on CR 405

This was my first time to ride CR 405. It turned out to be a sweet little dual sport road that I recommend to you. Immediately after turning onto CR 405 we crossed the Blanco River at a very scenic low water crossing. The recent rains were not enough to cause the water level to be high enough to overflow the bridge though. Tom grabbed a shot of Randy and me crossing the bridge. A little way up the road, I grabbed the following shot. Most of the road looked like this; the road was only one lane wide and had lots of trees near the road edges. You wouldn’t want to run off the edge of the road either, since it had some deep, narrow drainage ditches that would seriously challenge your riding skills.

Blanco CR 405, looking south and uphill
http://i27.photobucket.com/albums/c178/rgibbens/Found%20some%20new%20Hill%20Country%20DS%20roads/BlancoCR405.jpg

CR 405 ends at RR 32. From there we ran RR 32 to Hwy 281 and on to Blanco. Here’s the route from the intersection of CR 405 and RR 32:

West on RR 32
North on Hwy 281 to Blanco
South / West on CR 102 / Old Blanco Rd
West on FM 473
South on 1376
West / South on Marquardt Rd

Marquardt Road was one of the roads my atlas indicated had some unpaved sections. It runs pretty much due west for the first few miles and then runs due south for several miles. Then it becomes Walnut Grove Rd. Marquardt Rd turned out to be both paved and quite scenic.

Marquardt Road, shortly after turning onto it from Hwy 1376. Fun, scenic road.
http://i27.photobucket.com/albums/c178/rgibbens/Found%20some%20new%20Hill%20Country%20DS%20roads/StartofMarquardtRd.jpg

Continuing south Marquardt becomes Walnut Grove Road. Shortly after becoming Walnut Grove Road there is a sign that says “pavement ends”. Ironically, the sign is located exactly where a brand new patch of black tar pavement has been laid down. Sigh. Another dual sport road wiped out forever in order to meet the needs of the people who actually live on that road. I can’t say I don’t understand why the people who actually live on that road want it paved, it’s just that I selfishly don’t want it paved.

Luckily, the pavement ended a short distance later at this gate.
http://i27.photobucket.com/albums/c178/rgibbens/Found%20some%20new%20Hill%20Country%20DS%20roads/1stGateonWalnutGroveRd.jpg

If you haven’t ridden these particular types of county roads before, you might be fooled into thinking this is a private road. It’s not. It’s a gated county road. You can legally ride on this road as long as you don’t venture off the road onto the private property abutting both sides of the road and as long as you close the gate behind you so the cattle don’t get out. The road is gated and there are several warning signs, but the fact is this is a public road. The “no trespassing” signs you often see on roads like this are referring to the land on each side of the roadway but not the roadway itself. Typically the owner’s post a “private road” sign for roads that are not public roads. Some ranchers even go so far as to put a lock on the chain of the gate, but this is meant to fool you into thinking the gate is locked. It’s not. You can just unhook the chain, lock and all, open the gate, and drive on through. Close the gate behind you. We went through 3 or 4 of these gates on Walnut Grove Rd.

The unpaved part of Walnut Grove Road
http://i27.photobucket.com/albums/c178/rgibbens/Found%20some%20new%20Hill%20Country%20DS%20roads/UnpavedpartofWalnutGroveRd.jpg

See that grass growing in the middle of the road? Well, there was lots more of it as we continued down this road. What a great road! It got all rutted up, with grass growing all along its middle. It looked just like some ranchers jeep trail through his pasture. It went up, down, all around, through a creek or two, past a couple of barns and some sleeping cows. The only thing wrong with this road is that it wasn’t a whole lot longer. This road needs to be 30 miles long, not 3. Other than that, it was wonderful. You’ve got to ride this road the next time you are in the area. In fact, you should make it a point to be in the area so you can ride all of Marquardt and Walnut Grove Road.

At this point we had been on the road for about 3 hours and doggone it, it was lunch time. Walnut Grove ended at Hwy 1376 which we ran south to Boerne. Once we got into Boerne, I spotted Sely’s Mexican Restaurant and, based on the numerous vehicles parked in their parking lot, made a command decision to stop in. It turned out to be a good choice as the food was tasty and reasonably priced.

Sely’s Restaurant, Boerne, TX
http://i27.photobucket.com/albums/c178/rgibbens/Found%20some%20new%20Hill%20Country%20DS%20roads/SelysTexMexBoerne.jpg

The obligatory food shot. Randy is on the left, Tom is on the right. My giant burrito is sitting unguarded to Randy’s left.
http://i27.photobucket.com/albums/c178/rgibbens/Found%20some%20new%20Hill%20Country%20DS%20roads/LunchatSelysTexMex.jpg

Once we had silenced our growling stomachs we faced an important decision. Nap or ride? Just kidding. No naps required. Time to ride. We blew out of there like bad weather, seeking more adventures and unpaved roads. I meant for us to parallel Interstate 10 north toward Comfort for a brief distance until we reached Spanish Pass Rd. Unfortunately, I dorked up and we ended up ON Interstate 10 instead of BESIDE Interstate 10. I wanted to simply ride off the side of the interstate, cross the median to the road that paralleled it, but not sure if my riding companions were as willing to break the law and risk a fine as I was, I opted to continue on I-10 to the Hwy 289 exit. Unfortunately, in the process we missed Spanish Pass Road, though I made a mental note to ride it next time. It looks really enticing on the map, but alas, will have to wait for another day.

Once we exited I-10 onto Hwy 289, we rode 289 to its bitter end and grabbed Little Joshua Creek Road. First, we had to go through another of those tricky gates though. I grabbed this shot as soon as cleared the gate. It was our first look at Little Joshua Creek Road and a very encouraging look it was.

Our first glimpse of Little Joshua Creek Road. Looks promising doesn’t it?
http://i27.photobucket.com/albums/c178/rgibbens/Found%20some%20new%20Hill%20Country%20DS%20roads/LittleJoshuaCreekRd.jpg

Guys and gals, I’m here to tell you Little Joshua Creek Road was a gem of a road. Twisty, turny, up, down, paralleling and then crossing Little Joshua Creek, it was a fine dual sport road. The only thing wrong with it was that it was too darn short. It must be first cousins with Walnut Grove Road. Short or not, you should ride this road. It’s just fun.

Little Joshua Creek Rd runs into Waring-Welfare Road, which is paved. Waring-Welfare Road runs smack-dab through the middle of Welfare, TX. Did you know there is a Welfare, TX? I didn’t. They had a single store, and it appeared to be open, but we didn’t stop in.

A short distance later we turned west onto to Hein Rd. Hein turned out to be a paved road, but at least it was scenic. At the first water crossing there was the remnants of an elevated bridge that used to cross Big Joshua Creek. (Devishly clever how they named the smaller of the 2 creeks in the area Little Joshua Creek and the larger one Big Joshua Creek.) I’m guessing there must have been a train track here at some time in the past and the bridge remnants were from that, but didn’t explore further to confirm. In any case, no matter what it used to be, it was interesting looking.

Tom and Randy crossing Big Joshua Creek on Hein Road
http://i27.photobucket.com/albums/c178/rgibbens/Found%20some%20new%20Hill%20Country%20DS%20roads/HeinRdwatercrossing.jpg

To bring you up to speed on our route so far, picking up back on Marquardt Road:

South on Walnut Grove Rd
South on Hwy 1376
South on Hwy 87 to Boerne and lunch
North on Hwy 87
North on IH-10 darn it
Exit Hwy 289
North on Little Joshua Creek Rd
North on Waring-Welfare Rd
West on Hein Rd

We got a little off track at the end of Hein Rd. The map directed us to head north on Waring Rd for a short distance and then west on Blaschke Rd. However, Blaschke Rd was nowhere to be found north on Waring Rd. Instead we found it south on Waring Rd.

Once we successfully located Blaschke Rd we ran it west to Big Joshua Creek Rd. Clever how they named the road paralleling Big Joshua Creek Big Joshua Creek Road, huh? Still, it was a very nice road. Big Joshua Creek Road hung a right turn, headed north, and became Holiday Road. Again, a typical fun hill country road.

Then we hit Sky Line Road. With a name like Sky Line Road you’d think it would be something special. Hey, you pavement only riders, now it’s time to start paying attention. Sky Line Road is paved for its entire length and it is one spectacular road. Wow! I highly recommend this road to everyone – street only and dual sport riders. When you first turn onto Sky Line Rd from Holiday Rd, you are down in a valley and you start climbing straight up to the top of the adjacent hills. Nice steep climb. Short, but steep. Scenic too. The view gets better all the time. Some lucky, rich individual owns most or all the property up on top of the hill and has a really impressive spread. Once you pass his place though and get over to the west side of the hill the views are absolutely wonderful. Unfortunately, my picture taking skills are insufficient to fully capture the view. Here’s the best I could do with my limited abilities.

Looking north from Sky Line Road
http://i27.photobucket.com/albums/c178/rgibbens/Found%20some%20new%20Hill%20Country%20DS%20roads/SkyLineDr1.jpg

Looking west from Sky Line Road
http://i27.photobucket.com/albums/c178/rgibbens/Found%20some%20new%20Hill%20Country%20DS%20roads/SkyLineRd2.jpg

Trust me on this. Ride this road the next time you are in the area. The only thing wrong with this road is the same thing wrong with those earlier roads – it’s just too short, though, to be fair, it was quite a bit longer than those earlier roads we talked about.

After Sky Line Rd we worked our way to Comfort, TX. From there we headed west on Hwy 473 to Upper Sisterdale Rd. Some of you already know (and sniveled) that I rode Upper Sisterdale Rd two weeks ago but failed to take any pictures of it. A mistake I aimed to correct. Luckily Upper Sisterdale Rd was on our way home. However, shortly before we reached Upper Sisterdale Rd a fellow KLR rider passed us. I waved him down and we had an impromptu meeting on the side of Hwy 473. His name was Dennis and he is a Restaurateur in Boerne. He was on his way home, but after our introductions he decided to ride Upper Sisterdale Road with us.

Tom on Upper Sisterdale Road
http://i27.photobucket.com/albums/c178/rgibbens/Found%20some%20new%20Hill%20Country%20DS%20roads/UpperSisterdaleRd.jpg

At the end of Upper Sisterdale Road, Dennis broke away from our group. Before he left, though, he extended an invitation for our Central TX KLR riders group to go for a ride in the hill country and then have a BBQ at his ranch or lunch at his restaurant. Sounds good to me. I got his contact info and will be in touch.

We ran Hwy 1376 south through Sisterdale and then grabbed Hwy 473 east towards Austin. We had some daylight remaining, so we elected to run Old Blanco Road again, but instead of running it all the way into Blanco we turned east onto CR 101 a few miles shy of Blanco. CR 101 is a wonderful, single lane road connecting Old Blanco Road with Hwy 281 at the community of Twin Sisters. If you haven’t run CR 101 before, add it to your list. It’s all paved, but still insufficiently maintained to qualify as a dual sport road. There is one good low water crossing too, for those who like that sort of thing.

Randy at Blanco CR 101 low water crossing
http://i27.photobucket.com/albums/c178/rgibbens/Found%20some%20new%20Hill%20Country%20DS%20roads/Randy-BlancoCR101watercrossingv2.jpg

Tom at Blanco CR 101 low water crossing
http://i27.photobucket.com/albums/c178/rgibbens/Found%20some%20new%20Hill%20Country%20DS%20roads/Tom-BlancoCR101watercrossing.jpg

Here’s our route from Hein Rd:

South on Waring Rd
West on Blaschke Rd
North on Holiday Rd
West on Sky Line Rd
Navigate a few short roads to Hwy 27 (I don’t know the names of these roads. Sorry.)
Hwy 27 east to Comfort
North / West on Hwy 473
East on Upper Sisterdale Rd
South on Hwy 1376
West on Hwy 473
North / East on Old Blanco Road / CR 102
East on CR 101
North on Hwy 281
East on Hwy 473
East on Hwy 32
North on Fischer Rd
West on Hwy 2325
North on CR 244
North on CR 220
East on CR 194

Once we reached the end of CR 101 at Hwy 281, we worked our way east towards Austin. At Hwy 2325 Tom broke away and headed off to his home. Randy and I continued along secondary roads until we reached Hwy 12. Randy and I separated at this point, each headed in different directions for our respective homes. At 5 p.m., after nine hours of travel, I arrived back home.

In summary, it was just a great day. We found some new to us dual sport roads and a wonderfully scenic paved road, the weather was perfect, traffic was light, the bugs mostly avoided my face shield and the day was magic. I hope you have just as good a day when you go ride these roads.

DANNYROTH
03-25-2006, 11:55 PM
Wow, GREAT REPORT!! :clap::clap::clap:

budzrex
03-26-2006, 07:15 AM
Great report, Skyline road is nice isnt it. I have some friends out in Boerne
and their son showed me that road. Selys, is their favorite Mexican place
in town .

Chirpy
03-26-2006, 08:28 AM
Did you know there is a Welfare, TX? I didn’t. They had a single store, and it appeared to be open

Wonder if everything there was free?:mrgreen:

Looks like you guys had a nice ride as well...

fallendown
03-26-2006, 08:40 AM
Little and Big Joshua creeks, are they the same ones that you drive over on I-10 just south of Kerville? I Hiked up and down them a few years ago, I was tempted to just stay and build a house from scratch. I love the hill country, it holds some of most pleasant childhood memories. I need to get back out there again. :clap:

PS your ride report was great. Makes me wanna quit my job and rome the country side on my KLR.

Trail Boss
03-26-2006, 08:52 AM
fallendown,

Yes, they are the same.

We even had to use an underpass on I-10 as we headed west on Blaschke Road to Big Joshua Creek Rd. It was a typical concrete underpass with steep sides, but the interesting thing is that there were tire marks all over it. I was sorely tempted to add my own tires marks to it by riding my KLR up the embankment and wheeling onto the median of I-10 :rider: , but common sense got the better of me. Oh well, there's always a next time.

Tourmeister
03-28-2006, 12:28 AM
Nice :thumb: Good to see I am not the only one to flag down other riders I pass by, hehe!

DaveC
03-28-2006, 08:26 AM
I am thinking this would have been ridable on the Giant Karaoke Machine:lol2:
Alas I was to busy doing the G/W restoration to attend.

scratch
03-28-2006, 10:49 AM
Great report!

About Sky Line Drive, can you tell me if the roads at either end of it going north into Comfort are paved? My map shows those as Holiday and Mill Dam roads.

Trail Boss
03-28-2006, 11:24 AM
scratch,

Mill Dam road, from the intersection of Sky Line Rd and headed north toward Comfort is completely paved.

I believe Holiday road is paved it's entire distance, but I did not ride the northern end of it where it runs into Comfort. The southern end, from the intersection of Sky Line Rd down to Big Joshua Creek Rd is paved the entire length and I would be surprised if the northern end is not completely paved too.

Tourmeister
03-28-2006, 03:43 PM
Ohhh so close to FM 1341... :twisted: