View Full Version : Three Day, 1100 mile Dual Sport Ride to West Texas
04-18-2006, 10:21 PM
Three Day, 1100 mile Dual Sport Ride to West Texas
Hey there, fellow dual sport riding Texans. Are you, like me, constantly looking for new, fun dual sport roads to ride? Do you find yourself routinely studying your collection of maps in a quest to find likely dual sport riding opportunities? In short, does the spirit of discovery and adventure run strong in your veins? If so, then I’ve got some great Texas dual sport roads to tell you about. Three of us spent three days exploring as many dual sport roads as we could ride between Austin and Langtry, TX and back. In the process, we rode some great paved and unpaved roads – roads that you, my fellow DS riders, likely want to hear about so you can go ride them yourself.
In fact, I will go so far as to say that I think my riding partners and I may have discovered the best dual sport road in Texas that’s not in the Big Bend region. Big Bend has so many wonderful dual sport roads that everything else seems to pale in comparison. While the road I’m referring to isn’t as good as some of those rare gems in the Big Bend area it is the best I’ve found outside of that area. It’s an excellent road. As an alternate, we could call it the last great dual sport road in the hill country. What I mean by that is that not only is it a wonderful, scenic unpaved road, but it’s long too – it took about 2 hours to ride its length. Most dual sport roads in the hill country, while scenic and fun, are entirely too short, being just a few miles (or less) in length. Blame it on advancing civilization. This road is the exception. It’s long. And as an added bonus, it’s in the heart of the hill country, making it much more accessible for many DS Texans than the roads located a heck of a long way over to the west in the Big Bend region. It’s a road you will want to put on your “must ride” list.
My story isn’t about that single road though. We traveled many, many other great roads as we made our way to Langtry along the back way. If you’re interested in a great three day dual sport ride then our route might be of significant interest to you. I suspect most of the roads on our journey will be new to many of you since I’ve only read of a very few other riders having run them before.
For the past few years my Uncle Roger and I have taken a 3 day hill country ride on Easter weekend. This year’s plan was a 3 day dual sport ride since I had picked up a KLR last summer. I already knew there was one particular dual sport road in the hill country that I wanted to go explore, but we would be able to get to and ride that road in just one day. What to do for the next 2 days of riding? After pouring over the recently updated Roads of Texas atlas, I mapped out a route that took us through the Texas hill country and then on to west Texas. Our route included a jog south down to Langtry, TX, home of Judge Roy Bean, Law West of the Pecos and 2 nights in a motel in Sonora, TX. In addition to Uncle and me, two of my fellow KLR riders – Mike and Randy – planned to ride with us.
Unfortunately, on the Monday prior to our ride, Uncle called with bad news. His rear shock was blown and leaking oil, making his bike unrideable. He ordered a replacement shock, but it would be two weeks before it arrived. In short, he was not going to make the ride. I put out a call for a 4th rider on KLR650.net and Two Wheeled Texans, but with such late notice there were no takers. The Three Amigos – Randy, Mike and I - pressed on with our ride plans.
Day 1 – Friday – 380 miles
I smoked out of Austin at 7:45 a.m. Friday morning. It was cool and cloudy even though the weatherman said it was going to reach 90+ degrees by mid-afternoon. Despite predictions of very hot weather for the afternoon, the morning was perfect riding weather and just cool enough to require a jacket. Traffic was light and I was soon out of Austin. The plan was to meet Randy in Dripping Springs and then for the two of us to meet up with Mike in Blanco.
Randy and I met up in Dripping Springs and, after he topped off his gas tank, we pointed our bikes west and headed toward Blanco. After a short trip on Hwy 290, we turned onto Hwy 165 for the run into Blanco. Once in Blanco, we found Mike ready and waiting for us.
Randy and Mike, ready for 3 days of fun and adventure
From Blanco our route took us south and west to Boerne. At the first stop light in Boerne, Randy pulled up next to me and asked if I wanted to see Dennis’ restaurant. A few weeks back, during one of our Central Texas KLR 650 group rides, we had met Dennis, a fellow KLR rider, out on the road. Dennis owned a restaurant in Boerne and extended an invitation for us to ride with him and have lunch at his restaurant. A week or so later Randy and his wife had stopped by Dennis’ restaurant for dinner and Randy was raving about the food. It sounded good to me, so with Randy leading the way, we made our way to Dennis’ restaurant, the Boerne Vistro.
The restaurant wasn’t open yet as it was only 10:30 a.m. but the wait staff was prepping to open so, dressed in all our riding gear, we entered a side door and asked if Dennis was around. Sure enough he was there and the hostess went off to get him. Dennis came out, greeted us warmly, and strongly suggested we should let him feed us breakfast. Not wanting to be rude, we quickly accepted. A short time later, he returned with a heaping plate of breakfast tacos, family style. They were fantastic!
Dennis, Mike, Randy, and a great plate of breakfast tacos, Italian style
While devouring our food we explained our plan to Dennis and tried to convince him to join us for at least the rest of the day. Nothing doing, though. Friday is a busy day and he couldn’t get away from the restaurant without sufficient prior notice. We agreed to schedule a ride with him in the near future and headed out. While leaving, we spotted his KLR parked next to the restaurant and I persuaded him to pose for a picture.
Dennis and his KLR
Bellies full we continued our journey west. We ran Hwy 16 west from Bandera to RR 337 (one of the 3 sisters) for our first taste of serious riding. After a twisty time on 337 we arrived in Leakey. From there we headed north on RR 336 (another one of the 3 sisters) for several mile until we reached our first true dual sport road of the trip – RR 3235. If you’ve got the latest edition of The Roads of Texas Atlas turn to page 131 to follow my route. RR 3235 starts at RR 336 between Leakey in the south and Hwy 41 in the north. 3235 runs west, turning into an unpaved route and eventually, many miles later, joins into RR 2631 which ends at RR 335 (the third sister). I think the unpaved section is actually called Bullhead Rd, but don’t know that for sure, so I will refer to it as RR 3235.
3235 is a very good dual sport road. Shortly after reaching the unpaved section, you drop down into a valley and basically parallel a stream all the way to 2631.
Mike on the northern section of RR 3235
Randy dropping down to the creek on RR 3235
3235 is quite rocky, especially the sections that cross the stream. Here are some shots I took as we made our way west.
Mike on 3235
Randy on 3235
A little further down the road
Some twists on 3235
Randy on 3235
Mike enjoying a little shade on 3235 – it was starting to get hot just like the weatherman predicted
We ran across several bump gates on 3235
I believe a fellow rider must have been here before due to the “Stupid Hurts” sticker. There’s even a Kinky for Governor sticker out here in the boondocks.
Drink of water, repack a few things
Once we reached RR 2631 we rode west to RR 335. From there it was a quick trip south to Hwy 55 and on south to Camp Wood. This would be our last chance for food and gas for a while, so we stopped in at BJ’s café and sweet shop. It turned out to be a good choice.
BJ’s café and sweet shop
The Three Amigos – Randy, Rich, Mike (left to right) – enjoying a late lunch
BJ – proprietor
The sweet part of the sweet shop
Mike, that smooth talker, made a new friend of the waitress
Bellies once again full, off we went in search of more dual sport roads. We hung a right onto CR 390 and headed west. (Your Roads of Texas atlas shows the county roads in this area but does not provide the county road number. Your MS Streets and Trips shows the county roads too, but the numbers are most likely wrong as the county roads numbers have all changed recently due to 911 requirements. To the best of my ability, the CR numbers I use are current.)
CR 390 was a fun, but paved, road. Shortly outside of town we it climbed up a hill and afforded us a great view of the hill country.
Hill Country view from CR 390
Once we reached the end of CR 390 we turned north onto CR 380. This turned out to be a very good, unpaved road with one serious flaw – a huge number of gates. We rode CR 380 north to Barksdale and must have gone through 20 gates in 8 miles. If it hadn’t been for all the gates this would have been a terrific road. The gates were so close together that you just couldn’t enjoy the ride. My recommendation is to avoid CR 380 between Camp Wood and Barksdale when you are in the area.
Once we got near Barksdale it was a different story. We turned onto CR 353, which turned out to be an excellent unpaved road with multiple water crossings. These were not your everyday run of the mill water crossings either. They consisted of fairly large rocks, golf ball sized up to football sized, which made crossing a real adventure. Luckily the crossings weren’t excessively deep (maybe 12 inches at the deepest) or wide and all 3 of us managed to stay upright.
CR 353 carried us to CR 350 – which is the best dual sport road outside of the Big Bend region. Again referencing your Roads of Texas atlas, you can see CR 350 running from Hwy 55 north of Barksdale in the east all the way over to hwy 674 in the west. The first half of CR 350 runs directly through the hill country and is superb. The western half of CR 350, where it runs into Hwy 674, transitions you to terrain of west Texas. (Actually, I believe the western half of CR 350 is actually CR 310 but can’t verify this.)
Mike on one of several water crossings on CR 350
At one of the water crossings we came upon this 4 wheeled version of the KLR
We happened upon this “fixer er upper” special in a beautiful valley
A shot of the western half of CR 350. Not all of it is this straight though.
After about 2.5 hours of riding (including several stops for water, pictures, and marveling at the terrain) we reached Hwy 674. None of us had a GPS and there were lots of roads that intersected CR 350, so at times we weren’t completely sure we were on track. These other roads tended to be smaller and obviously less traveled, so we were able to distinguish between the main road (CR 350) and the off-shoots. This strategy worked and we successfully reached Hwy 674.
On Hwy 674 we rode north towards Rocksprings. 674, while paved, is a really fun, twisty road that I recommend to you. I shot the following picture on the northern end of Hwy 674, looking south along a valley.
From Rocksprings we road Hwy 55 west to Hwy 277 north to Sonora and our motel for the night. America’s Best Value motel was to be our base of operation for the next 2 nights and at $45 per night was appropriately priced for the KLRista brigade.
A little maintenance in the motel parking lot.
Day 1 ended with supper at a local Sonic drive-in and 380 miles on our odometer. It had been a marvelous day of riding and the discovery of a real gem of a dual sport road.
Next up – Day 2 - Injury Strikes and a Casualty Occurs
04-19-2006, 01:00 AM
My map shows CR 350 also being called Cedar Creek Rd. A few miles before 674, it becomes CR-41 (no idea if that is the old/new designation :shrug: ). I have been eyeballing that road on the maps for a few years... Good to know it is worth the ride out there! Great report. I look forward to the rest!
04-19-2006, 06:35 AM
I've got a map that labels that section of the road "Cedar Creek Rd" too, but there were no signs anywhere along the length of the road except at the eastern end of the road where it joins CR 351.
04-19-2006, 07:16 AM
Great report Richard ....looking forward to day 2-3 :clap:
04-19-2006, 07:17 AM
Thank you..:hail: Thank you..:hail: Thank you..:hail:
How I love the beautiful Texas hill country. Your photos do my Texan heart good, even though I'm living in the beautiful mountains of New Mexico for the time being, nothing soothes my soul like the Texas hill country.
Well done men! :clap: Well done.
04-19-2006, 07:56 AM
Nueces River Valley. BTW 674 is a great road now that you told everybody. You have let the cat out of the bag so to speak. It use to be a secret, Kickapoo Caverns is on it . So if you get a group together you can take a tour by appointment. The 3 Sisters are just a bit to busy. To get there by road bike take the Step Sister 334 out of Luguna ( just an intersection). There is little to no traffic on these roads, 334 crosses the Nueces. Low Water crossing so if it has been raining expect wet tires.
You have to make a point to stop, other wise the views and the road just make you want to ride.
04-19-2006, 01:46 PM
I constantly ran into that very problem. The best roads are so fun to ride they made me reluctant to stop to get more pictures.
04-19-2006, 01:53 PM
Richard I really enjoyed your report, can't wait for the other day's. Thank's for sharing, one day I will get out that way for some exploring other than the slightly above sea level riding I have been on lately.
04-19-2006, 09:22 PM
Wow, what a trip!! I really appreciate your efforts taking photos and writing up the ride reports. Living on the gulf coast, means having to ride vicariously through others some of the time. Now that I’m through sucking up, would you share some of you hill country knowledge? Three of us down here in the swamp have a Saturday through Tuesday kitchen pass and will be day riding out of Wimberley. I have the shortest range with only a 3.5 gallon tank. I’m looking for gas at 100miles.
Any advice greatly appreciated,
04-19-2006, 09:54 PM
Sure Hugh, happy to share. I'll post some suggested routes tomorrow, if that's okay. Or, if you like, I can email you some suggestions. Tag me with an email at email@example.com and I'll reply.
04-20-2006, 01:44 AM
Hugh, you need to come with us to Arkansas 4/29-5/3 :trust:
04-20-2006, 08:11 PM
Day 2 - A great bridge, Judge Roy Bean, and a locked gate - 334 miles
After a very long day 1 of 380 miles and about 12 hours of travel, we finally settled down for the evening at our motel. One of the last things Randy said to us before heading off to bed was that his arm was bothering him. Both Mike and I had noticed Randy favoring his arm throughout day 1. Obviously something was wrong.
At 6:30 a.m. on Day 2 there was a knock on the door. It was Randy and he was up and completely dressed. He thought I said we were going to be on the road at 6 a.m. while I meant for us to get out of bed at 6 a.m. Randy came into the room, and after we chuckled about the time miscommunication, he informed us that he would not be able to continue on the ride. His arm was bothering him a lot, his fingers were numb, and he didn’t think it would hold up to another long day in the saddle. He apparently had strained it earlier in the week and the beating it took from the unpaved roads on Day 1 had sent it over the edge. He decided that he needed to head for the house, hoping the arm would hold out long enough for him ride the bike home.
With that decision made, it was time to hunt down some breakfast. My recon the previous evening had uncovered a restaurant out by IH-10 that opened early, so that’s where we went. It turned out to be a wise choice – the food was good and plentiful. I recommend the “hunter’s special” next time you are there and hungry – biscuits and gravy, 2 eggs any way you want them, hash browns, and bacon, sausage, or ham. Mmmm….
Mike and Randy Outside the restaurant
After breakfast we waved goodbye to Randy and Mike and I pointed our bikes west on IH-10. Admittedly, running an interstate on KLRs is not all that fun, but we didn’t have far to go and on that day, at that time of the morning, there was almost no traffic.
About 8 miles up the road we turned south onto Hwy 1989, a paved road that runs south to the Caverns of Sonora. These caverns are one of the most active in the world, with more than 90% of the formations in the cave still “growing”. The cavern is somewhat small in size – about 7.5 miles long – and has no huge “rooms” or giant formations like its cousin, Carlsbad Caverns, to the north. However, it has been said that the Sonora caverns are exceptionally beautiful, perhaps explaining why they have been ranked as some of the most spectacular cave complexes in the world. The paved road that runs from Hwy 1989 to the caverns ain’t too shabby either, with quite a few elevation changes and twisties.
My KLR, posing in front of the Caverns of Sonora sign. I know, I know, my KLR just makes it all look so much better.
Since we had a long way to go, we decided to forego a trip down into the caverns and opted instead to continue our journey south. A few miles further south on Hwy 1989 we reach CR 410, and things really get fun. CR 410 is paved, but it is a typical Texas hill country county road – small, non-stripped, no shoulder, no traffic, cattle guards, scenic and twisty. It’s a really fun road. More miles south we turn off onto Old Juno Road and the delight continues. Old Juno Rd is paved too, but it’s just like CR 410. Man, it’s beautiful out there. Along the way we saw turkey, cattle, and lots and lots of sheep. The road was liberally sprinkled with animal droppings and it was fun weaving around them as we sped south at 60 mph. The weather was absolutely superb – a little cool so we had jackets on – but the sky was clear, we could see forever, and the air was morning fresh. Gosh, what a fabulous time we were having. Along the way we happened upon this abandoned truck.
Mike and the Old Truck
I tried to talk Mike into getting inside the truck, but he wasn’t having anything to do with that idea. He figured there were yellow jackets nesting in the cab and rattlesnakes all over the floorboard and beneath the chassis. He wouldn’t get any closer than he did in the above picture. I figured that wasn’t such a bad policy and made sure I didn’t get too close when he took my pic with the truck.
Rich and the Truck
At the southern end of Old Juno Rd we hung a right onto Hwy 189. I recalled that another rider (tourmeister) had commented in one of his stories how much he liked this road, so I had high expectations for it. My expectations were easily met. The state has recently laid down some new asphalt and there was some loose rock on it, but beyond that it was a really fun road.
You can see the new asphalt on Hwy 189 in this picture
We came upon a placard at the intersection of Hwy 189 and Hwy 163. In Feb. 1857 Lieutenant Hood led his Army Calvary troop into a battle with Comanche Indians on this site. Despite being outnumbered, the superior firepower of Hood and his men allowed them to fight the Indians to a draw, killing 19 in the process with a loss of 2 of Hood’s men.
State placard of Hood’s Devil River fight
We ran Hwy 163 south for a few miles, passing the small community of Juno along the way. Juno is not a town, it’s just a small collection of buildings with a water source nearby. A few miles south of Juno we reach Juno Road, the first dual sport road of the day and a fine road it was. Like so many dual sport roads in this part of Texas, there was lots of wildlife and livestock everywhere we went. Lots of sheep herding going on in this part of the country. Cattle ranching too. One little fellow in particular stood his ground in the middle of the road, completely undisturbed by our approaching 2 wheeled monsters. Usually, most animals would give us a good look as we approached and then would run for the hills in terror. Not this guy. He acted like he saw KLRs riding through his neck of the woods every day. He even stood there long enough for me to stop, dig my camera out and snap a picture.
He finally decided that maybe he should wander off to the side of the road and allow us to pass unmolested. Thanks, buddy. And on our way we continued.
About halfway along Juno Rd we reached an intersection. One way led north to FM 1973 and towards Ozona in the north, the other continued on Juno Rd and led to FM 1024 just seven miles away.
Not yet finished with Juno Rd, we took the left fork and continued on our way.
Sure enough, just as the sign promised, 7 miles later we arrived at the intersection of Juno Rd and FM 1024. At this point there was no doubt we were out of the Texas hill country and were firmly into the terrain of west Texas. Things flattened out quite a bit and the trees got a lot shorter. The road got a bit straighter (and faster) too.
Mike on FM 1024
At the end of FM 1024 we reached the best dual sport road of the day – Langtry Rd. This gem of a road is 30+ miles long and provides a great view of the varied terrain of west Texas. Langtry Rd is a fairly easy dual sport road and seems to be well maintained, though it is rocky.
A few miles south on Langtry Rd routed us to the community of Pandale,. TX. Pandale is not much to look at, a few scattered buildings here and there, and one convenience store.
Camp Easy convenience store
On the advice of a fellow rider (XR650Rocketman) we stopped in to say hello to Easy, the store’s proprieter. XR650Rocketman and a fairly large group of fellow riders had been through this way a while back and had discovered Camp Easy. They stopped in and Easy and Ida, who run this joint, were surprised to see such a large group of motorcyclists show up at their place suddenly. I gather that not many motorcyclists ever come through this place. Anyway, with all their off-road gear, XR650Rocketmand and group looked like Power Rangers to Ida so she had to get a picture to show the kids that the Power Rangers had stopped by on their way to fight evil doers in this part of Texas. She was kind enough to point out the pictures and tell us the story when we stopped in.
Mike and Ida. Ida has on an extremely rare “Pandale” t-shirt. When’s the last time you saw a Pandale t-shirt? See what I mean about how rare they are?
After sucking down a cold soda, visiting with Easy and Ida, and admiring the pictures of dead cougars and whatnot other things on the walls, Mike and I bid farewell to our new friends and resumed our journey south to Langtry.
The reason Pandale exists and has a convenience store out in the middle of nowhere, (and I do mean the middle of nowhere with not a paved road within 5 miles, and 50 miles to the nearest town), it is a bridge that crosses the Pecos River. Why would a bridge crossing the Pecos River in the middle of nowhere be such a draw? Because it’s a really nice bridge, of course.
It really is a nice bridge as you can see from this shot of these 2 girls leaping off the bridge into the water. If you like jumping off bridges, I can recommend this one to you, especially on a hot Texas afternoon.
Actually, as nice as this bridge is, I don’t believe it is the real reason people drive miles of unpaved wilderness roads to get here. Instead, I think there are 2 other reasons people show up in Pandale. Ida told us that this is a really good place to put a raft into the Pecos and that it is a 5 day float down to Hwy 90 and the high bridge over the Pecos. So, it’s a popular place with those crazy river rafters. The other reason people come to Pandale is that this part of the river is a good place to camp. I believe it is part of the Amistad National Recreation Area, as I saw as sign that said something about Amistad but didn’t stop to read it. In any case, people were camping and swimming here when we showed up. If I only had an extra hour and a swim suit…
Looking south from the bridge
Campers on the west bank, taken from the bridge
Looking north from the bridge
From the bridge it is 24 miles of unpaved road to Langtry and the only gas station around (there is no gas at Camp Easy, by the way). This 24 miles of road is not hard, but it is scenic and entertaining with lots of elevation changes and ample twists thrown in to keep things interesting. Mike and I were able to safely maintain a quick pace of about 60 mph for most of the 24 miles, though I bottomed the rear shock heavily on some of the dips. Note to self - get a Progressive rear shock for KLR.
The Langtry Depot at the intersection of Hwy 90 and the unpaved Langtry Rd.
KLR’s enjoying a little shade while Mike and I were inside the store eating ice cream. It was getting a bit warm out.
A short job south and we arrived at Judge Roy Bean’s place. For those who don’t quite remember the legend, Roy was a colorful western character in the 1800s known as the Law West of the Pecos. His old saloon is now owned by the great State of Texas and is open to tourists year round.
My KLR and Roy Bean’s saloon.
After leaving Roy’s place, Mike and I headed south out of Langtry to see what was down there. We came upon this huge valley, called the Eagle’s Nest.
Eagle’s Nest, looking west
Mike found a steep hill to ride up. It looked like fun so I joined him. Looking west from the top of the hill.
From Langtry we re-traced our steps north for 24 miles up Langtry Rd and back to the bridge. We wanted to ride west on Felder Draw Rd and this was the only way to get to it. Here’s a shot of Camp Easy in the distance, shot from the intersection of Felder Draw Rd and Langtry Rd.
Our plan was to travel west on Felder Draw all the way over to Hwy 349. From there we were going to head north on Hwy 349, then west on Hwy 3166 to Richland Springs Rd. My map indicated we could run Richland Springs Rd back east, cross the Pecos again, and end up at Hoover Divide Rd. From there we would generally work our way east and north, ending our day back in Sonora.
Running west, Felder Draw Rd was really fun. We took a short break at the intersection of Felder Draw and Pumpville Rd.
Looking back east down Felder Draw Rd.
Looking south down Pumpville Rd
Rich on Felder Draw Rd.
Man, it is really cool riding out here.
We made it to Hwy 349 and ran that north to Hwy 3166 to Richland Springs. The first part of Richland Springs vaguely reminded me of the northern end of Pinto Canyon Rd. It dropped down into a deep valley and was really enticing looking. We attacked it with gusto and giant grins. Woo Hoo! It looked like we had found an unknown but really fun, twisty dual sport road
Alas, it was not to be. Just a few short miles down Richland Springs our fun abruptly ended. A dang locked gate barred our way. This road had the potential to be the best dual sport road on the entire trip, at least the first 3 miles or so sure indicated it was. But, instead of being a county road, it was now a private road. Don’t go this way when you are out here.
This severely limited our options for getting back to Sonora. We didn’t have enough time before dark to work our way back east on Felder Draw Rd and then crosscountry to Sonora. Instead, we were faced with lots of paved road, first north to Sheffield and the east to Sonora. Drat! But, it was the only real choice we had. The roads out here are really long, but there aren’t many options. So we reluctantly retraced our steps back to Hwy 349 and ran that north to Sheffield and then east to Sonora. Unfortunately we had to ride IH-10 many more miles than I wanted to.
Hwy 349 wasn’t all bad though, as this picture proves.
We stopped at a gas station in Sheffield and got a cold drink. I noticed a building across the street with a really interesting sign hanging from the roof.
Cemetary, kitchen attached? What the heck does that mean? Can anyone here enlighten me?
Headed east from Sheffield on Hwy 290 we came upon a wonderfully scenic overview of historic Ft. Lancaster. Here are a couple of pics.
An hour or so later we arrived back in Sonora. It had been a wonderful day though it was too bad about Richland Springs Rd. Of course, that’s one of the things about going exploring; you never know what you might find.
Next – Day 3 – Lost for an hour, one more really good dual sport road, and a crash
04-20-2006, 10:14 PM
Man, they have ruined 189!! That is not pavement, that is gravel!! When I was last on it, it was smooooth twisty asphalt. Any word on how Randy's arm is doing? That is a real bummer!
04-21-2006, 07:52 AM
great pics and report. thanks for taking the time and effort!
04-21-2006, 09:52 AM
Richard glad to see you guys had a good time so far.....I knew you'd be welcome at Camp Easy......Love your comments re the Tee Shirts.....I have one and always get noticed when I wear it....Looking forward to day 3.
04-21-2006, 02:15 PM
Great report. I makes me want to get off of my butt and play on the bike!
04-22-2006, 07:28 AM
Day 3 – Lost for an hour, one more really good dual sport road, and a crash
The end of Day 2 saw us back in Sonora at our motel. As we settled down for the evening I placed a call to check on Randy. Had he made it home okay? How was the arm? Unfortunately, all I got was his voice mail. The only thing we could do was leave a message and hope that he had made it home safely.
Our plan for Day 3 was to pretty much head due east, running as many of the unpaved back roads as we could while making a fairly straight shot for Austin. Mike and I had previously ridden all but 1 or 2 of the roads on our planned route back to Austin, so we weren’t really expecting any surprises along this route.
However, an idea was tugging at my brain. CR 350, that great dual sport road from the first day, had another option that we had not ridden. CR 350 “Y”s about half-way between Hwy 55 and 674. The right side of the “Y” goes north and east back to Hwy 55. The left side of the “Y” continues west and south to Hwy 674. Mike and I had ridden the part that went to Hwy 674, the left part of the “Y”, but had not ridden the other option. Of course, this brought up the question, what was the other choice like? Was it equally as good as the other parts of this wonderful road? Instead of riding roads we had ridden previously and already knew, why not change our plans and go ride the unridden part of CR 350. I brought up the idea to Mike and he quickly agreed.
Of course, this meant that we would have to come up with a whole new route for day 3 – one that included our target road. More examination of the map revealed another tasty looking morsel. It is about an hour of boring slab from Sonora to Rocksprings – not something we wanted to ride. And not something you want me to ride either – how boring my story would be writing about riding a boring road. It’s much better if Mike and I find some knarly backroad, have a fun adventure on it and then write about it here.
Another option was to run Hwy 1691 southeast to CR 900, aka Old Junction Rd, but a fellow in Rocksprings had told me that there was a locked gate on Old Junction Rd. We had already had our fill of locked gates and if there truly was a locked gate there it would eat up multiple hours having to backtrack to Sonora to start all over again.
One other option was available and it looked pretty good. We could head south down 277 till we reached an unpaved road, CR 450, that the map shows to run east from Hwy 277 over to Hwy 377. Yeah, let’s ride that road. It should be fun. From there we would run Hwy 377 to Rocksprings, then south on Hwy 55 to our target dual sport road. Cool, I love it when a plan comes together.
The first order of business for Day 3, though, was breakfast. I’ve got nothing against sticking with a winner and neither does Mike, so we headed back to the same restaurant that we had eaten in yesterday morning. This time around Mike got the “all you can eat” pancakes while I went for eggs, toast, and sausage. Mmmm…. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, right? :sun:
We blazed south out of Sonora, leaving a smoking trail of rubber behind us and great adventures in front of us. Well, since we were both riding KLRs it wasn’t exactly a trail of smoking rubber; it was more like a trail of dust from yesterday’s ride, but hey, what are you gonna do? Anyway, we had an uneventful ride south on Hwy 277.
Mike was in charge of navigation, since at this point in the trip we only had one map. Darn, I forgot to tell you the story of the missing map. Yesterday, shortly after leaving the Langtry Depot Mike discovered that his map was gone. It was in his map case on his tank bag at the Langtry Depot (check the pictures of the bikes at the depot, you can clearly see the map is in his tank bag). He didn’t take the map out while we were at the depot and he didn’t take it out at Judge Roy Bean’s place. But when we got down to the Eagle’s Nest, he discovered his map was missing. The only thing we can figure is that someone took it out of his bag after I snapped the pics of the bike at the Langtry Depot. Several groups of people came and went after I shot that picture and while we were inside eating ice cream. How low can you get, stealing a man’s map? Mike was so mad about the stolen map that he kept losing his concentration and in the next 45 minutes nearly crashed 3 times. Gotta be that Irish blood in him, ‘cause I’m telling you he was madder than a wet hen.
I still had my map though so I gave it to him in the hopes that it might calm him down some. I didn’t want my buddy running off some 100 foot cliff into a ravine because he was thinking about his map and not the road ahead.
Today, when we took off, Mike still had the only map and therefore, by default, was in charge of navigation. When we got in the vicinity of where CR 450 should have been, the only roads we saw were gated, seemingly private roads. So we kept riding south on 277. We ended up going too far south and hit the Val Verde county line, which we knew was too far south. We made a U-turn and slowly worked out way back north, slowing at every little road that intersected with our paved road. Shortly we came upon a likely road. It had some oil company signs and a gate, but it was close to where the map said CR 450 should be and it didn’t have any signs that said “private road” so we thought maybe this was our road. Once we got through the gate off we went, leaving a cloud of dust behind us.
Hey, this was a fun road. It immediately went through a creek bed, up a hill, around a turn, then another one, back down into the creek, and so on. This is really looking good. Then we reached an intersection. There isn’t an intersection on the map though. Which way should we go? We guess, and blast off again. Another intersection. Another guess. Blast off. Another intersection. What the heck? All the roads look alike, and they all look really fun. Crap, now we are lost and haven’t a clue which is the county road and which are the oil field roads that dead end up around the next curve or 10. You could spend hours and hours running around on all these fun but unmarked dirt roads.
Time to backtrack to the highway as this obviously isn’t CR 450. We ran the highway a little further north and came upon another road with gate and oil field signs. Maybe this is the right road. It’s certainly in the right location according to the map and the direction it heads off matches our map. But, there is no official road sign or county marking. What the heck, let’s run it anyway. We get through the gate and wick the throttle open. A mile down the road the same thing occurs – another intersection not on the map. We once again guess which way to go and continue on our way. Then we reach another intersection and another, and so on. Shortly, we are back at the oil field roads from earlier. These roads are all great fun, I mean really, really fun with all the twists and elevation changes, but where the heck do they go? Who knows if they dead end somewhere out in the middle of nowhere or if one of them will eventually lead us all the way over to Hwy 377?
After an hour of so of exploring all these roads and not getting any closer to our destination, we call it quits. We could ride around here all day, having a great time, but then end up back exactly where we started. While it would be some really fun riding since all these roads were excellent dual sport roads, I needed to get home sometime today. Reluctantly we decided to back track to the highway yet again and then slab it all the way over to Rocksprings. But, dang it, I’m calling the county commissioner first thing Monday morning to find out the deal. Is there really a county road that joins these 2 roads, ‘cause if there is it’s got to be truly superb road.
Our trip via slab over to Rocksprings was uneventful, as expected. From there we headed south on hwy 55 to our target road for the day – CR 350 (except my map said this branch of CR 350 was named CR 310). A few miles outside of Rocksprings we spotted the road sign – CR 310 on the right ahead. Game on!
CR 310 turned out to be a fine dual sport road. It started off pretty flat, but other than that it was a fun little road. You could see the hills in the distance, hills that the road was clearly heading for.
Mike on CR 310
Rich on CR 310
We rode south many miles on CR 310, thoroughly enjoying ourselves. At one stop for a drink of water and a power bar, some of the locals decided to have a closer look. “Hey, Mike, got a power bar for us, too? How about a drink of that bottled water?”
Mike and his new friends
Remember those bump gates from Day 1? If not, there were 2 pictures of Mike at one back in the Day 1 part of my story. Well, there was no shortage of bump gates on CR 310. Of all the different types of non-automatic gates in the world, bump gates are my favorite. For those you of not familiar with bump gates, they are a particular type of gate that can be opened with your vehicle. You ride right up to them, bump into them with sufficient speed and they swing open. You drive through and the spring on the gate automatically closes it behind you. No problem. All other gates require you to get out of your vehicle, open the gate, get back in your vehicle, drive through the opening, get back out of your vehicle, close and latch the gate, get back in your vehicle and continue to the next gate. Do that 5-10 times in a short distance and I guarantee you will be mumbling words under your breath that would cause your mamma to wash your mouth out with soap if she heard you say. Back on Day 1 I advised you to avoid CR 380 between Camp Wood and Barksdale due to an excessive use of latch gates. Well, CR 310 had nothing but bump gates. If it has to have a gate on it, a bump gate is a great choice.
The only challenge with bump gates is they don’t teach you how to open one with your motorcycle at the MSF course. Or at the Advanced Rider Course. Or at the off-road riding course. Or at any motorcycle riding course, for that matter. You learn strictly OJT. At first, you don’t bump the gate hard enough and it doesn’t open all the way. Did I mention that bump gates are really heavy? They are necessarily much heavier than other gates – I’m not a physicist or anything like that so I can’t fully explain why they must be much heavier than some lightweight aluminum gate, but trust me, they are heavier because that weight is part of what makes them work so well. Anyway, since they are heavy you gotta solidly bump them. When you don’t bump them hard enough, they don’t swing open and then you are stuck with this freakin’ heavy gate leaning against your bike trying to knock you down. Then you have to go through all sorts of contortions trying to push or kick the gate open wide enough to get your bike the rest of the way and of course you are on your bike this whole time, trying to balance it and not fall down. Not a pretty sight and the rider looks ridiculous while doing it.
Once you figure it out though, you are golden. You ride up to the gate, place your front tire against it, dump the clutch, rev the throttle and go for it. As the gate swings open in an arc you turn the front wheel to keep it pushing against the gate, timing it perfectly so that you give the gate sufficient momentum to open completely, and then you just drive on through, pretty as you please, looking like the skilled, resourceful rider that you are. Your buddy then rides through, right behind you, easily clearing the gate as it finishes swinging open and long before it swings back closed. One push, 2 riders. Sweet!
Did I mention that bump gates are heavy? The thing about bump gates is that they need to be heavy to work right, but that doesn’t mean they all weigh the same. Some are heavier than others. Each manufacturer independently figures out what they think is the perfect weight for a bump gate, so, of course, you end up with bump gates of all different weights, depending on who made the gate. Which, as you’ve probably already figured out, means that it takes varying amounts of throttle to open bump gates of different weights. That’s a critical point that would be a mistake to overlook. Unfortunately, since there isn’t a “bump gate motorcycle course” you can take, you are forced to learn this small, but oh-so-important lesson out in the field, at what you could call “Bump Gate University”. The thing about Bump Gate University is it isn’t shy about failing you if you dork things up.
So, why the long dissertation on bump gates? You can see it coming like a freight train down the freeway, can’t you? Mike and I, after successfully negotiating a dozen bump gates were thinking we had graduated at the top of the class at good ‘ol Bump Gate University, and were now making quick work of all the bump gates on CR 310. Then came that one, really, really heavy bump gate. Really heavy. What the **** was that bump gate manufacturer thinking when he made this one? Why did he have to make it so heavy? And to make mattes worse, you couldn’t tell just by looking at it that it was extra heavy – it looked like all those other bump gates we had been through. But, it wasn’t. Hidden inside was some super heavy material, just waiting for some innocent dual sport rider to come along and try to move it. Well, there I was, totally unaware of the treachery that lay in wait.
I pulled up to this gate, just like all the others before, put my front tire against the gate, dumped the clutch, and gave it just the right amount of throttle. NOT! Not near enough throttle for this extra heavy gate and it barely moved. It certainly didn’t swing open like all the other bump gates. I barely made it without it whacking into the back of my bike and sending me flying. And Mike was right behind me and trying to get through the gate on my push. This wasn’t going to be pretty. I glanced over my shoulder and saw Mike going for it. I thought he had realized the problem and was going to ram the gate with his bike. Such was not the case. He was just trying to get through the gate on my push. The gate had other plans for Mike though and slammed into his bike. Poor Mike was caught totally unprepared by the ferocious attack by this bump gate. Down he went. :shock:
What do you think the chances were that there would be some nice soft dirt right there for Mike to land on? Versus the chances of the sharpest, nastiest rocks in the entire county being right there where the bump gate was knocking Mike down? You guessed right – those rocks were waiting right there for the express purpose of Mike falling on them. :eek2:
I parked the bike as quickly as I could and ran to Mike’s aid. We finally shoved the gate off his bike and managed to the get the bike upright. Only a little gasoline had leaked out of the carburetor onto the ground. Once the bike was upright though, Mike realized that his ribs were really hurting. He grabbed his side with a mighty wince. I really thought he had cracked a rib from hitting those big rocks.
After a few minutes he was finally able to catch his breath and had pretty much decided his ribs might not be broken, but I could tell they were hurting a lot. He gathered his wits and started evaluating the damage to the bike. The hand guard and clutch lever had shifted out of position, but that was about it. So, Mike picked up one of the rocks he had fallen on and used it as a hammer to get his hand guard and clutch lever back into position.
Once all the excitement had passed, Mike gave the bump gate the finger and we continued on our way. Here’s another shot of CR 310, looking southwest.
As luck would have it, the very next bump gate was just as heavy as the last one. This time Mike was in the lead and it was his turn to bump the gate open. As he attempted to bump the gate open, he experienced the same problem I had – the gate was heavier than he expected and he didn’t bump it hard enough. It swung open just wide enough to let him through and then started swinging shut.
The other thing about bump gates is that they swing open from either direction. They are kind of like a pendulum, swinging in one direction and then back in the other direction, in an race, until they eventually stop in the middle. Well, I’m behind Mike and can’t get through on his push and here comes that heavy *** gate, swinging at speed right toward me. I can tell it’s going hit my bike and knock me down or worse. I start backpedaling with some serious urgency, trying to back up enough so that the gate will miss me. I almost made it, too. The gate struck a glancing blow to my front tire and wrenched it to the left. I just managed to keep from falling.
After the gate stopped swinging, I bumped it open and rode through. Mike swore later on that he wasn’t really trying to get back at me for the earlier bump gate incident. I believe him...mostly. :giveup:
We continued south until we reached the “Y” intersection. That bump gate in the background is the one you go through to go southwest and reach Hwy 674.
Looking back the way we had just come.
Looking east, the way we were headed.
We hung a left at the “Y” and headed east down CR 350 back towards Hwy 55. This road was just as fun this day as it had been on Day 1.
One of the water crossings on CR 350.
Mike and a water crossing
After about an hour of riding, we arrived back at Hwy 55. We headed south down 55 towards Camp Wood. There weren’t many cars on the road with it being Easter morning and all, so I took advantage of the situation and grabbed a couple of action photos of Mike while riding down the road.
We gassed up in Camp Wood and then made a bee-line for Austin. The adventure was over, but the ride wasn’t finished yet. We still had to make our way to Austin, which was about another 3 hours up the road. I won’t bore you with the details, but we ran paved road all the way home. Just another perfect riding day in the hill country.
Thus ended our 3 day adventure through the hill country and west Texas.
Next – epilogue, final thoughts, and route suggestion
04-22-2006, 08:39 PM
After arriving home Sunday evening, I checked my cell but there was still no word from Randy. I still didn’t know if he had made it home safely on Saturday and was candidly starting to get quite concerned. On Monday, I finally got an email from him letting me know he had made it home okay. His arm had given him fits all the way home but he had made it safely. He tells me the arm is much better now.
I called the County Commissioner for Edwards County to discuss CR 450. He explained to me that the county had abandoned that road several years back. It seems the landowners along that road all got together and petitioned the county to abandon this road. The county agreed, so what used to be CR 450 is now a private road. That’s really too bad, because the section I rode made me believe this would have been a real gem of a dual sport road.
Gas was pretty readily available during this trip. The ride from Camp Wood to Rocksprings on Day 1 was probably the longest distance between gas stations. I don’t know the exact distance but I’d estimate 180 miles or so. The 2nd longest distance between fuel stops was from Sonora to Langtry, a distance of about 120-130 miles or so. (Sorry, I’m not more precise, but my odometer doesn’t work so I measure distances via how much fuel I burn between fill ups.)
In summary I have to say that this 3 day trip was really excellent. I’d have no reservations recommending a similar trip to any of my fellow dual sport riders out there. This particular route could even be a good choice for a 3 day weekend when Big Bend, Arkansas, or New Mexico is just too far away.
If you do decide this is a trip you would like to make, you don’t really want to follow my exact route. The locked gate on Richland Springs and the lost hour on the non-existent CR 450 necessitate a route change. After additional thought here is what I would recommend as a good route.
Day 1: Bandera to Sonora
Start in Bandera – starting in Austin makes for a long day in the saddle, so I recommend beginning in Bandera (or Kerrville) if possible.
• Hwy 16 west
• RR 337 west to Vanderpool (the road numbers are accurate to the best of my ability, but I don’t always know if a road is a RR, FM, RM, HWY)
• Hwy 187 south to Utopia
• Upper Sabinal Rd northwest – fun dual sport road
• RR 337 west to Leakey
• RR 336 north
• RR 3235 west – becomes dual sport after a few miles of pavement, then joins RR 2631 and ends at RR 335
• RR 335 south
• Hwy 55 south to Camp Wood – I recommend topping off your fuel tank here
• Hwy 55 north to Barksdale
• CR 380 west – dual sport road
• CR 353 north – dual sport road, multiple water crossings
• CR 350 west – great dual sport road, very long, multiple water crossings
• CR 310 / Cedar Creek Rd west to Hwy 674 – as an alternate you could run CR 310 north which will take you back to Hwy 55, making for a shorter distance
• Hwy 674 north to Rocksprings – gas up here
• Hwy 55 west
• Hwy 277 north to Sonora, end of day 1
• As an alternate, you could overnight in Rocksprings, as there are motels and restaurants there. It would also save you about 15 miles on Day 2 if you stay in Rocksprings. There are more motel & food options in Sonora though so I recommend overnighting there.
Day 2: Sonora to Langtry and back
• Hwy 277 south
• Hwy 189 west
• Juno Rd west – dual sport road
• Hwy 1024 west
• Lantry Rd south to Lantry Depot – refuel here
• Visit Judge Roy Bean
• Hwy 90 west
• Hwy 1865 north to Pumpville Rd
• Pumpville Rd north – dual sport road
• Cutoff Rd north – dual sport road
• Felder Draw Rd east – dual sport road
• Langtry Rd north – dual sport road
• Juno Rd east – dual sport road
• Ozona Rd north – dual sport road
• Hwy 1973 north
• CR 105 east – dual sport road
• CR 102 east – dual sport road
• Old Juno Rd north
• CR 410 north
• Hwy 1989 north
• I-10 east to Sonora, end of day
NOTE: I have not personally ridden CR 105 or CR 102 and, therefore, can’t confirm that they are viable roads. Take them at your risk. As an alternate you could run Hwy 1973 north all the way to Ozona, then I-10 east to Taylor Box Rd, south on Taylor Box Rd to Old Juno Rd and rejoin the route there.
Day 3 – Return to Bandera
• Hwy 277 south
• CR 406 east – CR 406 becomes Cusenbary Rd (CR 102) when it crosses into Edwards County. I haven’t ridden this road, but I did see both ends of it as I drove by and also discussed this road with a Game Warden who confirmed it does join Hwy 277 and Hwy 55.
• Hwy 55 south to Rocksprings
• Hw 55 south
• CR 310 west – dual sport road
• CR 350 east – dual sport road, multiple water crossings
• Hwy 55 to Camp Wood – refuel here
• RR 337 east to Leakey
• Hwy 83 south
• RR 1050 east to Utopia
• RR 187 north
• Hwy 470 east
• S. Seco Creek Rd / CR 111 south – dual sport road, multiple water crossings
• CR 211 east – dual sport road
• CR 121 north – dual sport road
• Ross Rd – dual sport road, water crossing
• RR 462 north
• Hwy 470 east to Kyle Ranch Rd
• Kyle Ranch Rd north – dual sport road
• Hwy 16 east to Bandera, end of ride
If you do end up taking the above route, please let us know the details about CR 105 and CR 102 from Day 2.
The following are pics I’ve taken of some of the other dual sport roads I’m recommending.
3 pictures of West Sabinal Road (day 1)
3 shots of a water crossing on S. Seco Creek Rd / CR 111 (day 3)
2 pics of the water crossing on Ross Rd (day 3)
Kyle Ranch Rd (day 3)
This ends my story. Thanks for reading it and I hope you enjoyed it.
04-22-2006, 11:13 PM
04-22-2006, 11:38 PM
I hope you are clapping because it was a good story and not because you are so relieved that I finally finished the darn thing and will now shut up about it. :-P
04-22-2006, 11:43 PM
Because you remembered to take pictures... :-P
04-23-2006, 08:05 AM
Well, at least that's something positive.
04-23-2006, 08:24 AM
Fun report Richard, great pics too....Those bump gates are a real challenge aren't they.....They take a little extra coordination and thought to get through them succesfully....
Loved the pic of Ida from Easy's, she's really a sweety.....Easy's would make a good starting point for West Texas rides.
04-23-2006, 08:28 AM
04-23-2006, 02:29 PM
Hey Steve, didn't you say something about there being cabins to rent near Easy's?
04-23-2006, 05:28 PM
Great ride report.:clap:
hey i've done bullhead road.
before kinky started running..
aren't too many hard parts on a connie you can push a bump gate with, so i either stacked big rocks to prop them open or tied them back with bungie cords..
I had to do a first gear crawl to avoid rocks.. would have been much faster on the klr.
thanks for the route info. will print it out for the next time i go out there.
04-23-2006, 05:42 PM
Wow, doing that road on a Connie is pretty amazing.
04-23-2006, 06:28 PM
Hey Steve, didn't you say something about there being cabins to rent near Easy's?
Camp Easy, in Pandale has camping sites on and close to the Pecos River. "Easy" also has 3 very nice cabins for rent about 200 yards from his cafe. The two story cabin sleeps up to 10, bunkhouse style, upstairs. The other two will sleep 4 each, if I remember correctly. Everything is rustic but very nice when you consider how far it is to the pavement.
As soon as I figure out posting pics I'll do it...
04-23-2006, 08:20 PM
Great report and I must commend you on your M/C taste and name. Let me know if you do another anytime soon. My brother has a KLR and lives in Luling and I could probably get by with the 950 if we don't push the gas stops to KLR limits. :)
04-23-2006, 09:46 PM
Here's the Tee Shirt from Pandale!!!!
Yeah...That's my first attachment on the TWT Forum....Look out I'm dangerous now!!!
04-23-2006, 09:52 PM
02Silver - same as mine and the fastest color, too. :-P
I'll post here when I put another ride together. Right now, I'm intent on getting over to the Sam Houston National Forest, hopefully in May.
04-23-2006, 09:53 PM
I'm gonna get me one of those shirts next time I'm there. If you beat me there, would you pick me up a size large? Thanks. :-P
04-24-2006, 04:42 AM
02Silver - same as mine and the fastest color, too. :-P
I'll post here when I put another ride together. Right now, I'm intent on getting over to the Sam Houston National Forest, hopefully in May.
My first FZ1 was Silver this one is 02 Blue, I went through a few bikes and to change titles on all of the boards would suck so I just stayed 02Silver. Are you on the FZ1 board?
I'll monitor this board better than I usually do and try to cross paths soon.
04-24-2006, 11:01 AM
I use to frequent the FZ1 board, but, candidly, since I bought the KLR I rarely ride my Fizzy and haven't been on the FZ1 board in more than 6 months. I'm planning on selling my Fizzy and buying a Wee-Strom as soon as the Fizzy is paid off.
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