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Chispa Road/Pinto Canyon Road/Pie Run

KenH

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#1
After riding Big Bend I was jonesing for a little more desert to explore. A quick look at Google Maps showed a plethora of roads in the triangle with corners at Fort Hancock, Balmorhea, and Presidio. Maps downloaded from TxDOT showed precious few of the roads shown on Google were public. However, there was one 88-mile stretch that was dirt except a 14-mile section:

http://maps.google.com/maps?f=d&hl=...0.39183,-104.573364&spn=1.104019,2.559814&z=9

The north end is Chispa Road, accessible off FM-2017 three miles or so south of US-90, about 21.5 miles south of Van Horn. The south end is Pinto Canyon Road out of Ruidosa. The stretch in between is none other than the well-known, paved RM-170 that rolls from Study Butte through Terlingua, Lajitas, Big Bend Ranch State Park, Presidio, and Riudosa, to end at Candelaria. The end of the pavement at Candelaria is the south end of Chispa Road.

The May Pie Run happened to be scheduled for Fort Davis, from which a loop including Chispa and Pinto Canyon Roads could be ridden in a day, even at TW200 speeds. The longest distance between gas pumps on the loop was 202 miles, well within the range of T-dub's new 4-gallon Clarke tank. Unfortunately, there would be very litttle reserve range should one incur a wrong turn, so a viable plan for carrying extra fuel was necessary. Since the Clarke tank is plastic, and shaped differently from the stock tank, using a magnetic tank bag on the dualsport roads was not going to work. A gallon of Coleman fuel is cheaper than a gallon gas can, and comes in a steel gas can with an easy-to-pack rectangular prism shape. I dumped the Coleman fuel in the van (after all, Coleman fuel is nothing other than unleaded gasoline), rigged up some padding out of Coroplast, and two gallons of extra fuel fit neatly in the top case along with everything else I want to carry on a dualsport day ride.

Before I could leave from Fort Davis, I had to get there. I posted some questions about alternate routes where T-dub's slow highway speeds would not have me end up like a big in the grill of a semi. US-180 looked to be the shortest and easiest route, so that's what I planned.

Meanwhile, I received a private message from ptwohig asking if he could tag along. A couple messages confirmed he was a capable rider with a capable bike, and he wouldn't mind slowing down for T-dub on the highway, so I had someone to ride along. good thing, too. I don't want to ever again get tongue-lashed about riding alone by people who ride alone. :scratch:

T-dub, packed and ready (?) to go at 2:00AM Thursday morning:

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Eventually, 4:00 AM Thursday morning arrived. I showered and set out to gas up for the ride. T-dub sure was handling funny, and I found out why when I stopped for gas. The front axle nut was about to fall off. I had spooned on a stock front tire the night before, and in a lapse of sanity installed the axle the wrong way. No problem, though, no parts lost and easy enough to reverse the axle. T-dub rode fine after that. Next stop, meet up with ptwohig in the truck sale driveway on the southbound I-35 access road just south of Heritage Trace Parkway.

ptwohig was waiting for me, but had a little problem. Somewhere on his 50-mile ride south, his taillight disappeared. I wonder if he let Squeaky ride it or what? Anywho, I happened to have one rectangular LED submersible trailer light at my shop, so we rode over and he wasted no time bolting and wiring. Let me tell you, that's the way to go for motorcycle taillights, that thing is BRIGHT. The bulb in my right rear turn decided to pop, so I swapped it out for the third time in a week.

So, we hit the road about 6:30AM, 45 minutes later than planned, and slabbed it down to Brock Junction, about where cagers switch from city drivers to land speed record contestants. A couple FM roads led us to Mineral Wells, where we picked up US-180 and headed west. The riding was easy in the early morning, except we didn't even get through Mineral Wells before my right rear turn stopped working again.

On we go through Breckenridge, making good time. Some guy pulls up next to us at a stoplight and starts bragging on a little place just outside of town that gives a good breakfast for a cheap price. We find the place,
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pull in,
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and proceed to forget to take pictures as we wolfed down a great breakfast at a cheap price. Anywho, you can find the place here
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.

Back on the road, we made good time until about 10:00AM, when the wind and the heat picked up. It was hot and windy enough that we had to stop about every 75 miles to refill our camelbacks, so we ended up making twice as many stops as we had planned. I found an auto parts store in Albany and replaced the turn signal bulb for the second time that day.

After Albany we began hitting cotton fields. Miles and miles of cotton fields. Unfortunately, there were no plants in the cotton fields, just a few pieces of spilled cotton. Bare soil and high winds had waves of dirt blowing across the road. I wasn't bothered except when the occasional vehicle passed and kicked the bigger chunks up off the road, but I was wearing googles and a dirt helmet. I worried for ptwohig because he was wearing a fullface with a visor. Most of the passing vehicles were oilfield trucks. There are a bazillion new pumpjacks in the cotton fields pumping their little hearts out. Lots of heavy equipment around to build new drill pads, but we only saw a few drill rigs.

I thought the end of the cotton fields would be a relief, but NOOOOOOoooo! Miles and miles of creosote-covered sand dunes. The hard parts in the atmosphere were even worse. I was beginning to feel a bit gritty. We hunkered down and headed south from Kermit, T-dub's throttle WFO for an hour at a time and speedo barely touching 60 on the downhills.

We turned south on US-285 and pressed on. We picked up TX-17 in Pecos, which would be the last leg to Fort Davis. There was a little excitment on TX-17 just before Balmorhea State Park. There is a fairly sharp bend to the right, with a speed limit of 55mph. I'm tooling along about 50mph, down on the tank against the wind, my corner line about 1/3 of the way from the centerline to the white line. About halfway through the curve a DPS car running about 90mph zooms into view, left tires well into my lane. I yanked the handlebars to the left and did the quickest swerve in my life (quick enough to slide the rear tire a bit), right up to the white line. I don't think the DPS car even wavered on its line until it was past me. I looked in the mirror and saw brake lights. This didn't look good.

Just past the curve TX-17 turns left at Toyahville. I thought about stopping, but figured the DPS officer was the one in the wrong, and I wasn't going to put up with any crap. Badge or no badge, that idiot couldn't drive and I'd make sure his boss knew all about it. I made the turn south, and I guess the DPS finally realized how stupid it would be for him to push the issue (maybe because he caught up to our "speeding" motorcycles so quickly). He went straight where we turned, and last I checked he was turning around again and heading north. I hope when he crashes he doesn't kill someone else.

The mountains blocked some of the wind, enough that T-dub could carry enough speed up the hills to make the twisties into Fort Davis worth the hot, windy trip. We wound our way to the park. This is what such ride will do to you:

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Eventually, we made it to the park. Luckily, nothing fell off.

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We had a little hottie drop in for a visit.

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We were making camp, and she just strolled up in the middle of the commotion and plopped herself down. ptwohig strolled over to put the make on her, but she wasn't having any of that.

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We rode into Fort Davis and enjoyed some fine Mexican food, arriving just before closing time. They were out of this, that, and the other by then, but they fixed us up with some fantastic grub from scratch. I don't know exactly what we ate, but it sure was good. Again, we were too hungry to remember pictures.

Back to camp, and ptwohig waited patiently for a shower. The conversation drifting from the adjacent showers was not very grown up. Neither were the sound effects. We stepped out into the cool evening to wait patiently and politely. Little did those fools know their women were standing outside the door listening to every immature phrase those guys uttered. I really didn't want to be a witness to that domestic dispute, so I decided to head back to camp and relax a while, waiting until the crowd thinned. I promptly fell asleep atop my sleeping bag.

I awoke sometime later to a small herd of javalina snuffling about our campsite. I took a couple pictures, but all that came out was a shiny green eye. I flopped back to wait out the visitors, then head up to the bath house for a shower. About that time a car pulled into the site next to us. The javalinas spooked, and one came charging through our site at a dead run. I guess that little sucker was about blind because he ran headlong into my tent, nearly collapsing it, until the springy tent poles returned the favor and flung him back like a pitchbacked baseball. The poor guy landed with a resounding thump, and last I heard he was scurrying off through the leaves behind our site.

Things grew quite except for a girl saying, "Stop feeding it, you idiot. Now it will never go away." Seriously, guys, I don't know why the girls put up with us. :rofl:

Anywho, I guess javalinas sometimes just hide from a threat. I heard one sniffling around in front of my tent, and when the new arrivals' flashlight shown across our site, this particular critter decided to take up a defensive position behind my tent. The creature simply walked up to the side of the tent and plopped down. Didn't bother me none, I still had plenty of room. I watched the stars out the window a while while the neighbors got themselves situated.

Once everthing quieted, I closed my eyes and just about drifted off when, not two feet from my ear I hear a long, low, and loud SNOOOORE! :eek2: Now I know for a fact that javalinas snore. Loudly. I reached over and gave the critter a little shove. He quieted and I drifted off to sleep. All was right with the world. A while later, more SNOOOORE! SNOOOORE! SNOOOORE!. This simply wouldn't do. I rared back and gave the critter a good swift kick. He went tumbling through the dry leaves, then took off running. I could hear him bouncing off trees as he high-tailed it to safety. I'm convinced javalinas are night-blind. I kinda felt bad after rudely awakening my guest, but I got over it.

Up next: The Assault on Chispa Road.
 
Joined
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#3
Chispa has been on my list for a while , good read , keep it comeing . I have seen some strang things when rideing but your one up now , I never had to kick out a snoring pig . SEYA
 

KenH

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#7
Well, I forgtot to mention one little incident on TX-17 just before leaving the heat of the desert for the cool in the mountains. T-dub was hauling my fat butt along about 60mph, and off in the distance I see a pile of dark trash or something in the middle of the lane. I get a little closer and it isn't blowing around in the wind, so I move a little towards the centerline to clear the debris by a few inches, and focus on the vanishing point. About 30 feet before reaching the trash I stick out my foot to make sure ptwohig knows there is something in the road. I catch a bit of movement in the trash pile just as my leg reaches full extension. I glance down and realize this pile of trash is about a 4-foot diamondback rattlesnake, drawn up and ready to strike, and my foot is sailing right at his fangs with about 3 feet to go. I yanked my foot up hard. It took a few minutes to work the star pattern out of the seat. I now have a bruise on my knee where my leg hit my helmet. Had I not been wearing a full-face helmet I'd have probably kicked myself in the face.
 
Joined
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#8
I see you don't know my friend Ken. Kens' T-Dub has 36K on it in a year and a half. Almost 11k this year already.
Nope .. I don't

I know all the roads he described and is alluding to :trust: ... the place he ate ...

Yup ... got my vote ...

I have long wanted a Tdub ... nice bikes ... small ... but nice ... took MSF on one ...
 

overkill

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#10
Nice report. The T-dub is a great bike. Can you elaborate a little on where you found the larger tank? It doesn't look stock but I may be wrong.
 
Joined
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Central Texas
#12
Fun report....more!

I like the little fat tires on the bike. I wonder if I can get some for the DR350S? What size and brand are they?

So as not to hi-jack this thread you can PM me. Thanks.
 

KenH

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#13
Perspicaciousness is beyond my cognitive abilities. Sorry. I have no desire to create a feuilleton ride report. I am aiming this directly at the skilled dualsport rider that might wish to visit southwest Texas. I don't expect this route to ever become popular because of the long paved portions and the extreme remoteness of the road. A rider that is not physically robust as well as highly skilled at technical riding and emergency repairs might find him or her self among the bones in the washes.

Allow me to reiterate: This is NOT a ride for beginners and intermediates. The riding is not exceedingly difficult, but there are a few spots that will be very, very difficult. These include the worst powdered silt I've ever ridden through. A simple rain shower could trap one between two sections of muddy betonite clay that is impossible to ride through. The consequences of what would be a minor error in the Hill Country or Ozarks could very easily turn deadly on the remote stretches of Chispa Road. We rode the entire 57-mile length of Chispa Road and did not see a single human being. The nearest emergency services to the south end of Chispa Road are in Presidio, 48 mmiles away over a paved RM-170.

EDIT: I've received several private messages from people asking if I thought they could make this ride. Most stated something along the lines of "I have a lot of (insert form of offroad racing here) experience." Racing experience is exactly what will get you killed on a ride like this, as was painfully learned last year. We don't need a repeat of that. Another common statement was, "I've been offroading in a Jeep for 17 years." Stick with your Jeep. Jeeping is a blast in itself, but provides practically no skills or knowledge about dualsporting on your new KLR. Get 5,000 DIRT miles of Hill Country and Arkansas dualsporting under your belt, then tackle Chispa Road. Many desert races have been won by people that started on bikes, then switched to Jeeps and trucks, but few that started on Jeeps and trucks ever won on bikes. Think about that a while. A good dualsport rider has taken many miles to develop the ability to perform consistent physical and mental effort over a long period of time. There is no shortcut.

A good dualsport rider knows how to go fast when necessary, but also knows when and how to go slow. You don't learn that on a motocross track or a scrambles loop. It isn't about riding a "pace" either. A good dualsport rider will adjust his speed to every situation, considering road condition, weather, time of day, condition of his motorcycle, availability of assistance or lack thereof, his/her physical, cognitive, and emotional conditions, and a host of other factors. He will also consider each of these variables as they apply to each of his riding partners. Our speeds on Chispa Road varied from 5mph to 55mph. Most important, speed must be kept low enough at all times that one can stop in the assured clear distance ahead. Those that violate this rule invariable end up ruining the ride for everyone else. It's a matter of when, not if.

In addition, it isn't enough to recognize hazards and react appropriately. It is necessary to recognize a situation in which a hazard can occur and respond preemptively; even if no hazard develops, one must remain constantly prepared for the possibility. That SEE (Search, Evaluate, Execute) thing taught in the BRC is not a three-step process on a ride like this. A good dualsport rider is Seeing, Evaluating, and Executing simultaneously for long periods of time. Disasters that occur late in a dualsport ride are more often a breakdown of cognitive durability than a lack of riding skill on the part of the rider. Mental fatigue contributes to riding mistakes, and something bad happens. It is very difficult to recognize signs of fatigue in oneself, and even more difficult to do so in others. Developing the ability to remain mentally sharp for several hours of high cognitive demand is a tough ability to develop, but is probably the most critical safety factor on a ride like this.

One does not need to be a super jock to do a ride like this, but one should be in good physical health. One should be able to walk 10 miles in 3 hours. If one can't maintain the level of exertion to walk 10 miles in 3 hours in his/her boots, one should seriously consider a cardio conditioning program before attempting this ride. If one can't walk in the boots he/she rides in, carry some hiking boots. Sneakers have no place in the desert. If one can't pick up one's motorcycle without assistance, don't do this ride.

If your satellite phone or SPOT is part of your survival plan, don't do this ride. Rescues cost these counties a lot of money, and too many rescues will get this road shut down quicker than anything. Don't ruin this for the rest of us. Make a goal of doing this ride some day, and be honest with your self-evaluation about your readiness. I want you around a long, long time, long enough to challenge successfully Chispa Road and many more.

Finally, for all those that asked if I think they can do this ride, you'll have to answer that yourself. My opinion is that if you have to ask, the answer is, "No, not at this time."


Nope .. I don't

I know all the roads he described and is alluding to :trust: ... the place he ate ...

Yup ... got my vote ...

I have long wanted a Tdub ... nice bikes ... small ... but nice ... took MSF on one ...
Yamaha TW200. the only bike ever ridden to the North Pole and the South Pole, and back. Other bikes (Honda CT90s) were flown back from the South Pole, but not ridden both ways.

Nice report. The T-dub is a great bike. Can you elaborate a little on where you found the larger tank? It doesn't look stock but I may be wrong.
The tank is a Clarke intended for the XT350. A little steel spacer must be fabricated (simple to cut, drill, and tap) and a little exterior double-stick tape is needed, but other than that, adapting the Clarke tank to the frame is easy. It is also necessary to raise the handlebars two inches, which is a common mod for better comfort and control, anyway. I'll take pics next time I have the tank off.

Fun report....more!

I like the little fat tires on the bike. I wonder if I can get some for the DR350S? What size and brand are they?

So as not to hi-jack this thread you can PM me. Thanks.
The front tire is 130/80-18. Pretty common as a rear size on many types of bikes, so many tire choices there. Stock is a Bridgestone TW-31. Cheng shin makes a near-duplicate of the TW-31 that works about the same, okay on the road, and okay on the dirt. I prefer a true DOT knobby for dirt and a TW-203 JDM Bridgestone for the street. The Maxxis 6006 in 130/80-18 is probably the most popular and one of the best all-around tires for the front, but I can't find one anywhere.

The rear tire is 180/80-14. Only tire choices available in the U. S. of A. are Bridgestone's TW-34 knobby, which works good everywhere and TW-204, which does not like mud but works well everywhere else.

Anywho, on with the show!

A pink sky greeted me when I finished my shower. ptwohig was up and about, munching out on some goodies he brought from home. We geared up and headed into Fort Davis, filling up at the 24-hour pump at the Exxon. Fort Davis is absolutely dead at 7:00AM. If you want an early start, you had better be prepared to meet your own needs, because that 24-hour pump is the only service available of any kind that early. We left Fort Davis southbound on TX-17 and took a right FM-166 for a delightful ride through the foothills of the Davis Mountains.

http://maps.google.com/maps?f=d&hl=....574085,-104.360504&spn=0.550981,1.19751&z=10

Well, it would have been delightful if it hadn't been for all the deer and antelope dashing across the road, and the buzzards. Hardly a mile went by without the need for some type of evasive action to avoid one critter or another.

We hung a left on 505 and a right on US-90, making good time west through Valentine. Just past Valentine there was this little block building with display cases full of expensive-looking shoes and purses. :brainsnap What's with that?

Somewhere along US-90 there is a sign that looks like this:

IMG_0019.jpg


Turn southwest there. Three or four miles further on the pavement takes a sharp turn to the right. Bear left onto the gravel road. That's Chispa Road.

IMG_0020.jpg


Now the :rider: begins! Chispa starts out wide and smooth. Don't let that fool you. By the time you reach the other end you'll be ducking branches from brush that completely covers the road, creating a dappled shade that makes identifying road conditions difficult. We didn't go far before stopping o rest and take pictures. I was playing with my new camera. Here is a little knob taken with the lens retracted:

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Here is the same little knob taken with the lens set at 10X:

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These pictures, like all the rest I took, were shot with the camera held up with one hand. I think the image stabilization technology works pretty darn well.

A few miles down the road is a cattle crossing with this sign:

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Don't worry about it. The road is actually passing through his neighbor's ranch.

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Pretty, ain't it? We rode on, stopping occasionally to ogle the view and drink water. I went through 5 liters in 5 hours and it wasn't enough.

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I spent a lot of time in the Florida everglades growing up. I kept trying to tell people gators weren't endangered, but they wouldn't listen. Look how far this one traveled seeking less crowded accommodations;

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Sorry, not that funny. On the road again:

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when all of a sudden

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:eek2: What the heck is this doing out in the middle of nowhere? There used to be power lines going to this Quonset hut, but they've been cut. Are we looking at someone's broken dream? I always wonder about the people that actually used the ruins i run across. A little further down the
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and more ruins:

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While the house didn't look very inhabitable, there was much evidence that a nearby corral was heavily used, perhaps on weekends? From this point on we saw much evidence of saddle horses. We would later discover the reason.

The road was deteriorating quickly, but the scenery was improving.

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Eventually we rounded a corner to discover this obscenity:

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Yes, it was flipping south.

ptwohig on his tricked XR650L:

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More landscapes:

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You can see the loose rock they call a road in this picture:

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Even where it looks packed, it isn't. Not as bad as some of Old River Road in Big Bend, but pretty close.

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I think these are the reason we were seeing so many shoed hoof prints:

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These mustangs had no shoes. I rounded a corner and there was a gate. I glanced over and the first thing that caught my eye was what I thought was a columned coliseum. This is a natural rock formation:

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More broken dreams:

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More landscapes:

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This hill has about a 30% grade:

<a href="http://s257.photobucket.com/albums/hh210/kdhhh/?action=view&current=IMG_0073.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://i257.photobucket.com/albums/hh210/kdhhh/IMG_0073.jpg" border="0" alt="Photobucket"></a>

Now we drop into the Rio Grande valley. Lush green on one side, desert on the other:

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We make a turn, ride up and down some extreme steep (up to 50%) and rocky hills,

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then stop to check the compass. Yup, we are heading north, but we don't have a map and we see this river valley to our right:

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It sure was a pretty spot. Kind of hot, though, over 106*.

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I thought it must be the Rio, ptwohig thought otherwise. We carried on north a couple more miles and found out ptwohig was correct:

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Not a big problem, but we had to ride DOWN those 50% rocky grades. By this time, it was hot hot. We rode on, but we were in the river bottom and there really wasn't much to look at. We kept a high level of vigilance for critters, both wild and domestic. Critters were numerous in the thickly wooded valley, and would appear where least expected. We spooked dozens of cattle form distances of as little as three feet. These didn't look like your normal Texas cattle. They were lean, muscular, and only the bulls had horns. Yup, Mexican fighting bulls. Tough, deadly, and really bad attitudes.

We were slightly concerned about our exact location, but we planned ahead and carried enough fuel to be able to backtrack the entire length of Chispa Road should we need to do so. Unfortunately, we underestimated our water consumption rate and had already used well over half our supply. This would have been a minor inconvenience, though, because I was packing a mechanical water filter and purification tablets, just in case. We rode on until we found this piece of archeological evidence of recent human activity:

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Note how thick the brush is along the road. Critters stay pretty well hidden. Seeing this truck was a relief because its picture has been posted on another forum. I knew this landmark signaled the end was near. The truck was the end of the line for the rider that posted the report I read. It sits in a bed of betonite clay that is impossible to traverse when wet. Lucky for us, the clay was so dry it was checked with cracks and hard as pavement. We road on, climbing out of the valley and stopping one last time to take in the spectacular views:

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We hit pavement at Candelaria, and had to stop for a school bus from Presidio, 48 miles away. We then headed southeast on RM-170 towards Ruidosa. I found a twistie road sign to park the bike under:

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Later on, I came across the type of sign dualsporters dream about:

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We headed to Marfa on Pinto Canyon Road. It was wide and smooth for a while, but the views were spectacular:

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I didn't take a lot of pictures on Pinto Canyon Road. This is an easy route on a dualsport bike, suitable for beginners, I encourage everyone to experience this road for themselves. ptwohig making it look easy:

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Looking up at the end of the dualsport portion of the ride:

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As rugged as this terrain looks, this is the end of the fun part of the ride. Over the top of the hill the road goes to paved gentle turns with long, hot, windy straights. We both had trouble staying awake on the ride to Marfa. I leave you now with one word of advice:

THINK BACON

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Joined
Feb 2, 2005
Messages
870
Location
Round Rock / Austin TX
#17
Thoroughly enjoyable ride report Ken. You were able to capture the true spirit of this wild and beautiful area.

Thanks for the excellent photos also.

Although rarely traveled by tourists of any discipline the area is well known to the Border Patrol as a major smuggling route for drugs and people. There are actually many sensors along the route that alert for vehicular and foot traffic. As you were traveling South, the Border Patrol probably just observed you and didn't intercept.

My first visit was in 2005 in a pick up truck. I'm not sure that would be possible now with the overgrown Salt Cedars and rock falls.

How long did it take from HWY 90 down to the pavement ?
 

KenH

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#19
I don't mind being observed by the Border Patrol. Those men and women do a difficult job while being pounded with politics and emotional misery from all sides. My bike is legal, I'm licensed and insured, and I stick to public roads. If they want to stop me and search my bike, they will receive full cooperation along with a hearty thanks for the jobs they do.

Maybe 5 hours from 2017 to Candelaria. We were not in a big hurry, made a couple wrong turns, and stopped often to enjoy the views and rest. We thought about backtracking from Candelaria, which would of put us somewhere on pavement heading for Fort Davis at nightfall. We thought that too risky considering our water situation.

I need to restate a point I made earlier. I've received a couple private messages and spoken with a couple dualsport riders who think they will be safe depending on others they are traveling with. Do not attempt this ride unless you are fully capable of taking care of yourself and your bike without assistance. If your survival plans include help from others, you are not ready for this ride. If you have needed help on any of your last 6 dualsport major rides, no matter how little help you needed, you are not ready for Chispa Road. It would be very foolish to put yourself at risk on this road. XR650Rocketman is right, much of the road is not passable to 4-wheel vehicles without significant body damage. The only vehicle tracks we saw on some sections were tractor tires, and there was only one set. As dry as the creek crossings were, I'd guess it hasn't rained there in many days, perhaps several weeks, and there was but one set of tractor tire tracks.
 

KenH

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#20
I had planned to ride the Fort Davis loop Saturday morning
http://maps.google.com/maps?f=d&hl=...649136,-104.128418&spn=0.275278,0.598755&z=11
but ptwohig looked like he needed some down time. Truthfully, so did I. We wandered up to the lodge for breakfast (nothing to write home about, but our waitress provided wonderful service with a cheerful smile) then puttered around the campsite swapping lies until time for pie. Pie pictures in the pie run "morning after" thread.

After pie we headed out for what is supposed to be the best paved road in Texas, RM-170 between Presidio and Lajitas.

http://maps.google.com/maps?f=d&hl=....978729,-103.842773&spn=2.217247,4.790039&z=8

We figured out why Fort Davis isn't the hot ticket for touring along the Rio. It's a long, hot, and boring ride from the good roads. Howevr, it is what we had to work with, so we went for it. RM-170 is definately the best motorcycle road I've ridden in Texas. Here are the pictures:





















On into Terlingua



where we found Uncle's place deserted, which makes since because the temperature was 112*. On to Study Butte, where we stopped by Kathy's Kosmic Kowgirl Kafe,

but found only a note stating she wasn't there, then a stop for gas. How dead can Study Butte be in the summer? We left our bikes in front of the gas pumps and went inside to guzzle water and enjoy the "barely" AC. After 30 minutes, not a soul came in to complain that the bikes were in the way.

We rode 118 straight through to Alpine, nearly falling asleep as the engines droned on and on and on, stopping only for the prettiest Border Patrol agent in the whole wide world. She asked the usual (Are you a U. S. citizen? Where have you been? Where are you going? Have a nice day.) Wish I had her number.


We refueled in Alpine. Don't know why, didn't need to. I guess it was the heat. We also stopped by DQ to cool off. We made it back to Fort Davis in time for delicious beef, chicken, and shrimp kabobs, and even remembered to take a picture before the chow was totally annihilated,



at the place next door to the green caboose.



All you need to know about the green caboose:



After a little Peanut Butter and Chocolate ice cream,



we headed out to the Star Party at the Observatory. 118 sure is a fun little road, but I kept it kind of slow because night was falling. We made it back to the campground about 11:00PM.

Sunday morning we were packed up and rolling at 8:00AM. 118 to Alpine, then east on US-90









to Sanderson.



US-90 is a boring road to drive, but the scenery on both sides is beatiful, no? After fueling, ptwohig headed on down US-90 to Del Rio to visit family, and I continued on this route home:

http://maps.google.com/maps?f=d&hl=....802893,-100.480957&spn=4.350355,9.580078&z=7

Google says RM-2400 is 39.9 miles home. I saw just about as many snakes (1) on this stretch of road as I did people (2). The first and last few miles of the road are a lot of fun. The middle of the road is boring.

These first two pics are at 0X and 10X zoom taken from the same spot with a Canon PowerShot SX100IS, hand held.



I was raised by gardeners, but when it comes to flowers, God does it best. God's flowers:













































Even in desert temps and drought, God can still grow flowers.

I hope to be back to ride southwest Texas some day. I hope I can invest several days camping at various locations in Big Bend National Park and explore all the deadends, stopping often along the way. Maybe Texas parks will open their secondary roads to motorcycles, again, so I can stay a few days exploring Big Bend Ranch State Park and the nearby couthy roads. TxDOT maps show an interesting county road from Presidio to Alamito that might be worthy of a little curious attention. There appear to be other roads in Presidio and Brewster Counties worthy of a look.
 
Joined
Feb 16, 2007
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894
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Central Texas
#21
Ken, you did good. This was a great report. After my ride to the pie run and back your report was a wonderful extension. Although, due to my skill level, the Chispa and Pinto Canyon roads are rides I will not likely ever make, your report makes me feel as though I was right behind you all the way. I can taste and smell the dust and feel the sweat. Thanks.

I can tell from your pictures that when riding our eyes are looking for some of the same charistics of the passing scenery. I too was raised by master gardeners, so the botanical world is always of interest to me when I ride. It's some of the survivors in God's harshest climates that I find can be the most beautiful of His creations.

:rider: :eat: :rider:
 

KenH

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#22
Jerry,

Pinto Canyon Road is about as easy as a dualsport ride gets. The road is only 19.3 miles in length. The views are spectacular. The entire road can be traversed in a 2wd pickup or SUV, even pulling a trailer, so self-rescue via tow vehicle is relatively easy. Any 2wd pickup could do service as a sag wagon. With a little care, many sedans could drive the route. Even a Harley could do this road. Any of the old 100-250 enduros would be perfect for this route, as would the smaller dualsports currently available. If I was shorter-legged, I'd consider one of the Chinese CT70 or CT90 clones, it's that easy. I think the only thing that keeps this road from being one of the most popular in Texas is the long distances just to get there.

I really don't understand why more people with bigger dualsports don't ride this road. Maybe they do in the winter when the weather is cooler.

I think a great first dualsport ride would be to trailer to Ruidosa along RM-170 from Presidio. Then ride north to 2810 and turn around. 40 miles is a good length for a first ride. Leaving Ruidosa, Pinto canyon road is nicely graded and as wide as three or four regular lanes, rolling and curving gently through the hills. Ten miles of confidence-building will bring you to the gate of Pinto Canyon Ranch. Beyond the gate the road is narrower and rougher, requiring a bit more care, but it is still easier than some driveways I've seen. Plus, the scenery becomes even more spectacular.

One could also ride from Presidio to Ruidosa and do Pinto Canyon Road both ways. It's only 36 miles of pavement each way. I've never ridden that stretch, but I've been told that the pavement has lots of elevation change but not much in the way of twisties. If I was on a bike with limited fuel capacity I'd carry a 1-gallon can from Presidio, top off in Ruidosa, hide the can in the brush, top off in Ruidosa again, then carry the can out with me.

One could also ride 2810 out of Marfa 33 miles to Pinto Canyon Road, but then it would be necessary to traverse the most difficult part of the road first. Still, an hour of experience in a dirtbike park is all one would need to gain the confidence necessary to begin on the north end.

DO IT!
 
Joined
Dec 22, 2006
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Odessa
#23
Its been our west Texas secret,SShhhhh Don't tell anyone,,,,
I know a guy that did it on a old style GSXR 750, He is on the site but I am not going to call any names,,, LOL
Mike
 
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Northern Fayette County
#25
:clap: :clap: What a great RR!! Great pics and eloquent writing.:sun: Thanks for sharing. My bro and I started talking about our summer trip a couple weeks ago and Big Bend/Davis Mountains came up. I think you just hammered in the last nail!:lol2:
 

KenH

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#28
I think the next time I do this ride I will start from Van Horn, ride Chispa Road to RM-170, RM-170 to Pinto Canyon Road, to 2810. This is 116 miles, 36 paved, 80 dirt. Those in the group that have had enough dirt for the day can take 2810 to Marfa, then US-90 to Van Horn, all paved. The rest of us can turn around and do the route backwards. Maybe take in Hot Springs Road and a different fork of Chispa Road.
 

voyagerrider

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#29
Great report and pics Ken. :clap: :clap: Makes me wish I had a dual sport. I might have have to check around and see it I can find a T-Dub. It's about the only dual sport a short guy like me would be able to ride. :lol2:
Marty
 

KenH

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#30
Great report and pics Ken. :clap: :clap: Makes me wish I had a dual sport. I might have have to check around and see it I can find a T-Dub. It's about the only dual sport a short guy like me would be able to ride. :lol2:
Marty
Check into the old Honda SL100 and XL100. Very low seat height for a dualsport bike. 40 pounds lighter than a TW200. SL/XL125 engines bolt right in. Poweroll stroker in a 125 with 30 over gives about 160cc. Add a diaghram carb off a CB350, cam with a little lift, a Bassani TDSQ pipe, and electronic ignition, then clean up the head a bit, and you have power very similar to a TW200. There are a host of engine upgrades available, like magnesium top end castings, cams, bigger valves, close ratio 5- and 6-speed transmissions, better clutches, pipes, etc. 30+hp is possible, but a good dualsport for cruising about in the boonies only needs half that. Real 15w fork oil and a good set of aftermarket shocks will provide safe and sure handling at the moderate speeds I ride, and the seat is many times better than any small dualsport seat sold today.
 
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#31
Pulling this one back up, as I found it on a google search.

Three of us are riding out of Midland in a couple of weeks. We are heading straight to Rio Grande Village for the night (tent camping). Then we are riding up the river road (the dirt portion through the Park), then the River Road to Presidio, all the way to Candeleria and then up the Chispa Road.

As far as you all know....is the Chispa Road still open and passable?

We will be on KTM 950 Adventure bikes.

Anyone have any tips, info or advice?
 

FCBH

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Aug 28, 2016
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Recalculating, Texas
#32
Great ride report. You definitely drive home the point to be prepared along the desolate sections outside of the Big Bend Park with sufficient amount of water.
 
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