• Welcome to the Two Wheeled Texans community! Feel free to hang out and lurk as long as you like. However, we would like to encourage you to register so that you can join the community and use the numerous features on the site. After registering, don't forget to post up an introduction!

Feb. 21 & 22, A trip down memory lane - Quickly!

scratch

Inactive Member
Joined
Mar 6, 2003
Messages
4,676
Location
Houston
:tab Thought some of you might be interested in an area that I’ve been exploring for the past few years on two wheels that‘s a little off the beaten path. I’ve been putting a bug in the Tourmeister’s ear for a while now about some fun roads northwest of Bryan and on towards Temple and Killeen, and he finally decided to join me for a ride out there and check ‘em out.

:tab We departed Scott’s house about 11:00 a.m. that Saturday morning, heading north on FM 247 out of Huntsville. About 12 miles up the road we turned right onto FM 2989 which takes you over I-45 after about 5 miles and dead-ends into old Highway 75. We turned left there and proceeded to Madisonville just a few minutes up the road. There we turned west again onto Hwy 21 in the middle of town, going 4 or 5 blocks until seeing the sign on the right indicating our turn-off onto FM 978. The roads up to this point are pleasant enough, but without any really challenging curves. However, 978 west out of Madisonville to Highway 39 has seven or eight pretty tight turns in a 15 mile stretch that allowed us to warm up the tires a little. 8-)

:tab Turning right (north) on 39 we ran down the road a bit to the town of Normangee, and turned west once again onto OSR - the Old Spanish Road. There’s a big granite marker that gives some history of this road (it’s been in use since the late 1600’s) that’s located on your left as you make this turn at Normangee, just past a brick public building of some sort. It’s a pretty good way off the highway, so you have to look for it or you’ll probably miss it. This is one of only two state roadways in Texas that has a name as it’s official designation, rather than just a number, NASA Road 1 being the other. OSR is in a pretty sad state of repair these days - lots of patches and heaves in the pavement with the odd bit of gravel every few miles just to keep things interesting. Kind of sad for a road that’s of such historical significance, but it long ago ceased being a major route to anywhere, so I guess TXDOT doesn't see much need to put a lot of money into maintaining it. :-(

:tab Anyway, after about 20 miles or so of having our kidneys rattled we came to the turn off to the town of Wheelock on Hwy 46. In Wheelock (I just love that name) we turned west on FM 391. This is another road that’s badly in need of some serious repair. It was just our luck that the county maintenance crews had recently laid down some patches in a few turns that consisted of a very fine white gravel. The pucker-factor was up there pretty good as we both felt our bikes moving around beneath us when traversing these sections as our tires were able to get almost zero grip on the loose surface. If we’d come into it just a little bit hotter, things could have been ugly. After that bit of excitement we came to the little community of Black Jack (that’s another name that tickles me) where we turned north onto FM 2549. This farm-to-market road is a nice by-pass around the town of Hearne if you intend to head north on Highway 79 from Highway 6 south. We caught it about halfway along, and this is right where things got really interesting for the first time that day. Just outside of Black Jack, FM 2549 has a couple of really nice, long sweeping curves where you can lean waaaay over and pour on the coal. We passed a couple of other riders headed in the opposite direction here, and those were the only sport bikes we saw until we got into Austin that evening. We did see a few folks on cruisers, but it was surprising how few people seemed to be out riding on what was a perfect day for it - temps in the mid-60’s, and nice sunny skies. Go figure. After a couple more miles of gentler turns, 2549 spits you out onto Highway 79 where we turned west once more.

:tab We stayed on 79 all the way through Hearne, turning off onto the old highway before we got into town so that I could show Scott the little house out in the country where my family lived back in the 60’s. Being a small kid with a hundred-acre patch of woods, creeks and cow pasture to roam around on was absolute nirvana and was probably the happiest time of my life. The original owner of the house (built in the early 1940’s) was an amateur archeologist and he dug up quite a collection of arrowheads and other Native American artifacts on the property before renting it out to us. He showed me part of the collection when we went over to pay the rent one day. Though I tried as hard as I could, I never did find another arrowhead anywhere around that place. I guess he must have found everything that was easy to get to. Shortly after we moved into the house in 1963, my father gave my oldest sister a horse that she named Red. Red was easy to spook since he was blind in one eye, and he didn’t ever really seem to warm up to any of us. One time when I was about 8 years old, I got a notion to saddle him up and take him out for a ride by myself, but the darned saddle was too heavy for me to throw over him. My big sister Georganne wasn’t around to help me, so I just put the reigns on him and crawled up over him to ride bareback. I gave him a nudge with my heels to get going, and things went fine for about 5 seconds before Red decided that he wanted to gallop as fast as he could across the pasture and down the creek on the opposite side. He leapt across the creek, bounded up the other bank (all the while I was thrashing around on top of him, hanging on for dear life) then he abruptly came to a full stop, throwing me head-over-heals into the dirt. Needless to say, my riding was through for the day right then and there! I walked back up to the house muttering and swearing in a manner that would have gotten my mouth washed out with lye soap if my mother had heard any of it. Red got to graze contentedly out in the pasture the rest of the afternoon until my sister came home and rounded him up. I suspect that was his plan all along. ;-)

:tab The current occupants of the house have taken good care of the old place, adding a two-car garage adjoining it, and they’ve expanded the front porch out a few feet too. It also looked like they had built a second story on top of the old stone garage out behind the house - how cool that would have been for us kids back in the day! Judging by the children’s toys laying around in the front yard, it looks like another generation is building up a store of priceless memories there. Like Scott says, it’s the just the sort of place where Calvin & Hobbes would feel right at home. I thought about taking a picture of the house, but decided not to. It belongs to another family now, and it seemed like it would be an intrusion on their privacy. We moved out of that house 36 years ago this past month. Hard to believe it’s been that long ago…

:tab Scott and I got back on Highway 79 and headed out of Hearne, crossing the Brazos River, then turning north on FM 2095 at the town of Gause. This is a short-cut locals take to get over to the town of Cameron. We stopped in Cameron for lunch at the Texan Café and took a few pictures on the old town square while there. The Milam County courthouse was totally renovated a couple of years ago, and is once again a fine example of the Renaissance Revival architectural style that was popular for many public buildings constructed in the 1890’s. Here‘s the east facade, and a close up of Lady Justice perched on top of the building. Diagonally across the street is the old county jail, a very solid-looking structure that now houses the local history museum. Just next to that is an old pioneer cabin with a rustic stone chimney that caught my eye. After a few minutes of playing tourist and taking photos, we hit the road again - and the riding was about to get a whole lot better! :-D
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

:tab On the south side of Cameron, we cross the railroad tracks and catch FM 1600 out of town. The first 6 or 7 miles of this road is a really fun ride, with lots of elevation changes and tight curves coming one after the other. The road then straightens out as it drops down into a valley formed by the confluence of the San Gabriel River and the Little River. In a few years this might be the upper reaches of lake that’s being proposed for the area. Hopefully, the roadbed will be high enough so that this route won’t be cut off from connecting to FM 487 to the south. Speaking of which, when we got to 487 we turned right and headed west once again. If you look on a map, this little two-lane road roughly bisects the triangle formed by Highway 190 on the north, I-35 on the west, and Highway 79 on the south. It’s eastern origin is just on the outskirts of Rockdale, running west through a number of small towns before crossing under I-35 at Jarrell, then ending at Florence. The best stretches of FM 487 are just east of Bartlett and a couple of miles to the west of Jarrell. If you like taking smooth, arcing 65 - 70 mph curves (marked 35 to 40 mph) this road has quite a few of them on those sections. During the winter, the fields next to the road are all plowed under so you can see all the way through the turns. Just before entering Jarrell, there’s also a nicely banked S-curve that’s almost worth the ride all by itself. For the most part, this road runs pretty straight across the rolling prairie following the contours of the land, but it’s a relaxing ride with little traffic and it sure beats the heck out of droning down any of the major highways in those parts. :-)

:tab When we get west of I-35, things don’t change much for the first 3 or 4 miles until we pass the entrance to a stone quarry. At that point, the road bends to the right in a nicely-banked 90 degree sweeper followed quickly by another one rolling to the left. This is where the blackland prairie gives way to the limestone of the Edwards Plateau. The cedar trees become much more prevalent and lightly scent the air. Low scrub oaks compete with the cedars, crowding up to the road forming a narrow corridor along our route. The contour of the land doesn’t change too dramatically at first, but you know you’re near the Hill Country. Sure enough, within a couple of miles the hills start rising to either side, and the creeks and streams we pass over are lined with rock. We continue on until coming to the turn-off for FM 2843. Heading east for a few minutes, this road has some of the nicest sweeping curves you’ll ever ride that come one after another for 7 or 8 miles. The pavement is quite good too - very smooth with wide shoulders. In another month or so, the fields beside this road will be carpeted in Bluebonnets and Indian Paintbrushes. Right now though, gray winter foliage prevails with only a little green grass to break the monotony.

:tab Popping over a rise in the pavement I see a small church on the right that reminds me that we need to slow down and turn left onto Cedar Valley Road. This is one of the many paved county roads in the area that makes a nice way to connect from one highway to another. After winding around some small ranches, this road deposits you onto Stillman Valley Road where we turn right. The vistas open up pretty dramatically at this point as we’ve just crossed into the Lampasas River valley. This area is almost indistinguishable from the Hill Country 40 miles to the south, but with very little of the development and encroaching subdivisions that are crowding out from Austin. After ½ mile or so, Stillman Valley Road ends at FM (or is it Ranch Road?) 2484 where we turn right. This road runs below the escarpment we just came over, following the south side of the Lampasas River. There are lots of elevation changes, gentle curves and nice views out over the valley along here. At Eagle’s Nest Road we turn right for a short, steep climb up the escarpment. At the top, we pull over to relax for a few minutes and enjoy the view. You can just make out part of Stillhouse Hollow Lake to the right in this picture, and across the valley is Killeen and Fort Hood beyond that. Right now, everything looks dry and brown, but last fall the leaves showed a lot of color in the trees lining these hills. We’ll have to come back next November and see if we can capture some of those colors with our cameras.

:tab After packing the cameras away, we head back down to 2484. We turn into one of the parks along the lake to take a potty break before back-tracking a bit to ride the causeway across the lake. We turn west on Highway 190 in Killeen and make our way to Copperas Cover just past Fort Hood. It’s only been a year or two since I was in Killeen last, but the commercial development is exploding along the freeway - this place is starting to look a lot like parts of Austin with strip malls, restaurants and mega-car dealerships crowding together. Hopefully, all this growth will stay on the north side of the lake for a good while yet.

:tab In Copperas Cove, Scott takes point and starts searching for the house his family occupied when he was a boy. This town has also grown a lot in the intervening years, but he quickly finds his way back into the neighborhood where he used to live. Though Scott hasn’t been here since he was about 8 years old, he leads us right to his old house without having to back-track at all. Pretty sharp memory! He stops to reminisce a little and marvel at how the scale of everything seems to have shrunk compared to how it all seemed to him some 30 years ago. After taking a couple of pictures, we saddle up again and wind our way back out to the highway where we continue west once more.

:tab Just outside of Copperas Cove we turn left (south) onto FM 2657 which takes us back into the rolling countryside. About 10 miles along, we turn left onto county road 220. This is a bumpy, lane-and-a-half route taking us to what remains of the town of Maxdale. There are quite a few sharp, blind turns on this lane, so we take it easy. Just before a new-ish bridge that would take us across the Lampasas River, we turn right and go a couple hundred yards where we pull into the approach to the Old Maxdale Bridge that’s situated just across from the town cemetery. This is a one-lane iron truss design that dates back to 1914 and it’s been closed to vehicular traffic, though you can take a stroll across it on foot. There are lots of these bridges tucked away along county roads all over the state, many of them still in use. We parked the bikes to go check it out and take a few more pictures -

Here we’re looking back towards the north end of the bridge.
This is a view looking east over the river.
And here’s Scott hamming it up for the camera.

:tab Googling a little more information about this bridge, I found a mention of it (and the cemetery nearby) as being haunted. Here’s what they say about it at www.ratrun.com -

It is believed that this very old cemetery is haunted by an old man with a limp, some say he was the caretaker of the cemetery. There is also a small old iron bridge you have to cross to get to the cemetery which is also believed to be haunted if you go at night to visit the cemetery and you stop on the bridge turn off your headlights and count to ten then turn them back on there will be a man hanging from a noose. Who is believed to have hung himself when he could not save the life of his girlfriend who had drowned in the river under the bridge.
:tab Hmmm... Had we stuck around for just another half-hour or so, we might have witnessed something spooky there! ;-)

:tab The sun was getting pretty low in the sky at this point, so we got back on the bikes and headed back up CR 220 to FM 2657 where we continued south to Highway 183. We made a bee-line on 183 to Austin where we had made plans to grab some dinner and stay at Will Bird’s house for the night.

:tab We got to Will's place a little after sundown, and after parking the bikes and shucking off our riding gear, we all piled into Will's truck to head out for some BBQ. Darned if I can remember the name of the joint, but they served up some exceptionally good food. After dinner, we retired back to the house where we sat around talking for a few hours while sipping on some of Will's fine single-malt scotch and enjoying a few choice selections from his collection of jazz CD's. The conversation began on the topic of free-market economics, but somehow we ended up talking about women and guns... :eek: :mrgreen:

:tab After a good night's sleep, Scott and I packed our bikes and bid farewell to Will. Scott had made plans for us to meet Achim Felber for breakfast in Wimberley so we headed out into the hills southwest of Austin. The weather wasn't looking too good that morning, with dark gray clouds hanging low over us. Sure enough, about 2/3 of the way to Wimberley we got into a little precipitation. Fortunately, it was a very light rain so we didn't bother to stop and put on our rain gear. Achim had a table already when we got there, so we quickly got settled in for a meal. All of us had something nice, sweet and starchy for breakfast - none of that Atkins stuff for these guys! ;-)

:tab We followed Achim over to his house for a brief visit after breakfast. Fortunately, the weather improved quickly once we left Wimberley, and it never rained on us again the rest of the day. At this point, Scott took the lead, so he would have to describe the route back to Huntsville. To summarize it, we stayed mostly on the backroads over to Bastrop, where we took a detour through Bastrop and Buescher State Parks and Park Road 1. Paul "buc000" has already posted a very good write-up of PR1 and these two parks along with some nice pictures, so I'll just link to that thread here. It was still overcast at the time we rode through, so our pictures wouldn't have been anywhere near as nice as the ones he took anyway. Still, I couldn't resist taking a shot of these two fine rides while we were there. 8-)

:tab The rest of the trip back was fun, and we even took a brief excursion down a gravel road for a couple of miles just for grins... Actually, that wasn't part of the plan, but the paved county road we were using as a shortcut petered out before completing the connection, and we weren't about to let a few little rocks make us turn around. :twisted:

:tab On the town square in Fayetteville we hooked up with a couple of other riders who were headed back in our same general direction. We parted ways with them somewhere around New Ulm, where we turned off towards Bellville, Hempstead then back up to Highway 105 East in a round-about manner. Eventually, we met Beth for dinner at King's Cafe in Montgomery, then concluded with the short ride back to Huntsville from there.

:tab All in all, it was a great weekend in the saddle!

[Here's Scott's version of the weekend ]
 
Last edited by a moderator:
Joined
Dec 9, 2003
Messages
84
Location
Huntsville, TX
Hey scratch,

I grew up in Caldwell about 15 miles south of Milano. I know all those roads through there very well. I don't know how the ride would be on a bike but FM 908 from Rockdale to just east of Caldwell on HWY21 was pretty fun in an El Camino super sport when I was younger. Lots of beautiful scenery all through out those roads. Brings back memories.
 

Tourmeister

Keeper of the Asylum
Admin
Joined
Feb 28, 2003
Messages
45,700
Location
Huntsville
FM 908 is still fun :twisted:

Hey Tripp, I have been seeing an old Ford truck sitting in the park & ride over on FM 247 across from the Exxon. It is blue and yellow and has an old bike sitting in the back of it. I can't see most of the bike, but it looks similar to yours. Is it?

Adios,
 

scratch

Inactive Member
Joined
Mar 6, 2003
Messages
4,676
Location
Houston
Tripp said:
Hey scratch,

I grew up in Caldwell about 15 miles south of Milano. I know all those roads through there very well. I don't know how the ride would be on a bike but FM 908 from Rockdale to just east of Caldwell on HWY21 was pretty fun in an El Camino super sport when I was younger. Lots of beautiful scenery all through out those roads. Brings back memories.
Then you must be familiar with FM 166 too. 8-)

One of my favorite routes is FM 166 to Caldwell, then up 21 a couple of miles to catch FM 908, then to Rockdale where you can continue west on FM 487. It's almost nothing but backroads from just outside College Station all the way to the northern reaches of the Hill Country.
 

scratch

Inactive Member
Joined
Mar 6, 2003
Messages
4,676
Location
Houston
Oh yeah; I had an El Camino too - '77 model with a 350. It was my second or third car. Unlike Bill Clinton, I never had the urge to put indoor/outdoor carpet in the back. ;-)
 
Joined
Apr 7, 2003
Messages
1,892
Location
Bryan, TX
It is amazing how many good roads cut through the farms and ranches up here. If you go straight through Blackjack 391 ends up at 79 where the only overpass in Hearne is. There are some kick-booty curves on that stretch.

Can't remember the number but the road by the Dairy Queen in Calvert is good too. But they all seem to be under construction right now so you have to be careful.

Hit almost any road up here on a weekday and you're likely to be the only vehicle on it. :chug:
 
Joined
Dec 9, 2003
Messages
84
Location
Huntsville, TX
Yeah 166 an me go way back. My father is a constable in Burleson county and I used to ride with him at nights. Not a very good road to motorist period at night especially through Tunis. Picked up a good friend from the side of the road there. Well what was left to pick up any way. BAD memoriy.

There are also lots of good roads around the Lake too (Somerville). Park road 4 was fun and some on the Washington county side as well.
 
Joined
Dec 9, 2003
Messages
84
Location
Huntsville, TX
Tourmeister said:
Hey Tripp, I have been seeing an old Ford truck sitting in the park & ride over on FM 247 across from the Exxon. It is blue and yellow and has an old bike sitting in the back of it. I can't see most of the bike, but it looks similar to yours. Is it?
No not yet. I had a minor set back with the breaks this weekend. Fronts are ok but the back is sticky. I got all of the electrics worked out after i figured out there was a 850 wiring harness on a 750 bike :angryfir: .

About the tires. Yam says 3.25 h19-4pr for front and 4.00 h18-4pr for rear but that aint what the tire said. Is there some cross referece that needs to be done. They said 120/90H or something.
 

scratch

Inactive Member
Joined
Mar 6, 2003
Messages
4,676
Location
Houston
Tripp said:
About the tires. Yam says 3.25 h19-4pr for front and 4.00 h18-4pr for rear but that aint what the tire said. Is there some cross referece that needs to be done. They said 120/90H or something.
Go to http://www.yamaha-triples.org/ and look for the "QuickFinder" pull-down menu in the middle of the page. Scroll down the menu and select "Motorcycle Tire Info" to see a US/metric tire size conversion chart. You probably want a 100/90 x 19 front tire and a 120/90 x 18 rear.
 

Tourmeister

Keeper of the Asylum
Admin
Joined
Feb 28, 2003
Messages
45,700
Location
Huntsville
:tab Hehe, I love that ghost type stuff. It is amazing what people believe. I'd love to do the headlight thing and see what appears!

:tab Oh yeah, don't forget about the group of riders you spotted on 187 right before we turned South. Lotsa youngsters on brand spanking new rockets!! Nice folks.

Adios,
 

scratch

Inactive Member
Joined
Mar 6, 2003
Messages
4,676
Location
Houston
:tab It's interesting how the place each of lived when we were about the same ages left us both with such strong emotional impressions. Perhaps it's because our minds and personalities were in a formative stage during those years and everything we experienced then took on a deep significance that's indelibly burned into our memories.
 

scratch

Inactive Member
Joined
Mar 6, 2003
Messages
4,676
Location
Houston
Tourmeister said:
Or because I didn't have a job and I could goof off and play all day :-P
Yeah, that is a pretty nice thing about being a kid. 8-)

And thanks for letting some air out of my pseudo-intellectualism - I'll get ya back for that! :mrgreen:
 
Top