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San Saba Ride on the 701

Joined
Dec 8, 2014
Messages
53
Location
San Marcos, Texas
First Name
Steve
Last Name
Pylant
I wanted to get out and see some new dirt. I have done quite a bit of Hill Country riding, the cool stuff around Mason, Junction, Rocksprings, Leakey etc. and ventured in/out of San Saba on part of the TWT Hill Country 500 weekend last November. But I had read a Big Dog ride report going to see a suspension bridge up this way and had my eye on this area for a while, was able to hit it last weekend. Planning an ADV gravel ride with a bridge as a highlight while riding the KLR 701…..let that soak in. Not my finest hour. Feeling the need to crush a beer can on my forehead or something to bring back the balance.

Left my house mid-morning and took back roads to get up Llano way. Didn’t even think about pics as I have traveled those routes many times and I did not set out to do a ride report. Ate a late lunch at the Burger Bar in Llano, note to self that doesn’t mean they have beer, dadgummit. Too late, already parked and took off all my crap. Turned out to be a really cool place and super cool lady that runs it, enjoyed visiting with her as I was the only one in there. I learned that you can BYOB but I just had my burger and a Dr. Pepper. After the grub, I gassed up and snagged some evening beverages. Off towards the booming town of Bend and a little farther to Barefoot RV Park, about 200 miles for me for the day.

My plan was to camp for a few days with my wife joining at the end of the second day after I got 400-500 miles of bike travel complete. It was a nice park, not many folks there but I did learn that the restroom/showers were turned off for the winter. There goes my plan, I wasn’t much interested in no shower for 3 days and knew my wife wouldn’t be either when she joined me later. New plan needed but I was there for that night. Setup camp, gathered fire wood and chillaxed. Sunset was nice against the rock cliffs and the moon was cool. Couple pics of camp, a snip of my San Saba loop for tomorrow.....and GPX file attached. Still working on the rest of the ride report.

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GPX viewer
 

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Joined
Dec 8, 2014
Messages
53
Location
San Marcos, Texas
First Name
Steve
Last Name
Pylant
I went to bed early cause I was bored….and out of beverages. Woke up super early as I had enough sleep and it was cold in the upper 20s, ice on everything. Stoked the fire to warm my hands in between breaking camp by moon light. I watched the moon set and the sun come up and then listened to the turkeys gobble about along the river bank. Time to ride, faced the wings exhaust the opposite way from the rest of the camp and fired up the KLR to warm up. Drove/froze my way into San Saba for some breakfast, randomly picked Tacos Mi Casa, was decent. My plan was to do my loop counter clockwise. But then I talked with the wife that morning and figured out I needed to do some tweaks to my route to do it clockwise and end up over by Goldthwaite at the end of the day for an Air BNB she snagged. So tweaked my route while I stalled at the breakfast spot waiting for the sun to get a little higher/warmer. Then off I went. I didn’t have crazy big expectations for the day, just glad to be out and about checking out the country side enjoying the views, wildlife, old houses and barns. The day’s route was like 250 miles and I was surprised with the terrain/soil landscape variations and thus the county road material changes experienced. I would have to say the Mason county roads are probably better, but this ranks up there as far as Texas gravel travel semi-close to home and it was new to me for the most part, so that made it gooder :-).

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Both days that I rode my bike were pretty dang chilly till about noon, but from there it was just really gorgeous weather. I have accumulated enough gear over the years that I kept pretty warm and just shed layers. But I don’t have any heated gear, had to stop a few times to warm my hands on the exhaust, even with my elephant ears on. This ride isn’t like off the charts but somewhere in here I decided to do a little write up with a few pics and include my GPX track cause it was still fun. As usual pics don’t do justice. If you cut parts of this ~250 mile ride short, don’t skimp on the south west portion down around Pontotoc. I have been through there before and really dig the rocks/geology and the route I made for this really snaked through it well prolonging that terrain. Made my way north to Richland Springs, grabbed a mid-morning snack and then ate it on a bridge overlooking a nice little crossing.

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Joined
Feb 21, 2011
Messages
1,483
Location
Austin
First Name
Jeff
FYI: the GPX previewer gizmo here is only showing the 'Lomita Hamilton Pool Loop', but also includes the part that is shown on the map image.

Thanks for posting - I'm always interested in gathering up good dirt around here!
 

Tourmeister

Keeper of the Asylum
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Huntsville
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Scott
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Friday
faced the wings exhaust the opposite way from the rest of the camp and fired up the KLR to warm up.
Flashing back to a previous bike...? :-P

FYI: the GPX previewer gizmo here is only showing the 'Lomita Hamilton Pool Loop', but also includes the part that is shown on the map image.
The Add-on that displays the GPX files will only do one track at a time. I have tried to get the author of the add-on to make it so it can handle multiple tracks but he thinks that is unnecessary :shrug: He thinks it is easier to just do one file per track. He is not an adventure rider... :-P
 
Joined
Dec 8, 2014
Messages
53
Location
San Marcos, Texas
First Name
Steve
Last Name
Pylant
Sorry about the GPX file, I didn't know about the limit to one track in an Adventure file. Attached is the main track this report is about, all by his lonesome. The KLR comments......I have been making fun of KLRs for a decade, or two, or three. I wouldn't have been caught dead on a KLR. I have been contemplating a bigger ADV bike for a couple years when I ran across this 701 used and a good deal. I brought it home and played with the toys it came with, racks, bags etc. The previous owner had an extra 1.5 gallon tank he never mounted, of course I got right to it, more range on a big single is cool right? I was sitting there looking at my racked out heavy finished product drinking a beer and realized I had a suped up KLR and worse yet, I was using it for KLRish things. Everything has it's season and I was just too young to appreciate it 10, 20, 30 years ago, the bikes or the people. I still have a light bike to play hard on, but I really appreciate this size bike and know the wisdom of grey hair. I also came to the conclusion that even though this bike is really sweet, I probably should have bought a farkled out KLR for half the price. Just couldn't bring myself to do it, the 701 has about twice the horsepower, just saying. So the KLR thing is just me playing around and mocking myself. No offence to any KLR riders, at this point :-). More ride report coming tomorrow.

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Joined
Dec 8, 2014
Messages
53
Location
San Marcos, Texas
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Steve
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Pylant
Meandered my way towards San Saba. The Regency bridge was the main one to check out, but I couldn’t help myself when I made the route to include more dirt crossings with a couple other bridges. First one, just your normal cool older county road iron bridge.

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Next one was an older suspension bridge named Beveridge, only for foot traffic at this point, and KLRs. The Beveridge Crossing over the San Saba river was just a dam people/animals crossed around 1850. In 1896 locals petitioned for a more legit bridge. The bridge survived several floods in 1899 and 1922 but not the big 1938 flood. In three days the San Saba river passed four times its average annual discharge. I read that towns in the area had between 20 to 30 inches in that span of a few days. They had to rebuild the bridge that year. The towers are from the original 1896 build. Didn’t expect it to be that wobbly when I parked the bike to snag a pic. I don’t like heights and the bridge swaying wasn’t helping, didn’t hang out long.

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Snagged some fuel in San Saba and headed out for the Regency Bridge over the Colorado River, spanning about twice as far as the Beveridge and definitely a lot higher off the ground. You don’t notice it moving around a lot when riding across it, but when you get off and walk around, she is moving. Ate my lunch here (on stable ground) and just chilled a bit. This first bridge over the Colorado was between Mills and San Saba and was built in 1903. It fell under the weight of a herd of cattle in 1924 killing a boy, his horse and his herd. Second bridge washed away in 1936 and its replacement in 1938. After that big flood, Mills and San Saba counties combined efforts and moved the crossing to the Regency area. This single lane bridge was built in 1939 and restored in 1997. It is the last of its kind, the only suspension bridge in Texas open to vehicle traffic. Also of note as far as the riding goes, the terrain was less hill country/evergreens and more mesquite out here, at first I was like great, but the roads were fun and propped it back up. I would do this entire ~250 mile ride without any cool bridges, but this just added to it and made for a great lunch spot.

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Joined
Dec 8, 2014
Messages
53
Location
San Marcos, Texas
First Name
Steve
Last Name
Pylant
Next area of any substantial interest, south of Goldthwaite and east of Hwy 16 where on Google Maps it looks like CR 124 ends at the Colorado…….well in Garmin Base Camp it looked like it went through. When I am by myself I don’t mind exploring dead ends as bad, and the unknown is kind of cool. When I got there, the first reaction is this looks bad and is a no go, till you round the curve it looks like it is just a boat ramp for Farmer Brown. Rounded the corner a bit more and you see the boat ramp on the other side. I have submerged some bikes in my day but they weren’t space shuttle bikes. I was starting to feel like this was just the farmers crossing to get to his land on the other side….I’m riding alone, I wasn’t feeling it. It was still pretty cold in the low 50s, I didn’t want to walk this thing first, also didn’t want to stall out in it but I hate backtracking. I pulled to the side facing upstream and was in scout mode, surveying the situation eye balling the rocks up stream for shallow tendencies and then noted the semi-wet tire tracks going out the other boat ramp. I was sort of hoping for a truck to pass through so I could see the depth for real…..but then had a moment of panic, what if a chic in a corolla barreled through making me look like an idiot on a dirt bike, had a vision of her wake getting me wet. Crawled up the bank, quickly, to get a better view without a glare. Dang it if it doesn’t look doable. I have an aftermarket air filter and it sucks up high, but is an open element. Still a little hesitant about sucking water but with the wet tracks on the other side, I decided to do it. My wife was on her way to meet me later that afternoon in my truck, worst case scenario I won’t be stranded long if I drowned out the Apollo and couldn’t get it to launch. My wife is no Gary Sinise but she will do. Steady pace standing on the pegs but not too fast for the open filter. There were some big rocks to dodge and my feet were well under water on the pegs but I made it with no dab and amazingly my feet were dry—mink oil is cool. Magic legs, winning. Crawled up the muddy bank on the other side, then thought I better snag a pic looking back. Almost fell down staging that pic, hope that chic in the corolla isn’t watching me. The good thing about the crossing, it is mostly a natural rock bottom, no issues with the slip and slide like some of the other hill country crossings we like to frequent that are slabs with culverts. Have fun with that one boys and girls, might want to be first or second….the soil already had it cloudy before I even went through, hard to see the bottom. Be careful in the spring time, that is probably a no go with any amount of rain. Might want a good depth gauge to go first, like a Super Tenere, no loss if it goes down.

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kubotamiketx

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Austin
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Michael
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Morisoli
Excellent report, thank you for sharing! Can't wait to do some exploring. Richard and I touched on a tiny bit of San Saba a couple of months ago, really neat how different the country is out there. Thanks again for sharing.
 
Joined
Dec 8, 2014
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San Marcos, Texas
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Steve
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Pylant
Thanks Mike. That was my main take away, the transitions in the landscape, kind of mini-bdr just in this one ride. One last bit to finish this report off.

About 4 miles east of the water crossing, I needed to deviate from the GPX track and head to the Air BNB, but I went ahead and finished out the route. Two reasons….I hate not finishing something I set out to do and I didn’t want to share this track without proving it out. If you like eye balling your own route and wonder why I made a few of the decisions I made, there were about 6 places that didn’t work out, Base Camp was overzealous. I fixed those spots in the file I am sharing. These next few pics were not on the GPX route, just a little north/east around CR315/318, good gravel and views as I headed for the Air BNB. When I set out on this little adventure, I didn’t realize I was far enough out there to get into the wind mill areas. Finished out the weekend driving around in the pickup with the wife looking at the country side and hitting small shops along the way in Goldthwaite, Early, Brownwood, Santa Anna and then back to our little cabin. It’s nice when I get a ride in and also some wifey time, it’s almost like this ride never happened and I am clear to venture off on another ride soon :-). It wasn’t the ride of my life but thought it was worth sharing. If you use the Barefoot RV park as a base camp, it is a cheap weekend, $7 a night primitive camping (showers open back up end of March I believe). The other GPX route in the file going North/East from San Saba that I made, I didn’t do yet, so know that going into it if you hit that loop up.

Smell ya later, Stevo.

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Joined
Sep 23, 2019
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Fischer TX
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stephen
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smith
Wonderful report. You should definitely share these more often Stevo!

Surprised we haven't heard any smack from ol' JMZ...
 
Joined
Dec 8, 2014
Messages
53
Location
San Marcos, Texas
First Name
Steve
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Pylant
You are right JMZ, I didn' t run into any Super Teneres on the route, probably not a good idea for you. But if anyone has a Honda Grom, probably should go crush it.
 
Joined
Oct 9, 2007
Messages
11,819
Location
Far East DFW
Good ride report, I enjoyed it. You teased me into reading it for the 701, if it were a KLR I'd have likely kept on scrolling. ;)

As for showers, probably wouldn't have helped in your situation after looking at the maps, and that your wife was coming, but something to keep in the back of your head when out and about is truck stops. They usually have very nice private bathrooms with showers you can rent and are super clean. I'd gotten this tip somewhere else and have tried it out with success. Also, most times the truckers are on a reward system where they buy x amount of diesel they get benefits such as free showers. Most times they don't use them all and the folks working the truck stop are so used to letting folks use the showers for free that they might not charge you.
 
Joined
Feb 10, 2015
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Stockdale
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Samuel
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Looks like you may have passed nored ranch on 1030. Some very good friends of ours

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Joined
Dec 8, 2014
Messages
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Location
San Marcos, Texas
First Name
Steve
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Pylant
Some very good friends of ours......well you never introduced me, I would have stopped at Norad and played around on the mountain. :-)
 
Joined
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Some very good friends of ours......well you never introduced me, I would have stopped at Norad and played around on the mountain. :-)
I'd have to be there to give the tour!

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Joined
Dec 8, 2014
Messages
53
Location
San Marcos, Texas
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Steve
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Pylant
Just funnin, I get it. Looked at the map of that area and tried to recall it, don't have a memory of it. Cool place in that general area had a half sunken in the earth rock barn along a creek, that was stuck in my brain. Looked like it was a hundred years old. Definitely nice country.
 
Joined
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Samuel
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Just funnin, I get it. Looked at the map of that area and tried to recall it, don't have a memory of it. Cool place in that general area had a half sunken in the earth rock barn along a creek, that was stuck in my brain. Looked like it was a hundred years old. Definitely nice country.
Its definitely a cool area. I usually deer hunt out there

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Montejay

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Jan 20, 2016
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Goldthwaite, Texas
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Monte
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Jernigan
Steve, that water crossing on the Colorado is called the Double Ford. CR443 Mills Co side and CR124 San Saba side.
The pictures your took on Mill County 318 is about a 1/4 mile from my place.
 
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