Saturday, August 11, 2007

August 11, 2007 Ride - The 480 Miler

All the group rides we’ve had this year have been very enjoyable. So much so that it seemed that we never wanted the rides to end. Since an endless ride for an endless summer isn’t really feasible, we opted for a really long ride for August. This ride will be “over the top” in comparison to our previous rides both in mileage and in hours. The ride would include several new destinations such as Texas RR337 and Stonehenge II. We would also take in a couple of ad hoc stops to take in the beauty of God’s creation. Here’s a link that details the routes that we took.

The August ride also was the inaugural ride for two new Holy Hogs – Chris and Mike.

Chris had been deployed in Iraq for the past several months and just recently arrived safely back to Austin. We’ve been praying for Chris’ protection while he was serving his country in Iraq, and we are certainly thankful that God hears and answers the prayers of his people. Chris is a wonderful minister of the Gospel and encourager of God’s people. The Holy Hogs are privileged to have him ride with us.

Chris bought his motorcycle while in Iraq and started riding when he returned. His motor is a Yamaha Virago 1100cc Vtwin – a shaft driven Japanese bike like the rest of us thus far.

Jim also brought along his nephew Mike from New Jersey whose family was visiting for the week. Mike would be riding as passenger with Jim on the Honda Valkyrie. Being just a teenager and not really having been on a motorcycle that often, Mike was quickly learning how to ride and later endure the day’s ride. The youngest Holy Hog’s easy going demeanor and youthful attitude was blessing during trip.

The ride began at Ramon’s house where we began with tech inspections of our bikes. Tire pressure was low on all our bikes, especially Don’s Fat Kaw. So much so that Don gained a 25% increase in gas mileage and 100% increase in handling performance.

After tech inspections the Holy Hogs mounted up and rode off to Wimberley’s Cypress Creek Café for breakfast. We took the winding route through Driftwood and Elder Hill Road. Here’s a video of the trip from Elder Hill to Wimberley put to the Oldie by Goodie “Get on your Bad Motorscooter and Ride” by Montrose. Do you recognize the lead singer of the group? The answer is at the end of this blog entry.

At Cypress Creek Café, Jim asked the waiter “What’s in your Spaniard?” and ended up having a Spaniard for breakfast. I never would have thought that Jim was into Spaniards. The rest of us Hogs had a traditional breakfast – eggs, bacon, biscuits, gravy and coffee.

From Wimberley the Hogs would ride east bound toward US 281 via RR 3237, Fischer Store Road and RR 473. Kevin and Chris broke off from the group at 281 to head back home to make other commitments.

After crossing 281, we continued on RR473 to Sisterdale and on to 1376 for a couple miles. Right after Sisterdale we took a left back onto RR473 and immediately pulled over for a rest break. While on our riding break, we couldn’t help but notice a small river with a dam and waterfall close by. We all had swimsuits underneath because we knew it was going to be a hot and long ride that would probably require taking refreshing dip in a cool Texas river. Plus since we all watched "Wild Hogs" together, we've all said we were going to the swimming hole scene ourselves. With the temperature increasing, we could resist the inviting water and took a dip in the Sisterdale stream.

The water was chest deep after the waterfall and was incredibly refreshing and helped to rejuvenate ourselves. The water before the dam was very still, yet the water after the dam was a pretty good torrent. We felt that we were at a God provided, Holy Hog waterpark. Mike (from urban New Jersey) seemed to really enjoy this little bit of Texas since there was nothing like this at home.

From the Holy Hog water hole, we saddled back up and continued east bound on FM 473. The landscape between Sisterdale and Centerpoint made the ride very enjoyable. This area had rolling hills with gentle curves and was all surrounded by hills and small mountains in the distance. This area still had an old country charm with very little development and only a few rustic ranches. When I think of the Texas Hill Country in my mind, this area best represents that mental picture in my mind. I highly recommend this stretch of road for riding to experience once again God's beauty.

We rode on past Comfort and stopped at Center Point Texas for lunch. Center Point is in southeastern Kerr County and has a population of about 900 people. The town has been around since the mid 1800s and in some respects still feels like an rural town that hasn't changed much. We stopped at Vicki's Burger Barn whose tag line is "Our Claim To Fame Is Our Burger". A burger sounded really good and Vicki's did not disappoint. Everyone had a burger with fries or onion rings (Jim had to have fries for some reason). The burgers were very, very good. The Onion Rings were awesome. Vicki's also servers their iced tea in glass pickling jars, which always makes tea taste better.

After fueling up the motors we continued heading sourtheast through Medina and onto RR 337. This part of the ride was very picturesque with many ranches lining the road. The plentiful rain we've had this year made the grass very green and lush and the well manicured lawns at the ranches reminded me of some Kentucky horse ranches with a Texas Hill Country flair.

Once on 337, the road and ride became more curvy and ran along a ridgeline over hilly terrain. The drop offs on the side of the road made for some good scenic overlooks. Here's a picture of the HHs at a scenic overlook about 15 miles outside of Vanderpool.

The next stop in the Itinerary was the Lone Star Motorcycle museum in outside of Vanderpool. The museum is home to probably about 100 motorcycles dating from the early 1900's to 1980. The owner/curator of the museum was onsite and open to our many questions. The guy was from Australia and his collection consisted of mostly european bikes such as Norton, BSA, Triumph, Ducati and BMW. There were a few Harley's and one Honda. The Honda happened to be the first bike that Rider Don ever rode. We also learned that Leakey is pronouced "Lakey", and that Leakey is the only wet town nearby.

Next on the Itinerary was a ride called the “Three Sisters”. This is the part of the ride that we were most looking forward to riding because of the following reviews given by several publicized reviews:

“The "Three Sisters" (RR335, RR336, & RR337) which are without a doubt the best motorcycle roads to be found in the Hill Country of Texas. These are the roads everyone wants to ride when they visit the Texas Hill Country. Again I caution, if you are a new rider or are a cautious type, then you DO NOT belong on these three roads. They follow canyons and climb over jagged, steep and crumbling hills. They have many tight twisty curves with shear drop offs and not much in the way of guard rails. In one section about 15 miles long, there are around 65 curves. If you are an experienced rider, then this is the ride for you. If you like scenic panoramic views, bring your camera and take this ride!”

"Ranch Road 337 is NOT for the faint of heart. This road follows canyons and climbs over mountains and has so many tight twisty curves that I lost count. If you are an experienced rider, then this is the road for you. If you like scenic views this is the ride to take.”

Our ride route would actually on take us onto “Two Sisters” (RR 337 and RR 335). However, even Two Sisters were pretty amazing. The twisties coupled with the views were awesome. RR 337 is a very popular ride with at least 25 other rides on the road with us. We would definitely recommend this ride to others.

Here’s a video of a portion of the ride on 337 (Song by David Crowder Band) – enjoy the curvaceous ride!

After three sisters, we began heading eastward on Highway 41. Unlike RR 337 and RR 337, HWY 41 was relatively flat and straight. On 41, I found that Fofo can do at least 105 Mph - fun! The heat of the day was taking it's toll on the riders and the road. When we stopped on 41, you could hear the pavement popping due to the tar bubbling up.

At this point the group was beginning to run dangerously low on fuel. Without any towns on the route, the likelihood of running into a gas station was not good, and Jim's motorcycle only has a few miles left before empty. Fortunately we ran into an old-timey gas station at the intersection of HWY 41 and HWY 83. The place was called Garvens' Store. The gas was about $.30 more per gallon, but at least there was petro! The pumps were dials (analog) instead of digital... a big throwback in time. The store catered to bikers with a special section devoted to leather gear. Jim and Don bought leather gloves for $7.00 (cheap!) and still use them today. Garven's store was a biker's oasis in the middle of the HWY 41 desert.

After cooling down with a couple of bottles of water and beef jerky, the Holy Hogs continued to ride down HWY 41 for 15 more miles and then took FM 1340 down to Hunt, Texas. The attraction at Hunt was Stonehenge II.

The original Stonehenge is a prehistoric monument located in the English county of Wiltshire, about 8 miles (13 km) north of Salisbury. One of the most famous prehistoric sites in the world, Stonehenge is composed of earthworks surrounding a circular setting of large standing stones. Archaeologists believe the standing stones were erected around 2200 BC and the surrounding circular earth bank and ditch, which constitute the earliest phase of the monument, have been dated to about 3100 BC.

Stonehenge II was erected as an amusing art project by the late Al Shepperd and his friend and neighbor, Doug Hill. In 1989, Hill had offered a limestone slab to Shepperd who stood the rock up monolith-style, and then odd thoughts started to seep into his head.
Within the next year, Shepperd bankrolled Hill to construct plaster and graphite-covered metal mesh and steel frameworks, replicating the mysterious stones of England, in the middle of Shepperd's pasture. The finished product is 90% as wide as the original, and 60% the height.

Also at Stonehenge II at Easter Island-based replicas of Moai. Moai or "Moˀai" are monolithic human figures carved from rock on Rapa Nui / Easter Island, mostly between 1250 and 1500 CE. Nearly half are still at Rano Raraku the main Moai quarry, but hundreds were transported from there and set on Ahu (platforms) which were mostly at the islands perimeter. Almost all have overly large heads three fifths the size of their body. The Moai are the “living faces” (aringa ora) and representations of chiefly, deified ancestors.

At this juncture of the trip we were beginning to suffer from delirium - 8 hours of riding in heat was beginning to take it's toll. We had a long ways to go, and we were getting tired, dehydrated and road weary. I believe that we were all guarding our speech and behaviour, as brothers in Christ pressing onward during trying times.

I could not help but think that all the riders were thinking of Philippians 3:12-14 : Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

So we continue on through Kerville and Fredericksburg. We take a right onto FM 1323 at Willowcity. This road has several farms. Given all the rain, hay farming looks to have a good crop this year. Throughout the ride there hay bales dotting the country side. On this road we also passed by a large goat farm - the stench seemed to last several minutes and was suffocating - beware!

At this time the sun was setting. Our next challenge now was limited visibility and insects. Our route took us to FM 1320 going southboudn to HWY 290. For the next hour of our ride, we were pelted by insects as we were riding at speed. Each insect would either splatter on our bikes and reduce visibility, or hit ourselves causing a brief stinging pain. This part of the ride was probably the least enjoyable of the entire trip.

We eventually get close to home and decide to stop and eat dinner at the Nutty Brown Cafe between Dripping and Oak Hill. Rider Don recommend this place, and we were not disappointed. Nutty Brown had great food and some Texas Swing live music provided by the Cornell Hurd Band. Oddly enough, Don knew Cornell Hurd because they lived nearby each other several years ago. During the band's break, Don approached Cornell and asked "Do you remember me?". After some Don gave some hints, Cornell Hurd remembered Don.

According to Don, the moment went like this:
'He (Cornell Hurd) said "I suppose you want me to play Born to be wild" I said yea that would be cool and he said "we don't play that and wow 10-yrs has really been harsh on us" then as I walked away he announced "Don Discoe with an E everybody, they just finished a 500 mile ride" clapping ensued and then they started another Texas Swing style song as I took what seemed to be a very long, painful walk back to the table...remembering the good ole days, of course.'

Good times! The food was great. The music was great. The outdoor seating was great. We highly recommend NBC.

By the time we finished eating, it was past 11PM. We had been riding for over 15 hours, and traveled over 480 miles. God had blessed the Holy Hogs with safety and good Christian fellowship - Thank You Lord!

Acts 2:46-47 : Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people.

More pictures at

Answer to question above: Sammy Haggar