Author Topic: Memorial ride in the Hill country of Texas  (Read 390 times)

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    • Model/year: R1200RT/2007
    Memorial ride in the Hill country of Texas
    « on: 2019-10-23 03:52:01 »
          [size=0pt]Sunday, April 8, 2012[/size]
    [size=0pt]Every Spring for a number of years, I would travel from NH to Texas to meet up and ride with two very close friends, Rick and Jeff.  [/size]Rick lived in Elgin and owned a business in Austin and Jeff hails from Arlington. Usually I would go in April when the Bluebonnets were in bloom and the daytime temps hadn’t reached triple digits yet. We would meet in Austin and plan our trip. Sadly, in September of 2011, my friend Rick passed away. Jeff and I vowed to ride the following Spring and spread some of Ricks ashes in places he was most fond of.
    [size=0pt]This is a quick tale of one small part of our week long ride. Jeff was on his 2007 R1200RT and I rode my 2002 R1150RT.[/size]
    [size=0pt] Saturday night, while in my hotel room in Kerrville, I received an email from a friend telling me that we had some weather moving in our direction. A quick click on the weather radar showed a line of thunderstorms moving southeast. I scanned the channels on the TV until I found a local news program and waited for the weather. Sure enough, they were predicting rain and showers for most of the day on Sunday. Damn. Well, nothing we can do about the weather. We’ll ride regardless.  I woke up this morning expecting to find it raining but to my surprise, it was dry.  I opened the laptop and looked at the radar. What I saw made me smile. The line of storms was just to the West of Kerrville and as I watched the loop, the whole line of storms was drying up before it got to us. Incredible. After a quick breakfast we headed out of town for the little hole in the wall called Leakey (pronounced Lakey)  I found that down here all the towns and counties are spelled one way but pronounced another. There is Real County, but of course it’s pronounced Ray-all.  Heck, even the Guadeloupe river is pronounced Guadeloopay….I was afraid to open my mouth for fear of sounding like a tourist. [/size]
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    [size=0pt]As we rode, the skies brightened and by the time we got to Ranch Road 337, there was blue sky. We saw a constant stream of motorcycles heading in the opposite direction and 95% of them were Harleys. Most of them were riding two up and there was always one big ole’ trike bringing up the rear.  Every biker we passed gave us a wave as it is the unspoken code of bikers everywhere.[/size]
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    [size=0pt]We stopped every couple of hours to stretch our legs and more often than not, there were other riders doing the same thing. We had a chance to meet some really great people.  Jeff and I had stopped at an intersection, pulling off the side of the road onto a gravelly shoulder.  Across the road from us, in a dirt rest area were two riders, a man and a woman, standing next to their bikes. Jeff, ever the gregarious one, said hello to them and walked across the street to chat. I followed suit and soon we were sharing where we came from, where we were going and why.  I happened to mention how my butt gets numb after a few hours in the saddle and the woman walked over to her bike, a Harley Sportster, and picked up a little triangle of black gel filled material. She said it made all the difference in the world.  She then offered hers to me to have.  That blew me away.  That is what the community of motorcycling is all about.  (Of course I turned her down) Finally, rested and rehydrated we got back to the business of riding. Our first real leg of our journey took us down RR 337. This is one road in a group of three Ranch Roads, 335, 336, and 337.  They are well known in the touring motorcycle circles as the Twisted Sisters. They have earned that moniker well.  That’s because they go up and down the hills of Hill Country and to do that, they have to wind their way around the hills. We’re not talking gentle curves, we’re talking tight, descending radiused hair pin turns. The ones with signs that show a U with a 10 MPH speed limit, and they are not kidding around. Rick used to love the challenge of these roads. It took concentration and skill to smoothly and safely transit the roads and the better you got, the faster you could go. I won’t go into details on how fast we took these corners but I will say the BMW handles so effortlessly, that my heart rate never exceeded 60 beats per minute!  What a dream to ride. I continued to feel Ricks presence as we wound our way through some truly magnificent country.[/size]
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    [size=0pt]By this time, the clouds had dissipated and we were treated to the best weather Texas could offer. The sky was littered with soaring birds of prey who were no doubt hoping someone would wipe out so they could grab some warm food, but we worked very hard to make sure that didn’t happen.  There was a time, however that Jeff had to duck for cover. A group of vultures were feeding on some road kill and as Jeff rode by they took to the air. One of the vultures flew up right in front of Jeff’s bike. I watched as he ducked his head but from my point of view, it wasn’t that close. To Jeff, however, it was too close! A 20-pound bird strike at 60 miles per hour would definitely put a crimp in your day.[/size]
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    [size=0pt]I really needed to take some pictures. That was a problem. It seemed that whenever I saw something picture worthy, there was no place to stop. The scenic turn offs just didn’t have anything scenic to photograph. Perhaps when they were built, the county cut the greenery back so people could view the landscape but now, years later, the trees and scrub have grown so high that one would need a ladder to see beyond.  I developed the means to carry the camera in my left hand, its strap wrapped around my wrist. I was able to hold the handlebar grip enough to be confortable and could thumb the camera on and hold it up in the general vicinity of what I wanted to take a picture of. I took scores of pictures but I had no clue how they came out. It added a fun bit of extra challenge to the already technically challenging ride.[/size]
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    [size=0pt]Our journey finally took us to a very special place where we planned on spreading some of Rick’s ashes.  It was a very large low water crossing on RR 335 in Real County.  I have no idea what town it was in, if it even is in a town, but it is a peaceful, serene spot where the only sounds you here is the quiet burbling of the Nueces River passing under the roadbed and the occasional rustling of the many low trees and bushes that populate the area.  Oh yeah, I forgot to mention the ear splitting roar of a herd of Harleys flying through at 70 miles per hour….but they all wave. Every one of them. We wave back too, because it is the unwritten rule of bikers everywhere.[/size]
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    [size=0pt]Jeff and I dismounted at the crossing and just took in the scenery. He told me that he and Rick stopped there every time they rode the Hill Country. Every time. The spot just beckons you to stop and take a deep breath and sigh. We took Rick out of the bag he’s been riding in and thought about what we would say or do and looked for the best spot to let him go.  Just then the unmistakable rumble of approaching hogs made itself known. We hoped that they would roar by as usual but it soon became apparent that they were going to stop as well.  Well, as they say, it is what it is. We made the best of it, talking to the guys and girls, asking the usual questions until they finally had enough of the peace and quiet and one by one fired off their machines and headed off to destinations unknown.[/size]
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    [size=0pt]Alone at last, with the babbling water providing a calming background soundtrack, Jeff, than I, slowly let Ricks ashes fall into the swirling water. They were immediately carried away by the current, the large cloud slowly spreading downstream. Many tears were shed as we remembered the man and realized that he would never grace this Earth with his presence again. We knew though, that he would always be with us in Spirit.   Both of us became aware of a sense of closure descending upon us and we felt relieved. All the months of planning, so many possibilities for something to go wrong led to this one moment. Now we could move on…..and we did. For the first time since I left Austin, I felt alone on the bike. I knew it was because we had fulfilled our promise and reunited Rick with the country he so loved.[/size]
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    [size=0pt]Next…The trip back home….[/size]