A couple of Ninjas do Hill Country

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sckego
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A couple of Ninjas do Hill Country

Post by sckego » Fri Aug 21, 2009 1:14 pm

As we've done for the past two years, Vic and I took off on a three-day trip down south to spend the weekend riding around Hill Country. She was in Austin for school the entire week prior, so she took her gear with her, and got picked up on the way to our lodging in Leakey. I invited others along on this trip this time as well, but only got one taker, one of my riding buddies named Benny. It was his birthday on Friday as well (mine was on Monday), so he was able to use that as an excuse to sneak out and get some riding in.

This is Benny. He's a Ninja guy through-and-through, going from a 250 to a 500 to a ZZR600 to a 636, and now on a ZX6RR.
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The wifey Victoria, who most of you probably recognize from my previous ride reports... she just got her MC license a few weeks ago and has been put-putting around on a Ninja 250, but she's not quite ready for a 1000-mile roadtrip yet, so this one was again spent on the pillion seat.
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And, me. (Reflection on a Vincent touring bike at the Lone Star Motorcycle Museum)
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I had the VFR all ready to roll for this trip... fresh oil, clean chain, new shoes...
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And then, voila, blown stator a few days before we were supposed to leave. No way to get parts in time to support our trip. Renting a touring bike for the weekend was a $$$ proposition, and while a few of my friends offered me their rides, Vic said she would flat out refuse to go along if I showed up in Austin on a race replica. So, that left the final option... baby Ninja to the rescue!
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Note the monsterous tankbag. I don't have mount for the Givi topbox for the 250, and the canvas sidebags I have didn't work either. The Sargent super-bag is really a PITA to use, but it does have that one advantage of being big enough to haul two people's stuff for a three-day trip.

Day 1 - Friday, August 14
Fort Worth - Austin - Leakey (456 mi)

So, dark and early Friday morning, I met up with Benny in Benbrook and we began making our way south.
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Weather was nice and cool as we headed down 377 with the sun rising behind us. We were on the road for maybe 20 minutes, just approaching Cresson, when I began to feel stuff hitting me. Drizzle. WTF. We pulled up to the traffic light in Cresson and it started pouring. Arrrghhh! I was not prepared for this; I didn't even have my phone in a plastic bag. Quickly pull off into a gas station next to the racetrack to regroup. A glance at my phone's weather radar showed that it was just a small cell, should be gone in 15 minutes, so we decided to have a snack and wait it out.
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Breakfast of champions.
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We got back on the road once the rain quit, and then promptly ran into another shower in Granbury. Got a nice soak and actually got pretty chilly (and here I was worried about it being too hot), but the rain didn't last long. The roads were dry by the time we got down to the fun bit of 51 (which is freshly redone! Wheeeee!), and I was dried out by the time we made it to Cranfill's Gap.
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We started looking for food in Gatesville, but couldn't find anything, and none of the people we asked had anything to recommend. So, on to Copperas Cove, where the same scenario repeated itself. Why can't we find any food? This will be a theme throughout the entire trip.
Finally, I hear a honk next to me, and look over to see Benny pointing to a giant sign reading "PANCAKES". Sweet.
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A few more miles of backroads brought us to Burnet, where some old military hardware parked along the side of the road caught my eye.
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Then down to Marble Falls and across 1431 to Austin to pick up Vic. I-35 through Austin sucks, even at 1 in the afternoon. However, we eventually made it to the campus, met up with Vic, did a bit of luggage consolidation, and got back on the road. Now that I've got a passenger, she can take pics while riding!
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And while filling up. Damn monstrous tankbag in the way.
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Rolling down the road... the 250 actually handled the load of myself, Vic, and the tankbag pretty well. I was able to maintain 80-85 mph indicated cruising speeds pretty easily. the problem came when we either had to go uphill, into the wind, or, worst of all, both at the same time. There was one section I remember riding along in a full tuck, Vic down behind me, screaming along at full throttle at the top of 4th gear doing about 12000 rpm... and slowing down. I see Benny rolling along behind us, upright with one hand on his hip, laughing at us. 25mph headwinds suck.
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Lunch at a little restaurant in Blanco. Eh... not too highly recommended.
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Blanco county courthouse
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One with me in it.
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The monstrous tankbag does OK as long as the bike is fairly upright. Don't park it on an incline or you'll have an automatic turn signal / horn activation device. Beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep.
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Back on the road.
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Hair!
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Looks almost like he's doing a stoppie.
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It was somewhere right around here--in the middle of freakin' nowhere--that I felt the tankbag starting to slough to one side again.
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I tried to straighten it out, but it was just flopping around like there was nothing holding it in place. Turns out, that was the case. The zipper connecting the base to the magnets that hold the aft end in place had completely let go.
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Luckily, Benny had some elastic straps hidden away under his seat, and Vic was able to rig up a system to keep the bag tied down. Wait, aren't I supposed to be the engineer?
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We crossed under I-10 and continued west, with visions of apple pie enticing us on. We finally pulled up in front of the apple store in Medina, hot, tired, and ready for some pie and ice cream. It was 5:10. They closed at 5. The theme continues.
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Still nice to catch a break and have a stretch in the shade.
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Finally, up and over 337 to Leakey. Damn that's a fun road! The first time I was down here, I'd been riding for maybe a year and half, and wasn't completely comfortable with the super tight-and-windy stuff yet. Last year, miles of 337 were torn up and covered with gravel, which did alot to detract from the fun I had in the good bits. This year, though, everything was just right. The 250 really shined through the twisties, with it's light weight making it just a blast to ride. It was great to come tearing out of a corner at full throttle, grab and upshift or two, quick squeeze of the brakes, downshift, off the seat, into the next corner with Vic leaning off right behind me. What a blast.

We pulled into Leakey and checked into our room at the D'Rose, which has become our preferred lodging when we're down in this area.
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It was still pretty warm, so we changed into swimsuits and hit up the pool for a while. Then back to the room to shower and change, and off to find some dinner. We're walking up to the place next-door to the D'Rose, called the Feed Lot. It's 8:45, sign on the door says they close at 9. Hrm, cutting it a bit close, but we made it. We walk in and the lady behind the corner takes one look at us... "We're closed!" Um, but you don't close till 9. "It's 9. We're closed." Well, jeez, OK, where else can we try? She points us down to the intersection in the middle of town, where there are two other places, The Lodge and Mama Choles. We walk down there. They both also close at 9. It now actually is 9. The door to Mama Choles is unlocked, so we walk in. The wonderful lady behind the counter says they were just closing up the kitchen, but they can accommodate us if we order something quick, tacos or enchiladas. We make it easy on them, 3 enchilada plates. Ah, food sweet food. We wolfed down our dinner and got out of there so they could finish closing up. They will be getting more of my business next time I'm down there... the Feed Lot will not.
Kegan "Glowstick"
'12 MTS1200ST - '15 CB500F - AFM #895 - AMA #3283468 - IBA #41999

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sckego
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Post by sckego » Fri Aug 21, 2009 1:15 pm

Day 2 - Saturday, August 15
Leakey - Camp Wood - Leakey - Hunt - Leakey (270 mi)

The next morning, it was off to ride the three sisters. First up and over that last western stretch of 337 to get some breakfast at BJ's in Camp Wood.
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Then, up 55 towards Rocksprings. I'd never been on this bit of road before, and was looking forward to trying it. It was ok, I guess... I think I'd rather spend more time going back and forth on 337, though!
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What? Buzzy ride? No, of course not.
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Fooling around.
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We only did a quick up-and-back on the fun portion of 55, then picked up 335 to go up the rollercoaster. Stopped to see some old friends a short ways up.
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Vic trying to fit in.
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Yes, that's a giraffe. There were several of them, and a few lemurs climbing around on their enclosure.
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335
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Hey honey, see if you can get a shot of Benny riding behind us.
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Um, not quite.

A stretch in the shade at the top of 335.
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Then over to 336 and back down to Leakey. We took a break and wandered over to the mercantile to get some dinner supplies (no running out of food tonight!), then geared back up to do some more riding. Benny had only been able to get a one-night pass from home, so he had to head back to Fort Worth this afternoon. We decided we'd ride together up to Hunt, then split up. We headed over 337 to Vanderpool again, then up to the Lone Star Motorcycle Museum for some meat-pie lunch.
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To be followed by chocolate pie dessert.
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"I've spent most of my life on my motorcycle. The rest I've just wasted."
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Shiny.
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Do those count as gear-driven cams?
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Nifty front suspension. Leaf springs!
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A very neat old bike with an interesting oiling system.
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You watch how much oil is dripping from that little spigot down into the crankcase, and adjust it using a little knob. Too much oil = lots of smoke from the exhaust; too little oil = no smoke. We thought it was funny that if you're bike isn't smoking, you're doing something wrong. The knob pump near the bottom of the picture is to inject a shot of oil directly into the engine, skipping the spigot, and you'd use that if you were going to be putting the engine under heavy load... say, trying to carry two people uphill into a headwind.
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Cool belt drive, too.
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After lunch, up 39 to Hunt and Stonehenge II.
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Stonehenge picked up some new live-ins over the past year.
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Something escaped from the exotic game ranch.
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Then, we said goodbye to Benny, as he took off north back to Fort Worth. I can't imagine how relieved he must have been to finally be able to exceed 90mph without leaving us in the dust. We headed back down 39 (I was going to do 1340, but the entire length of it was being resealed, according to the lady at the gas station, so I decided to skip it), and got back to Leakey in the late afternoon. There are some nice shade trees on the courthouse lawn.
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Naps in thick grass are great.
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Vic wanted to take an afternoon nap, so I headed out for another run on 337. Wheeee! It's amazing how much more power the 250 seems to make when it's only lugging one person along.
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Later, we were hanging out at the central pavilion to cook some dinner. Why is the pavilion equipped with hula hoops? *shrug*
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Soon-to-be-dinner.
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Dinner. Mmm, steak.
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Vic, what do you think?
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Deb (D'Rose's owner) came out to talk story with us for a while. She brought along a dice game called "farkle" and taught us to play.
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Farkle.
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Vic won on the final toss by throwing two triples on the first try. Beginner's luck.
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Day 3 - Sunday, August 16
Leakey - Fort Worth (367 mi)

The next morning, we woke up late, finally getting on the road at sometime past 9AM.
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We did 337 all the way back to Medina again, then up 16 to Kerrville. Pulled up next to some guy on a cruiser and asked about a place for breakfast, and he pointed us to this place called Del Norte. Pretty good buffet to start the day off right.
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Then we started meandering north up some backroads. Found a pretty church in a town called Doss.
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As we pulled into Mason, we passed a sign: Winery. Sweet! We got to taste some of their offerings (some of them quite good compared to other Texas wines I've had), but we had absolutely no room to take a bottle back with us. Oh well, and excuse to go back, right?
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Mason county courthouse.
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From Mason, we cut across to 16 and took that north for a while, before peeling off onto backroads again at Priddy, home of the Priddy Pirates. I have a tough time imagining a Priddy Pirate, but that's just me. I think this shot was taken somewhere just north of Indian Gap.
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A stretch stop at Carlton, an utterly deserted town at the intersection of 219, 914, 1744, and 2823. Spent some time walking around and peering in windows...
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Then over to Hico, and up to 51 (needed to hit up some twisties to wake Vic up), and up to Granbury. We had decided to stop at the ice cream fountain on the Granbury square for a last snack before pushing on to DFW.

We got there ten minutes after they closed.
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Oh well... we should have expected it. Drank some water and got back on the road to attack the metroplex. Made it home by about 7PM. Fun trip!
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Think it might be time for some new tires, though...
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Kegan "Glowstick"
'12 MTS1200ST - '15 CB500F - AFM #895 - AMA #3283468 - IBA #41999

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dufremle
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Post by dufremle » Fri Aug 21, 2009 1:47 pm

Awesome!
Jim

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Post by WillK675 » Fri Aug 21, 2009 2:05 pm

Looks like you had a fun time. Thanks for the ride report! :icon_thumbsup:
-Will
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Post by Bird » Sat Aug 22, 2009 9:02 am

Great report and pics! Thanks for letting us live through your travels.
Mike
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Post by Firewa11 » Sun Aug 23, 2009 6:15 am

Awesome trip!