Saturday October 21, 2006

Trip Start Oct 20, 2006
Trip End Oct 22, 2006

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Flag of United States  , Texas
Saturday, October 21, 2006


It was forty-eight degrees when I got started Saturday morning. I got my gear together and hit the Taqueria Jalisco and six thirty as the man was unlocking the front door. As I was enjoying my tacos I read the Chronicle, where there were lots of articles about the Rolling Stones who would be playing in Austin for the first time at Zilker Park Sunday evening.

I left the Taqueria well fortified with breakfast and strong coffee and headed out 2222 to Mo-Pac Expressway as daylight began. Exiting onto US 290 at Oak Hill and onto Dripping Springs. In my mind was Johnny Cash singing,

"down in Dripping Springs,
down in Dripping Springs,
how many did y'all bring?
down in Dripping Springs."

This was the site of the very first Willie Nelson Picnic many years ago and Johnny sang that song commemorating the event.

The next town was Johnson City, hometown of Lyndon Baines Johnson whose hand I shook one afternoon in front of his boyhood home in 1964 while he was president. Outside of town I passed the famed LBJ Ranch, the site of many huge parties and barbeques in the sixties. Now part of it is a state park.

Before long I was pulling off the highway and down Luckenbach Road which is the scenic route to Luckenbach. The road to Sisterdale is a more direct route. I pulled in to the meadow and was pleased to see that I would be able to park and set up my pit in the same spot as last year making it easy for Bill and Sander to find me.

Right across the way I spotted an OSSA Mick Andrews replica, so I went over to introduce myself. Kevin Monahans was the proud owner and this was going to be his first trials event. I gave him some advice as to tire pressures and which class to enter. He also had a very trick BSA chopper to enter in the show that really nicely built. Down the way, Steve and Ann Elms had a nice camp set up. Steve would be riding his Bultaco Alpina and he also had a good looking Honda SL70 in his camp.

I had pre-registered for the event so registration was as easy as signing a waiver and picking up my packet and wristband. The packet included a cool event T-shirt. When I got back to my pit area there was a guy with a beautiful 1918 Indian v-twin on a trailer pulling in. It had, new for that year, pressurized gas headlight and taillight replacing the acetylene lighting that used calcium carbide and a controlled drip of water to produce acetylene to illuminate the lights.

Next to him, a man unloaded a Moto Guzzi Falcone. Also known as a sausage slicer due to its chrome plated exposed flywheel that gives the impression of a slicing machine. It and the aforementioned Indian were restored to the highest quality. We even got to hear the Guzzi run!

My Brother Sander and our college buddy Bill Barham rode up on a Kawasaki KLR650 and BMW GS1100 respectively. Sander had ridden in from Castroville and Bill from Utopia. They had met in Bandera and then ridden together.

I had offered my award winning 1974 Honda TL125 trials bike to Sander to ride in the vintage class in the Trials Challenge so he arrived in full dirt riding apparel. The only thing he lacked was an open-faced helmet, so I brought an extra. Both bikes were already gassed up and the tire pressures adjusted, so all we lacked was to sign up for the trial.

Once that was done, we played around at the exhibition area where they had a bunch of telephone poles tied together. I suggested to Sander that he practice going over the logs because he was going to have to do that in the sections and he needed to get comfortable doing it.

After the rider's meeting we divided into groups of four or five and I chose to ride with Don as he had helped design the sections and he has been a good coach to me in past rides. Don is a fine rider and I can always learn a thing or two by observing. Sander came over to ride with us also, but Steve came and pulled him away because they wanted to keep all of the vintage riders together.

We started out on section two and the vintage guys started on section three. Section two began going down hill with a right turn followed by a log crossing and a steeper downhill and with an almost immediate right 180 degree turn, then around a tree and out. Not terribly difficult, but the part where you went over the log and had to go downhill and turn back uphill was a bit intimidating. Because of that I banged the skid-plate on the log on most of my attempts because I didn't want to give it too much gas and blow the turn. It worked out OK and I cleaned it each time except the second try when I made a wrong turn and received a score of five for not staying on my line.

Section three began by rolling over a small log and going downhill and over another log and then turning around in a creekbed and then going back up the bank. From there you went around a tree and back down into the creekbed and up the opposite bank. I cleaned this one each time I attempted it.

Section four was the one that gave me the most trouble and was the most satisfying to conquer. It began by going down a steep bank into the creek and then a tight 180 in very loose gravel. Then up the bank and a turn with a log across it followed by another trip down a steep bank and another 180 on loose gravel before going up the bank once again at the exit. On my first attempt I didn't pick the front wheel up enough for the log crossing and it slid and I came to a stop with my left foot on the ground. I kept my foot planted and finessed the wheel over the log and got going and it looked as if I might get out of this section with a score of one and then I stalled the motor while going through the second 180 degree turn. For stalling out, I received a score of five, but would clean it in subsequent endeavors. On the last loop, Don showed me a better line that gave an improved approach to the log and I tried it.

Section five was too easy in my humble opinion. The only difficult part was a sharp turn around on very uneven rock. The two-step creekbank at the exit wasn't really a challenge either. Just roll up to it and grab a bunch of gas and ride up and out on the rear wheel. The entrance was a another steep creekbank that makes you want to get way back on the bike so as not to load the front suspension and it looks cool in the photographs, fun, but not particularly difficult.

From there it was back around to section one which is the big spectator section. It's nearest to the store and right below the washer pits and is at the deepest part of the creekbed. There is a good place for spectators to stand and the rope and the plank bridge spanning the creek makes a good vantage point.

It begins with a simple entrance going over a small log and then across the side and up the bank and then down the bank and over a log and an immediate right turn and then you must make a tight 180 degree turn while setting up your approach for the biggest log of the day. This particular log was over two feet in diameter and one had to get the front wheel up and hit the log with the rear wheel while on the gas so it would drive you up and over the log. To top it off, the log was not quite immobilized and it moved around when I first watched a rider go over it. I approached it with a fair amount of apprehension when it was my turn, but it wasn't as bad as it looked and I cleaned the section every time. The log itself wasn't so bad but the turn before it didn't give you a lot of room to set up your line of attack.

I lost all of my points on the first loop and rode the other three loops clean. At the end of the event I had only dropped ten points and won the Novice Class. Sander finished with a score of twenty-two and finished second in Vintage Two. The top finisher in his class was Steve Elms who scored a nine on his Bultaco.

Now it was time to put up the bike and check out all of the old iron. There was the usual assortment of Triumphs and BMWs in pristine condition. Notables were a HRD Vincent, a BSA sloper, a Sunbeam and an ancient Indian board track racer that looked as if it had just been pulled from a barn. There was also a very trick modern Ducati Paul Smart Replica with upswept pipes. There was also many interesting bikes outside the show area. Along side the fence there was a row of BSA, Triumph, and Yamaha street-trackers. One was a very tasty 1965 BSA Hornet with a for sale sign on it. It's a good thing there is no more room in the garage! There was a 1975 Honda Gold Wing street-fighter that caught my eye also.

Sander caught up with Russ and his wife whom he had ridden the Colorado 500 with last month and we sat on a ledge for a good while and talked bikes while an endless parade of motorcycles of all types and vintages rode by just a few feet away from us. After awhile I decided I'd better load up and hit the road if I was going to get back to Hyde Park before sunset, so we said our goodbyes. Sander and I walked back to the truck and got the motorcycle tied down and headed up Sisterdale Road towards US290. It had been a great day.
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