Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Chucks Colorado Trip - Saturday through Wednesday - UPDATE

Update - Chuck forgot to tell us about a short side trip he made into Rocky Mountain National Park. The update is in Blue below and the map has been updated to include this 50 miles or so venture.

Don't forget that you can click on any image to get a larger version and see these maps better.

Try to feel sorry for Chuck when he feels forced into taking the quickest and most direct route back to Durango and it ends up being US-24, one of National Geographic's most scenic roads in the US.

He is having a great time, losing some luggage not withstanding. Take a look at the overall map so far, and the breakout maps below. I've tried to edit some of his comments to give you a feel, but for the full version, you should really consider joining MLC on our annual ride to Arkansas coming up. Chuck will be in full display mode to tell us all about the Rockies while we ramble around the Ozarks.

From Durango, take 550 to Silverton. Nice views since the mountains had gotten more snow last night. Two passes and one 10mph twist tie (this is better than a twistie) just before you head toward Ouray.

In my book, the road between Silverton and Ouray is one of the best in the state. Not that far (20 miles) but you better be on your toes because there are many cites called "falling rock" you must pass through.

If you want to
scrape your floor boards, this is the road. BUT, make a mistake and you are some 300/600+ feet down into the canyon. Beautiful is not the right word for this 20 miles!

Out of Ouray, stay on 550 thru Montrose to Delta and then take 50 into Grand Junction.

The sun peaks into the valleys about 5:30am up here. By 6am I had loaded the bike and turned the ignition key. Out of Grand junction, I took I70E to Rifle and 13N to CR325. Turned right on 325 and road the twistie ties for about 12 miles to a fish hatchery. Just past this place, the road turned to dirt. So, nice canyon ride but retraced my steps to 13 and turned North again. At CR317 I turned right. Both these county roads show paved and they were (for awhile).

Anyway, abo
ut 8 miles up 317 and find a man on a 4 wheeler
(at a curve) franticly waving his arm for me to stop. So I pulled off just about the time I could see around the curve. There was 200 - 300 head of cattle walking right downt the road toward us. We chatted and I told him about MLC and my annual ride etc etc. He told me the payment went only a couple more miles and then it also turned to dirt. So, waying goodby to all the cow hands (they were all on 4 wheelers) I did a U'ie and headed back to 13. So far only 1 u'ie.

At Graig, I took a right on 40 and followed that into Steamboat Springs. The weather was starting to tur
n very gray so I headed for a Super 8 and I no sooner got the tarp on the bike when a hail storm hit me. This continued until about 5pm when I could get out and drove over to see some friends that had moved up here from Clear Lake some 3 yrs ago.

Back to the hotel and guess what, it started raining again. Got up on Monday, and the weather had settled in on Steamboat. I spent the day Monday reading and watching TV. Man was I ready for a break in the rain and I got it on Tuesday.

Monday - Still Raining

6am I was motoring out of Steamboat on 40E to 14N that goes through Walden (at 8200') to Cowdrey. Now, for you soon to be mountain bikers, if you only use unleaded, most towns have gas. However, if you use premium like I do, be careful. Many stations don't carry anything higher than 87 octane. Anyway, my whole purpose for this Northern side trip was to go into WY and take a picture. So out of Cowdrey, I take 125 NE into WY. Guess what, no sign&^$#@# Not even a CO sign welcoming you back?? So, back down 125 10 miles to 127 and I turn NE toward 230 and Laramie. A mile post #1, no sign so I keep riding for 10 more miles. Nice country but still on sign. So I took a picture so I want be yelled at. Back down to Walden via 14 to 125S, back over the Cont Divide to Granby and 40.

In Granby I took a short spin up 34N to Grand Lake and into Rocky Mountain Nalt Park. If the pass on 34 had not been closed due to snow, I'd have continued over the pass into Estes Park on the other side. I did make 10 miles into the park before I got to the snow gate. Of interest is that 34 is the highest man made rode in the USA and it tops out at 12,183' at the pass. This is a must if you come up after Memorial Day and before the snows start in late November.

Took 40E through Hot Sulphur to Kremmling. About 8 miles out of Kremmling, I see a man on the side of the road, all dirty and he had his thumb out. Don't know why, but I stopped. Seems he took his 2 wheel truck where only 4 wheelers need to go and he needed a phone and s tow truck. So, on the back he went and off we journed to the only store in Kremmling (this is a 3-4 house small town). He got off and we said our goodbys. He sure was thankful since there are VERY few cars on this road. I continued 40N to 134 and headed East to 131 where I turned south to Wolcott and I70. I wanted back to I70 because someone had told me that I70 from here to Glenwood Springs via Glen Canyon was a must to drive. Boy, they were not wrong!! This is a NARROW canyon shared by the CO River, RR and 4 lanes of traffic. I'll tell you more at the upcoming picnic on during the AK trip. Anyway, at Glenwood I took 82S toward Aspen. Don't go folks - they are developing this whole section and there are lights and slow traffic all the way to Aspen. At Aspen I got the bad news: (1) the pass I needed to Leadville was snowed in and (2) gas was $3.99/gal for prem and (3) it started to snow. Waited for the snow to stop and back tracked to I70. Headed East on 70 to Vail where I got a room. When I got off the bike, I realized that my backpack was missing. It had blown off the bike somewhere on I70 with all my clothes, wallet, cash and more. You would figure with all the info in my wallet and my bussiness cards, someone would call. They didn't nor have they since. After a fun day of riding, not the ending I wished for.

Today is Vail to Durango which ends with 304 miles of fantastic scenery and super roads! I had other routes picked out BEFORE I lost all my money and clothes. So, this was the fastest most direct way back to Durango so I could "re-supply". 6am I'm headed back West on 70 to 24 where I turned S toward Leadville. 24 has been written up in Nalt Geographic and some CO web sites as a must drive. What twist tie roads!! On one curve with a bridge over the river, I stopped to take a picture of the snow covered mountains. I had noticed a lady with a camera but as she approached she asked if she could take a picture of me taking a picture?? I said OK and later she came back with a notebook. Seems she works for a Vail paper that puts out info to tourists of things to do and see. Hopefully she will send me the article so I can share with you. Yes, she was cute. Anyway, back over the Cont Divide to Leadville. I was wondering how come my nose, cheeks, knees and hands were so cold. Leadville's temp said 26!!. I stopped at the Golden Burrow in town for coffee and to warm up. They had a neat t-shirt I had to buy. This town is at 10,200' and their football statium is "2 mile high" stadium. Out of Leadville, you stay on 24S to Buena Vista then you pick up 285S to 112W to 160W. During this route, there is about 40 miles of nothing but 14,000' peaks on your right. I've got the cruise going and really enjoying my tunes when a State PD flags me down. Seems an airplane clocked me at 76. Another "fine day" in black rock. From 160W you go over Wolf Creek Pass (alwasy sometype of construction to hold you up) to Pagosa Springs and into Durango. Bike has run well and so far I'm getting about 44mpg.

Keep after it Santa, We all wish we were there.


Monday, May 08, 2006

Half Day in the Forest

Sam Houston National Forest is about 163,000 acres of woodlands, farms and privately owned timber. If you ride North of Houston and you don’t see at least part of The Forest, you are simply not trying at all. It includes land in Montgomery, Walker and San Jacinto Counties.

There are several good roads in this area but since this is a half day ride, and since it takes about an hour just to get to the riding area from Pearland (and another hour back) we really only have time to hit one or two of the nice strips up here.

This ride has the added advantage of being very simple to plot. Once in the riding area, there are only a couple of intersections where you will change roads. You won’t need your GPS for this route, just some moderate short term memory.

The first order of business is to get to the riding area North of Pinehurst at the intersection of 1488 & 149. Take any path you choose. I took 288 –> 610W -> 290W -> Bingle -> North Houston Rosslyn Rd -> 249N -> Pinehurst. In Pinehurst, you pick up 149 – one of the primary roads in this loop. Take 149 about 4 miles North to 1488. Then ride ¾ mile west and you are at the intersection that begins the fun part of this ride.

Once you are on 149 north of 1488, just sit back, relax and enjoy the ride for the next 40+ miles until you get to Anderson. You’ll see plenty of other bikes of all varieties. Make me proud and wave at them. You’ll also see lots of tall trees and plenty of curves. These roads are not the peg scraping kind, just gentle twists and turns that are a pleasure to ride.

Once in Anderson, you’ll jog over to FM-1774 and have another nice long segment of about 26 miles to Magnolia. On this stretch, you’ll go past the home of the Texas Renaissance Festival in Plantersville, and a little later you may be lucky like we were and find live music at Henry’s Hideout just North of Magnolia. Be sure to find out their slogan at Henry’s. Then figure out why it’s there slogan.

At Magnolia, pick up 1488 and head back to I-45S and home.

There are plenty of gas stops on this loop so relax and enjoy the scenery like this historic courthouse.

The only negative I consider worthy of comment on this ride is that there is quite a bit of traffic compared to routes further South (like Bellville) or East (like Chuck’s loops.) Still, it’s a great day, and if you stop for a soft drink you are bound to be parked right next to another biker that will chat with you awhile. Enjoy the day and the company.

Turn-by-turn(192 Miles – 4 ½ hours)
Start at FM-518 & SR-288 in Pearland
Ride N 7.5 mi to 610W, Exit and Merge
Continue W and N 12.6 mi to US-290
Ride NW 3.8 mi to Bingle Rd – Turn right
Ride N 2 mi to N. Houston Rosslyn Rd – Bear left
Ride NW 4 mi to SR-249 – Turn left
Ride NW 12 mi to FM-149 – Bear Right
Ride N 3.7 mi to FM-1488 – Turn Left
Jog W 0.7 mi back to FM-149 – Turn Right
Stay on FM-149 about 40 miles to Anderson
At Anderson FM-149 bears left and merges with SR-90S
Ride S 0.2 mi to FM-2819 – Turn Left
Ride E 1.3 mi to FM-1774 – Turn Right
Ride SE 26 mi to 1488 – Turn Left
Ride E 18 mi to I-45S – use ramp and merge
Ride S 35 mi to SR-288 – Merge
Ride S 12.5 mi to 518 where you began


Saturday, May 06, 2006

Rainy Day Plans

Just because you don't want to ride when there is a 60% chance of heavy weather, doesn't mean you can't feed your motorcycle appetite on a given weekend.

While some of the more adventurous of our riding friends left in the wee hours for a trip to Hodges Gardens, and undoubtably chased the rain East until it finally outpaced them, those of us who either couldn't or wouldn't take a trip in such conditions were left behind to sulk and second guess our decisions.

Not being one to sit and sulk (much) I decided that today was a great opportunity to load up in the cage and see if we could find Brenda some new motorcycle boots. We hit five stores and never bought a boot, but it made for a nice day and here is how you can shop around a bit too if you are so inclined.

A long trek up I-45 took us to stores that we don't normally get to visit. Our first target was BMW Motorcycles of North Houston. I have a pair of BMW Contour boots that I have used since 2001 and they are the best motorcycle boot I have every worn. Comfortable, light and rugged, these boots suffer through all my abuse and still look decent and perform flawlessly. As a consequence, I wanted Brenda to at least consider what BMW had to offer before buying anything. I'll admit up front that the BMW line doesn't always appeal to the visual senses (they are ugly) but they are so good at everything else, I'm willing to overlook a little quirkiness in the looks department.

BMW Motorcycles of North Houston is one of only two stores in Texas that is allowed to carry a full line of BMW apparel. Lisa, the Apparel Manager does a good job merchandising the store and helping the shopper. I assume that her management is happy with her too, since when I bought a new pair of boots for myself (not for Brenda) she also talked me into trying a $15 pair of BMW socks that promise to keep your foot "Pleasantly cool and dry" by using some sort of "silver ion" in the weave.

BMW of N. Hou will open a second store this summer that will be much closer to most of us. See the map below for the general location or their website for more detail. In summary, I give this store a very high rating for selection and for their customer care.

Next, we wanted to drop in on Harley Davidson of the Woodlands since we usually go to Stubbs and rarely get to see the stores farther away. This is a typical "New Harley" store with all the chrome and glitter that we've come to expect. They had lots of HD stuff and succeeded in selling us a Tee and Jeans for Brenda. I enjoyed a cup of joe while I watched my personal fashion show and we ponied up the $100 or so that we expect to spend when we go to one of those places.

What does HD stands for? Hundred Dollars!
What does BMW stand for? Bring More Wallet!

Making our way back to home turf, we stopped by Gulf Coast Motorcycles to see if their boots were going to work out. Still no luck, but it is always fun poking around those old style stores.

Then we were off to Texas Yamaha in South Houston. This is where we came closest to finding what we wanted. But after some fitting and fussing, the boot just wasn't comfortable enough for the all day type of rides that we find ourselves on.

So off we went to our final stop, Biker's Passion in Pasadena. The Passion didn't have what we were looking for either, but if you haven't gone by some of these independent stores, you really should. They usually sell aftermarket bits and apparel cheaper than you'll find at the OEM stores and the folks inside are generally the owners, not hired help. They are fun to talk to and usually have gathered opinions about the accessory you are thinking of adding and they are happy to share their thoughts with you. Wing Toys, Bikers Passion, Global Motorsports and others have all earned a share of my bike hobby money.

Here is my final piece of advice for today. Ladies, if you have trouble getting your hubby to shop with you, try shopping at bike stores every now and then. I hate the mall, but today was fun.


Friday, May 05, 2006

Chuck's Durango Loop

Some of you know that our friend Santa-Chuck is on a trip to Colorado, Utah and who knows where else. Do I wish I was with him.? Yup, and you may too when you see what he did today.

Here is Chuck's first day in God's Country:

Today was 45 Degrees F when I got up and rode down to Durango for coffee. Messed around some and rode out to Aztec to see a national president for dog rescue. Anyway, if you ever get up this way, I rode a new twistie this afternoon.

From 550 in Durango, take 160 toward Cortez.

About 2 miles down the road, you will see a left turn for "Wildcat Canyon". Once you get on the road, it will tell you you are on CR141.
From 30
to 70mpg you will have a ball.
It terminates into State 140 so take a
right and you will go back to 160. Total fun miles was 19.5.

Tomorrow I'm headed for Grand Junction via Silverton, Uray route.
My brother has a show there Sat night.

Sunday, I want to head to
Wyoming and then start back down the central part of CO. Got to get that picture of WY - heck the guys that went to Vegas got a picture of California!
See ya!
"Santa" Chuck

Thanks for checking in Chuck


Thursday, May 04, 2006

Kelly's Eats & Sweets Ride

For all you budding route planners out there, here is a challenge for you. Find a route in a heavily urban setting that is interesting, pretty, twisty and results in a full belly and happy palate.

That's exactly what Kelly has come up with on this short ride. It is perfect for a quick evening trip with someone special, or a couple dozen that are not so special but who happen to be around. And he gives it to you just in time for Friday or Saturday Night. Have fun.

Here is how Kelly rides it:

This ride takes you into the city through Herman Park and over to Freebirds for the eats side of the trip, then to the Chocolate Bar for the sweets side, and then throws in a nice set of twisties to top it all off before heading home. The ride can accommodate a large or small group of riders, out for lunch or dinner. Make sure to test all the flavors of ice cream before you decide!


Start at 288 and 518
288 North 11 miles to N Mac Gregor Way and turn left
N Mac Gregor Way 0.9 miles to Outer belt Dr and turn right

Outer belt Dr 300 feet to Golf Coarse Dr and turn right

Golf Coarse Dr 1.1 miles to San Jacinto and turn right

San Jacinto 0.25 miles to Binz and turn left

Binz which will turn into Bissonnet 0.4 miles to Parkway (Y in the road) and turn right

Parkway 300 feet to
South Blvd. and turn left (one way street stay right)
South Blvd 0.4 miles to Dunlavy and turn right
Dunlavy 0.5 miles to Richmond and turn left

Richmond 0.6 miles to Greenbriar and turn left

Greedbriar 800 feet and turn left into Freebirds parking lot

Freebirds World Burrito

3745 Greenbriar St
Houston, TX 77098
(713) 524-0621

Leaving Freebirds -
Take Greenbriar North (right) 0.5 miles to W Alabama and turn right

W Alabama 0.4 miles to The Chocolate Bar
The Chocolate Bar

1835 W Alabama
Houston, TX 77098
(713) 520-8599

Leaving The Chocolate bar - (note from editor - pump up your suspension a few ticks)
Take W Alabama west (left) 0.3 miles to Shepherd and turn right

Shepherd 1.6 miles to Allen Parkway and turn right

Allen Parkway 2.1 miles to I45 and turn right (South)

I45 South 1.3 miles to 288 and turn right (South)

288 South 13.4 miles to 518

(note the map omits the straight shot portion of the route up 288 from Pearland to the Exit at N Macgregor and the equally straight shot back home)

Thanks Kelly


Monday, May 01, 2006

Chuck's Ride to Onalaska - Update

Chuck sent this one in the other day and I think that I'll have to give it a shot soon. It runs up to his favorite part of our region and circles Lake Livingston peaking at the City of Onalsaka, TX. I'm a little suspicious because I can't find the resturant he cites on my map nor on my GPS. And one of the roads is mysteriously missing on my map, but these are all things that will just end up making the trip more fun.

UPDATE: I am happy to report that Jerry's Resturant DOES exist, and it is in Onalaska. Cross the first bridge and start looking for it on your right before you get to the SECOND bridge. Chuck is right, the food is good and the folks are friendly. We got there early, before they started serving lunch. Ron had breakfast, but they accommodated me with a pork chop, mashed taters with white gravy, field peas and fried okra. Ron had to sit and watch as I ate the bread pudding desert. Y'see, breakfast doesn't come with desert (heh, heh, heh!)

Pay particular attention where you see the yellow routing on the map below (and blown up to the Right) That's where the road is missing on my map. FOLLOW THE YELLOW until it joins back up with the green in Shepherd. The Yellow matches the the turn-by-turn directions below. You'll be ok if you miss that turn, but you may miss a couple of nice views of the lake too. The GPS says all is well - "trust me."

UPDATE: I can also confirm that the yellow road DOES exist and it DOES go all the way through as shown here. Ignore your map, it really is there.
I guess the only other comment we can offer is that 523S is a really nice twisty road. Lots of fun. There are other fun spots on this trip too, so you should try it out.

Even if all you do is remember
how tall pine trees grow, it'll be worth your while.

Here is Santa-Chucks trip to Onalaska:

Meet at Diner IH45@ Dixie Farm Rd (1959)
E on 1959 to Hwy 3 (go left)
3N to Genoa Red Bluff. Go right
Genoa Red Bluff to Red Bluff. Go left
Red Bluff to Fairmount Prky. Go right
Fairmount to 146. Go left
146N to 565. Go right
565 NE over IH10 to 1409. Go right
1409N to Dayton. Cross over 90, over RR and 1st street, turn right onto 1008.
1008N to 321 Go right
321N to 105. Turn left
105E to Cleveland. Turn right on business 59.
59B to 2025. Turn left
2025NW to 945. Turn left
945NW through Evergreen then stay on 945 N and E to 156. Turn right
156E just a short distance to 224. Turn left at light. This is a neat twisty road so watch your speed.
224N to 156. Turn right.
156N to 190 at Point Blank. Turn right.
Take 190N to Onalaska. Before the (second) bridge over Lake Livingston you will find Jerry’s Rest on your right. Good food at great prices.

From Jerry’s Rest, take 190E to 3126. Go right
3126S around lake to 1988. Go right
1988S to 3278. Bear right
3278SW to 222. Go right
222S to Shepherd. Go left on 59B briefly to 223. Go right
223S to 787. Go right
787SW to 2518. Go left
2518S over 105. Stay on this road. It becomes 163 and then CR2316. It terminates at 1008. Go left.
1008S through Kenefick to Dayton

At this point, rider can elect to save time and take 90 or 146 home. Long way is reverse course from route that morning.

The ride is about 6/7 hrs with gas stop at Cleveland and Onalaska for gas and rest. Mileage is 302 miles on long route home.

Enjoy the smells of and the lake effect (temperature). Good views and good roads with something for everyone.

“Santa” Chuck

Chuck is heading to Colorado and Utah this week. He promises some routes
for those of us who want a slightly extended trip when he gets back . Stay tuned.

If all this route reading is making it even harder to tend to the necessities instead of riding every day, check 'cause we've got our big trip to Arkansas coming up soon. You don't want to miss those twisties.