Monday, July 10, 2006

Hill Country Weekend July 2006

One of the things I like best about my riding group is its informality. We have no officers, no dues, no meetings except to ride (and/or eat) and we don't restrict ourselves to a specific type, brand or configuration of ride - or of rider for that matter. We have riders that like to ride fast and enjoy the turns. Others live for the scenery and take things slowly. We have V-twins, opposed sixes, Silver Wing scooters, antiques and shiney new rides. About the only thing we don't have are crotch rockets, but that's not by our choice. We just can't keep up with 'em.

Anyway, all that is to say that our Hill Country Ride this year reflected our group's diversity. We arrived at our base camp (D'rose Inn) from Thursday afternoon through Saturday night and while we were there, we set out in small groups on a total of three separate group rides, two tubing trips, a hiking trip and a bat flight outing. And all this not including the rides to and from Leakey. Quite a trip for a thee day weekend. If you went on this ride and didn't enjoy yourself, I just can't figure out who you could possibly blame. There was something for everyone.

A note about D'Rose Inn and its Inn Keeper Deb Rose. All the rooms and cabins at the Inn are clean and well appointed. No sagging beds or clinking pipes in this place. Most, if not all rooms have a microwave and fridge. There is no TV, no phone, no internet in the rooms. Not a bad thing if you ask me. Each room is cooled by a window style AC unit that provides cool air along with white noise to help drown out any traffic from the highway or loud pipes arriving after bed time. I actually like that sort of background noise and I slept like a log.

Deb is re-modeling the rooms and cabins and is about half done. My room had a stone wall, wood ceiling and fresh new paint. All of the rooms and cabins have been recently painted, but not all have the decorating touches that mine had - but they will. Deb is "living her dream" (her words not mine) and is passionate about the comfort of her guests. One note for our friends of great stature. The shower in my room was 3 ft square. If you are 4 ft square, be sure to tell Deb that you'll want a room with a regular size tub and shower.

D'Rose Inn is rated #1 in Ride Texas Magazine and it is well earned. We wish Deb continued success.

The ride over was about 350 miles avoiding all interstates. Lunch was great at the Salt Lick BBQ resturant in Driftwood, TX. We also enjoyed a brief stop at Canyon Lake to watch the water skiers and browsing deer.

The ride back home Sunday was about the same distance but a different route.

Friday, our early arrivers were led by Santa Chuck on a loop West of Leakey for sight seeing and a laid back day in the hills.

Saturday, two group rides focused on the thee sisters. The first group sought a ride that focused on scenery and vistas while the second group went for fast curves. Both groups got what they wanted, and amazingly from some of the same roads.

The three sisters is a great loop. Maybe the best in Texas that I have ridden. I'd like to provide my impression of these three siblings if I may.

These Texas girls have much in common, starting with their names, RR-335, 336, and 337. They also share the curves and roller coaster changes in elevation that keep us coming back for more. But there are important differences too.

For me, Sister 335 on the West side of the loop is the girl I could live with forever. She moves North to South with dramatic curves and thrilling hills that float your stomach at the top and give noticable G-forces at the bottoms. With a hint of wild country in her vistas, and just a bit of danger from the deer that may cross your path at any time of day, she could keep me interested for a lifetime.

Sister 336 on the Eastern edge is a bit of a prude. She shares the same topography as her more desirable sister to the West, but she teases you with a short set of curves and hills, but then makes you pull up short with annoying cattle gaps that may or may not be a smooth crossing. I just couldn't maintain a relationship with such a tease.

Sister 337 is the mature girl. So mature in fact, that she is currently undergoing a bit of a tummy tuck for a ten mile section West of Leakey. Don't let it concern you, the road is dusty but not "loose." Just slow down and let her take you over to the next section of good pavement. While not part of the Three Sisters Loop, Sister 337 shows you that she has just as much to offer as her North/South siblings if you ride her East of Leakey. She has great hills and turns, and none of those annoying cattle gaps.

Now for the side trips.

Garner State Park has lots to offer, from hiking, and swimming, to music and dances in the evening. Some of our group enjoyed all of these features.

There are tubing opportunities seemingly at every nook of the Frio river. The water was down a bit this trip, but Deb, pointed us to Happy Hollow which shuttles tubers to a stretch that still had enough water to keep us moving and cool in the hottest part of the day. In wetter seasons, the Frio promises a faster trip and many more options for places to start and end the day.

The Bat Cave near Utopia is home to the second largest population of bats in the US, and the largest that is open to the public. Well worth the $10 price to get in, the bats started flying at about 8:30, and were still leaving the cave at 9:00. An estimated 3 million flew past us, some at eye level when you could hear their wings push by. The proprietor said that the bats live over a mile inside the cave, and the guano is more than 6 feet deep for that entire mile. Take a look at some of my pics.

RESTURANTS - Live to Ride, Ride to Eat

Vinnies Italian
on the West Side of 83 in Leakey - Rated highly by Ride Texas Magazine. I had Pizza which had great flavor. A small one was twice as much as I could eat for $13 including tax and tip. The crust is the kind that is chewy rather than crispy. Lots of people love it.

Mama Choles Mexican - Just down the road from the Frio Canyon Motorcycle Stop in Leakey - Superb Tacos. Best I've ever had.

Hill Country BBQ - Also on HWY 83 (most everything in Leakey is) I didn't eat here, but it is recommended by several folks in Leakey.

Some other place - That Frio Canyon MC stops said has GREAT fried chicken - but it is only open sometimes. Ask Deb for details.

Well, enough talk. Let's go riding


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