Sport-Touring encompasses many different things, among them a willingness to travel long distances for the chance to briefly experience a distant kickass (and sometimes not so kickass) twisty road. All too often, this “touring” consists of “getting somewhere” by droning down a curve-deficient highway in sub-optimal conditions because that’s where the vacation time-window happens to be.
Sub-optimal conditions were very much on my mind that morning as tiny hailstones pinged off my visor and onto the chip-sealed surface of the almost deserted Texas hill country highway.
It was one of those days.
It was the weekend before Christmas 2006 and I was headed to Big Bend National Park for a winter sport-touring adventure. I had taken the previous day, a Friday, off from work to get an early escape from shopping-frenzied Houston.
Friday’s ride was mostly unremarkable. I took a northerly route out of Houston, along familiar FM roads that were part of my usual day-ride repertoire.
Lunch (sans pie, alas) was at the Texan Café in Hutto, where I paused to snap a photo of the creepy cow‘s head hanging over the entrance.
I crossed I-35 north of Austin, finally getting to roads that were *almost* out of reach for a day-ride from Houston. After a Texas highway patrol officer took time from his busy schedule to remind me not to enjoy the curves too much, I slowed down to note with sadness the roadside grading work. From the looks of things, by this time next year FM1431 will be downgraded from “One of the better roads in the state” to “Newly improved and straightened 4-lane connector road”.
The short winter day was waning as I turned south with plans to meet an old friend for dinner in Boerne. I took the Willow City Loop, a very scenic 1.5 lane goat trail, and then FM1376 past famous Luckenbach, TX.
The last orange rays of the sun were disappearing from the sky as I pulled into the chain restaurant parking lot. Dinner with my old friend was pleasant, but even more so was the thought that by the time I got back on the bike for the 30 mile interstate dash to Kerrville, it would be dark enough for my headlights to be effective.
I fell asleep to the Weather Channel’s ominous whispers about a Saturday of storms and near-freezing temperatures.
Which gets me back to that dreary and cold Saturday morning. I was droning down I-10 west of Kerrville at 80mph (the nice speed limit signs said I could!) and moments away from making a decision.