Well, that’s been weighing pretty heavily on my mind, so I resolved to get out there and check out the alleged “good stuff.” Yesterday I found myself with no planned group rides and my parents gave me a pass to go have fun while dad recuperated from his week in New York on business.
I’ve had this route planned for a few weeks, so I loaded it onto the GPS Friday night and got up early on Saturday morning to belt out a nice 500 mile day including such local celebrity roads as Lime Creek, 1431, and Bee Creek.
I started by heading up 290 to 362 to Navasota. With the plan of doing scenic 390, the La Bahia highway, I took some less-traveled connector roads where I found this little guy in a field. There was a life-size faux giraffe in the next field over, but I was too busy gaping at it and trying to decide if it was real or fake when I rolled past it.
390 was pretty and nicely twisty. It felt good to finally be getting out on my own. It’s fun to ride with other people and socialize during stops, but sometimes I just like to be able to not stress and ride my own pace. I like to stop in the middle of the road and dig out my camera when I see a good shot. You really can’t do that in a group ride. They start sending out rescue squads. It also can annoy the person behind if you are mid-group.
Here’s one that caught my eye at some point. I think it was on 390.
I was intending to do FM 969 through Lexington, but was intimidated by the gravel road construction around the turn-off, so I farted around on some other roads in that area (trying to get through). On FM908 I learned that “pavement ends” means exactly that, even 20 miles after the sign. All I can say is that the road looked fine within sight of that initial sign. Well, it was a nice interlude and a pretty out and back. I kept looking for another way through, but all the county roads branching off it were dirt.
At that point I had to just go to US290 and slab it into Austin. I needed to keep moving if I wanted to be in Marble Falls at a decent lunch hour.
It started getting nicely twisty on Bullick Hollow Rd toward Volente. The scenery was decidedly hill-like, with scrubby pines and rocky soil. Lime Creek Road was completely awesome. It was similar in feel to many areas of the Sierra foothills, strongly reminding me of a little trip on Cherry Lake Rd that I took with T and Sean a few months ago.
Not long after turning onto Lime Creek Rd, I came up on another rider on a red sportbike in full leathers. He was riding very relaxed on the straights and putting a knee out on the curves. I followed him and we soon came upon another car moving slowly through the turns. I was anxious to pass, and I think it showed so he waved me by. I was soon able to pass the car, followed by the other rider. He easily stayed in my mirrors through the next turn, so I waved him past me. Showing a good amount of skill, he disappeared in a few corners, but reappeared soon. I like to think that he was intentionally slowing down to warn me about appropriate speeds for the few tighter corners we came up on, but that could have just been his preferred pace. In any case, I followed him until the end of the road, where he took a turn-out to go back for another run. I waved and continued on my way.
There were 50+ riders lined up on the shoulder at the intersection of Lime Creek and 1431 as I made my turn. A few in the rear were holding their hands up in impatience as I passed. A mile or two down the road a policeman was getting himself into place to direct traffic. It was then that I realized that I would not be able to stop for pictures at all during the 30 miles of 1431. I really did not want that line of bikes in front of me.
I enjoyed the curves, but sure enough, about 10 miles from Marble Falls, I started getting buzzed by sportbike riders wearing black vests with big wicked-looking “R” patches on the back. Obviously this local club did not believe in proper riding gear, because I’d never seen so much bare skin going so fast through turns. Lots of scantily clad pillions too. You just don’t see that much in the SF Bay Area.
I’d say about 20 riders passed me by the time I made it to Marble Falls and turned onto 281 toward my chosen lunch destination. The Blue Bonnet Café is world famous for it’s good home cooking, notably chicken fried steak and pie. While I waited in the 20 minute line I overheard someone say that “even President Bush has eaten here.”
When I’m at a local place, I try to eat what the locals eat, so I had a nice serving of chicken fried steak followed by a slice of banana cream pie (always a favorite of mine). Twas good!
I got to chatting with another rider going solo today who was seated next to me on the counter. When I asked where he was from, I could tell he really got a kick out of the hand swoops and turn-counting 1..2..3..…8..9… turns down Lime Creek Rd. It sure would be nice having a commute worth reliving.
I headed out of Marble Falls to the south, taking a few very deserted country roads to get the Bee Creek Rd (two-thumbs up). At one point there was cactus all over the side of the road.
I headed through Austin toward my next road highlight. I’d heard good things about Park Road 1 through Bastrop and Buescher state parks. I got there after the ranger station closed, and only had a ten dollar bill, anyway. The ranger driving a truck around said that it was free if I didn’t stop to take a hike or park to use any facilities.
The speed limit was slow, but the road was single lane and had many blind curves. Beautiful scenery: with piney woods, lakes full of fishers and bathers, and lots of elevation changes.
Getting back on highway 71, I headed for La Grange, Round Top, and Bellville via scenic FM roads. I got onto US290 at Hempstead and headed home, arriving before dark. 495 miles and some very enjoyable roads under my wheels.
Map of my entire day. (mostly correct). Route file in MS S&T.
Close up of the route west of Austin.