Sunday, STN Region 2 Meet & Eat – Cloudcroft NM

Two early mornings in a row had taken their toll. My body just refused to get moving early once again, despite the sure knowledge that I had another long day in front of me. I had previously decided to avoid I10 for the ride home, instead choosing to ride straight across Texas.

When I walked outside, the R1200ST was the only motorcycle in sight. I had missed everyone else. Unperturbed, I walked back over to the Western Bar and Grill for some french toast, caffeine, and a few more precious moments with my book.

It’s always daunting to see the clock reading 11AM and your gps’s “miles to destination” field reading 720 miles. After having lazed the morning away, I needed to get down to the business of riding. I packed the bike, removed the “do not disturb” sign on my door, and headed east.

It was a beautiful morning, sunny and crisp. I was having a huge amount of fun on that twisty road, with such a long day of straights to look forward to. About 35 miles from Cloudcroft, just as the mountains were transitioning to foothills and I was fully warmed up in the turns, a deer jumped out of the bushes and bounded down the road beside me. It was very surreal. I could see him(?) out of the corner of my eye, but my main thought was “C’mon throttle!”. The R1200ST smoothly pulled away and I could once again breathe as the deer crossed the road behind me and disappeared into the brush. It took several minutes for the adrenaline to dissolve from my system but several hours for me to fully relax again.

My resolve to preserve saddle-discipline evaporated when I reached the oil fields east of Artesia on US82. For miles in each direction, oil rigs pumped up and down.

I continued to see smatterings of oil rigs well past the Texas border, where I decided to stop and finally get a “Welcome Sign” picture for Texas.

I enjoyed the mild spring temperatures as I rolled through Texas. I had hardly a care in the world, other than the strong desire to avoid the town of Brady.

Brady is a special place for me. Back in September 2004, a teenager in an old muscle car violated my right of way by turning left in front of me. I was unable to scrub enough speed and hit the rear side panel of his car, bending the forks of my Yamaha sportbike, but managing to keep the bike upright. The police officer ruled him at fault, but I was 2000 miles from home with a non-rideable motorcycle, with all the accompanying headaches you can imagine.

Ever since this incident, I have attempted (successfully) to avoid Brady, TX….the town that *bit* me.

I had a clever plan. A small FM road appeared to completely avoid the town of Brady, connecting to the main road a little to the south.

The FM was fun, winding past Lake Brady with scenic vistas of the lake and wildflowers galore. I started getting worried as I approached the main road…. there was too much street activity showing up on the GPS.

Imagine my chagrin when that little FM dropped me, not just in Brady, TX, but at the very same intersection where I had long ago tangled with the car. It was nostalgic…”Hey, there’s that gas station that I parked in afterwards….and there’s the hotel I spent the night in…. and the restaurant where I ate dinner!”

Arrgh. So much for my clever plan.

I picked up SH71 at Llano (Ya-No? 😛 ) where a riot of wildflowers lined the road.

I hadn’t expected much, but the hill country road headed into Austin was really fun! The fast sweepers and even a few tight turns were truly a delight after the drone across west Texas.

A drizzle and overcast skies greeted me in the Austin area. It was getting dark as I made my way through the city’s confusing network of highways. There has been a lot of construction there over the last few years, so I basically had to ignore my GPS and rely on road signs directing me back to US290.

I stopped for a much needed break and snack in Giddings, TX where I called Mom to let her know I was safe and would be home soon. The last few hours were tiring, with limited visibility as the road rolled over hilly sections in the dark. I tried to follow cars and use their superior headlights, but many of the drivers seemed just as blind as me, slowing at the crest of each hill.

I rolled into my garage around 11pm, drained after almost 1800 miles in 3 days, but refreshed from the adventure, great company, and time spent blissfully rolling down the highway on the R1200ST.

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