10.15.2014

Fall Is In the Air - A Great Texas Ride Remembered

As we start seeing cooler temperatures and the leaves begin to fall, I'm reminded of a great ride to the Lost Maples State Natural Area (SNA).  I wrote a guest post for Motorcycle House detailing the ride last November.  You can check-out my original ride report on their blog. Here's the link - Changing Seasons A Ride To the Lost Maples State Natural Area.

Big Tooth Maple in Lost Maples SNA
If you live in or around the Texas Hill Country, I'd highly recommend visiting the Lost Maples SNA this Fall.  It's one of the few places in South/Central Texas where you can actually see a magnificent show of Fall colors.  The Big Tooth Maples in the SNA are absolutely stunning and if you plan your trip right, you'll have a chance to ride some of the best motorcycle roads in Texas.  The famed Twisted Sisters are just a short ride away.

Before saddling-up and pointing your bike towards Lost Maples, check-out their Fall Foliage Report to get an idea of the of how the color changes are progressing. You can use the report to help time your visit to experience the peak color change (generally occurring sometime in late October or November depending on the weather).

Fall is probably the best time of year to ride in Texas and I know you'll enjoy riding to Lost Maples SNA.  You'll be on some great riding roads, with lots of interesting places to see along the way.  Here are a few of my favorites:


  • Ever tried fresh apple ice cream? No? You don't know what you're missing.  Visit the Apple Store in Medina, TX.
  • Interested in motorcycle history? Stop by the Lone Star Motorcycle Museum in Vanderpool, TX.  The museum is only a couple of miles from Lost Maples.
  • Need an interesting place to take a break and fill your belly?  Try the Frio Canyon Motorcycle Stop in Leakey, TX.  You can get some great Twisted Sister merchandise to commemorate your ride too...and don't forget to check-out the view from the patio.

I hope my walk down memory lane gives you some great ideas for a Fall ride.  No matter where you ride, always remember to Live Free, Ride Hard, and Be Happy!



Photos from my Ride to Lost Maples SNA in November 2013



On Our Way to Lost Maples




Walking Down the Riverbed in Lost Maples

Painting the Colors of Fall in Texas




Now There's Some Color



A Peek of Orange and Red



 

10.10.2014

A Ride to the Power Plant Texas Grill...Life is Full of Surprises

Have you ever been somewhere that completely surprised you?  Last Saturday I experienced just that. While riding with a few members of the Gruene HOG Chapter I not only discovered a great route from New Braunfels to Seguin but a nice place to eat as well. The beautiful fall day with clear skies and temperatures in the upper 70’s made the entire experience all the more memorable.

The Power Plant Texas Grill
Although the ride was short by most standards (42 miles one-way), it was just plain fun.  We rode through some nice farm/ranch land on roads with minor elevation changes and a few sweeping curves.  The air was crisp and fresh…maybe too fresh in a few spots (did I mention we rode past some livestock).  It was one of those rides where you could let the worries of the world slip away, where you could clear your mind and just be at one with the universe.  It was peaceful and very therapeutic.

We arrived at the Seguin VFW Post after a short hour’s ride.  We dropped off several donations to support a local police officer who had been injured during a traffic stop and then made our way to the Power Plant Texas Grill.  I was impressed as soon as we pulled into the parking lot.  What a picturesque setting!

The Power Plant Texas Grill sits on the Guadalupe River and is rich in history.  The building started its life in the late 1890’s as a gristmill and in 1907 was sold to the City of Seguin as a hydroelectric generation facility. Over the years the building saw numerous upgrades and continued to provide electricity to the citizens of Seguin until the mid-90s.  The facility sat idle for many years before being renovated and opening as the Power Plant Texas Grill in May of this year. Walking inside the building reveals an open bay with two seating levels. An old generator and an antique electrical panel add to the ambiance and provide historical perspective.  There’s also a covered seating area and bar outside that overlooks the river and the Saffold Dam.
 
Our party was quickly greeted and seated.  The waitress was friendly and attentive and made quick work of getting our drinks and taking our food orders.  The menu isn’t extensive but does have a nice variety.  I ordered a pulled-pork sandwich and fries.  We didn’t wait long for our food and everyone seemed pleased with their choices.  My pulled-pork sandwich and fries were excellent.  I’d definitely recommend the Power Plant Texas Grill.

I wish everyday could be like last Saturday…beautiful weather, nice company, a sweet ride, and a good meal in a scenic location.  It doesn’t get much better than that.  Sometimes the simple things in life offer the most joy.  Days like last Saturday are really what living free, riding hard, and being happy are all about.  :-)

A Great Route from New Braunfels to Segin
View from the Power Plant
The Generator and Electric Panel add to the Atmosphere


9.30.2014

Just a Nice Sunday Ride to The Airport Diner

On Sunday, I rode to the Airport Diner in Fredericksburg, Texas with a few Gruene HOG chapter members. We didn’t start out thinking we’d be going to the Diner but it’s where we ended up. Our original destination was the Alamo Springs Café for what is claimed to be one of the best burgers in Texas.  I say claimed because when we got there it was closed.  Apparently, the owners were leaving for vacation on Monday and had been trying to conserve meat…they ran out on Saturday.  This was my second foiled attempt to try their burgers.  On my first visit, they were closed because of a blown transformer and no electricity.
The great thing about riding is many times the destination is secondary to the ride itself.  It took about an hour and a half to ride the 70 miles from Gruene Harley-Davidson to the Alamo Springs Café.  Clear skies and cooler temperatures (mid-80s) made for a great Fall ride in the Texas Hill Country.  FM473 and Old #9 Highway Road were particularly fun with some nice curves and beautiful views. 

There were a lot of motorcyclists out taking advantage of the weather.  I saw an equal number of sport bikes and cruisers sharing the road.  Some shared better than others.  Sadly, stereotypes were likely reinforced based on our encounter with a couple riding sport bikes.  While cruising along on Old #9 Highway at or slightly above the posted speed limit, two sport bikes blew past our Sweep and cut into our formation right behind our Lead, then laid back on the throttle and blew past him on a tight curve. 

Not more than three minutes later we pulled into the parking lot at the Alamo Café.  Guess  who was there? The sport bike riders that had just past us.  Our Sweep wasted no time telling them what he thought about their riding and called them a few choice names.  I’m sure they walked away thinking Harley riders are assholes…while several in our group walked away thinking sport bike riders are reckless speed freaks.  Talk about awkward.

After everyone regained their composure, we decided to try the Airport Diner and off we rode.  Old #9 Highway was closed a mile or so north of the Alamo Café but the detour was clearly marked so we had no
The Airport Diner...Friendly Staff, Great Food
trouble making our way to US 290 and into Fredericksburg.  We cut across Friendship Lane to SH16 and rode southwest for a half-mile before turning towards the Gillespie County Airport.   As we pulled into the parking lot, I was impressed.  On the right was the Hanger Hotel and on the left another hanger that housed the Conference Center and Diner.  It was like walking back in time.  The Hanger Hotel resembled an old World War II hanger complete with large billboard graced by pretty pin-up girl worthy of being nose art on any WWII bomber.  The inside of the Diner was just as period authentic as the hotel with airplane art adorning the walls and models of WWII fighter aircraft hanging from the ceiling.

We sat down and were quickly waited on.  The menu was chock full of items with names like Bomber Burger, P-40 Warhawk,  Officer’s Club, and Flying Tiger.  I ordered the Officer’s  Club and boy was it tasty.  Everyone in our group was happy with their food, except one…and he ordered the Huevos Rancheros.  It doesn’t get much better than a great ride followed by great food.  I’ll definitely go back again.

Just Outside the Hanger Hotel
After a leisurely lunch punctuated by great food and service, I split from the group to head home by the most expeditious route available.  I picked-up US 87 and made a beeline for the super slab.  It’s amazing how fast you can get somewhere when you’re going 80 miles an hour.  I made it home in just over an hour and a half and that included a gas stop and a stop at Wal-Mart to pick-up some medicine for my granddaughter.  I may be strange, but I enjoy riding the Interstate almost as much as I like riding the back roads.  What a great day!

Where did you ride last weekend?  Wherever it was I hope you remembered to:  Live Free. Ride Hard. Be Happy.

9.16.2014

No Ifs, Ands, or Monkey Butts...Real Solutions for the Pain in Your Ass

Most folks are uncomfortable talking about their bums.  I’ve ridden with a lot of people and not one them has ever started a conversation with me about how sweaty and scalded their butt gets on a long ride.  I suppose it’s not the most appropriate topic of discussion while dining. Nevertheless, if we’re being honest, it is a problem most motorcycles riders have experienced at one time or another.

These Monkey Butts...Just Look Painful
I’m not too proud to admit that I’ve experienced monkey butt on a few occasions.  Most notably on Iron Butt rides when I’m in the saddle for extended periods…and on shorter rides when the temperature starts to climb.  On long rides especially, it can become so uncomfortable that I can barely stay in the saddle.  After my Saddlesore 2000 (2000 miles in less than 48 hours) in May, I told myself I had to find something to “fix” the problem.
 
While I may not have found the ultimate “fix”, I have found a couple of products and learned a few things that have helped tremendously…maybe they’ll help you too.

A Soft Saddle Is Not Your Friend

A soft and cushy saddle provides less contact area for your butt and doesn’t distribute your weight evenly causing increased pressure on your sitz bones (ischial tuberosities).   This increased pressure translates to an uncomfortable and painful ride.  A firmer saddle will provide more contact area and distribute your weight
Ischial Tuberosities (see blue dots)
more evenly allowing you to stay in the saddle longer without pain. 

I’ve ridden more than 20K miles on a Corbin Dual Tour and I can say without hesitation, the firmer saddle is more comfortable and less painful than my stock seat.  Unfortunately, a firmer saddle in and of itself won’t prevent monkey butt...but it will provide a good foundation to start from.

Moisture Is The Enemy

 A major causal factor for monkey butt is moisture in the form of perspiration.  With little-to-no air circulation your butt basically marinates in your own sweat (I know it’s not pretty).  The longer your sit in this marinade, the more irritated and tender your backside becomes.  The key to preventing this culinary nightmare (i.e. monkey butt) is to minimize moisture.

Spays and Powders


Sprays and Powders Absorb Moisture

Spays and powders are especially useful when the temperature and humidity are high.  Most talcum-based powders and spays will help by reducing friction and absorbing moisture.  Although I haven’t personally tried it, one such powder is Anti Monkey Butt Powder.  Anti-Monkey Butt Powder has received good reviews from other bikers and is available at Wal-Mart, Walgreens, and H.E.B (if you live in Texas).  The main drawback of powders is they can be messy and if you use too much you might leave powdery butt prints wherever you sit. 

I didn’t like the idea of potentially leaving “evidence” behind so I tried Gold BondClassic Powder Spray.  Overall, the Gold Bond Spray did a good job of keeping me dry and I would recommend it.  However, be forewarned, the Classic has menthol and the burning sensation it caused in my nether regions wasn’t pleasant...in fact, it gave the Jerry Lee song, “Great Balls of Fire” a whole new meaning. If you’re into that sort of thing, use the Classic; otherwise, go with the Gold Bond Fresh Powder Spray. Gold Bond products are available at Wal-Mart, Target, Walgreens, and a whole host of other retail establishments.



Wicking Fabrics

Another tool to minimize moisture is wicking fabrics. These fabrics help control moisture by drawing it away from your skin so that it can evaporate more quickly.  In the past, I’ve worn UnderArmor as it’s one of the better-known “performance” fabrics.  In cooler weather and on shorter rides, Under Armor works well and will help keep you dry.  However, on longer rides where you spend a lot of time in the saddle and when the temperatures start to rise, Under Armor doesn’t wick the moisture away fast enough…and eventually it becomes saturated.  Once saturated, it effectively losses it wicking properties.

LD Comfort
After reading numerous positive reviews posted by other long distance riders, I purchased a pair of LD Comfort underwear.  These underwear have a few unique features and have proven themselves in the Texas heat.  Unlike Under Armor, LD Comfort underwear is comprised of two-layers.  The inner layer stays dry while transferring the moisture to the outer layer where it has more time to dry through evaporation.   LD Comfort underwear also have a “roo-fly” (think kangaroo pouch) that makes pit stops much easier and more efficient.  Although they were a little pricey at $45 + $9 shipping/handling, they do work and I can understand why so many Iron Butt Rally participants sing their praises.  At some point, riding comfort becomes priceless.

One note of caution when it comes to mixing sprays/powders and wicking garments.  Don’t think like I did that using both the Gold Bond Spray and wearing LD Comfort underwear will result in a drier ride.  As the spray powder absorbs moisture it clogs-up the wicking material and negates its benefits…making it feel like you’ve got a tropical rain forest in your pants.  When wearing wicking underwear, spays and powders can make things worse.  Don’t do it.

Look For Improved Airflow

If moisture is the enemy when it comes to monkey butt, improved airflow just might be your best friend.  You’d think air flow would never be a problem on a motorcycle.  Except in this case, you’re sitting on your butt and there’s no space for air to travel between your pants and the saddle.  It seems logical that improved airflow when combined with wicking underwear or the use of spray/powder would increase the rate of evaporation and result in a drier and maybe even cooler ride.
BeadRider

While there are several products on the market that help improve airflow, several of my riding buddies say Bead Rider in one of the best.  I’ve ordered one and can’t wait to try it out.  The Bead Rider elevates you approximately a half inch, allowing air to pass between your butt and the seat.  You sit on a woven pattern of wooden or ceramic beads.  The company says, the Bead Rider improves airflow, helps to distribute your weight over a larger area, and keeps your butt from getting wet when it rains…all of which should help prevent monkey butt.

No Two Butts Alike

Preventing or minimizing monkey butt requires some trial and error.  What works for one may not work for another.  However, by using the information provided here you should be able to determine the best solution for you.  Remember, minimize/eliminate moisture with wicking fabrics or powders and spays, improve the airflow to your backside to aid in evaporation, and find a saddle that distributes your weight evenly.  When all these things come together properly, monkey butt will no longer be a pain your ass.

If you found this post to be useful and/or mildly entertaining, please share it…and as always, Live Free. RideHard. Be Happy!