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West Texas Mountains, Mesas & Miles Part 1 (Distance Riding With Bruce)

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Distance Riding with Bruce
By IronBoltBruce, originally published in Wheels On The Road
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WEST TEXAS: MOUNTAINS, MESAS & MILES
Part 1 of 4: Two Days to Del Rio
May 2009

Friday, 29 February 2008, marked the end of seven days and 4,448 miles in the saddle for me. My trip began with my 31st Iron Butt Ride, a Bun Burner 1500 run from Miami Beach FL to Del Rio TX, covering a total of 1,568 miles in 34 hours 26 minutes. It ended with my 32nd Iron Butt Ride, a SaddleSore 2000 run from Carlsbad NM to Miami Beach FL, covering a total of 2,126 miles in 43 hours 51 minutes. Most of the remaining miles were spent riding through some of the most historically rich locations and incredibly scenic landscapes the Lone Star State has to offer.

Extreme Long Distance Endurance Motorcycle Rider IronBoltBruce At 6:06am ET on Friday, 22 February 2008, I pulled an ATM slip at the SoBe WaMu to mark the start of an Iron Butt ride called the Bun Burner 1500. Unlike the Bun Burner Gold ("BBG"), which requires that you ride over 1,500 miles in under 24 hours, the Bun Burner 1500 gives you 36 hours to cover that same distance. I already had 16 BBGs to my credit at that time (and 4 more since then), so I decided to take advantage of the extra 12 hours the BB1500 allows to not only include a sleep break but also enjoy more of the scenery by doing more of the ride during daylight.

The roads and skies were clear as I rode up IH-95 towards Jacksonville. The temperature headed south as I headed north, but wearing my rain pants prevented any precipitation. In Jacksonville I turned west on IH-10, and passed the IH-75 interchange in Lake City just after noon. From there, twelve more hours of increasingly cold but uneventful mile-eating took me through the Florida Panhandle, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and finally into Sweet Mother Texas, where I checked into Beaumont's Best Western Jefferson Inn at 11:18pm CT. I had to set the motel room heater on high to burn the chill out of my bones. But once the shivering caused by an irritatingly persistent fever stopped, I enjoyed a good night's rest.

On TV the next morning, a talking head on The Weather Channel assured me of "...warm sunny skies over most of Texas." But I guess that didn't include Beaumont ... where a quick peak out my door informed me it was foggy and cold. I put on some sweats and went to pig out on the free boiled-egg breakfast buffet in the lobby. Full of caffeine and calories, I then went back to the room and bundled up, packed up and headed out at 7:55am CT.

It was cool riding with overcast skies for the first four hours of Saturday's run, but a warming sun broke through by the time I reached San Antonio around noon. From there, I left IH-10 and the interstate system behind me, continuing west on US-90. As it was with Route 66, this highway parallels the railroad for much of its course. And also like the Mother Road, the deeper into the brushy ranch country I went, the further back in time the clock seemed to turn. Each small town along this 150-mile route to Del Rio is steeped in Texas tradition, and reminiscent of an era of simpler, better times, e.g.:

  • Castroville, settled in 1844 by Franco-German Europeans from the Alsace region, whose architectural influences remain to this day

  • Hondo, where 14,000 navigators were trained in WWII, and whose welcome sign reads "This is God's Country, Please Don't Drive Through It Like Hell"

  • Sabinal, home of the annual Wild Hog Festival (as in real wild hogs), Bow Hunters Roundup, and Buck-n-Boar Contest

  • Uvalde, home of former U.S. Vice-President John Nance "Cactus Jack" Garner, and birthplace of actor Matthew McConaughey and Roy Rogers' wife, actress Dale Evans

  • And of course Brackettville, whose Fort Clark was once home to the famous Buffalo Soldiers, and where a replica of The Alamo was built for the John Wayne movie

I reached the outskirts of the border town of Del Rio around 3:00pm CT, and pulled in to grab some end-of-run witness signatures from the friendly folks at T&T Cycles. From there I cruised on into town, and took a cheap--and I mean cheap--room at the Western Inn on Avenue F, Del Rio's main drag. Then I walked over and pulled an ATM slip at the nearby IBC Bank to mark the end of this Bun Burner 1500 ride at 3:32pm CT.

Located just across the Rio Grande River from Ciudad Acuņa Mexico, Del Rio can be considered a "border" town in more ways than one. As you'll learn from logging onto Wikipedia.org, "Del Rio lies on the northwestern edges of the Tamulipan Thornscrub, also called the South Texas Brush Country. It is also near the southwestern corner of the Edwards Plateau, which is the western fringe of the famous, oak savanna-covered Texas Hill Country." And that puts Del Rio right smack dab at the eastern edge of the West Texas region of the 140,000 square-mile Chihuahuan Desert ... which is where this saga will continue next month.

Until Next Time ... Ride Long, Ride Free!

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