The Road To Texasmac 2009
Posted by HispanicSlammer, 30 May 2009 · 237 views
For me the lure of riding often comes with months of anticipation, especially when it comes to TexasMac. I have made this trip twice before on my vfr, each time a slightly different route and each time an epic journey. I watched in earnest the weather reports along the Colorado Front range, one thing about Colorado the weather can get cold an nasty in an instant. I woke up at 4am, a habit I picked up working nights and well I just do, still dark out I walked my luggage up the stairs and into the garage where I parked my bike the night before, attached my gps, snapped the Givi top bag onto the bike and slipped on my boots. Then I walked around for an hour, wondering did I forget anything. I had packed really light this trip - opting for gear and clothes that I can wash in a hotel sink if I have too. Fast drying wickable shirts and pants, they look awful but are really comfy on the road.
Finally the sun came up, or rather the light diffused itself through the solid pillow of cloud overhead, sunk so low I could not even see Cheyenne Mountain 2 miles away. I worried it would all come tumbling down on me when I turned on the key. It did not of course but it was sure frosty, 55 degrees out and windy. I made my way down to Pueblo via the interstate, squirming around on the bike trying to find the best position in which to get comfortable in the cold weather. I turned on my custom heated seat and grips and just sat there solid following the morning commuters to Pueblo. I hate riding interstates, either your going too fast or too slow, so you have to change lanes all the time and adjust for the variable speeds of traffic, the worse is the constant passing of semi truck by semi truck. Its like watching snails pass each other, or rather turtles all the while your hoping they don't suddenly move that massive load right into you. Who would know your there you cant see them and they cant see you so you back off and wait for the massive snails to do their thing.
I was soon off the interstate 7am and gassing up, I had routed myself along a secondary road along side hwy 50 going through Boone and eventually heading north diagonally to a Grain Silo they call Eads. I was enjoying the views of the bluffs along the north side of the road, they sheltered me from the wind and the road winded around them just enough to keep me awake and alert. I was surprised at the traffic, a car every minute or so heading the other way. I was in the rolling hills - hills of foothills of mountains that is. Along the Arkansas River Valley then the elevation climbed a bit coming out of the valley into Eads and I was soon on the Colorado High Plains. There I would see something that astonished me. Box cars, miles and miles of Box cars used for the transportation of Cattle. It was a good 2 miles into the endless row of box cars before I thought to look at the Odometer to see just how far these cars went. I could hardly imagine the amount of iron they had parked on the rail road tracks let alone the combined weight of them all. Ten miles long I estimated this went on for, and it was magnificent in the sunshine peering through the holes in the clouds. I was following a pickup truck with Missouri Plates already for a good half and hour and I just knew I would be seeing this one all day long. My path was to head strait across Kansas into Great Bend and then further along till I made it to Emporia to stop for the night.
I followed the truck into 3 or 4 small towns - blink and you miss them but each one of them forced you to slow down to 35mph and one of them made a right turn into town. This pickup truck was going 25 in town so I followed a bit, till the town limit disappeared and I was able to make a pass, he was going 90 or so on the plains which was fast enoug for me but each town he would slow down 10 mph below the speed limit? Sorry see ya! I have no interest in following some pickup truck all day long anyway.
Soon enough I was passing trough the last Colorado Town on the plains Towner Colorado where I have a cousin, a school teacher. No time to visit but I did notice the sign on the barn that said "Heres your sign" shit kickers have a sense of humor too. My cousin hates it when I call her that, so naturally.....
George Washington Carver lived in Kansas Before beginning his career as a scientist
Crossing the boarder is really no big deal Kansas and Eastern Colorado are the same, just the road is in better condition in Kansas and a lot straiter! At least Colorado has a few bends here and there bumpy and potholed but it has bends! The clouds got thicker and the temperature dropped even more to 42F, time to pull off and put my Electric vest on. I stripped off my back protector and put on the Gerbing jacket, sure enough that same MO Pickup truck went speeding by. I pulled back onto the road toasty and warm and a few mintues later I passed a gas station 12 miles down the road (guess who I saw there?) He waved! I waved back, and it was just about 10am when I needed gas myself so I checked my gps for the next town, it showed 20 miles to go on mile 182 of my tank. I thought well that should be good, then the 2 lines on my dashed disappeared at mile 195 and it started flashing. I had 8 miles to go and I started to get concerned - I hate how my dash does that skips from 2 line to flashing no one line left just 2 lines then all of a sudden its empty?
I made it into town looked around and found that it was closed, the whole place was closed, no gas station, no diner, no nothing just empty boarded up houses - OH SHIT! I hit the gas locater on my gps and it said 45 miles away to the next station! OH HELL! Well shoot I just said OK why not just head east as far as you can get then thumb it if you have to to a gas station. Just then a major intersection came up and there was a gas station there, 2 miles east of that ghost town. YES! I filled it up and watched as that same MO pickup truck shot right by me again I waved! Now it was 11am I thought I can make it to Great Bend for lunch! Then it would be 2pm I estimated to Great Bend - the road was even straiter and the wind picked up however with it the clouds disappeared and I had sunshine finally and I was baking like a potato. I pulled off and took a break on the side of the road under a tree. I drank my Red Bull and ate some beef jerky and stripped down to my one shirt, 3 layers peeled off and much more comfortable I popped a acetaminophen and stretched my legs. My butt was in pain after some 300 miles on the road. Only 200 more to go! 2pm and I was in Great Bend and I was so unimpressed I just kept on going stopping only for more gas - guess who I saw at the gas station! MO PICKUP again! I pulled in and said hello and talked with them a bit, they were from Fredricksburg MO and had family in Colorado, apparently they where staying with folks till clean up crews could clear up the town - a massive tornado had hit there property and made it unlivable, they took their kids to their folks in Colorado and were going back to clean up. I decided I would check it out the next day for myself.
I spend the night in Emporia Kansas and promptly fell asleep at 5pm on the bed without even getting out of my clothes, waking up at 4am again I was disoriented and confused - where the hell am I? OH yea Kansas. I watched some stupid movie on the tube and waited for the sun to come out, it did not, same old pillow cloud nightmare covering the entire sky again, but whoa it was warm! 60 degrees felt like a warm shower, I gassed up and hit the road.
I was disappointed by my route mostly 4 lane freeway like stuff, that doesn't look like that on the map, so I turned on my audio book of "Beloved" by Toni Morrison and listened as the miles shot by. It wasn't until I was half way across Missouri before I found a twisty road, and it was a typical Missouri road, first it started to undulate up and down rolling over hills for miles then it got steeper and lower into the hills and then boom it started twisting like a snake, easy at first then I had to lean it over a bit YEA now it was getting fun! Then the rural roads started getting darker and the trees started closing in and I was really enjoying myself . The Mark Twain National Forest - I must have been there, Salem MO popped up and I realized it had only just begun - then all of a sudden I saw the damage this tornado had caused, whole trees uprooted and lying on there sides, large trees where the roots where taller than I am. Thousands and thousands of uprooted trees - clean up crews everywhere with chain saws and chipper trucks - the place looked awful and it went on for 50 miles! I did not take any pictures cause well I had 500 miles to do that day no time to stop really except for gas.
Baileyrocks new business heh not really this is Bixby MO
There was a family at the gas station asking for a pay phone cause cell service had been knocked out, and back on the road I found myself in the hometown of the MO pickup truck, Fredricksburg MO and it had been hit hard, the place was beautiful for a mile are so then disaster, then beautiful and again disaster. I looked for that pickup truck but never saw it again. Houses seemed ok for the most part but all the trees where uprooted, barns torn apart and sheds gone, but amazingly the homes were ok save a few shingles here and there - every once in a while I would see a home completely gone just torn to shreds. It really got to me how bad it was and how far it went on for, thousands of folks displaced. The town was on curfew and no school so I saw tons of kids out and about in their yards playing Frisbee among the dead trees. Kids it seems can cope with anything.
I found a great road that rivaled anything I had ever been on for fun, hwy 32 at Bixby was awesome! I railed it at 8/10ths cause there was still dead trees in places some in the road. I was soon coming to the Mississippi river where I would spend the next night, and cross into Illinois in the morning.
Bill Emerson Memorial Bridge Cape Girardeau Missouri completed Dec 13 2003
I was able to stay up later this time and wake up around 7am - just in time for the sun rise, and losing an hour to the region. I was impressed by the bridge but not with Illinois in that area as soon as you cross you run into strip clubs and liquor stores over there, strait roads again and turning south I made my way to Cairo IL where I would cross into Kentucky across the Ohio river this time. I rolled through the sleepy town of Cairo and its run down buildings watching this incredibly beautiful young black woman cross the street in front of me she crossed it sideways and it took what seemed like forever for her to make it, all I could think was watching her walk was like watching music. Wow she was something she even turned around and waved as I went by, of course I was going like maybe 3mph the whole time behind her caught in her spell. I don't care I admit it you probably would have too guys! I think she said "hey" and that was it, gone she was and the spell was broken.
Wickliff KY was an interesting little place, right in the confluence of the Mississippi river and the Ohio it sits on the east side soaking up the traffic and shuffling it out in a fan on all directions east, I headed south east to Nashville, its not twisty like Missouri but it has the undulation of the hills - and 4 lane roads that to see seem like pork barrel projects going off to nowhere towns for no reason, 5 miles of 4 split lane freeway with maybe 3 vehicles on it only to merge back into a 2 lane road again? I was wondering why cant we get another lane of freeway between Pueblo to Denver to Fort Collins? They can send money to make unused freeway in Kentucky why not a busy freeway in Colorado?
I waited 2 more hours on these strange freeway like roads in Kentucky and was soon crossing into Tennessee, I found hwy 232 off the Donnelson Parkway and was again thrown into the twisties, twisties that seemed to me to be a bit tighter than I remembered - had been on this road before, and it had a slope going down hill I did not remember it reminded me of Warwoman road one of the roads on the menu for Texasmac.
wow - I was soon lost and I found myself at the Cumberland river at a Damn with no exit.
Cheatham Damn Cumberland River
Tug Boat pushing a barge up the river at the Cheatham damn locks
I waited out a small rain under the gazebo and talked with a Harley rider who lived only 3 miles away, he having lived there all his life had a Harley with 180,000 miles on it. Second owner 1978 Harley He said of the AMC era with a full fairing and Mag wheels. It looked ancient but it sounded Harley! He had a definite Tennessee drawl and I knew I had arrived in the south. I stopped at this Pizza place in Erin Tn and ate a small pizza that took over my body and made me unable to ride any good. OH boy I was stuffed I had a hell of a time riding into Nashville, getting lost in town till finally I was at Baileyrocks Doorstep, the first phase of my ride was complete, I was was there!