Hill Country Ride - October 2006

My buddy Chuck Mandernach and I took a wonderful Fall street bike cruise down to the Texas Hill Country. Chuck (and his son) got my dad and I into riding dirt bikes roughly 30 years ago and for the past year I've been riding street bikes with him. I ride a Honda Shadow Spirit 1100 and Chuck rides a Harley Dyna Super Glide 1450cc. We had great weather for the ride - no rain and cool temperatures. We rode 350 miles from Dallas down to Fredericksurg on Saturday and rode 350 miles back on Sunday. Along the way we saw some beautiful country, ate lots of good food, met some interesting people and had a couple of well-deserved cold beers in famous Luckenbach, Texas.

--- Chuck at Mel's Burger Joint ---
Chuck took on the task of navigating us down to Fredericksburg and back. He picked some wonderful back-road routes that took us through small towns I had never been to: Meridian, Cranfills Gap, Indian Gap, Energy, Priddy, Mosheim, Iredell. No, I'm not making those names up. In Copperas Cove we stopped to look at our maps to ponder our southerly route into Marble Falls. While still discussing our route a nice, young lady stepped out of a nearby church (by the way, there are more churches in these small towns than there are Starbucks in the big city) and she told us that a place just down the street called Mel's Burger Joint had mighty fine burgers. She was right; it was one of the best hamburgers I've ever eaten.

After we checked into our hotel in Fredericksburg, Chuck and I headed over to nearby Luckenbach, Texas. I've always enjoyed visiting Luckenbach; there's just something about that little spot under those big oak trees. It has a warm, unpretentious feel to it. I had always driven my truck down there, so it was kind of neat cruising in on my bike - especially knowing that I had ridden it all the way from Dallas. It certainly made the celebratory beers taste that much better.

Luckenbach has become a famous destination for bikers from all over the U.S. The bike on the left was built by the Martin Brothers, well known custom bike builders from Duncanville, TX. They recently won The Discovery Channel's Biker Build-off. We saw Joe Martin get off that bike just as we were arriving. The bike on the right is the muscular 2300cc Triumph Rocket III. That engine is more than twice the size of my bike's 1100cc engine. It's so fast, it looked like it was moving just sitting there...

Chuck and I listened to a some local pickers behind the Luckenbach bar - and met some interesting (if not inebriated) people. The gal in between Chuck & I was friendly to say the least, but she kept telling me - with slightly slurred speech - how terrible it was that the bartender had "cut her off". Chuck and I also met a young couple from Dallas (right-hand picture). Both are attorneys living in downtown Dallas and were really nice folks.

We stopped by Enchanted Rock on our way home.

--- Chuck on the Willow Loop ---
After seeing Enchanted Rock, we rode the very scenic Willow Loop - a private road just off of Hwy 16 north of Fredericksburg. The Willow Loop is well known for its views of the Texas Hill Country and for its blue bonnets in the Spring. We saw several deer and long horn while cruising the loop.

--- Chuck at a crossroads ---
Just north of Goldthwaite the small farm road we were riding suddenly turned into a gravel road. Street bikes get a little squirrely on gravel, so we turned the bikes around and looked at our maps for awhile and thought about heading back toward Goldthwaite. But then we decided to proceed cautiously down the gravel road. It was the right call; it was gravel for only a couple of miles before returning to pavement.

Not long after returning to a paved a road, we rode into an all-but-abandoned town called Indian Gap. That's me on my bike near the old general store.

By the time I got home Sunday night, I was a little fatigued (mainly my forearms and upper back) but I was pleasantly surprised that after 700 miles of riding over two days, I felt quite good overall. It sure was a fun trip!

Return to my home page