When you have a conference starting on a Monday in San Antonio you have three options. Either fly in for the conference Sunday night, arrive at the resort early and sit by the pool baking in the Texas sun for a day or find a motorcycle shop and borrow a few of Milwaukee’s best stallions for a few days of motorcycling through the Hill Country of Texas. We chose option C.
Our story begins two days into a dusty junket in a two horse town somewhere West of San Antonio. We parked our rental motorcycles between piles of horse dung and ambled through the saloon doors of Blue Gene’s, the only bar we could find at in Bandera, TX. Exhausted and parched from the last hundred miles of dusty Texas roads, we had hoped for a glass of water and cold beer to quench our voracious thirsts. The moment the bartender saw us approach one of the many open bar spots, we heard the turn of phrase reserved for cowboy movies or Walker Texas Ranger episodes:
“Ya’ll aren’t from around here… are ya!” deduced one of the gentlemen to our left. “Ya look like Yanks!”
The four of us couldn’t believe our ears. We were uncertain if we should be afraid for our lives or elated that we were receiving the real Texas experience! No, we are not Yanks. As a matter of fact, we’re from Boston – about as far from Yankees as you could be. I responded.
“No, right now you’re as far from Boston as you can be!” said the cowboy.
In reality, there are many places further from Boston than Bandera… many places just inside the United States, not to mention other countries. But it was clear that the gun-toting, one-man welcoming committee wasn’t in the mood for a geography lesson. We took some seats outside with a good view of our bikes and reminisced about the past three days on the road from San Antonio.
The trip started in the cool air conditioning of a motorcycle rental shop located on the edge of San Antonio. The AC was a welcomed relief to the scorching heat that filled the March Texas air. Ray, Josh, Scott and I picked up a Road Glide, two Softails and a Road King and set out for the river road toward Austin. A day of riding the northward winding road snaking up the Guadalupe River was enough excitement to make the $100/day rental fee worthwhile.
When we made it close to our destination, barbeque was on our collective minds. We had heard of the Salt Lick, a barbecue pit outside the Austin city limits. As soon as we pulled into the parking lot we watched patrons rolling stacks of 30-racks into the restaurant. Around those parts, when the sign says “bring your own,” Texans take note. The clientele of this bar had an evening planned and wouldn’t allow the party to end as a result of a beer drought.
After a night of live bands on Austin’s Sixth Street, we set out for the westerly portion of our ride toward Fredericksburg, Texas. The roads were much more country than the previous day and many were marked with signs that indicated open roaming of large animals. The landscape was brownish orange and pointed by the blinding glow of the all-day sun.
As morning led to mid-day, an abnormal creature caught my gaze. It was a ginormous Texas Longhorn at rest in an open field to our right. The bull was facing away and I could see the horns stretching about four-feet wide. We turned the rumbling bikes around to look at the bull. Three of the four of us were within 50 yards of the bull and he hadn’t stirred. Ray, the forth hadn’t turned around but he had shut off his bike to find out why we had stopped. I yelled that we saw a bull and should take a photo. All of a sudden, the bull who hadn’t noticed the thumping sounds of four motorcycles leapt to his feet and spun around to face us. He had responded to my voice.
At this point I should call out that my voice makes James Earl Jones sound like a soprano. Babies cry when they hear me speak – a fact of which I am not at all proud, but a fact nonetheless.
Other friends said, “we should snap a photo. Line up by the posts holding up the flimsy, non-electrified wire fence” (which was clearly erected to keep us out as it could never keep the bull in). The bull was uninterested… until I opened my mouth to utter “let’s get one with the bikes in the background”. All of a sudden Josh shouts – “guys, guys, the bull is charging”. We laughed as we assumed it was a joke, but when we saw Josh jump on his bike, fire it up and lay a patch on the asphalt we looked backwards to see a snarling half ton of uncooked Texas brisket bearing down on us and quickly closing the gap! 30 yards, 20 yards. We were on the bikes and ripping the throttle, peeking backward to see the bull dig his heels into the ground a mere three feet from the post on which I had been leaning, much in the way Fred Flintstone would stop a car.
Shaking more than the motors under our saddles, we made our way to Fredericksburg to fill our stomachs with Texas’s best German fare.