DAM dreamed up the trip and put it up
as a post on the Chain Gang's Web
site. This one seemed to
really grab everyone's attention, because we had Chain Gang
members from all over the United States show up in the Texas
desert for a little adventure riding.
Here we go...
And it begins as it always does… everyone meeting up at some predetermined location… usually where there is food…
time it was a little restaurant in Bandera, Texas after a slightly
wet ride from Austin.
After eating, we took off for our destination… And smiled for the camera…
And took pictures of the pretty Texas scenery…
(You can click any of the pictures below to
And lots more riding and taking pictures, cause it
is a long damned way from anywhere to Big Bend National Park...
until we arrive at our final destination…
The first order of business for the evening was to fix Thor’s flat. There would be many flats…
In the morning, Thor cooked breakfast… or at least tried…
Steve had a water pump that needed some love and attention,
and Brew needed some air…
And SScratch had a fuel leak that he and Prof fiddled with for a bit before determining
"it'll be OK…"
And finally we were off…
hmm... that didn't take long...
found an old abandoned house on the ride to Ruidosa and Candelaria
where we also found an old store and church...
Then we made a stop at La Junta General Store in Ruidosa on the way back
after racing entirely too fast through the deserted and twisty
road from Candelaria…
We made nice with the locals and wildlife…
The lady who runs the store is quite
nice. When we pulled up, we found her sitting on the porch
in front of the store. She didn't have television, but she
did have high-speed Internet via satellite--my kind of
It was obvious not much happens
around there, so I asked her what the most exciting thing was that
had ever happened. After thinking for a bit, she told us of
a story where a guy was having a seizure in the back of a car and
the driver and passenger asked her to dial 911.
was actually the entire story...
had us mark where we were from on the map she had on the
wall. She even had an international map for Thor, so he got
to put a pin in Norway. We had a rest and checked out the
she was growing…
After we finished our drinks and rest, we took
off for more riding and scenery.. at least for SScratch, Brew and me.
DAM and Thump made an alcohol run…
The morning revealed more motorcycles there than the previous day…
And after a meet-n-greet session in the morning, and few morning
... like airing down, etc...
... we got under way.
wasn’t long until someone went down though…
A quick clutch lever repair... actually replacement... for Rudy thanks to a spare from Brewer…
(That be me in the picture helping out...)
and we were off again…
|Brew… why you up there?
Thump… why your bike fall over?
And you stop to help your buddy out, and your bike
falls off the kickstand. So of course your buddy helps out
by immediately grabbing his camera...
Next we stopped for fuel and food…
a considerable amount of bullshitting and refueling (both us and the
bikes), we got
There's a lot of opportunity... if "opportunity"
is the correct word... for high-speed dirt road riding...
also opportunity for high-speed stopping too...
powdery sand sucks. We found a pretty large section of it
along our route. It seemed to devour motorcycles...
fortunately falling in it does not damage anything... unless pride
Emperor SScratch Rules!
Emperor Sscratch got to be the first... pretty much because
he or Rudy were always in the lead. He tried to get it up
before I snapped the picture, but I am pretty fast with the
George’s turn (KLR’s fall over too)…
then me... and, of course DAM couldn’t be left out.
Even got DAM on video… click here: http://www.billmallin.com/motorcycle/images/bb_mar_2006/MVI_3501.avi
Kmart shows us how it is done in this video:
stood the bike back up and climbed all over the throttle.
little convincing, I made it out...
Next we stopped to check out the old quicksilver mine…
Mariscal Mine was built when quicksilver (another name for
mercury) was discovered in 1900. The quicksilver used to be
packed out by burro to Terlingua. Closed in 1943, this is
all that remains...
Then we met some other adventurer types…
Nice bikes... nice tattoos...
She and her boyfriend (not
were out exploring. The rest of the guys spent a lot of time
talking to them while I was busy taking pictures of the
Somewhere during the riding of the day I broke my windscreen.
Dang it. I tried to put it back together... no love... but we
Next it was on to Back Gap Road... for the more adventurous of the
I got some video of SScratch hill climbing...
Then after Black Gap, another flat tire…
... crazy Norwegians think it's hot in the desert
and strip to their underwear...
And after we
finally made it back, there was some music… And alcohol…
… to finish the day.
Now somewhere in the middle of the night, the alcohol goblins went to work on a few of the bikes.
They look innocent enough standing around the bikes, but as soon
as you go to bed...
Thump ended up with a new Supermoto… I got a new mudflap and muffler silencer…
and some of the mods I am not even sure how to describe...
My first task of the morning was to put back together
all of the things that had vibrated loose from the previous day's
Once again we took off for a ride. This time a little less
abusive to the machines... time to take in the sites if you
We stopped at a roadside RV-restaurant-sorta thing and had a bite
Check out this dog… he doesn’t look all that big does he? Now look at the size of his paw relative to my hand!
After a snack, we took a ride into the Terlingua Ghost Town and
did the tourist thing...
And more riding and site seeing...
The end of the evening took us back to the lodge
where we had a fine dinner and some drinks to finish the
DAM did a nice job putting the event together...
hopefully it will become an annual event.
That was the extent of my time at Big Bend and in
that area. I headed out in the very cold hours of the
morning while everyone else was still sound asleep.
Fortunately the alcohol gremlins didn't show up again with their
prankster ways... though I did note they left me a Coke placed
nicely on my seat. Though well-shaken, it was a nice gesture.
On the road at 5:22 AM in the complete blackness of
the desert, leaves one time to think. All I could think
about was the cold. I looked for a place on the side of the
road to pull off, but was unable to find anything, so I literally
stopped in the middle of the road, turned off the motorcycle and
proceeded to look for my winter gloves and another layer of
synthetic material to add to my already Michelin-man-like
As I stood, I quickly realized I was alone (sans the
local wildlife... presumably sleeping as well). It is
amazing how dark it can be. I stood there with the bike off
and switched off my overpriced LED headlamp and took in the sheer
darkness. There were no street lights, no moon, no cars, no
stars, nothing. Dark. I held my hand in front of my
face and as I moved it a mere six inches away, it was no longer visible.
Very dark. Eerie even.
The rest of the 650-mile ride home was about as
uneventful as any definition of the word I can find in the
dictionary--basically a combination of gas stations and fast-food
places until I made it back to civilization. It's
interesting how quickly you get aggravated with traffic after being away from
it completely for only a few days. The wide-open road had
been replaced by idiots in pick-ups with over-sized tires and
semis with no respect for anyone or anything else on the
road. I digress.
I actually don't even remember pulling in the garage
at the house, though I did note it was 4:01 PM...
And that was that... until next year anyway...
Thanks Brewer, SScratch and DAM for some of the
The original version of the story can also be
with many more pictures and comments from other Chain Gang
Thanks for coming along on my trip!