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DAM's Bash in the Bush...
March 7-11, 2006

bulletRide Length: 2,017 miles
bulletRiders: The Chain Gang
bulletWeather: Absolutely perfect!

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…

This 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 enlarge it.)

And lots more riding and taking pictures, cause it is a long damned way from anywhere to Big Bend National Park...
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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... 

I 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 gal.  

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.  

That was actually the entire story...

She 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 "pot" plants 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 preparations... 

... like airing down, etc...

... we got under way.

It wasn’t long until someone went down though… 

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A quick clutch lever repair... actually replacement... for Rudy thanks to a spare from Brewer…
(That be me in the picture helping out...)
26WildRudyandBill.jpg (86103 bytes) 27Brokenclutchlever.jpg (84285 bytes)

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… 

After a considerable amount of bullshitting and refueling (both us and the bikes), we got underway again...

There's a lot of opportunity... if "opportunity" is the correct word... for high-speed dirt road riding...

There's also opportunity for high-speed stopping too...

Deep 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 counts.

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 camera.  

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:
http://www.billmallin.com/motorcycle/images/bb_mar_2006/MVI_3500.avi 

I stood the bike back up and climbed all over the throttle.  With a 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 pictured ) were out exploring.  The rest of the guys spent a lot of time talking to them while I was busy taking pictures of the mine. 

Continuing on...

Somewhere during the riding of the day I broke my windscreen.  Dang it.  I tried to put it back together... no love... but we pressed on...

Next it was on to Back Gap Road... for the more adventurous of the crowd...  

I got some video of SScratch hill climbing... 

Going up:
http://www.billmallin.com/motorcycle/images/bb_mar_2006/MVI_3530.avi

Coming down:
http://www.billmallin.com/motorcycle/images/bb_mar_2006/MVI_3529.avi

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…

IMG_3544.jpg (79647 bytes)

… 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 riding...
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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 will...

We stopped at a roadside RV-restaurant-sorta thing and had a bite to eat.  

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!

BIG DOG!

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 day.  

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 appearance.  

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 pictures...

The original version of the story can also be found here... with many more pictures and comments from other Chain Gang members...

Thanks for coming along on my trip!

 

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