I’ve got to gripe a bit about my camcorder before I get on with what happened on day 54. When it’s cold I shiver and my camcorder shivers too. Literally. When the camera gets cold it will vibrate a such a high frequency that getting a good pic is impossible. What I usually have to do is stick the darn thing in my jacket until it’s warm enough to do some work. I’m not really sure why it does this and by golly I wish it would stop! More potential great pics have been ruined than taken. I’m in Texas hill country and it’s freezing. The camera is having a much harder time with the temps than my crazy winter riding arse is.
Ok, so Day 54 started out SUNNY! Whoooooo! I walked out of my room at the Americas Best Value Inn in Boerne (pronounced Berny) TX and thought that I’d stepped on the surface of another planet. That giant, yellow, burning fireball in the sky hasn’t shown its face in a week. My spirits were lifted and I was ready for a full day of riding. The take off temp from Boerne was 42 degrees. The plan for the day was to make it to Luckenbach TX to check out the post office/store/saloon. My route changed right away that morning as I rode on 46 west thinking that I was going the way I planned. It actually turned out to be a beneficial mistake. 46 west took me to 16 north and right into the town of Bandera which is where good ol’ Arky Blues Silver Dollar Saloon is. Arky Blues is in the book 1000 places to see before you die and is well known for its sawdust dance floor. The saloon sits right along the main drag in town and is easy to find with its red door. I was surprised to walk downstairs as soon I entered the building. I thought it would be on street level with the other stores. That turned out to be a neat feature and helped add a bit of exclusiveness to the joint. According to the very helpful bartender named Sabrina, Arkys is 93 years old and is only heated by the one lone stone fireplace that a few of the patrons helped to keep burning. While there I ordered a Coca Cola and had the pleasure of meeting some friendly and humorous Texans who made me feel welcome to be there. One lady named Linda even offered me a place to stay for the evening since it was bitterly cold out. If it were later in the day I would’ve taken her up on her offer in a heartbeat, but it was only noon by that time. She gave me a her phone number so I could reach her in case it got to cold to camp. With that I finished my Coke and hit the road for some more of Texas’s hill country.
Taking 16 north from Bandera to Luckenbach is somewhere between a forty and fifty mile ride. The ride would’ve been absolutely perfect if not for the westward wind that was colder than a witches tity. Where you have hill country you have corners and believe me the Goose was smiling as I blasted the first real corners that Texas has shown me. There is one section where you cross over a mountain that has a corner thats tighter than anything I’ve experienced on the whole trip. It damn near caught me off guard. To survive the miles between the two towns I’d ride about ten miles and stop for a minute to take some pics once the camera warmed up. One town I passed through on my way was Kerrville and while there I checked the temp only to find that it had dropped five degrees to a sultry 36. Thankfully Kerrville was only twenty miles or so from my destination, so I toughed it out. I also stopped by a bike shop along 16 north to grab a balaclava since my neck was the only exposed skin left to cover. $14 later and I was wind resistant.
I finally made it to Luckenbach about an hour before dark. I rode through and snapped some pics before sunset and made my way a quarter of a mile away to Armadillo Farm campground where I planned to pitch my tent. Gay the owner of the campground, talked some sense into me and instead of renting a tent site, I rented a cabin from her even though the price was a bit more. The overnight temp was supposed to be 21 degrees. I did want to test out my sleeping bag though. After getting set up in the cabin I went back to Luckenbach. It’s a hard place to put into words. One sticker that’s stuck to the wall inside calls Luckenbach a mecca of music and I don’t disagree one bit. That almost makes one think that it will have some big lavish resort like feel to it. Instead it has the feel of a farm with a few shacks in the back. The buildings themselves are uninsulated, old shedlike, wood buildings. There is a restroom thats covered in old Texan license plates, a small outdoor stage, a small stone building, and an old barn that’s used as a classic Texas dancehall for bigger events. The saloon itself can’t be any bigger than 18′ x 18′. The store/post office is about 18′ x 25′. Live accoustic music happens there almost every night of the week. The blues band that played that night sat in the corner of the saloon and a crowd of about twenty, mainly locals with just a few out of towners, enjoyed another one of Luckenbachs legendary sessions. Two thoughts hit me while sitting in this special place; I can’t believe this is free, and this is an absolutely perfect moment in life. I really can’t describe how cool this place is. I’ve been to Texas’s biggest saloon, its oldest saloon, and now its best and you know that it has the least amount of space to offer on a cold night, but it has a deeply cultural feel to it that can’t be rushed and can’t be synthetically reproduced.
Once the band wrapped up I met a couple fellas in the back part of the saloon named Bob and Ron and we had the most unexpected talk about motocross. The last place I thought I’d meet people who knew about mx was Luckenbach. It turns out that Bobs brother grew up racing multi-time national MX champion Gary Jones and Ron was from the same town as the great David Bailey and his dad Gary Bailey and knew them personally. These two guys in a small saloon in rural Texas filled me in on a side of motocross that I never knew. It was one of those things that I call road magic. It takes getting out of the routine to experience things like this.