January 24, 2018

A Weekend with Harley – Part 2

Confessions of a Born Again Biker - Part 24 - A Weekend with Harley Part 2

Such are the vagaries of the weather in Texas at this time of year that the forecast for the 300-mile ride home is 28 degrees centigrade by early afternoon. This news and a solid nights sleep have restored the smile on the face of Brother Jose, after yesterday’s Arctic Adventure (see Part 1).

Confessions of a Born Again Biker - BreakfastI too am happy because I have located an artisan bakery just 3 minutes ride from our hotel and I’m now looking at a large display of calorific delights.

Considering that it is 7am my head finally wins the battle of what to have for breakfast, and I end up with baked porridge and toast.

For the route back to Dallas we have decided on Route 281 which runs to the west of the Interstate and all but takes us back to Dallas. We just need to remember to switch to Route 67 at a town called Hico after a couple of hundred miles.

First, though, we need to navigate the maze of roads that surround most major cities, and San Antonio is no exception, so we can finally make our escape on to some roads with the occasional bend.

Having looked at the route, I’m not sure I’m going to find any bends, as I would think of them. The twisting delights of the Lincolnshire backroads are not to be found in Texas. The abundance of space and the distances between towns in Texas made the original wagon trails pretty much straight lines, and the same is true of the roads. Afterall why meander all over the place when you are trying to get somewhere. A straight line is much more efficient.

Despite this being the back roads route to Dallas, the road is still two lanes in each direction most of the time. And as the towns are a fair distance apart, the speed limit is high enough for us to get a move on.

An upcoming town is indicated by a drop in the speed limit to 60mph, then 50mph and either 45 or 40mph as we ride through a few sets of traffic lights at the towns centre. As soon as the speed limits start to rise again, you know you are through the centre and on to the next section of open road.

Until you get used to the pattern, it very easy to stray the wrong side of the speed limit. A single sign, on just one side of the road, is all that is needed to establish the new limit. Miss that one, nondescript sign and you will find yourself hoping that the local Sheriff isn’t out looking for those that are running late for Church on this sunny Sunday morning.

Confessions of a Born Again Biker - Harley Davidson Sportster 1200As filtering isn’t allowed and undertaking is, I’ve worked out a routine for using the excessive amounts of torque generated by the Sportster’s 1200cc twin motor, to get in front of the traffic when we congregate at traffic lights.

Typically the cars and trucks that will pull away fastest are in the outside lane – the one nearest the centre of the road. When the light goes green, they pull away, and after a few seconds, the inside lane is clear. As the faster-accelerating car normally has no plan to move to the inside lane and giving myself lots of space for the unexpected, I’m able to pass them on the inside accompanied by me crashing the Harley’s gearbox into 3rd or 4th just as I arrive at the speed limit.

My desire to “progress” through the traffic extends the gap between Brother Jose and me, and for the next 30 or so miles I’m trying my best to get the most out of the Harley. When up to speed it is a decent bike. Quick to turn and with such a wide power band its easy to manage the energy, without having to crash through the gearbox. That said, the absence of tight bends to read or blind corners to navigate doesn’t exactly make my ride an all encompassing road test.

At one point I find myself part of a queue behind a slower moving RV, that drops 10mph every time it comes to a hill, and the queue has formed because this section of road is single carriageway in either direction. Being arrow straight, you can see what is coming and every time I see the RV slowing I pull out and let them all slow down, while I keep going forward at the same speed. The long views easily make up for not being able to filter.

The fuel light on the Sportster comes on (again), and I pull into a garage to await the arrival of Brother Jose, who has been riding at his relaxed pace taking in the scenery and enjoying the warmer weather.

Confessions of a Born Again Biker - Harley Davidson Sportster 1200Arriving in the town of Hico, I am having too much fun on the Sportster and forget to change on to Route 67. Riding for the first time in several weeks has reminded me how much I enjoy it and if I was at home this would be a two tank day, bearing in mind the Versys goes a lot further on a tank of fuel than the Sportster’s thimble-sized tank allows.

Having sorted out my mistake and rejoined Brother Jose on the right road, I resolve to stop enjoying myself so much as I need to find my way back to Eagle Rider in Irving and Jose has the GPS. Most of the time this works out well, except when a section of real bends presents itself, and I can’t resist. Suffice to say the foot pegs on a Sportster grind out easily.

Arriving back in Irving I return the Sportster and with the paperwork completed, I thank Brother Jose for his company as we walk towards his bike. He starts his Soft Tail, shakes my hand and through the broadest of grins suggests that I ride way too fast to ever to own a Harley. And with that, he flips his visor shut and pulls away into the evening Dallas traffic.

I spend 2 minutes trying to think up a pithy comeback and realise I’ve got nothing. I’m not sure why I’m bothering, the moment has long passed. Then again, perhaps there will be a rental deal on over the upcoming American holidays. That gives me a few weeks or so to come up with a one-line reply.

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