For the past three years I had acted as the State Sponsor for Texas on the Tour of Honor Ride and most recently New Mexico. Last year, I completed 6 States and visited 42 Memorials and it left me with a great deal of satisfaction. I did secure 3rd to finish Oregon in 2013 but I wanted to try for one of the top three finisher positions for my home state of Texas. I asked Glenn Copeland, last years Jack Shoalmire Achievement Award Recipient and first place finisher for Texas in 2012 to act as State Sponsor. I would remain as State Sponsor for NM, so I could vie for a Texas Trophy.
The Texas TOH sites for 2014
As the sites were released on April 31st, 2014 at 2301 hrs Central Time, I quickly looked for the shortest and quickest route. Sometimes the shortest isn’t necessarily the quickest, as I have learned riding long distances over the past decade. The way the Texas sites were located from my starting point which was smack darn in the middle of Texas, one could either ride counter or clockwise. The clockwise route was approx. 100 miles longer, 1300 miles vs 1200 mile and change. My goal was to complete the Texas route in 24 – 26 hours, so I didn’t bring extra clothing or my toiletries. Just one pair of extra underwear and some diaper wipes.
I had been in contact with Preston Bebee of Georgetown, 1st place finisher in Texas for 2013. Preston had completed last years 2300 mile route in 52 hours and Preston is no stranger to LD riding. Preston thought I was trying to find out if he was competing for strategic purposes but I contacted him to see if he wanted to ride with me and I thought it would help motivate me to ride hard. We both agreed that Houston would be our first site and tackle the State with the shorter Counter Clockwise route. Our main concerns were hitting commute traffic times in Houston and Dallas, which if we kept on schedule, we would miss.
My Cockpit: Garmin Nuvi, Iphone all weather case and my Farkle Box.
I was riding my 2000 BMW 1150 GS and Preston had his trusty Honda 1100 Black Bird. We met up at midnight Central time at a Shell Station on Hwy 195 and I-35, from where we would ride to Houston, Waco and then Canton. The GPS showed 197 miles to Houston and as far as we knew, no one was openly competing for the first finisher spot.
Zero Dark Thirty in Texas
As we left Georgetown, we hit the 130 toll road which has a speed limit of 85 MPH. Gotta luv Texas! We popped out on I-10 and quickly found the site in Houston after short bouts of intermittent rain. As we were talking with the Houston PD Officer guarding the Peace Officers Memorial I received a text from Glenn Copeland. Glenn said that there was a rider who left from Houston and was on his way to Canton, vying for the First Place Finisher and a IBA sanctioned Tour of Honor Saddlesore Extreme. The Rider had his SPOT tracking device and ride displayed on Spotwalla for public view. Further information from Glenn said the “Rider” was named Paul and he was operating an Gold Wing, in case we ran into him.
Houston Peace Officers Memorial
I told Preston and he agreed that unless Paul gave up or screwed up, there was no way to make up the 3.5 to 4 hour lead if he road at the same pace we did. Preston is 62 and I am 56 so our pace is a quick relaxed, steady pace kinda like the Tortise. We rarely exceed the speed limit by more than 6 MPH which over the years seems to keep me from getting ticketed. As we left Houston, we were resigned to just keep riding and hope there were no other surprises and settle for 2nd Place.
More rain was forecast, so we decided to double back to the toll road and then rejoin the interstate to Waco. Even thought the route was 80 miles longer, it saved us from slowing down in the small towns and maintain a higher average speed. Staying on the slabs also reduced the chances of animal strikes at night, a real threat here in Texas. The ride to Waco was uneventful and the similar fuel ranges of our machines made managing fuel stops easy, as our fuel reserve lights came on about the same mileage.
Waco Tx. The Texas Ranger Museum
We reached Waco and the Texas Ranger Museum after some light rain on I-35 for about 30 minutes. Our next stop was Canton, Tx and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial there. Both Preston and I had cheap Garmin Nuvi GPS units. Preston had the GPS coordinates for all but one stored in his GPS, while I had the street addresses. I also had my Iphone in case we had to consult the website for clarification.
On the way to Canton and 9 hrs into the ride I started to develop the nods. I had a few micro sleeps, so I was trying inventive ways to jar myself awake. One big help was some Sweet Tarts, whose tartness helped keep my mouth awake but not my eyelids. 10 o;clock in the morning seems to be the hardest time for me to keep awake as my blood sugar seems to dip at that time of the day.
Canton Texas, Vietnam Memorial
As we pulled into Canton, I was in front of Preston. The GPS address showed the Memorial to be up ahead on the left. I was scanning the left side of the road when I heard Preston’s horn. Due to my focus, I had completely missed the Memorial location at the intersection,which was on our right. As we dismounted and took our picture, I was greeted by David Smith. David is new to the Iron Butt Association but has a true passion to ride. David is also a Deputy in Williamson Co Texas and member of my Blue Knights Chapter. David had just left Houston, hitting Canton and then he would hit Waco to on his way home. David, AKA: Sasquatch didn’t have enough time to do the whole state, so would finish the rest on a second ride.
David Smith Blue Knights of Texas Chapter 30
At this point, we stopped at a Golden Chick to get our first sit down meal, if you want to call it that. I got two chicken legs and Preston some Chicken Strips. We didn’t was to eat too much, for fear of getting drowsy. I don’t like to drink caffeine on a long ride unless its to get me the last couple of hours to the finish. Otherwise I will suffer a Caffeine Crash and have to pee every 20 minutes. I find sour candy gives me a little sugar boost without overload and the sourness keeps me alert and doing something.
We left Canton and got thru the Dallas/FT Worth area without any back ups. We stayed on I-20 taking advantage of the 75 MPH speed limit, before we veered onto State Hwy 84, through Snyder and onto Lubbock our Northernmost stop in the State. From Lubbock to Kerrville out final stop, it would be only 334 miles as we picked up the last three sites.
I had Shinko’s dual sport tires on my GS with 13k miles on them. They still had some tread with the front looking barely worn. But from past experience I know the last level of rubber on a tire seem to go fast, so I was checking my tires at every fuel stop. With over 700 miles logged so far, I became confident my tires would last the rest of the trip and then some tread wise.
Just past Sweetwater Texas, we made our way onto Hwy 84 and we stopped in Snyder for fuel and a snack. We then rejoined our route and got up 85 and up to 90 MPH in some sections as we neared Lubbock. The area surrounding Lubbock is Desert like terrain with no major towns within 50 miles in all compass directions. Not a good place to break down.
Lubbock Tx Veterans Memorial. 18.5 hrs for 1018 miles
After 18.5 hrs and 1018 miles logged in, we reached the Memorial in Texas and quickly took our pictures. With his 3.5 hour lead a non stop relentless ride, the Mystery Rider “Paul” had beat us to Lubbock and became the first to finish Texas. We still had 7 hours to go and 334 miles with 3 sites to hit. Just as I was getting back on my bike, Preston brought my attention to my rear tire. Entire sections of the tread lugs had flown off, leaving the inner core of my tire exposed. My ride was done for the night and I told Preston he could go on since there was nothing left he could do. I would have to get a room for the night and start making phone calls to get a new tire in the morning. Fortunately this happened in town and not on the desolate highways that surround Lubbock.
When Tires get Tired
Unplanned Steak Dinner in Lubbock at Outback.
Preston agreed to hang with his Wing man and we were only a mile from a Hotel. I had a short bumpy ride and found a Hotel. I let Glenn Copeland know and he sent me a list of local Motorcycle shops in Lubbock. Since it was near 8 o’clock at night, there was nothing to do until morning. We checked two Hotels which were booked, before securing a room at a place with Vacancies. Quick calls to our significant others, I decided to make Lemonade out of the Lemon I was handed and get a nice steak dinner and a good nights sleep. After dinner, Preston immediately went to snoring in 6th gear and I made a list of Motorcycle shops in order of location to the Hotel.
Getting the new tire put on
Kudos to Damron Cycles of Lubbock Texas for getting me on the road again and the T-shirt.
Up early, we grabbed the complimentary breakfast at our Hotel and at 9 am I called the first Motorcycle Shop on my list, Damron Cycles. The had a biased ply tires my size designed for a Harley but I wasn’t in a position to be picky, if I wanted back on the road. A short bumpy 1.7 mile ride on my tire core and Damron had my new tire installed and us back on the road in 40 minutes. One plus was the service manager, a Retired LEO like myself, gave us each a free T-shirt. My bill for the rear tire was $307. This was a bitter pill to swallow compared to the $72 Shinko tire but that’s what you get when you by stuff made for a HD, “Heck of Dinero”.
Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Big Spring Tx
The Military Murals in San Angelo Tx
Well, the day turned out with great weather as we finished our route without further interruption. We arrived in Kerrville which was a warm 88 degrees. I got a passer by to take our last site photo of us together, which we would both submit as our final photo and documenting our joint venture.
Kerrville Tx 2014 Texas TOH 2nd Place Finishers, Preston Bebee of Georgetown and Moi
Our total ride time was 24.5 hrs to cover our route which ended up being 1384 miles. Add another 12.5 hrs for our total elapsed time from when we started the ride, which included the night in the Hotel and bike repair. After submitting our Photos, we quickly received confirmation that we tied for 2nd to finish the 2014 Texas Tour of Honor Ride. It was a great ride, with a great rider for a good reason and a great cause. Remember, “Its just a Motorcycle Ride until something goes wrong and then its and Adventure!”
My Spotwalla Trip Viewer Image of the Ride
By the time I reached home it was 39 hours and 1500 miles later.