Dual Sport Ride on East Texas Backroads
Saturday, January 12
7 am - Breakfast at Denny's, Fairmont/146 in Laporte
10 dual-sport bikes, 6 touring Bikes - folks started showing up at 6:30am
8 am - Kickstands up, take backroads to Moscow
It’s a cool clear morning temps ranging from 35-40 degrees F. The dual-sport and touring bikes
take separate routes, but its asphalt for both. We’ve got about 100 miles before we get to the
good stuff. Plan calls for all to meet at the Woodville Pickett House Restaurant at 1pm.
10 am - Arrive at Moscow, begin riding dirt roads.
The dual-sport riders gather up at Moscow and turn onto the East dual-sport route.
Cruising the single lane dirt roads is nice. Then we encounter the first real obstacle, it’s a sand pit,
about 200 yards of soft deep sand. I’m riding sweep, so when I arrive I see several bikes are
Mike Murphy’s in front of me, and to his credit, despite the apparent carnage in front of us, he
charges the pit. Mike’s making good progress until the front wheel starts washing out and the
mighty GS heels over, the right cylinder plowing a deep furrow in the East Texas sand until bike
and rider come to rest on the side of the road. Bike and rider are unscathed but sand is in
everything. At this point Mike Murphy and Mike Doyle determine 200 more miles of this may make
for a long day on the GS’s, and opt instead to join the touring bikes.
As I take my turn through the pit, I notice a house on a rise at the other end. The whole family is
out front watching the show. Apparently, the sound of motorcycles brings them all out to watch.
Each motorcycle that makes it through gets a round of applause. Classic stuff.
1pm-We are to be at Woodville, eat at The Pickett House
We make the Pickett House with time to spare. As we’re cleaning up and pulling off long
underwear, the touring bike folks show up. Floyd Crow shows up on his Ducati Monster. We give
him a progress report. He takes a couple of pics.
2:30 pm - Continue riding dirt roads
A couple of the KLR riders are making this a 1-day event and are heading back to Houston. Some
of the Touring bikes are also making this a 1-day ride, and continue their route back to
Houston. Mike and Mike on GS’s and club member Leslie Barnard on her Honda Magna continue
touring local roads to Hemphill. The remaining 6 Dual-sports, 5 KLRs and Kevin Churchill on the
lone GS, continue the DS route. More sand, more mud. No turning around now.
Kevin proves to be the Ever-Ready Bunny of BMW’s. We lost count how often he went down in the
deep sand, but always popped back up and continued on.
4:30 pm - Arrive at Hemphill, stay at Best Western Saturday night.
The hotel is very accommodating. We’re all sore, hungry and tired, and after eating it gets quiet
Sunday, January 13
Sunday’s plan is to explore backroads while riding back to Houston area.
Leslie has put together a touring route back to Houston, so Mike and Mike join her.
Our plan is to take the West Dual-sport route, a longer route. We’ve come all this way, and are
determined to get our money’s worth and complete the entire route.
With different start times, we split into 2 groups. Woody Mcpike (who researched and pulled
together the routes for this ride), Gerald Burns (Woody’s neighbor), and our own Jim Green
teamed together. Myself, club members John Redford and Kevin
Churchill teamed together.
This is a long route--200 miles on dirt backroads and trails is a long ride. John’s got mountain
bike riding experience, so he’s plenty quick right out of the box. Kevin is learning this dirt riding
stuff real fast. He’s got the GS really flying over the dirt trails, but the occasional sand pit and mud
hole are just too much for the GS shod with street tires. He goes down a few times but he’s
always right back up and moving again.
Finally—we encounter some surface that will support our side-stands.
One particular trail, which was no more then a couple of ruts in a field, the heavy brush was so
close the mirrors were taking a serious beating. Finally breaking out into the open, we encounter
some construction having fresh wet slippery clay. I keep a light touch and the new knobbies get
me through. I look in my mirror and see Kevin’s GS wobble, lurch across the trail and disappear in
the bushes. I quickly turn around to find John’s KLR, also skid pan up (John you could run an ad
on the bottom of that skid plate?), in the middle of the trail. While watching Kevin, John was
laughing so hard that he also went down out when he slowed to help Kevin. As you can see,
pulling that big GS out of the bushes was no easy task.
Have you ever noticed, when a GS goes down it’s like the Hindenburg or Titanic, everyone rushes
to help. But when a KLR goes down it’s like the tree in the forest that no one hears.
The Ride back to Houston really demonstrated the versatility of Dual-Sport bikes like the GS and
KLR. All day on almost impassible roads, covered in mud from top to bottom, now we’re sailing
down the freeway passing cruiser parades while getting quizzical looks.
Final score, no tickets, no injuries, no damaged equipment, and lots of clean-up required. A most