San Antonio to Big Bend

Where have you been riding? Tell us all about your trip. Prove it with pictures! If ya didn't take pictures, it didn't happen...
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mightymatt43
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San Antonio to Big Bend

Post by mightymatt43 » Sun Nov 16, 2008 7:31 pm

So after having my rig for nearly a year, my wife and I finally were able to take it out for a serious ride. I had about 3,500 kms on it, but those were nearly all had during in town riding. I'm a bit of a rookie, I guess.

We live in San Antonio, TX and we choose to go to Big Bend National Park and do a bit of camping. There weren't a ton of choices to be made as far as routes, so I decided to take I-90 all the way out to west Texas and completely ignore I-10 so I wouldn't get run over by trucks doing 80 mph.

I'd never been out to Big Bend so I honestly didn't know what to expect as far as the availability of gas. So the first thing I did was to strap a 5 gallon can on the step of the hack (which ended up coming in handy because I ran out due to the closure of many gas stations in the tiny towns along I-90). We packed a huge, waterproof duffel full of camping gear and threw it on top of the trunk and then strapped a smaller duffel behind me.

Both of us are serious rookies so we really had no idea what to expect. Turns out road tripping on a Ural is absolutely amazing.
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Blog:
http://www.bugsonmyface.com

Ride Reports:
2011-2012 - East Coast of USA and West Coast of South America by sidecar
http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=739872
2008 - Texas to Tuktoyaktuk, Canada
viewtopic.php?f=2&t=8577
2007 - San Antonio to Big Bend
viewtopic.php?f=2&t=5241

Our Spot: http://share.findmespot.com/shared/face ... 65BK7im4EK

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mightymatt43
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Post by mightymatt43 » Sun Nov 16, 2008 7:49 pm

I decided to split the trip into 2 days of riding each way, just so that neither of us would be too tired and so that we wouldn't do any night driving --> I've already had enough of that.

Now, I'd never ridden my rig with the amount of weight that it was now carrying and I now understand that it makes a huge difference. The rig handles differently and my top speed seemed to take a pretty big hit. More than that, my mileage tanked and I ended up running out of gas because I was miscalculating just how far I could go. More on that later.

It was a beautiful day to ride - perfect weather. So we took our time, stopped and took in the scenery, and basically had a great day.

We rode from SA to Seminole Canyon State Park and stayed our first night at a very nice campground for $18. Free, hot showers. Privacy. Picnic Table. Good scenery. We were pleased. Spent a good night there despite the rain and wind (thankfully, I actually used the rain fly).
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Last edited by mightymatt43 on Sun Nov 16, 2008 8:45 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Blog:
http://www.bugsonmyface.com

Ride Reports:
2011-2012 - East Coast of USA and West Coast of South America by sidecar
http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=739872
2008 - Texas to Tuktoyaktuk, Canada
viewtopic.php?f=2&t=8577
2007 - San Antonio to Big Bend
viewtopic.php?f=2&t=5241

Our Spot: http://share.findmespot.com/shared/face ... 65BK7im4EK

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Post by Tin Man » Sun Nov 16, 2008 7:59 pm

Way to go Matt!!!! Just the kinda trip I expect to be doin someday. Great pics and it looks like y'all had a fun time. Now,post more pics. :wink:
Mike
2007 GearUp (Arctic #1)
130/45 jets, KTM rock solid mirrors, Delaware Dave's outstanding trunk lock, Mr. Cob's most excellent skid plate, Cycra Probend smashproof hand guards, Duro strong like bull 307's, RotoPax damn near bulletproof fuel cans, MKIII all but water proof air box and Dimples super duper magnetic drain plugs all around...oh yeah, and a manual fuel petcock.

.........if you see something that needs doing, just do it........

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mightymatt43
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Post by mightymatt43 » Sun Nov 16, 2008 8:10 pm

We woke up the next morning and did our best to get everything dried off before packing it up. I sat down and looked at a map while eating breakfast and really began to worry about the lack of towns between our campground and Big Bend. These towns are so small that many of them just don't have gas stations and seeing as I was carrying so much weight, my gas mileage was wretched.

It's all in the adventure though. We just packed up and took off, hoping that we wouldn't be doing any walking. Thankfully, the weather was perfect again and we stumbled across several gas stations just when I was sure we would run out.

We drove all the way to Marathon and took 385 South into the park. It was almost 5:30 by the time we got there, so we had to head straight in and find a campsite. Since neither of us had been there before, we randomly chose a campsite and rode for it with the night chasing close behind.

There is something you must realize if you're unaware of what Big Bend National Park is like, however. It is the largest National Park in the States - it is massive. Everything is spread apart by miles and miles of really nice two lane roads but it takes awhile to get anywhere.

Either way, we drove into the Chisos Mountain Campgrounds and set up camp. It was a magnificent sight - honestly. I had imagined the whole park to be a desert flatland but this campsite was set beautifully into the mountains. It really was great. Since the elevation rises quite a bit, it definitely was colder too (I'm sure it was mild for you yankees but it was freezing for us).
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Last edited by mightymatt43 on Sun Nov 16, 2008 8:49 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Blog:
http://www.bugsonmyface.com

Ride Reports:
2011-2012 - East Coast of USA and West Coast of South America by sidecar
http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=739872
2008 - Texas to Tuktoyaktuk, Canada
viewtopic.php?f=2&t=8577
2007 - San Antonio to Big Bend
viewtopic.php?f=2&t=5241

Our Spot: http://share.findmespot.com/shared/face ... 65BK7im4EK

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mightymatt43
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Post by mightymatt43 » Sun Nov 16, 2008 8:38 pm

It actually froze that night and like I said before, we're lightweights (nice to "have" to snuggle up with my girl though :wink:).

Woke up and decided to take a hike to something called the Window - which we had no idea what it was. Turns out that it was visually the highlight of the trip. Beautiful hike, great scenery.

We then packed up and headed to another part of the park. The Rio Grande River acts as the border between Texas and Mexico and runs along a good portion of the park. We wanted to see a different landscape and try a different type of camping so we took off.

Drove 30 miles or so down to the Rio Grande Village (which is supposed to be the main campsite in the park). What we didn't know was that the park had been severely flooded in September due to hurricanes, I suppose. Because of that, all the areas around the river had an amazing amount of dried mud (we're talking feet here) and parts of the park were closed.

The temporary campsite was a bit of a bust, so we decided to do something a bit more adventurous. There are miles and miles of unpaved, "unimproved" roads throughout the park and there are many primitive campsites along the way. Because only certain vehicles can go on these roads (the rangers were very impressed with the 2-wheel drive capabilities), because the Ural could definitely handle them, and because it would provide us with some serious privacy we jumped at the chance.

So we filled up our water container and headed down the rocky roads. Because my rig was so heavy, we got stuck several times. Just got bogged down in dried up creekbeds but it was amazing fun just getting out to the campsite.

The site was literally in the middle of the desert about an 1/8 of a mile from the Rio Grande. We set up camp and took in the vastness of the park. It was wonderful.

I do need to note, however, that I had my Sig Saur .40 on me (even though you're not supposed to, tsk tsk). We were so close to the border and there have been many reports of Mexican Cartel drug running through the park. I definitely felt much safer having it, even though I would hate to use it.
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Blog:
http://www.bugsonmyface.com

Ride Reports:
2011-2012 - East Coast of USA and West Coast of South America by sidecar
http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=739872
2008 - Texas to Tuktoyaktuk, Canada
viewtopic.php?f=2&t=8577
2007 - San Antonio to Big Bend
viewtopic.php?f=2&t=5241

Our Spot: http://share.findmespot.com/shared/face ... 65BK7im4EK

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mightymatt43
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Post by mightymatt43 » Sun Nov 16, 2008 8:40 pm

more...
Last edited by mightymatt43 on Sun Nov 16, 2008 8:51 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Blog:
http://www.bugsonmyface.com

Ride Reports:
2011-2012 - East Coast of USA and West Coast of South America by sidecar
http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=739872
2008 - Texas to Tuktoyaktuk, Canada
viewtopic.php?f=2&t=8577
2007 - San Antonio to Big Bend
viewtopic.php?f=2&t=5241

Our Spot: http://share.findmespot.com/shared/face ... 65BK7im4EK

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Post by JohnBG » Sun Nov 16, 2008 8:47 pm

:clap: :clap: :clap:

Looks like y'all had fun! :thumbsup:

Now if I could just get the missus to go camping with me. Her idea of "roughing it" is a hotel without HBO on the tube! :lol:
John Grocke aka "JohnBG"
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Current Rides:
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mightymatt43
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Post by mightymatt43 » Sun Nov 16, 2008 9:04 pm

When we woke and got the Ural packed up again, we decided to move on - out of the park. We took a different route as my Uncle told me we should drive through a town called Alpine. Took 118 North through the rest of the park and up to Alpine in some serious wind. Very difficult to drive and I was pretty happy when we finally arrived.

Stayed at a historic hotel (the name escapes me, hopefully I'll remember later) which was clean and cheap and ... the best part... was that it had a german restaurant and brewery downstairs. The last part sold me honestly.

That night I tried all of the different beers they had to offer (5, I believe) and hit the sack a happy man.

We woke up the next morning to learn that a serious cold front had moved in. At 8 am, it was 26 degrees in Alpine which is really, really cold for my thin, Texas blood. We bundled up and road all the way back to Del Rio (via I-90 East) where we stayed the night at another hotel. The camping sputtered out, I suppose, as soon as the cold weather hit. Had some Rudy's Bar-B-Q (which for you nonTexans is unreal. Go there if you ever visit - they have them in several cities across Texas) and went to bed fairly early because of a windy and cold days ride.

We woke today and headed back into town.
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Blog:
http://www.bugsonmyface.com

Ride Reports:
2011-2012 - East Coast of USA and West Coast of South America by sidecar
http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=739872
2008 - Texas to Tuktoyaktuk, Canada
viewtopic.php?f=2&t=8577
2007 - San Antonio to Big Bend
viewtopic.php?f=2&t=5241

Our Spot: http://share.findmespot.com/shared/face ... 65BK7im4EK

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mightymatt43
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Post by mightymatt43 » Sun Nov 16, 2008 9:21 pm

Overall it was a great trip. Since I had never done anything like it before, I decided to take some pretty good notes so that next time would be better prepared.

Gas mileage was a real problem, honestly. In town, I do most of my riding alone, and I get somewhere between 25 and 30 mpg. Here, with all of the weight and because of the windy conditions (I'm guessing), it was much worse. On my way out to Big Bend, I averaged about 17.5 mpg!

Before I freaked out, I decided to take a better look at why I was getting such poor mileage. I remembered reading somewhere on SS that these motorcycles were obviously originally made for military use. They weren't meant to burn up the highway. As I thought of this, I realized that I had been pushing my bike in an unhealthy way. I had been driving with 60 mph as my guide and at times that was near impossible. I had been doing my best not to lug the engine, but it was really hard to keep it in 4th gear for very long due to hills and wind.

In the park, the speed limit was 45 mph. When I started looking at the my gas mileage there, I realized that speed is a definite factor (which I also had read time and time again here at SS). In the park, even with all the weight and hills and wind, I was getting 24 mpg, which is much better.

So, on my way back, I decided to do a test. I never went into 4th gear from Alpine to Del Rio, which is quite a way. I flirted with the 50 mph line on my speedometer and found that I got 22 mpg all the way there.

I will admit that from Del Rio to San Antonio, I drove differently because of the traffic as I got closer into town. I really needed to keep up so I stayed from 60 to 65 (which was kind of amazing to me because it had been so hard before, I guess it wasn't windy).

Overall, I drove 1,650 kms (about 990 miles) and got an overall average of 19.7 mpg. Which is horrible for a bike, I suppose. But not horrible for a bike that is about as aerodynamic as a cement truck.

Either way, the gas mileage didn't even matter because I had so much damn fun. I'm definitely doing a much longer trip the next chance I can.

Oh, and before I forget - I came up with a new slogan for myself while riding the Ural. 50 mph with all the gear I had was perfect for my rig. It just seemed happy and I was very comfortable putting along at that speed. 70 mph has pretty much become the norm for highway travel in the car for myself and I at times push 80-85 because I'm an idiot. While on road trips on my rig, my new slogan is:

"50 - it's the new 70".

I'm making t-shirts. Let me know if you want one.
Blog:
http://www.bugsonmyface.com

Ride Reports:
2011-2012 - East Coast of USA and West Coast of South America by sidecar
http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=739872
2008 - Texas to Tuktoyaktuk, Canada
viewtopic.php?f=2&t=8577
2007 - San Antonio to Big Bend
viewtopic.php?f=2&t=5241

Our Spot: http://share.findmespot.com/shared/face ... 65BK7im4EK

Hotair
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next trip!!!

Post by Hotair » Sun Nov 16, 2008 9:53 pm

If you want company on the next camping trip, give me a holler!!!!!

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Tin Man
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Post by Tin Man » Sun Nov 16, 2008 9:55 pm

Great ride report Matt. Thanks :thumbsup:
Mike
2007 GearUp (Arctic #1)
130/45 jets, KTM rock solid mirrors, Delaware Dave's outstanding trunk lock, Mr. Cob's most excellent skid plate, Cycra Probend smashproof hand guards, Duro strong like bull 307's, RotoPax damn near bulletproof fuel cans, MKIII all but water proof air box and Dimples super duper magnetic drain plugs all around...oh yeah, and a manual fuel petcock.

.........if you see something that needs doing, just do it........

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Mud Pie
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Post by Mud Pie » Sun Nov 16, 2008 9:57 pm

Been to Big Bend many, many times. It truly is an amazing sight, pictures just don't do it justice !!

My wife has been toying around with the idea of going there with our G/U this spring. Yep, SHE thought of this trip, not me !! :thumbsup: She said all those backroads that we could never take in our VW Westfalia just cry out for a Ural.

Glad you had a good time, I'm jealous !! :D
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MartyL
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Post by MartyL » Mon Nov 17, 2008 8:20 am

Great report!!! :thumbsup:
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Post by kevo » Mon Nov 17, 2008 10:47 am

Great report! Looks like y'all had a great time. Thanks for sharing.
2013 Ural-T with a formerly leaky cam seal

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LRP
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Post by LRP » Mon Nov 17, 2008 1:49 pm

Thanks for the great report! That area is on my 2009 ride list.
Went out last year in April and rode all over the Texas hill country
when the wild flowers were popping on my Guzzi. Can't wait to
do Big Bend area on the Patrol.

LRP :moto:

Dick
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19 previous motos

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