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Our website is all about motorcycles, especially BMW cycles. We cover rides in the Southwest and Mexico, motorcycle modifications and review motorcycle products. 


"IF THE CAMELS DIE, WE DIE" or Riding In Texas Heat

Ricardo Perez

We're in Del Rio at the WalMart gas pumps. They sit on a small bluff at the west end of town. As we sit on our bikes we fix our gaze west where you can see the city of Del Rio start to run-out into the vastness of West Texas. As we sit on the the RTs I imagine ourselves as Sherif Ali and TE Lawrence in Lawrence of Arabia, as I say, "There is the railway. And that is the desert. From here until we reach the other side, no water but what we carry with us. For the camels no water at all. If the camels die, we die. And in twenty days they will start to die."{from the movie, Lawrence of Arabia}

I thought of the movie because the ride to Alpine from Del Rio is approximately 205 miles, maybe a 20 day hike, and our camels were our RTs that would run out of gas about that point and die. There is gas in Sanderson some 115 miles west, but the possible gas stops in Langtry and Marathon can often be closed so it's always a calculated risk to run west of Del Rio without a full tank. Sanderson has two gas stations, but the nice small one on the east side of town only has diesel and regular 87 octane. We usually stop at the small one because it's got a nice picnic table where you can take a break.

Actually, the ride west was very pleasant; mostly over-cast skies and temperatures dropped to the low 70's as we dodged several thunder storms, weaving through them on Highway 90W by sheer luck. Thunder storm clouds just east of Alpine seemed to reach down and appeared to touch the ground. About eight miles out it started to rain just a bit, but not enough to make us stop. It was just enough to let us know that something was coming. We just beat a good thunder storm into Alpine by about two minutes.

The ride back from Alpine was much more like the movie just quoted. I can only imagine what it was like crossing the NeFud Desert, the 'desert's anvil'. By the time we made Del Rio it was past noon and the temperature quickly shot up to 104 degrees and for the next four and half hours it stayed between 104 and 109. The heat was almost unbearable, the lettering on my Shoei helmet started to slide off it's original place from the heat, and it was impossible to ride with your face shield open unless you wanted a hot blast of air hitting your face. I pictured myself turning into beef jerky, just dried up beef jerky sitting on a bike riding 80mph. I had to ride with the helmet face shield closed so it wasn't long before sweat started to run into my eyes, mixing with the sunscreen that was suppose to be sweat proof, it produced a concoction that caused my eyes to burn so bad I had to ride with my right eye shut for many miles. I wanted to pull over so I kept looking for a tree large enough to give us some nice shade, but there were none along the highway right-of-way. I didn't dare stop in the middle of nowhere thinking that if I did I would probably pass out before I could get my jacket and helmet off. So I endured the one-eyed ride, anyway except for the 18 wheelers from all the oil fracking there was surely no animal out in that heat that would dart onto the highway. I figured the highway surface had to be at least 120 degrees. I kept looking down at the rubber on my foot pegs as they felt awfully soft, thinking they must be melting!

I also kicked myself knowing that I had neatly packed my cold weather riding gear and especially my heated vest, but left behind my camel-back and my perforated riding jacket. I thought to myself that it can still get cold at anytime so why take chances. As we rode along my mind drifted to the debate I always have in my head, is it better to ride in cold 30 degree weather or in hot 100 degree weather. Seems I always side on hot when it's cold and cold when it's hot. "Be warned, you were drifting." {Lawrence of Arabia}

Sitting safely under the shade of the convenience store in Freer, I wanted to give thanks to God for helping us make it through 450 miles of the Nefud desert; call my wife and tell her I love her; and, write letters to my friends at the Bavarian Motor Works (BMW) for putting together a great machine that just hummed along ignoring the furnace road, and another to my buds at Metzler for having made a tire that can take that kind of heat. Rest now, Aqaba is only 150 miles away and it's now down to 100 degrees, soon the triple digits will go with the setting sun. Aqaba!