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800 S. Francisco St.
Mission, TX

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

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Ride Reviews

Filtering by Author: Tomas Perez

Labor Day Tour 2013

Tomas Perez

The bikes

I got up super early to pack the bike although our meeting time was 9 am. We left Mission at 9:15 am with temps already at 87 F. We are now at San Isidro for breakfast. Stats - 48 miles (ha), 52.2 avg mpg, temp 89 @ 10:30 am.
New gear on this trip for me is BMW Rallye Pro 2 jacket and pants and my 2nd ride with the Touring Pro boots. I even got a set of suspenders for my pants.  I plan to use them on the riding pants as well as my jeans.  Reviews on these to follow. 
Heading to Dilley and then Ingram. 

Fueling in Freer. 
Stats: temp 94F, 139 miles, 2.75 g, BC 51.1 mpg. 

With Ed, Hiram & Ricardo. 

About 20 miles south of Cotula it hit 100 F.  Cotulla is always hot. It was 101 in town. Dilley is just 18 miles north so we rode on. 

This is Motohank in Dilley, TX.  He's a pretty good BMW motorcycle mechanic. He can pickup and deliver in that MB diesel van in the picture. (Since Dilley is in the middle of nowhere)

Good mix of BMW bikes. 

The bike was finished shortly after 5 pm so we head north on I35 to Devine. At Devine we switch off from the Interstate to a nice country road - 173. We take 173 until Bandera where we stop for gas. 

Stats: Temp 99, miles 169, gas 3.4 gals, and BC claims 52.2 mpg. 

At Bandera we change over to highway 16 which is a very nice twisty road. We got to Ingram and my BC showed 61.9 mpg!  

Having dinner in Ingram. 

Nice easy first day with a total of 355 miles. Tomorrow we want to make it to New Mexico. 

We pack, clean up the bikes and leave Ed's house at 8 am. Of course, we stop at 8:10 am for breakfast at the Hunter House Cafe in Ingrim.  It's only 10 minutes of riding but I could use some coffee.

We decided to take some back roads from Ingram to some point in New Mexico. We took 83 north to Eden where we got on 87 to San Angelo, on to Big Spring and then take 380 west at Brownfield. We take 380 to Roswell where we debate if we should continue north to Santa Fe in spite of rain and thunder showers.  It's already late but decide to do the run in the rain and darkness. The rain was not too bad. Get in rather late into Santa Fe. 

Total miles for Sunday was 995 (355 was on Sat). 

On Monday morning we ride to the square for some coffee and maybe something light for breakfast. 

We make several travel plans that we all break. We just kind of rode the local roads. First place we stop at is Chama, 

The bikes resting in Chama.

NM right next to the CO border. From there we head to Shiprock via highway 64 but when we get to 550 heading north we take that route in order to get away from the heat. At that time the high was in the low 90's. we make it into Durango, CO at about 4:30 pm. We rode 250 miles with the majority of that being in the mountains.  We decide to stay here for the night because we want to visit one of the local motorcycle dealers in the morning. 

Coffee in early morning Durango

[Let me interject at this point that the best intended plans can very easily fall by the wayside.  I stopped recording my fuel consumption because of a number of reasons.  It was already a little difficult having to document all the figures that I wanted to keep when others are waiting for you to depart.  A few of the problems that I had include stopping to fuel up during rain storms, a partial fuel stop at a very old place with very old pumps that I - for one - did not trust, and even a pump that did not take my card and two of us fueled up on one card swipe.  I decided to enjoy the ride and forget the stats.]

After leaving the hotel in Durango we went to the Harley dealership there.  One of our guys wanted to add a few items to his baggage.  After our shopping we headed north via 550 to Silverton and then to Ouray for lunch.

Silverton down below
From Ouray we continue to Montrose and from there we use the minor roads and head north east to Carbondale.  From Carbondale we take 82 to Aspen.

I thought we would have to pay double our regular hotel rates in Aspen but we found a nice hotel at a very good price.  We got to Aspen in time for a few beers and dinner just before a storm hit the area.  The hotel manager even let us park the bikes under a car port after he moved his car out from his spot.  Nice of him to do that.

First place we ride to is Maroon Bells just outside of Aspen.

Maroon Bells
We leave Maroon Bells and take 82 to Independence Pass.  That's always a nice ride.  This day it was just cool.  I've been here in June and still had snow and very cold weather.  I guess the weather changes.

Self explanatory
We then head north again to Rocky Mountain National Park.  The ride through that park is also recommended.  It has some awesome views and very easy to ride.

From there we head to Boulder for the night.

From Boulder we decide to head back home to Texas.  We head to eastern Colorado (it's so different from the western part of the state) and head south.  As we head home the temperature just about doubles on us.  We don't get much of a chance to get acclimated to the near 100 degree weather.  Make it through Colorado, cut the handle of Oklahoma and into Texas to Lubbock.  I think the day total was 675 miles.  We did have a delay on the way to Texas.

Something on fire up ahead.
We had to wait for a while for that fire and finally they detoured us around that area.  All dirt roads.  They were ok to ride but of course very dusty especially with trucks also taking the detour.

From Lubbock we take some strange back roads to Ingram.  I think our guide was lost because for many miles my GPS wanted me to turn around and distance to destination was increasing instead of decreasing.  But that's ok... the purpose of the trip was to ride.

We make it to Ingram in time to relax with some beer (again!) and watch a little TV.  No supper.  I don't know why we didn't get supper but we did finish all the beer.

Our last leg is from Ingram to the Valley.  It's a short ride for a day.  We take our time taking back roads for the entire ride.  We have a few times when we run into rain.  Once we put on our rain gear only to have to take it off again about 20 miles down the road.  We're in south Texas now and it's about 100 F.  I even welcome small showers every so often.  It's like nature's air conditioning system.

The total miles logged on my bike for the trip was 3008 miles.  The other RT in the group had exactly the same mileage.  I liked the Rallye Pro 2 jacket and pants.  Also the suspenders make life a lot easier.

The cockpit 

The author and his RT

Riding The Storm

Tomas Perez

It has happened to everyone that has done any type of touring regardless of the season.  We all plan for it and if you have any experience with motorcycle touring you can read the signs and you have the equipment to handle almost anything nature can throw at you baring any major or catastrophic storms.  But in my case, I have no excuse.  I was caught unprepared for one of the worst rain storms that I have ever ridden through.

I had been visiting both of my local BMW dealers plus doing a little riding in the Texas Hill Country.  I use the term local rather loosely.  I wanted to take advantage of my ride to the dealer since it is 265 miles each way by extending my ride.  Dealer #2 is 327 miles each way but even more miles if I go via dealer #1.  A simple dealer visit is not a leisurely daily ride for many of us not living close to a major metropolitan area. It calls for a very long day of riding or a multi day trip.  Any day trip or longer and I pack for bad weather.  I always carry rain gear and in any weather other than the middle of Summer I will include some cold weather gear.

Looking back North towards the storm
 My wet weather riding gear consists of the following: Tourmaster Sentinel Rain Jacket, Olympia rain pants, Corbin seat cover, shower cap for XM radio, and BMW All Round gloves.  My current boots are BMW Touring Pro 2 (at times I also use Sidi Way boots) and they are totally waterproof.  My helmet is a Schuberth C3.  My head and feet are always covered (no pun intended) in case of rain.  More - both good and bad - on these two items later later on.  By the way, unless it's the middle of winter I use my BMW AirFlow 4 jacket for Texas riding.
(This Blog contains reviews on most of these items.)

During my visit to Lone Star BMW in Austin, Texas I purchased a Rev'It Wind Barrier jacket because a) it's very good and b) it was on sale.  I also purchased a cooling vest called Hyperkewl because a) it was hot as nearly always is in Texas and I was headed south where it's even hotter and b) it was relatively cheap at $39.95.  The sales lady kept telling me that she would soak the vest for me in the toilet for free as part of my purchase.  I soaked it in the sink in the men's restroom instead and left the dealer in the early afternoon.  The weather was hot but other than that it was very nice for a motorcycle ride.  In addition, I had called home and got a report of "it's sunny and a beautiful day".

Traveling through central Texas I almost always take back roads or secondary roads instead of the Interstates.  In this case I choose highway 123 and 72 to I 37 to I 59 for a short 8 mile run to 281.  I like highway 16 down the middle of south Texas brush country but not after dark.  That part of South Texas just has too many wild animals out after dark and even cows and horses seem to find their way out to the warmth of the road beds.  Once on 281 South I consider it smooth sailing for the last leg of my ride home.

Normally I'm OCD when it comes to riding or coming into bad weather.  Not to the point of stopping or outrunning a storm but more to preparing for the ride.  I tell my friends that I do not mind riding in cold weather nor rain (but not freezing rain!) since I have the gear for both including a bike that has excellent weather protection.  You learn to see the signs; dark clouds, oncoming traffic showing signs of rain or worse, any column of darkness from the clouds down to the ground are all signs that you are about to run into something big.  The column is a sure sign of rain or worse and the wider the column the larger the storm with little to no chance of riding out of it.

As I turn south on 281 in George West I see the columns.  Not one but two of them.  They appear to the east and west of my direction of travel but still a ways south of my position.  The thought comes into my head to stop at the DQ in George West to see what happens.  In any account I have not eaten lunch and it is mid afternoon.  I could use a meal and some caffeine.  But I decide to push on.

Within 10 or 15 miles I start to see little water droplets on my windshield.  They are so light that I don't even feel them on my helmet.  I ride through stuff like this often without doing any riding gear change.  This presents zero cause for alarm but there is a warning sign... I don't see the columns anymore.  I continue and it's only a few miles and I get a light shower but my only concern is my XM radio being exposed to water.  I think about my friend that says he does not put on rain gear in the summer and simply uses the opportunity to wash his riding jacket and sometimes riding pants.  I tell myself that I will wash the AirFlow jacket - it could use a cleaning anyway.  By this time I am in a heavy but otherwise normal rain.  I start my preparation.

Ok... I can do this.  Tuck in behind the fairing, raise windshield to just below eye sight, close helmet visor (make sure it's snug), and close both helmet vents (it matters).  It's important to close your visor before you get water on the inside and if you wear glasses you have another two surfaces that can get wet.  That's a total of four surfaces that can have water and limits your vision severely.  Add a windshield to that and you can consider yourself nearly blind if you continue riding.  But I'm good!  As a matter of fact only my arms are getting wet.  Even my radio, GPS and dash were only a little wet with slight spray.  I'm thinking: awesome bike, awesome fairing.  I'm actually enjoying the ride and keep in mind that I did not put on any of my rain gear.

And then it happened... I hit what appears to be a wall of rain... and high winds!  A little panic sets in plus sensory overload from the walls of water hitting me.  First thing that comes to mind is to pull over.  This is brush country and only a shoulder exists along the route.  In addition, stopping will result in a total soak within seconds but my main concern was for the bike.  The winds were too high and I thought that I would not be able to hold the bike upright during any sudden gusts.  I also was concerned about getting run over by some driver that could not see well which I knew was the case as that was happening to me.  Phase 2 kicked in right away.  First I lowered the windshield so as not to be kicked around so much by the winds and I turn on my 4 way flashers.  I have one car behind me and way ahead was an 18 wheeler that I no longer can see.  Not bad... the trailer has plenty of lights that are much more visible than car lights but at this point I don't see him ahead.  The car passes me up but within a mile he is slowing down to the point that I pass him.  While this is happening I feel my chest and legs get totally wet and then my crotch went from dry to wet within seconds.  I don't know why wet crotch feels like an insult when you are riding a motorcycle.  Your torso can dry and your legs can dry once you get out of a rain storm.  This is especially true in the Texas heat where a wet jacket can dry in minutes of riding.  But a wet crotch seems to stay wet forever and I always seem to get to the next gas stop and feeling like I wet my pants.

I can't see much but I see the trailer lights ahead.  At first I think that's good - something like my own personal lighthouse ahead of me but I find myself downshifting to 5th and then to 4th.  I'm shifting based on feel because I cannot read my gauges - not even the gear indicator.  I'm thinking this is too slow and thus dangerous and I could see where he was being pushed around by the winds.  I pull over to the passing lane with no indication of my intent because I have my 4 ways on.  I notice one of the reasons that he may have slowed down for was that there was a row of cars pulled over on to the shoulder.  I think about stopping myself but decide not to since the bike is handling the wind so well. I don't want to make this a BMW report but at this time I am gushing for the brand.  Since I saw columns before I hit the rain I figured that this was a storm within limited boundaries.  I continued for about 10 or 15 miles before the rain and wind let up to a normal shower.  The road ahead cleared up but I could not see any cars ahead of me.  Weird feeling being all alone on a highway that is normally busy.

Soon after the rain it was these things
 I stopped at a Whataburger in the next town so that I could take off my cool vest.  Didn't need it any more - as a matter of fact I felt cold.  Several people came up to me and advised me not to ride north.  Too late - would tell them I was just there.  When I told one man that I had just ridden through the storm he said "No way!  Otherwise your bike would be full of bugs.".  I didn't say anything but when he walked over to me and looked at the bike he apologized to me.  I guess because he was calling me a lair but I thought nothing of it.  I never found out how bad the storm was but part of Alice had no power, a gas station sign (the tall type) was blown over, entire crop fields were flooded and the Whataburger was full of cars.

I don't know how much of a lesson this was for me.  At my age, I mean experience, I should have known better.  Observations... I was impressed with my bike with the way it handled in such a storm.  And the other thing was that the only thing dry on me was my feet - totally dry!  I got home 2.5 hours later and I was still wet except for my feet.  The Rev'It jacket kept me warm even when my shirt and jacket were soaked.  I wore it under my AirFlow jacket.  I found it strange that I felt no cold yet my shirt was still very wet when I got home.  I was disappointed with my helmet.  In case you don't know it is expensive but it let in too much water.  In the past I've had a drop of water run down the front on the inside of the shield.  Then another drop and so on every few minutes while riding in a normal heavy rain.  On this ride I first felt a fine spray or mist inside the helmet (recall that I shut everything off before the heavy rain hit me but did not use the chin cover normally used in the winter).  Then the water droplets continued to get bigger to the point that I had as much water on the inside of the shield as I did on the outside.  Perhaps it was the wind forcing the rain in but it should not happen.  It's a safety issue IMO.  On a plus note I never got fogging inside the helmet.

My helmet didn't do much better

And what are these bugs that are out by the millions immediately following the rain?  They look like termites.  They are rather sticky since it was still raining when they start to come out yet don't get washed off the bike.  They would hit my helmet and stick and when I moved my head into the air stream to try to blow them off it only got worse with many more hits.

Thanks for reading,

Touring & Culture in South Texas via Motorcycle Riding

Tomas Perez

There are times in my day that are totally wasted by sitting around and thinking of an excuse to go ride. For example, yesterday I had planned to run an errand that took me to the town west of my hometown. Before I had a chance to set out on my errand I got a call from my son asking me if I could go check a problem with the AC unit in one of his businesses that is located to the east of my hometown. I decided I better do my part in conserving energy (gasoline in this case) and take my motorcycle instead of my of my cars. That's all the excuse I needed.

It was the new business opening last week that provided another excuse to take a longer ride to a little known attraction that is located about 80 miles to the north of Mission. I decided to visit the shrine of Don Pedro Jaramillo in the town of Falfurrias, TX. Don Pedro was a curandero or faith healer in south Texas around the turn of the century.

Being the middle of March the day was quite windy but one of the advantages that I have noticed on current touring motorcycles is that they offer such good wind and weather protection while remaining very stable regardless of wind direction. It's not as exciting to discuss as horsepower, top speed, or acceleration but I think these company spend millions of dollars studying the dynamics of cross winds on both the motorcycle and the rider. My current ride continues to amaze me in how well it handles in high cross winds.

I left my house and took the back roads to a connecting point to north bound highway 281. That short ride gave me a chance to get my riding legs ready for the trip before hitting highway speeds. I glanced at the fuel level and wondered if it was enough to do the 80 mile one way ride as it showed a little more than half a tank. I hit the trip computer button to see the remaining range and see that the computer is showing about 180 miles! It must be that high since I am crusing at about 55 mph where mileage is about the highest it can get (excluding rolling down a hill or mountain - been there, done that). The bike always does well over 50 mpg when I don't ride faster than about 70 mph and even at 70 mph I get about 50 mpg assuming no high head wind. Anyway, at 180 miles I'm good to go.

Once I'm on highway 281 riding due north I force myself not to use the cruise control until I am out of the valley and see far less traffic on the road. This is the first bike I've ever had that has a true cruise control. I now wonder how I functioned without one for so many years. About 15 miles north of Edinburg I get lazy and switch the cruise control on at 70 mph - the legal speed limit. The GPS shows 67 mph so I tap the cruise increase button twice and my true speed is now 70 mph. For good measure I tap it 3 more times and I am now cruising at an indicated speed of 78 or a true speed of 75 mph. At this speed my speedometer reads about 3 mph faster than true speed. My mind always factors this in when I set speeds. The time is now nearly 3PM and I want to make sure I get to the shrine before the little local store next to it closes for the day. What I need is an item that is sold in that store.

Don Pedrito Jaramillo died in 1907 but he had many followers and other people that believed in him. He was buried in Falfurrias in a ranch cemetery. Some time after his burial a shrine was built over his grave.

Don Pedro's grave is located in this corner of the shrine.

The second photo (below) shows the many photographs that people have attached to the walls of the shine either requesting help or claiming that they were helped or healed by a prior visit.

After talking to the lady that runs the store for nearly an hour I loaded up the bike so that I can head back into town about 4 miles away. Fuel level was still good but I wanted to top off before heading back home. I top off the tank with an additional 4.96 gallons. That means I had at least 1.6 gallons left in the tank. A funny thing about an RT gas tank is that it is really a 7.1 gallon tank that BMW downgraded to 6.6 gallons by putting a filler tube part of the way into the tank. This forces you not to fill the tank to the very top (unless you stand there and keep nursing a little more gas at a time as you fill above the bottom of the filler tube). Some riders have even been known to remove the tube from their bikes! If those BMW engineers only knew what they are doing to their bike...

I stopped doing that... takes too much time and besides it splashes little drops of gasoline around the top of the tank and that really bothers someone that is OCD about their bikes. You see - being on the road you can't simple wash the area well with car washing soap and water, polish the area again, and finally apply a good 2 or 3 coats of wax. And if you want to do the job right you should remove the tank bag rails. That's not too bad... remove the seats and 4 Torx screws and you're set to really clean that area under the rail. Well... you get my point.

Anyway, in my opinion BMW added this filler tube on the remote chance that you would 1) put the bike on the center stand and fill it to the very top of the gas tank neck on a really cold day and then 2) roll or ride the bike a very short distance and park it on the side stand, and 3) the day heats up a lot and the gasoline expands overfilling the tank getting into charcoal canisters, spilling on the ground, blown into catalytic converters, blab, blab, blab. Disclaimer - I'm just kidding here! No hate mail! Remember - I'm OCD about this thing!

Back to the gas station. I reset my odometers, turn on my GPS (don't know why - I've taken this road about a hundred times), tune in my XM and point the bike due south. Two miles and I'm out of town so it's cruise control time again. Time to sit back, listen to the sounds (review on this soon), and enjoy the ride home. The temperature is dropping under 80 making for a perfect ride home.

Oh... almost forgot. This is what I purchased for my son's new business.

I guess the modern aspect to this is that the candles are in English and Spanish. In my discussions with the lady she told me to wash them just in case someone else had touched them, light them and let them burn, and if they went out or got black that it was a bad sign. I washed them when I got home.

Keep the rubber on the road,