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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. 

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Ride Reviews

Filtering by Category: "Touring"

Zion National Park

Ricardo Perez

Zion National Park
Court of the Patriarchs
Views of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob Peaks
Zion National Park in Utah is one of the most beautiful parks in the USA, unfortunately, it's so popular that the best route, the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive is unavailable except through use of the shuttle buses which run about seven minutes apart. Upon entering the park you can go anywhere else in the park, but if you want to take the shuttle then parking is available at the Visitor's Center. The shuttle service runs form March 24th to November 3rd. It's an 80 minute ride unless you get off at any of the nine stops. Each stop has its own attractions in form of hiking trails or views. You can get off the shuttle and hike, climb, camp, or backpack. The hiking trails are identified as "Easy", "Moderate" or "Strenuous" and they range in time from a half-hour to eight hours and from about a half mile to 22.5 miles in distance.
We were in a hurry so we selected to get off at the Lodge and tap into the draught beer available at the cafe and open air bar. We sat out on the great green grass with a great view of the cliffs in front. We figured that would be as strenuous as we would get on this trip with plans to return. We'd like to do the hike at the last stop, "Temple of Sinawava" which has the famous hike where the canyon walls get narrower and narrower as you go.
The City of Hurricane is about 20 miles off of I15 and about 23 miles from the entrance to the park has a Harley dealership that's handy for a quick rental if you happen to fly into Vegas. Springdale is the small community at the entrance of the park. It has restaurants and a few chain hotels like La Quinta Hotel (fairly new) and several non-chain hotels which look good. Of course, there's roads that are open and available for use, but they're not the best part of the park.
In Zion National Park
Being July the temperature was right at about 100 degrees as we entered the park, but it soon got cloudy and the temps dropped a few degrees. Later on in the afternoon a rain storm rolled in and the temps really dropped to somewhere in the 70s. That was a welcome break, but in this area which has the Virgin River running through the scenic route flash flooding is a real hazard. We were told stories of how the river has taken out parts of the road or blocked it with boulders actually marooning visitors within the park. We wanted nothing of that so we moved out of the park before it really started raining hard.
Zion keeps reminding us that people have lost their lives climbing so I guess there are all levels of climbing/hiking in the park and it doesn't seem like they prohibit much of anything. That's a good thing if you know what you're doing.
Zion is definitely a must ride if you can make the ride out West.

A Great View
Clouds Building Up

Outdoor Cafe at the Lodge
There's Beer!

Green Space at Lodge

Approaching Rain Storm

Beautiful Scenery at Every Bend in the Road 

Across the Creek & You're In Springdale, UT

Virgin River

November Beach Run

Ricardo Perez

Marco's Man-Size Breakfast

Closed out the month with a day trip to South Padre Island this weekend. We stopped in Port Isabel, Texas at Manuel's for breakfast before crossing the causeway to the island. For the few that don't know about Manuel's, it's great Mexican food for a reasonable price. As you can tell from the picture above, they're famous for their good tasting, over-sized flour tortillas. You can also use them as motorcycle cover. 
View from Clayton's 
It was a great day for riding with weather starting out in the low 60's and climbing to about 80 by mid-day. On the Island we ended up at Clayton's where we sat back and enjoyed the Gulf's shoreline.

Manuel's Restaurant 

Images of Guanajuato Mexico

Ricardo Perez

Guanajuato, Mexico is one of the great cities in Mexico and makes for a great ride. 

Basilica of Our Lady of Guanajuato 1671

Altar in Basilica

College Traveler


Native Flowers

Flowers For Sale

Open Cafes With Endless Options

Narrow Streets

Street Traffic

One of many tunnel roads under the City


Irma and Ed at Sidewalk Cafe

Plaza Area

Lou Explaining that last U-Turn

They really just wanted to see the bikes!

Heading South to Morelia 

Headed into Tunnel Traffic

Sure, I know the way! Follow me!

Motorcycle Trip To Alpine, Texas & Big Bend National Park

Ricardo Perez

Big Bend National Park - Chisos Basin

The three days before Mother's Day four of us took a quick ride out to Big Bend National Park. Marco, Hiram, Tomas and myself left on Thursday morning about 5:45am under overcast skies with 80% chance of rain in the forecast. As we often do, we took the back roads way West with only us and a few thousand tractor trailers from the fracking fields cluttering up what were once lonely roads with great scenery. Now most of the highways are in terrible disrepair from the heavy tractor trailers going to and fro the fracking wells.
Dilley's under the center pin!
May 10, 2012 at 11:45am
Hank From Motohank Dilley, Texas
We headed northwest first toward (Motohank's) so that Marco could get a new set of tires on his BMW RT. Hank owns the shop and he's a certified BMW motorcycle mechanic in Dilley, Texas. You'd think that he wouldn't have any business out in the middle of nowhere, but he's got a healthy clientle from both the Rio Grande Valley and San Antonio. Dilley is approximately 85 miles North of Laredo on I35 and 75 miles from San Antonio. It's approximately 230 miles from Mission, TX.
About an hour before we hit Dilley it started to rain and soon thereafter we rode into a heavy shower. It rained most of the way into Dilley, but as we approached Dilley there was a cloud off to our West side that was so dark that it looked dark green instead of just black. As both cloud and riders raced toward Dilley it became obvious that the cloud won by a mere five miles or so. It really started raining hard, but it was no time to pull over as we knew we were close to Hank's shop. Again my waterproof BMW Motorad All Around gloves with the rubber visor wiper on the forefinger were a life saver. I was on my 2008 Harley Ultra Classic while Tomas and Marco were on their 2010 BMW RTs and Hiram on his BMW GS. My bike started to miss badly as water was sucked into the air intake, but I was able to make into Hank's covered garage area. It wasn't five minutes after we reached Hank's that quarter size hail started to fall. The whole scene was bleak, dark, wet and windy. We were just grateful we had made it safely and knew that we weren't about to rush off as Hank began the tire replacement on Marco's RT.

Sanderson After Thunderstorm
We moved on from Dilley about 1pm headed Northwest toward Uvalde and then West on Hwy 90 to Brackettville. Brackettville is home to the movie set "The Alamo" filmed in 1960 starring John Wayne as Davy Crockett. From there we continued West to Del Rio where we stopped at Rudy's BBQ for a late lunch. By the time we left Rudy's it was starting to rain again. We flew by Langtry and rode into Sanderson for fuel before moving on to Alpine. The rain finally started to clear up in Sanderson and dark skies began giving way to some sunlight.We rolled into Alpine about 8:20 in the evening still with our rain gear on, but it had stopped raining most of the way between Sanderson and Alpine. We met up with a rider on a BMW GS from Houston named Andy. He rode into Alpine about three hours ahead of us and asked if we ran into the hail before Sanderson. We hadn't, but Andy said that it covered the highway for about 300 yards or so approximately ten miles before entering Sanderson. Thinking he was just seeing a water reflection on the highway he rode into a layer of hail between an inch or two thick. Andy said he'd figure he was going to lose the bike, but managed to keep it upright and slow down in order to slowly pass through it.
Alpine Best Western
Friday morning Andy was headed out to Terlingua to camp out a couple of nights, but we mentioned that camping at the Chisos Basin within Big Bend National Park was a lot better than Terlingua.
 We spent the morning in Alpine before riding about 82 miles South on Highway 87 down to Study Butte and Terlingua. Study Butte and Terlingua are at an elevation of 2,582 feet so its sometimes really hot especially around July. Compared to Alpine at 4,500 feet and the Chisos Basin in Big Bend at 5,400 to 5,700 feet which are much cooler Terlingua is usually very warm. It's an interesting area with its share of interesting people much like Marfa with its art community.
Study Butte
After a short rest we entered Big Bend National Park from the West entry which lies just a couple of miles outside of Study Butte. Unlike the North entrance, the Western entrance is more stark and moonlike looking with weird rock formations that don't look like they can support much life, especially not livestock.  A few miles further into the park is the lone entry booth and this time it was actually open with a female Ranger charging an entry fee. That's kind of rare, seeing anyone in that booth since its about 26 miles from Panther Junction where the Park Headquarters is located. I flashed out my senior pass and driver's license and went right in. We headed to the Chisos Basin 30 miles away at the posted speed limit of 45mph.
We rode around the basin campsites and picked out one with a nice flat area which would hold our three tents. It was within about 25 yards from the host park ranger (a volunteer position). We quickly made friends as we introduced ourselves. As it turns out, the Ranger, Rick Trimble a retired school teacher from Plano High School District. He was orginally from our neck of the woods, La Feria in the Rio Grande Valley; small world. We also met up with Andy, our friend from back at the Best Western in Alpine. Andy joined us for dinner at the Basin Cafeteria where we each had a few Shiner Bocks and we took two bottles of wine back to the campsite. Andy and Rick joined us as we enjoyed our wine, the sunset and just general chat about riding and camping out. It was one of those times where you say, "it doesn't get better than this!". As Andy and Rick retired for the evening we just stood out by the tents looking at the millions of stars that we just can't see from the city.
We were up at daybreak and breaking down camp as we readied ourselves to leave after one quick night at the park.
We rode out about 8am and headed north exiting the North entrance and making our way to Marathon about 80 miles from the basin. We had breakfast at the Coffee Shop on the West side of the Gage Hotel (I have a blog piece on the Gage Hotel). Coffee and breakfast was great as we sat outdoors next to a group of birders trying to imitate the Great Horned Owl. I tried to help out with the Three Amigos bird call, "". They didn't get it.
Entry From Western Side
We had to make up some time in order to get back for Mother's Day so we rode hard without any lengthy stop until we made it to Hebbronville where we stopped at the local Dairy Queen. We rode up on Thursday logging in approximately 678 miles, only about 120 miles on Friday and another 650 or so on Saturday. It was too short a time, but a great ride. Can't wait to do it again!

Our Campsite at the Basin
Casa Grande at base our our camp area

Marco and Hiram 

Big Bend National View

View at Cafeteria 

There's a View at Every Angle

Marco & Hiram

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Motorcycle Ride: Gruene, Wimberley, Blanco, & Elsewhere

Ricardo Perez

Catholic Church in Panna Maria, TX
We took four days in mid-April to ride up to Gruene, Texas. The weather was perfect, unusually cool for Texas in mid-April so riding was great. On Thursday, at 7:15am we left our house and met up with Albert and Lisa as we headed to Edinburg to meet up with three other couples, Sid & Letty, Joe & Sonia, and Leo & Terry. By the time we all gathered together North of Edinburg we were ready to head out about 8:15am or so, five couples and all riding Harley Davidson motorcycles. We stopped for breakfast in Falfurrias at a new Mexican food restaurant by one of the new overpasses under construction. The food was good and we decided that the weather being so nice we should just take our time riding and enjoy the ride so by George West we stopped to fuel up before heading around San Antonio on Hwy 72 via Karnes City.

We pulled over in Panna Maria to check out the church there. Panna Maria (Virgin Mary) is the oldest permanent Polish colony in the United States. Approximately 100 Polish families reached this site on Christmas eve in 1854 to settle the area. Other than the church there isn't much activity around, but the church and grounds are special and worth a stop. 
We made our way through Seguin and then New Braunfels before arriving at our destination in Gruene. Don't bother trying to input "Gruene" into your GPS like I tried on my Garmin Zumo 550 without any luck. Gruene is officially a part of New Baranfels so all addresses are in that city's name. I was able to input my address without any problem at all.
The Yellow Haus 
We stayed about two blocks from the old Dance Hall in Gruene at a place called, "The Yellow Haus" which was a little pricey, but not too bad when split among four of us. It was so close to everything in Gruene. It had four bedrooms (three of which were roomy), a nice back porch area and a very long front porch. We took advantage of both porches to relax and enjoy some good spirits & morning coffee. There's a separate unit attached to the back part of the house that is also available, for more money, of course. There's a car port dedicated for that back unit, but it was unoccupied the first two days we were there so we used it to park our bikes.
We arrived in Gruene about 2pm giving us plenty of time to ride over to the Dance Hall, even though it's an easy walk.  We took time to have a couple of beers. It was nice at the hall, not too crowded on a Thursday afternoon and it's usually very busy since made famous by the movie with John Travolta in Michael. We walked around a bit after that and ended having an early dinner across the street from the dance hall. Once back at the house we made a quick run for some food and beverages and spent the remainder of the evening just relaxing and planning the next day's ride.
On Friday we spent the morning at the Javelina Harley Davidson dealer  checking out the bikes. While I was there I went ahead and replaced my key-fob battery which is something I like to do every two years so I won't end up in the middle of nowhere with a dead key-fob. That set me back a couple of dollars. We hadn't ventured out very far because the weather forecast called for severe thunder storms by mid-day. Weather Bug was right, right about noon the thunder clouds moved in and it started pouring. We watched it all from our front porch. By three o'clock it was clearing up and the sun shone through in spots so we headed out on Purgatory Road headed to Wimberley.
Wimberley, Texas
Wimberley is a smaller Fredericksburg which to me means nicer. It's less than an hours ride and it's northwest of Gruene or northeast of Canyon Lake. The ride is very nice as it skirts along Canyon Lake and goes through some nice remote hill country without a lot of traffic. We landed at a good coffee shop and spent the afternoon checking out the local stores and the creek that runs through Wimberley. The main river that runs through that area is the Blanco River.
Back in Gruene that evening we went over to the River Grill, but this time we walked over so we didn't have to limit our beverage intake. The place is much like Gristmill and I was told that there's at least three restaurants with the same owner. Considering that these places are just churning tourists in and out the food wasn't bad and the lady behind the bar didn't limit the amount of liquor to just a shot!
Ole Blanco Courthouse
Becker Vineyards
Saturday morning we started out early and rode towards Johnston City. We stopped in Blanco for their open market day around the old court house and checked out all the vendors and their booths before moving on to Johnston City for lunch. After some good BBQ we ended up at Becker's Vineyard and their lavender fields. Becker's is a nice stop, but it's a little uppity as we all stroll around with our wine tasting tester glass in hand. The opposite ambiance of Becker's is Luckenbach where there's lots of hats, but they're all cowboy hats and lots of bikers. We had funnel cake and beer as we relaxed and enjoyed the live music.
We left Luckenbach with some of us going to Bouerne and others back to Gruene. It was a good leisurely day of riding that ended with a nice dinner in Gruene. Back at the dance hall, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band was playing, but we opted not to drop in at $57 a head.
Sunday morning we headed back to the valley only detouring of I37 near Campbellton as we rode the old highway 281 which is seldom used by anyone since I37 re-routed traffic around Campbellton and Whitsett. It's worth the extra 10 minute detour to travel on the only major highway connect the valley and San Antonio back in the day.
We had a quick four day trip with limited riding and only 800 miles on the clock, but we enjoyed ourselves and just as in the hill country this area northwest of San Antonio has lots to offer with some great back roads. 
Dinner Time in Gruene

Dance Hall in Gruene

Leo, Terry, Irma, Ricardo
Sid & Letty

Irma & Ricardo in Lavender Field at Becker's

Joe & Sonia

Irma & Albert as Hosts rejecting customers at restaurant 

Bikes at Becker's Vineyard

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Marathon, Big Bend National Park, Terlingua & Presidio via Motorcycle

Ricardo Perez

Marathon RV & Motel

Just as you head out of Marathon, Texas is the Marathon RV and Motel and that makes for a perfect stopping place for riding into and around Big Bend National Park. Marathon is situated above the Big Bend National Park's North entrance. It's still about 45 miles due South before you get to the park entrance which is just an entry booth that's more often than not never staffed and it's about halfway to the Park Headquarters so just keep riding South. Total miles from Marathon to the Headquarters is about 80. The first half goes at a fast clip, but once you enter the park things slow down as radar enforced speed limits max out at 45MPH; about an hour's ride to the headquarters from the park's entrance.
Sonny at The Window
The park's headquarters is fully staffed and a good place to stop for a break, pay your park entry fee, and load up on free maps of the park. Most riders I know that ride into Big Bend have never taken the time to hike any of the great trails in the park. My recommendation would be to go early in the morning before 10am and locate a camping spot at the Chisos Basin camp grounds and stay at least two nights. The basin also has hotel type rooms about a half mile from the camp grounds, but those have to be booked long before your trip. Once you're settled into a camping spot you can take time to do a little hiking. The Window is probably the shortest and best hikes you can take. It's about a two mile hike and it's easy walking, but the way back is more difficult since you're walk uphill.
Another good hike, but more of a medium duty walk, is The Lost Mines Trail which is about 4.8 miles and it starts at about an elevation of 5,800 feet. This hike offers some of the best views of the park and worth doing if you're staying at the park for more that one night.
Sotol Vista Overlook
My third hike would be the one at Santa Elena Canyon. It's at the southern most part of the park, about 40 miles from the Chisos Basin camp grounds, but it's a nice ride unless its July then it can get really hot as you descend from the basis. Temperatures changes can be dramatic. Halfway down to the canyon is the Sotol Vista Overlook, its a short loop off the main road, but a must stop.
Sotol Vista Overlook
The overlook offers a majestic view of the southern park of the national park. Off in the distance you can see Santa Elena Canyon.
Road to Sotol Vista Overlook
Right before arriving at the canyon is Castolon Station, a must stop for water, snacks and just rest. It may be closed during the summer months so it's a good idea to carry water on your bike just in case. About six miles from Castolon sits Santa Elena Canyon. There's a parking area, restrooms some picnic tables and a short hike away is the Terlingua Creek that many people confuse for the Rio Grande River. Unless there's been a rain storm its easy to wade across the ankle deep waters of the creek to get to the mouth of the canyon and it's hiking trail.

The trail is part of the park's trails so its easy to climb, but it is a vertical climb of about a 100 feet as you get a great view of the Rio Grande River, the creek, and the park to the north. I've been there half a dozen times or more, but have been turned by high waters cutting through the road those last eight miles between Castolon and the Canyon.

Castolon Station
Water crossing south of Castolon

Santa Elena Canyon
Study Butte Gas Stop
As you backtrack out of the canyon road its best to exit on the western side of the park. It's about 40 miles from the basin to Study Butte and Terlingua. Both of these towns are very hot in the summertime so a mandatory lunch stop is not a bad idea. It's 82 miles to Alpine if you're headed north. You're now out of the park and can head 17 miles southwest to Lajitas. That's the town that was bought by some millionaire who turned it into a very spiffy upscale rural village. I've only stopped there once and that was enough. Its best to keep moving toward Persidio a 50 mile ride that hugs the Rio Grande River most of the way. Its a great twisty road known as the River Road that is worth riding in both directions since they both offer a unique riding experience. Persidio is just as hot as Terlingua, but much bigger. It's got lunch places, gas, and a large grocery store.
Marfa lies north of Persidio. Marfa has become somewhat of an artist colony so it offers a nice mix of West Texas town and New York City in a twisted sort of way. If you like art then spending the afternoon in Marfa is well worth the stop. 
From Marfa its not a bad idea to east into Alpine and/or Marathon as a wrap up to a good day's riding. Another good ride is to head out to Fort Davis which has a great State Park with camping and a lodge and further northwest is the famous McDonald's Observatory. I'll cover those in another post. 

Somewhere between Big Bend National Park Headquarters & the North Entry

Tomas on his ST at Big Bend's Western Entry by Study Butte

Terlingua Hill View

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Sturgis Motorcycle Trip

Ricardo Perez

Harley Dealership in Sturgis

My Toy Hauler & F350
Back in 2008 I owned a Toy Hauler fifth wheel trailer and used it to trailer my bike and a friend's bike up to South Dakota. We started in Mission, Texas and went up through the panhandle and into Colorado then Nebraska and South Dakota. My Toy Hauler was a 37' Keystone Raptor which I pulled with a Ford F350 diesel. Pulling that much weight was never a problem, stopping on a dime was another story. There was so much "mass" behind you that it could easily push you if you weren't careful. I never really had trouble handling it, but you had to pay attention to under-passes since it required about a 13' 6" clearance. Turning tight corners was another thing you had to watch out for. I once ran over a curb in Eagle Pass while pulling over to decide where to eat (letting my stomach do the thinking instead of my head) and the tire popped like a ballon. Fortunately, we were only about a half mile from a truck stop where they called a guy to remove and replace the tire. That incident starting me thinking about replacing the Toy Hauler with something I can maintain myself. It was obvious that changing a tire is no simple task when trying to jack-up a 15,000lb unit. Turning a fifth wheel is much easier than turning a tow-behind unit and you can surprise yourself with a little practice how tight a turn-around you can maneuver on a fifth wheel. Regardless, the Toy Hauler is a beast  and you can't get too confident pulling that unit down the highway.
We left Mission, Texas early in the morning joined by another couple from Pharr, Texas and quickly made our way past San Antonio and on to I10 West. We then turned Northwest and headed to Fredericksburg then San Angelo. We kept going until we were north of Lubbock and stopped for the night at an RV Park. It was past 10pm by then and we had been on the road over 14 hours. We moved out early and headed through the Oklahoma panhandle and into Colorado. We ended our second day in the late afternoon at the Sterling State Park. The park was fairly deserted and we had most of the park to ourselves.
Sterling State Park - Colorado
Rainbow's End
Once out of Eastern Colorado the countryside started to get more interesting, everything was green, much different than the type of landscape we have in South Texas. We went into Rapid City then ran uphill into Nemo, a small village in the hills about 20 miles from Sturgis.  We stayed at Big Moma's place which is a horse ranch most of the year except during Sturgis' Bike Rally when she converts the place into an RV and Camping ground. We arrived the week before the rally in order to ride across Wyoming and camp out at Yellowstone National Park. The camp ground was really great. We had pick of any spot since we were there early so we backed up our RV close to the stream running behind us and about a hundred yards from the highway. We had a couple of friends join us, one from Minnesota and the other from Wisconsin. They joined us in Nemo and camped out a few hundred yards from where we parked the RV. We unloaded the bikes and made ourselves at home for a couple of days before heading out to Wyoming and Yellowstone National Park.
Creek by our Toy Hauler
Once we got back from our ride to Yellowstone we made time to join up with some other friends for some nice riding. Our first day we rode to Mt. Rushmore and rode through the Needles and through Custer State Park. We also made it to the Crazy Horse monument. We made time to stop by some good lunch spots and had a good time.
The next couple of days we would ride in to Sturgis to check out all the sites including all the different bike vendors although we didn't spend any money on all the available add-ons. Back in Nemo we spent the evening planning our BBQ menu and having a few refreshing brews as we sat around and enjoyed the nearby creek, the high cliff beyond the creek and passing motorcycles. Big Moma's had a bar setup at one end of the pasture which made it nice once we ran out of beer and their live music meant we didn't have to worry about finding our own.

We ventured into Deadwood one morning to check it out and ended up at a restaurant that was also a bar and casino. The slot machines were already going as we sat down for breakfast, but we didn't waste our money on any gambling. Deadwood was founded in 1876 after gold was discovered in the Black Hills in 1874. The town was famous for its outlaws and gamblers. Wild Bill Hickok was shot in a saloon with the famous "Dead Man's Hand" of aces and eights. Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane are both buried in Deadwood.  We walked around Deadwood for a while before heading out to the Interstate.
Sturgis, South Dakota is home to the largest or second largest motorcycle rally in the world. It's always held the first full week in August. We had been out to Yellowstone National Park during our first week and spent the second week in our Raptor in Nemo. Nemo is relatively higher elevation than Sturgis so its cooler and certainly lots less crowded. It's about 20 miles from Sturgis so it was a quick 20 minute ride into the rally. Our first trip into Sturgis was one of those where you just follow the other bikers hoping someone knows where they're headed. As it happened, we ended up parked by the local Harley dealership and in the middle of everything. What's best about Sturgis is that there are so many vendors that you get to at least see products closeup, where you can grab them and check them out. That's a treat compared to the blind purchasing done on the internet.
Of course, there's lots of demos as well and bars with live music. They must bring in police from throughout the state because they are everywhere and there's no drinking on public sidewalks, streets, or public places so those that happen to walk out of a bar with a beer got zapped fairly quickly. That was rare since most places had someone at the door to remind patrons that you couldn't take that beer with you. As for food, we mostly stuck to the vendors selling whatever verses eating inside a restaurant. Restaurant food was okay, but nothing to write home about.
In all, I think we went into Sturgis only twice since once you've seen it, it doesn't much change. We had a much nicer time back in Nemo with our friends, our BBQ, beer, and music. It was so relaxing that we didn't miss all the buzz down at Sturgis.
All in all, the rally and just the fact that we were in a state where everything was green and cool compared to the 100 degree weather in South Texas made this a special trip. We got to see our friends who joined us at Big Moma's and met their friends from different states. That made 10 of us riding around and enjoying each other's company and the great countryside as well as the rally in Sturgis. Every rider should make that trip a least once in their lifetime.

Sitting by Toy Hauler: Checking email and enjoying a couple of beers!

Jaime, Ricardo, & Mike pointing up to the cliff beyond the pasture.

Friendly Man in Deadwood
View of Mount Rushmore as we exit a tunnel
Deadwood Store
Stream Running Through Big Mama's Pasture

Passing Through Roswell New Mexico

At Santa Fe Plaza - Birthday Girl

We're checking out some on the spot pin striping work.

Irma's Taking a Break at Sturgis

She better watch those hot pipes!

George wasn't saying much!

In the Needles as we approach a 360 turn!

Where to Now?

The Needles

One of many one lane tunnels

Here's the Gang at Crazy Horse Monument 

Crazy Horse

Low Clouds Approaching

Entering Hill City

He wanted to tattoo Irma

Take a Tequila Shot or get bounced!

Sturgis Bar

Where's My Bike?

Hey, another Chicano!

She was on Letterman that week!




Fishnets still in style?

Local Bar

After many miles we get back to Texas!
Ricardo and Irma in Sturgis

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Lone Star Motorcycle Rally Galveston Texas

Ricardo Perez

The Strand - Galveston's Main Street

Our Riding Buddies From Corpus Christi

The Lone Star Rally gets really crowded, but the best part is that it allows us in South Texas just about the most coastline riding you can get, especially north of Corpus Christi, Texas. It's slow going, but a nice ride to the seaside town of historic Galveston.
Once you're at the Rally there's tons of bikes so finding a spot to rest your bike can be a challenge. We stayed in Kemah which is about 20 miles from Galveston since we couldn't find a place in Galveston, but as it turned out, that was a good thing. It's peaceful and lots of things to see in Kemah so it's a nice break from all the crowds in Galveston. Our hotel was right by the docks in Kemah and some nice sea food restaurants.
At the Rally we had a good time just seeing everything that's out on the Strand. We also went into the Convention Center to see the displays, but that was definitely a waste of money (seen one, you've seen them all) imho.
The ride north of Corpus was great as we went through Rockport, Port Lavaca, Palacios, and then along the seashore from Free Port into Galveston. We ran into some rain, but it was warm so it was a welcome site although rain in Galveston's Strand makes riding your bike hazardous since the rail line running down the middle of the road gets slick as ice when it's wet. We saw a few bikes go down as they tried to cross it running parallel to the tracks.
So next time you make this rally be sure and take time to go down the coast to Free Port then make your way up to Angleton home of GOE Harley Davidson. It's one of those small town local dealers that's family owned so they're friendly and a great place to visit. GOE Harley Davidson

Of course, last, but not least are the great little sea food restaurants all along the coast line between Galveston and Corpus. Take time to get off the road in these small towns and check out their great food.

Need a Parking Spot!

Plenty of Bikes to See
View From Hotel

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Motorcyle Tour Through Wyoming & Yellowstone National Park Camping

Ricardo Perez

A Wyoming Creek Along Highway
 My Map
Stopping by a creek on our way to Yellowstone
Wyoming has to be one of the most beautiful states in the union. We started our ride just 25 miles south of Deadwood, South Dakota from a little town named Nemo. We stopped for breakfast in Deadwood before hooking up with Hwy 90 West toward Sundance then Gillette, Wyoming.  We stayed on Hwy 90 until we hit Hwy 14 and continued on to Greybull and finally Cody, Wyoming. Cody is all Cowboy town and during the summer there's a rodeo every night. It's nice just to walk downtown and find a good place to eat and drink. We went for drinks at the Irma Hotel built in 1902 by Buffalo Bill and named after his daughter. It has a classic cherry wood bar that is still in use today. We spent the night at a Holiday Inn Express and a couple of the guys camped out at the KOA camp at the entrance of town. We were up for breakfast early and as it happened, we met the chef there at the hotel who asked where we were headed. After we said we were headed into Yellowstone he suggested that we stop at his parent's place in Cooke City, Montana.
View of winding Chief Joseph Highway
So we left Cody and took the famous Chief Joseph Highway as we headed to Cooke City and then on to Yellowstone National Park. The Chief Joseph Scenic Byway follows the route of Chief Joseph and his tribe as he successfully eluded US Cavalry troops in 1877. His route ran through Yellowstone and into Montana. It's a beautiful highway that's a must motorcycle ride. 
Once we arrived in Cooke City, Montana it wasn't hard to spot Buns and Beds restaurant which was owned by the parents of the chef we met back in Cody. We had a good time enjoying the great burgers they made for us and talking about their annual snow fall. They mentioned that they get hunters in winter and campers in the summer time so they stay busy.
From Cooke City we entered Yellowstone National Park and made our way to the northwestern corner, a place called Mammoth Headquarters. It was obvious we weren't in Texas anymore as huge elk roamed the grounds without a care in the world. We went out to the campgrounds and secured a spot for ourselves and then went back to the headquarters to wait for a couple of the guys that had taken a detour from our route to Red Lodge, Montana so they were a couple of hours behind us. Once we joined up we settled into our campgrounds and setup our tents. I have a Marmont two person tent, but we managed to squeeze in four of us into it for a good night's sleep. Our Marmont sleeping bags are rated at 30 degrees so we slept very comfortably just a little tight. We really enjoyed the many wonderful scenic views in the park. Yellowstone is so beautiful that we can't wait to get back there and spend some serious time camping out. Of course, we took the loop road around the entire park and made the mandatory stop at Old Faithful. As you can see by the picture, it's still working, almost like clockwork. That area of the park is obviously the most popular, thus it's by far the most crowded area of the park so we were glad to get away from the crowds once we enjoyed a good lunch at the headquarters. 
Old Faithful
We took a nice ride around the entire park except for one section that was closed by an ongoing forest fire. As a matter of fact, there were several fires ongoing during our ride. After we exited on the East side of Yellowstone it wasn't long before we ran into another forest fire. This one was really close to the highway. At one point it was within a couple of hundred yards from the highway as we had to slow down to a crawl as a helicopter crossed right in front of us and hovered over a stream running parallel to the highway. It hovered over the stream as it drew water up into its tanks to dump on the fire. It was soon off and headed back into the fire. That moment as it flew low over the highway in front of us and hovered over the stream looked surreal. Needless to say there was lots of smoke and it took many miles for us to get away from the smoke and back into clear skies. 

Getting Away From Fire
We made our way back to Cody for another night's stay before heading back to South Dakota. We left Cody and headed on a different route back to Nemo. We headed South to Ten Sleep and then into Big Horn National Forest via Highway 16. That route was nice and not as crowded as the traffic on the Interstate Highway.
Yellowstone National Park is worth a camping trip and the rest of Wyoming is a wonderful state to tour. Our visit was way too short and we'll try to make it back there this summer. Motorcycle travel is fairly easy and we didn't encounter any problems. Once a coke truck broke down and we had to make a stop at an awkward incline, but once we got through that spot everything else was routine two-up riding.

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Forest Fire Getting Close
Getting Too Hot!

Fire Fighting Helicopter Getting Water!

Elk at Mammoth Headquarters in Yellowstone

Ricardo & Irma with a day in Cody

In Yellowstone National Park

Entering Yellowstone National Park

Galeana Mexico via Motorcycle

Ricardo Perez

Galeana Church
Galeana is a medium sized city located in the state of Nuevo Leon and about 200 kilometers south of Monterrey. It’s a neat little community, high up on the Sierra Madre Oriental at an elevation of 5,430 feet. This is the same mountain range that runs along the Northeast Mexico and up through Big Bend National Park in Texas.

Going Up Towards Galeana
 Galeana is a small town nestled among the mountains just southwest of Linares and Montemorelos. We took our motorcycle route through Reynosa, Mexico and then made our way down the autopista to General Bravo. From there we jumped off the main highway and headed to China then General Teran. Motemorelos, famous for its citrus industry was next on the way and finally Linares before making our way to Galeana. Its a short distance in total, about 220 miles, but it takes a good five hours plus to finally make it there. The countryside is beautiful once you pass Linares as you begin to climb towards Galeana which lies at approximately 5,500 feet. Aramberri and Doctor Arroyo are further to the south with Iturbide to the east. 
Galeana is one of those small towns that's a jewel to visit. It's got great weather, small enough to where everybody is very friendly, and it's so conveniently close to the United States that it's easily a great weekend ride. That is, once the violence down there ends and its once again safe to travel. So my Mexico ride stories have become rides that we've taken in the past. What a shame that we can't ride into Mexico right now without the fear of getting assaulted, but like all things, I believe that this will pass and touring Mexico will once again be safe. Can't wait since it's such a beautiful and historic country.

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Leaving Galeana

Heading Towards Galeana

Dinner Time
View From Plaza

Long Line of Riders

San Miguel de Allende Motorcycle Ride

Ricardo Perez

San Miguel de Allende

Our trip in 2006 to San Miguel de Allende was one of the best riding trips we ever took into Mexico.
We met in Pharr, Texas on Hwy 281 just north of the international bridge from Reynosa, Tamaulipas, Mexico.  It was almost exactly a year since our last trip into Mexico when we rode down to Real de Catorce, San Luis Potosi, Mexico on a short four day ride.  Real de Catorce was at one point in time the richest silver mining town in the western hemisphere and now is a quaint tourist village whose only entrance is a one lane mile long tunnel.

 Word spread about the good time we had the year before and our original group of 15 was now 28 with 18 bikes (with an additional couple joining us in Cd. Valles).  It was the second week in March, coinciding with Texas schools’ spring break. 

Lou, Bruce, Bob
My wife and I awoke about 3am to finish packing and to make sure we were in Pharr, about 20 miles from our house in Mission, on time.  I had plenty of time to pack the bike, check everything, and recheck.  We made Pharr right at 6am.  There were already about six riders there, mostly the group that came down from Corpus Christi, but within twenty minutes everyone showed up.  Seems we weren’t the only ones who couldn’t sleep! 

Lunch Time
     After we all topped-off our tanks, said a group prayer, and had our last cup of coffee we headed out at about 6:45am, still dark, across the international bridge into Mexico.  The weather was a very nice 72 degrees or so.  We rode through Reynosa’s eastside and out of town headed towards the coast then south on toward San Fernando and then Cd. Victoria.    Eighteen motorcycles meandering through small Mexican villages and twisty mountain roads made the going slow, but we were able to coordinate all our stops on a pretty orderly basis and after the first few times it didn’t take long for us to line up for gas at all the available pumps at the nationalized PeMex stations and move through the refueling process fairly quickly. 

As we got close to Cd. Victoria we shot off the main road to a small local restaurant for some good carne guisada (braised beef tips).  It was good home food cooking because it was both a restaurant and residence.  After lunch we rode through the outskirts of Cd. Victoria and on to Cd. Mantes. 

Hotel Taninul in Cd. Valles
Ready To Ride
     Gradually, the terrain began to change from the typical south Texas semi-arid desert to green semi-tropical surroundings.  It got hot towards the end of that first day, well into the 90’s as we entered Cd. Valles.  We stopped in Valles for the first night and stayed at a resort hotel named Hotel Taninul on the outskirts of town which is famous for its springs.  The hotel staff was very accommodating, asking us to park our bikes under their entry veranda.  For most of us, this was our first experience of traveling together in such a large group, but by natural instinct everyone went about their way, some straight to the bar, others to check in, and still others to eat.  We couldn’t help notice that the hotel had a weird type of smell, not offensive, but not typical of anything.  Well, we soon found out that the smell was caused by the high concentration of sulfur in the spring waters that ran right through the hotel.  Cd. Valles gets many visitors who come to dip in the sulfur springs, long known as a therapeutic cure for body ailments.  A few also discovered the metallurgic properties of sulfur on silver.  It turns silver black, but as we later discovered on our trip it can be reversed. 

     Early the next morning we all had breakfast and were joined by a couple from Tampico who would lead us on our next leg, across the mountains toward San Miguel de Allende.  We left the hotel at 9am and it wasn’t very long before our semi-tropical surroundings really switched to a much more tropical look.  Everything was a beautiful green and plants and trees were already blooming into beautiful colors.  It also was sugar cane harvest time and we would come up on slow moving trucks loaded to several times their height with sugar cane.  Needless to say, we ran over a lot of sugar cane which fell from these trucks. 

Tropical Highway as we head up mountains
     At first we traveled on mostly beautiful rolling hills and through green pastures.  As we rode, you could see off in the distance the silhouette of low hanging clouds which slowly transformed into a mountain range.  It didn’t look like there was any great passage through those mountains and we soon discovered that there isn’t any. 

Mountains As We Head Toward San Miguel de Allende
All of us knew that the road ahead was going to be both beautiful, but challenging.  There was no disappointment.  The road twisted right, left, down, up, and again though some beautiful scenery.  We all felt good about the ride and making it through, looking forward to moving on to our lunch stop when our guide said the road ahead is not too far from our planned lunch stop, but that it was really a twisty road, much worse than what we had just been through!  He was right.  I don’t know the exact mileage, either 45 to 100 miles, but it took about two and half hours.

We finally got through the mountains and had a late lunch and we knew that we would have to really make some time to get to San Miguel before sunset.  At one point we were within a hundred miles of Mexico City and then headed north toward San Luis Potosi.  We made the outskirts of San Miguel right after sunset and entered the city at night with traffic bumper to bumper moving very slowly or not at all on steep cobble stone roads, not the best thing to be on after a very long day through the mountains and riding two up, but we made it through town to our hotel, Real de las Minas about 7:30pm. 

     San Miguel de Allende is a beautiful town with plenty to see and do.  Over the years it has become quite an attraction for settled-out tourists from the United States that make it their year-round home.  A cab driver told us that San Miguel was at least 45% anglo.  It certainly seems to be that way.  With that migration the town has adapted to a higher standard of living with very good restaurants, hotels, homes, and art galleries so you won’t find great deals for a few pesos.

Yesneia & Irma 
Sonia at Harley Bar
     We stayed in San Miguel two nights so we could take our time seeing all of the attractions in the quaint town. My wife and I spend most the time walking through the historic churches, and the great market square.  We ate lunch at a great Italian restaurant situated at the street end of an intersecting “Y” that gave us a wonderful view of daily life in San Miguel.  We saw a local police officer writing a citation for a vehicle parked right in front of the restaurant on the sidewalk in what was an obvious “no parking” zone.  He left the citation and removed the license plates and went on his way.  We asked our waiter why they do that and he explained that you can’t drive around without plates and the only way to get them back is to go to the police station to pick them up where you’ll have to pay the fine.  That makes sense.  We watched as six of our bike group roared by on rented ATVs, and just people reading and going about their business in San Miguel de Allende. 

The Girls at the Harley Bar in San Miguel
     At night there was good number of us at the Harley Bar.  The proprietor, a young man who looked like he could have belonged to the WWC federation, served up drinks to all as he traded Harley stories with anyone wanting to listen.  He had his “black beauty” parked right outside his bar and he would start it up and tell us how he crossed the United States at least twice on that bike, one of three he owned.  Before the night was over one of our group had commandeered the mike and was singing well into the night.

Slow Going on Way to Cd. Victoria
Mary & Jaime Pena
     We left San Miguel at seven in the morning and headed back up north and eventually northeast toward Cd. Victoria.  We went through quite a bit of highway under construction and it slowed us down, but we made Cd. Victoria by day’s end.  We stayed right down town on the plaza square at a Hampton Inn and had a great view of the plaza.  Our bikes were parked in the basement garage and we had a great evening relaxing and talking about the trip. 

     Our fifth and last day we left Cd. Victoria at 9am and headed north on the same highway we first took Saturday morning.  We made it back to the United States by 3pm and we all headed straight to the closest What-A-Burger in Alamo for our favorite staple, hamburger and fries. 

     We traveled 1,300 miles in five days.

Irma and Ricardo 

Joe Cantu 

Slow Going Behind Sugar Cane Trucks
At the Harley Bar

Happy Trails To You!

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Motorcycle Tour to Veracruz Mexico

Ricardo Perez

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South of Tropic of Cancer
Veracruz, Mexico is one of the most beautiful cities in Mexico and its Caribbean, African, and Spanish influences port are undeniable especially in its architecture and foods. It's Mexico's oldest sea port having first served as a port of entry since 1518 making it about 500 years old; more than double the age of our country's independence. Taking a fairing direct route, Veracruz is about 650 miles from the Texas border (Mission, Texas).

Mission, Texas To Veracruz, Mexico
Twenty four of us set out for this seven day trip and for the first time we had a couple follow in a suburban which added a degree of security in case we broke down or had an accident, neither of which occurred. It's funny to note that all of us had our bikes packed perfectly, but once we had the luxury of the Suburban it quickly got filled with bags and paraphernalia that made us realize just how much stuff we load our bikes with.
Rest Stop - Just Follow that Beer Truck!
Central Downtown Veracruz Plaza 
One of our group leaders had shirts made up for all of us which read, El Chorrito Club, commemorating one of our first rides into Mexico when two of our group dropped their bikes as they stalled out on a sharp narrow turning incline as we headed to El Chorrito, Hidalgo, Tamaulipas, Mexico.
Lunch Stop
Our group was so large that routine gas stops and meal breaks usually turned out to be a good minimum half hour for gas and about two hours for lunch, but that didn't seem to bother any of us as we were having a good time. For lunch breaks we'd try and find something out of the ordinary where they could handle a large group.
South of the Tropic of Cancer that the landscape started to change a little bit, but it was not until we were well south of Tampico that the vegetation really went from dry semi-arid conditions to lush vegetation.
Our first night was spent in Tampico in a downtown hotel which made it convenient for us to leave the bikes parked while we hunted down a good restaurant or bar. Tampico founded in the early 1800's is another port city which is very industrialized and carries tons of commercial traffic inland to Mexico's major cities.
Away from the crouds on a Tecolutla Side Street
We were off early the next morning and headed to our next stop, Tecolutla. Tecolutla is a small village on the Gulf Coast which serves as a big tourist village mostly to local Mexican nationals since it is the closest beach to Mexico City. It's a real jewel, hidden away from all major traffic it serves as a must stop for anybody wanting to really see something special. The Tecolutla River discovered in 1518 pours into the Gulf of Mexico. We happened onto Tecolutla on a Saturday and they were holding an annual festival so everybody was out on their main streets strolling up and down. We were really fortunate to be there and participate in the festivities. We wandered through the streets trying to decide where to stop for a beer or dinner...too many choices. One of us, as I discovered later that evening, followed a young boy carrying a huge lobster as he made his way to a tiny restaurant. Our rider quickly said that he wanted "that" lobster for dinner! You won't see that too often on our US streets.
Our hotel had a secure fenced parking area where we kept our bikes and a young man washed our bikes for just a few pesos while we took in the town.

Irma & Ricardo in El Tajin
The next day we took  a slight detour from our journey south along the coast as we headed West about thirty miles to the archaeological site of El Tajin. It's an ancient city with pyramids, buildings with bas-reliefs carved into its stone walls, and game courtyards where losers were beheaded. The carved reliefs tell a very interesting story on their culture, games, rituals, battle enemy's being decapitated, and social life.
Although it was out of our way, it was certainly a worthwhile detour. It's hard to imagine that just a few hundred miles South of our border there are archaeological findings that long pre-date the discover of America.

Jaime Pena at El Tajin
Player's Courtyard at El Tajin

Voladoros de Papantla 
El Tajin Market Area

Our visit to El Tajin was only half day before continuing our journey down to Veracruz. The highway south of Tampico leaves a lot to be desired and it's probably some of the poorest highway since being so close to the coast it gets battered by coastal winds and moisture year-round. 
We hugged the coast as we stayed on the Poza Rica - Veracruz Highway (Mexico 180). Other than the condition of the road in spots the ocean views, the tropical vegetation and sea breeze made this ride one of our most memorable. 

It was a long ride into Veracruz and ended up rolling into town after sunset. We finally settled on a hotel along the Costa Verde vicinity, checked in, and made our way across the street to a nice seafood restaurant.
View from our hotel of Isla de Sacrificios
It wasn't until daylight and riding into downtown that we discovered what a beautiful city we had landed onto. It's an old city with much history and it architecture is beautiful. We went by the port where huge ships were docked and they were busy either getting loaded or unloaded and headed to unknown destinations.

Veracruz Port and Ship of Unknown Origin
Gran Cafe de la Parroquia
Of course, a prerequisite of any Veracruz trip is a visit to the historical Gran Cafe de la Parroquia where clicking your glass with a spoon sends over a waiter to pour milk into your coffee. In my opinion, it's a must visit, but it's not for the food, just for the coffee and for the fact that it's more than a restaurant, it's more of an institution in Veracruz. After your coffee we walked the streets and dropping into the markets along the docks to check out the tourist things. That evening we asked a waiter at a "nice" touristy restaurant for a recommendation and he quickly told us that after his shift was over he headed over to a little side street restaurant where he worked another shift, but swore by the food. We took his recommendations and we were not disappointed. Seems most good restaurants like the one we visited has fresh seafood and can fix it just about any way you want. Of course, I had the Huachinango a la Veracruzano (red snapper) that was great.
On our last day in Veracruz we spent most of the day in the main downtown plaza. All of us had a great time as we drank, listened to music, and just kicked back and enjoyed good food, drink, and music with good friends. 
We took a few days getting back to Texas riding straight from Veracruz to Cd Victoria for an overnight stay and then back into Texas the following day. Veracruz is one of the southernmost rides we have taken into Mexico, but it was a great ride along the Gulf coast. Once things settle down in Mexico we'll point our bikes in that direction again. 

The Girls
The Boys

Roadside Luncheon Stop 
Joe at the Plaza in Veracruz

Trio at the Veracruz Plaza with Irma
The Plaza
Lunch Stop 
Veracruz Downtown
Veracruz Group

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Lone Star Motorcycle Museum

Ricardo Perez

This is the 1938 Brough Superior Model "SS80"
A few miles north of lonely Vanderpool, Texas nestled just off of Highway 187 North and surrounded by the Texas Hill Country you'll find the Lone Star Motorcycle Museum  The bike pictured above is the same model bike that Lawrence of Arabia, TE Lawrence, was riding when he suffered a head injury after losing control of his bike while attempting to avoid some children riding bicycles.
A motorcycle museum situated in the Texas hill country doesn't make much sense until you consider all the bike riding that takes place in the hill country then I guess its not a bad place to be.  Come springtime there's always a slow, but steady stream of bikers that stop-by to check out the bikes on display in the museum. The museum is open from March to November on Friday, Saturday and Sunday so it's closed for the winter season. There's a $5.00 entry fee which seems high for anything out in the middle of nowhere, but it's well worth the money once you see the bikes on display. If you eat there you can get in for free, but I've never been too crazy about their food so I just pay the entry fee.

They have over 50 motorcycles from all models and years. You'll see Ducati to BMW bikes from vintage years as well as everything else. So next time you're riding in the Three Sisters area take time to make a side trip to Vanderpool and visit the Lone Star Motorcycle Museum. You won't be disappointed.

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Honda ST Motorcycle Cheap STOC Rally: Camp Wood, Texas

Ricardo Perez

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Intersection of Hwy 83 & 337 in Leakey Texas

The annual Honda ST rider's Cheap STOC (ST Owner's Club) Rally was held May 6-8 in Camp Wood, Texas. That's right, May 8th was Mother's Day, but that didn't seem to bother anyone very much. They must have been abused children? Tomas, Marco, Ed and I rode up on Thursday from Mission/Edinburg and going by way of Boerne. Marco had a service scheduled for 9:30am at the Alamo BMW Motorcycle dealer. We left Mission at 4:30am and Edinburg by 5:00am. Marco went ahead of us once we stopped for coffee in Falfurrias, but we met up about 11am at the dealership. We were off to Camp Wood via Bandera, Medina, Vanderpool. and Leakey by 3pm and arrived by 5:30pm. We stopped in Leakey at  Hogpen BBQ right on the intersection of Hwy 83 & 337.
Ed's pretending to read at Lost Maples Restaurant

Keith, Man in Black is wanted in several counties


 some of us had just ridden the Three Sisters (Hwy 335, 336, & 337) we decided to do something different so we rode to Utopia via 337, 83 and 1050 for breakfast at the Lost Maples Restaurant Cafe.
We met these guys at our motel. Cycling from San Diego to Austin averaging approximately 60 miles per day

From there we headed south on 187 to Sabinal then west on 90 through Uvalde and into Brackettville, about 30 miles east of Del Rio. Brackettville is home to the Alamo remake which was used for the movie by John Wayne. It's open for tourists if you're into that kind of thing.

Stuart Bat Cave At Kickapoo Cavern State Park
Brackettville was our destination in order to get to Hwy 674 to Rocksprings. It's one of my favorite road which doesn't get much use. It's about 60 miles from Brackettville to Rocksprings and it's a great ride. About halfway up 674 is the Kickapoo Cavern State Park which is about a two mile ride onto the State Park Road. It's also about as little known as Hwy 674, but worth the time to visit.
Last summer the countryside on this highway was really green, but this time around with our drought conditions, it was rather dry, but the stark contrast made it a very nice ride.
Feed the Trough BBQ in Rocksprings
Once we got to Rocksprings we decided to stop at Feed the Trough BBQ. It was late afternoon and they were just taking the beef right off the grill. Don't know how it tasted since we stuck to the Root Beer Floats as we had planned an "all you can eat" catfish dinner back in Camp Wood. Mistake!
Back in Camp Wood we had a good, but not great catfish dinner then gathered around the motel with the rest of the ST Cheap STOC folks. We had a very good rain storm roll in about 9pm and enjoyed seeing some rainfall for a change.
We left Camp Wood in the morning and I headed back home via Hwy 83 and Tomas, Ed, and Marco headed back to the BMW dealer in Boerne for their open house and the first viewing of the BMW K1600 GTL motorcycle. It's the new six cylinder motorcycle that's replacing the four cylinder LT. I owned a 2005 LT and it always seemed a little top heavy at parking lot speeds, but this new bike is suppose to have a much lower center of gravity and a dream to handle. We'll see in the future if that holds to be true. We'll have to make our way back to Alamo BMW for a test ride and another report. At-a-glance the bike looks great, sounds great, and has a seating height that allows someone like me at 5'10" with a 31" inseam to be flat footed on the ground.

The New BMW K1600 GTL

West Texas On Fire - Motorcycle Ride in West Texas

Ricardo Perez

Wildfire View from Sanderson's Desert Air Motel

I had to run up to Alpine to give a presentation on a new insurance package to our TRLA Alpine Office, but after the first question I had to use my "call a friend life line" to our Benefits Director. After that call I just held the posters and as Julie said, I was in my best Vanna White mode. An exhausting presentation.
Tomas and I had started out early from Mission stopping in San Isidro for breakfast where we were warned not to stop for any suspicious looking police/deputy/DPS vehicles because there's been a rash of robberies by men pretending to be cops. Just like the Zetas in Mexico. Good to know that there's nothing like having a little bit of Mexico in South Texas to make the ride more interesting!
We've been in a drought throughout Texas and the valley had not had significant rainfall since late July 2010 so when we saw the thunderstorm approaching us north of Hebbronville we were glad to see rain clouds. That good feeling didn't last too long as we had to pull over about 20 miles south of Freer, pull out the rain gear and move on. I have a BMW one piece rain suit that I brag about being absolutely water proof and the perfect outfit for any thunderstorm. I was wrong. The rain really started falling and the wind was blowing the rain sideways and soon I began to feel rain coming up my sleeves because I forgot to put on my neat rain gloves, the ones with the little squeegee on the forefinger for wiping the water off my face shield. Those gloves overlap the rain suit sleeve, my summer riding gloves don't do that and with no place to pull off the highway it was too late to change. Then I felt water dripping down my neck onto my shirt and rain coming up my pant legs so by the time we made the Love's Truck Stop in Encinal some 70 miles later, I was soaked. A guy who passed us up on the way to Encinal was also at Love's and came over to tell us that he couldn't believe we were riding in that rain and that he wouldn't do it for any amount of money. It's hard to look like "mancho man" when you're soaking wet so we just smiled and said it cooled us off. I switched shirts, fueled up and rode on. The clouds were gone past Encinal and 30 miles later I was totally dry.
Riding in the rain, if you stay dry, is not bad especially in summer months when it's a nice cooling off break. The only scary part, apart from hitting water puddles and fearing hydroplaning (not a good thing on two wheels) is lightening. Before getting to Freer there were some pretty nasty flashes that were a little too close for comfort. I can feel myself ducking as we cruise by those big radio antennas. I'm thinking that the rubber tires prevent grounding with the pavement so I should be okay, right?
There's not too much change in the landscape from the valley and the rest of South Texas not until we pass Eagle Pass, about 20 miles west on Hwy 277 do things change as we approach Quemado, Texas. Quemado is a small town sitting in what is a beautiful oasis of green pastures and huge pecan groves. There isn't anything like it east or west for hundreds of miles. It's by the Rio Grande River with its pastures and groves irrigated by a series of canals. It's worth the time to get off the highway and take the narrow two lane county road which parallels the river for a few miles.
Another 36 miles to Del Rio, stopped at Rudy's BBQ for a late lunch before continuing on Hwy 90 west to Alpine from Del Rio. We're running late so there's no time to stop at the Pecos River overview of the highest suspended bridge in Texas or at Judge Roy Bean's Museum in Langtry as we kept rolling west.
West Texas Fires - photo by JBalovich
We fueled up in Sanderson, Texas and had been on the road all day with 455 miles behind us and only 84 to go on Hwy 90 before reaching Alpine, Texas. As we rolled into Sanderson the setting sun silhouetted what I thought was a beautiful rain cloud finally making their way into dry, drought stricken West Texas. Between that beautiful cloud and our bikes sat on the middle of our lane two Sheriff Deputy vehicles with their red and blue lights flooding the highway. No doubt some type of license check point or a search for poachers. I was wrong. As I pulled up to them they said the road was closed because there was too much smoke across the highway. That's when I realized my beautiful rain cloud was actually smoke from the burning fires. The deputies said that the wind usually dies down at night so the highway might open by 1am or we could head north to Fort Stockson on Hwy 285 and then south on Hwy 385 to Marathon, a 120 mile detour. The wait would be too long and riding at night is never a safe alternative in deer country so we checked in at Sanderson's Desert Air Motel for the night. The $48 room charge convinced me that stopping overnight was a smart move.
Still burning by Hwy 90 West of Sanderson

West of Sanderson fires rule. With the highway now open I left the motel at 7am leaving Tomas to get some more sleep. Highway 90 west to Marathon was open, but it was still burning just off the highway and with the winds picking up again during the day the highway would close again by that afternoon.

Friday morning and the fires are still burning. This is how much of the area looks like now.

Late Friday morning Tomas joined me in Alpine and we headed south to Study Butte before entering Big Bend National Park. The skies were still hazy as far south as the park. At the Chisos Basin we met a fellow rider on a Ducati riding from Phoenix, Arizona to Houston. He had been riding since Tuesday (four days) and heading east. I mentioned that unlike his ride from Phoenix we were just down the road about 600 miles and then it dawned on me that we were about the same distance from each other. On the way north we were at the speed limit of 75mph when suddenly a very huge buck stood in front of me on the middle of the highway. I slammed on the brakes, but he just looked at me like I was invading his space. He walked off, leaped a fence and disappeared into the woods. To say he jumped the fence would be wrong, implying that effort was involved, and with a graceful walk he glided over the fence as if it were only a foot high.

We left Big Bend by way of the North entrance coming out in Marathon planning to head east to Sanderson for a second night's stay. Unfortunately, Hwy 90 was again closed so we rode back into Marathon to try and find a room for the night. Alpine was booked, and so was Marathon. We had no choice, but to go north about 60 miles on Hwy 285 to Fort Stockton. We landed a room at the Hampton Inn. We rode about 340 miles on Friday before we finally ending up in Fort Stockton.
About 10pm Fire Fighters started coming in for the night. Seems all were young, looking like America's real cowboys, beat and weary from fighting fires. They all carried their packs with everything from sleeping rolls to work boots. By 6am they were eating breakfast and gone by 6:15am. These young men and women had to be worn by the daily grind of coming in late at night and leaving before daylight.
West Texas blazes. Photo by JBalovich
Saturday morning we were off at 8:15am riding to Eagle Pass, Freer, Hebbronville and home. We rode 534 miles on Saturday and 1,335 miles in three days.
It was impressive to see the charred landscapes looking stark and strange like something from another planet. Rain will certainly help put out the fires and restore the landscape to its natural beauty. Until that comes about it's worth your time to see parts of West Texas in this unusual setting.

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The Three Sisters Hill Country Motorcycle Ride

Ricardo Perez

Luckenbach Store Front
For our first real ride in April my wife and I rode along with Albert and Lisa Chapa to the hill country to ride the popular Three Sisters. We left Mission on Thursday about 9:30am and rode on the Expressway 83/281 about 20 miles to Susie's a small restaurant just past the Flying J and before Love's truck stops. It's a tiny restaurant with good breakfast plates.
By the time we rolled out from Susie's it was about 11am, but we were in no hurry since our ride that day was the destination. We stopped twice, at the rest stop in Falfurrias and then at the rest stop past Three Rivers before heading into Pleasanton then west to Jourdanton to gas up. North of Jourdanton we took Hwy 173 to Hondo then Bandera and Medina on old highway 16. Nine miles north of Medina is the Koyote Ranch RV and Resort where we stayed for three nights and four days.
Koyote Ranch is an out-of-way place with a restaurant, store, an outdoor stage with a live band on Saturday nights as well as neat little cabins next to the general RV lots. The particular weekend we were there was also an annual bike rally for gay women and the place was packed so there was good live music and interesting bikes! We stayed in some of the cabins that can sleep up to six or so, but we each had our own cabin with a neat rear patio deck, great for just sitting and drinking some cold beer.
Our first day's ride totaled approximately 330 miles so we had plenty of time to just kickback and enjoy the rest of the afternoon and evening.
One of my favorite bikes at the museum.
Vanderpool, Texas

Friday we rode into Medina for breakfast then get on Hwy 337, the first of the Three Sisters Highways, riding west towards Vanderpool. In Vanderpool we made the ritual stop at the Lone Star Motorcycle Museum. I've been to the museum at least half a dozen times, but it was Albert and Lisa's first visit and I always like to stop there. You've got to support somebody that's crazy enough to put a motorcycle museum in the middle of nowhere! Of course, we  checked out the vintage bikes and enjoy some nice bench time before continuing west on 337.
Next stop was Leakey which has a nice big gas station now on the south side of town as well as a good outdoor BBQ & Beer joint right on the northwest corner of the Hwy 83 and 337 intersection. We fueled up in Leakey then continued west on 337 to Camp Wood for an early lunch. Camp Wood is most famous for Charles Lindbergh. He landed there in 1924, three years before his historic trans-atlantic flight, and crashed into a local store trying to takeoff. He had to spend a week or more there while parts arrived to repair his damaged Jenny.
From Camp Wood we headed north on Hwy 335 for the second leg of the Three Sisters. Being further west and because of the ongoing drought the ride on 335 showed just how dry things are this spring with no rain. Twenty eight miles north Hwy 41 intersects 335 so a quick 10-15 mile ride east on 41 and you're at the Hwy 336 intersection. Headed south on 336 for 27 miles and although you can't see it most of the time, we are riding parallel the Frio River all the way back in Leakey. This time we stop for a cool beer before heading back east on 337 to Medina and then Koyote Ranch. This was Friday and it was a great day of riding and we got to ride the famous Three Sisters, Highways 335, 336, and 337.
Friday afternoon we were joined by my brother, Tomas, and Ed Ramirez and late that same night Marco Gutierrez rode in from Edinburg. Saturday morning the seven of us rode north on old Hwy 16 into Kerrville for breakfast. Old Hwy 16 north of Medina is a very scenic hill ride that has several low water crossings as well as two hairpin turns. It's another must on anybody's riding list. After breakfast Tomas and Marco split off and headed to a BMW rally in Llano while the rest of us rode to Fredericksburg for a couple of hours before heading to Albert, Texas. Albert is much like Luckenbach, but without the people. It's got a dance hall and two huge oak trees which are the hallmark of Albert. It's worth the ride if you like out of the way places without the crowd you find in Luckenbach.  From Albert we headed towards Blanco then Luckenbach. Since it was Saturday afternoon a live band was performing. The music was great, but too many people so we headed back to Kerrville for some BBQ before attending mass at the local Catholic church. We rode into Koyote at dusk and settled in for a quiet night of listening to the live band from our cabin balcony.
Sunday morning and time to head back home. After breakfast in Hondo we made our way back to the valley via Hwy 16 through Tilden, Freer, Hebbronville, La Gloria, McCook and back to Mission. A great four days of riding with good friends, nothing better!
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Motorcycle Riding to El Salto - Velo de la Novia: Zaragoza, NL, Mexico

Ricardo Perez

Lunch Time
Back when it was safe to travel in Mexico we rode to El Salto known as "Velo de la Novia" (bridal veil) is located in Zaragoza, NL, Mexico. It's off the main roads, but a unique area to visit while touring in Mexico. We made our way into Mexico in Reynosa and stayed on the autopista (expressway toll road) down to the China exit then took the less traveled roads to Montemorelos, Linares, Galenana, Doctor Arroyo, and finally Zaragoza. It was a misty afternoon on our arrival and the cobblestone roads can get slippery, but we managed them well enough to stay a while and enjoy the waterfalls.
Waterfall at El Salto

In the Kitchen

 We arrived after lunch, but by mid-afternoon the kitchen opened for business. Pulling fresh trout from holding tanks somewhere above the park area we were treated to feast for just a few dollars. If you're ever in this area be sure and make time to see the waterfalls and be sure and get some great trout for lunch.
DJ & Sonia

DJ, Sonia, Mary & Jaime

The Gang

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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,

Big Bend National Park via Motorcycle: Santa Elena Canyon & Castolon on Motorcycle

Ricardo Perez

Santa Elena Canyon

Sotol Vista Overlook
Most visitors to Big Bend National Park seldom take the time to make it all the way to Santa Elena Canyon on the southwest corner of the park. It's one of the most interesting parts of the vast environmental diversity found in the park. If you're coming in from Alpine, Marathon or even from a campsite at the Chisos Basin within the park you'll notice that it can be very hot down by the canyon. My wife and I have camped out at the basin with temperature about 80 degrees and by the time we reach the canyon it was 20 degrees hotter, a 100 degree day. On a motorcycle those 20 degrees are light years apart on the comfort level so be prepared to peel off layers of clothes as you approach the canyon. If you go into the park via Study Butte on the western end of the park the turnoff to Santa Elena Canyon is about 13 miles away. The ride is about 30 miles from the turnoff.  About one third of the way down is the Sotol Vista Overlook.  Don't pass this up, the ride is less than half a mile and worth the stop to take in the view.  Santa Elena Canyon is in view about 12 miles away as the crow flies, but another 20 miles or so on the road. Friends with a BMW GS or other worthy off road bike can circumvent this route by taking the unpaved "Old Maverick Road" that hugs the western boundary of Big Bend National Park and cuts the travel distance in half or more. Old Maverick Road is a 13 mile ride to the canyon.
Eight miles before reaching the canyon is Castolon Visitor Center. It's a must stop if its 100 degree weather. There's water, soft drinks, snacks and usually a great person behind the counter ready to share some time with visitors. Over the years we've met several workers stationed at Castolon and you really have to admire their dedication to their job and the National Park Service. Talk about being stationed away from civilization! This is it.
Majestic View From Sotol Overlook

Evaporating "low water crossing" close to the canyon

Castolon Visitor Center Patio

Creek at Santa Elena Canyon

Santa Elena Canyon and Road's End
Another eight miles down the road is Santa Elena Canyon which is not always accessible. If it has rained then, most likely, the road is impassable to traffic at anyone of the numerous low water crossing those last few miles. We once went about three straight visits to Castolon only to be turned around due to high water. There is a turn around at the end of the road and about 75 yards from there is a sandy walk to Terlingua Creek that merges into the Rio Grande River. If it's not raining or rained the night before you can walk across the creek and meet up with a steep path that runs almost a mile along the canyon wall above the river. It's a very nice hike if you can cross the creek.
If you are already in the park then plan to spend at least a half day to enjoy the canyon. Remember it takes about an hour to get there, then a rest stop at Castolon, and at least an hour or two at the canyon makes for a long day trip. There is also Mule Ears Viewpoint which you can see on the way back. An even longer day is if you're in Alpine, 82 miles from Study Butte or Terlingua so plan accordingly. It's just as far from Marathon if you enter from the north entrance.
Big Bend National Park gets over 300,000 visitors a year, but I know that's not in July. We've been there during the summer months and its fairly void of other humans so you have the whole place to yourselves.  Did I mention it gets hot? Last summer my wife's shoe literally melted apart so plan ahead and take sun screen, water, more water, and snacks.  April and May are good months to visit since its still a little cooler.
There's also rafting trips you can take down the river from Lajitas. It used to be a really neat old town, but somebody bought the whole town and gave a Gucci type remake. It has fancy stores, a golf course, and even an airport landing strip for private jets. We've ridden through it many times and we even stopped once. 
Residence at Castolon
Sotol Vista Overlook Parking - Not Too Crowded in July!

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Irma at Sotol Vista Overlook

July is hot enough to melt your shoes off!
Castolon Visitor Center and Canyon visible 8 miles away

Motorcycle Riding Hwy P100 South Padre Island

Ricardo Perez

SPI Hwy P100
One of our favorite "short rides" from the upper Rio Grande Valley in Mission is to head over to South Padre Island via Military Hwy so named for its original purpose of connecting the valley's two forts, Fort Brown in Brownsville and Fort Ringgold in Rio Grande City.
Fort Ringgold not named after the famous Beatle, Ringo Starr was settled in 1848 served until its closing in 1944. Likewise, Fort Brown, not named after famous singer James Brown was settled in 1845 and was decommissioned in 1946.  Connecting the two forts is Military Highway which was originally laid out for General Zachary Taylor in order to get supplies from Fort Brown to Fort Ringgold. It wasn't until the 1960s when the entire Military Road Highway was paved.
View from Wanna Wanna's Bar
We're in Mission so when we hookup with Military Hwy we're at the halfway point between Brownsville and Rio Grande City. It's a much longer ride especially in time taking Military verses staying on Expressway Hwy 83, but the ride is much more scenic especially at this time of year when there are fields upon fields of winter vegetables growing and being harvested. Unlike the hectic and crowded expressway, the Military Hwy route is a much better ride. We turn off Military heading north and coming out at the intersection of Expressway 83 and Hwy 100 then its about thirty miles to South Padre Island.
Once at SPI there are quite a few things you can do including riding up the highway to the pavement's end on the north end of SPI. Usually its a nice quite place to go except for an occasional RV along the side of the road parked for the night there isn't much to distract from the great view of the dunes and seashore. If you like to sit back, have a nice beer or soda, and listen to some live outdoor music then the place to be at is WannaWanna's. It's a small hotel with an outdoor deck and thatched roof bar overlooking the seashore.  It's a great place to spend some time before heading back home.
Ed rolling past huge dunes on P100
End of SPI Hwy P100

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