WanderlustBy Sam Lepore

Subject: WanderSouth 11 - Early, Texas
Date: Mon, 11 Mar 2002 19:16:59 -0800

    Durn near ruint my record. After a hundred miles of skirting around the weather front, I actually had to stop and put on my rain suit this morning. But then I suffered through all of only 10 minutes rain. In the last three years of Wanders, roughly 40,000 miles, I have had 1 hour and (now) 10 minutes of rain. (And that doesn't count two other trips Rebecca and I took to Branson and Seattle, also dry.)

    One of the nice things about living in San Francisco is you never have to explain where it is when someone asks you where are you from. Or so I thought. Never say never. While I was wriggling into my rain suit under the awning of a gas station somewhere in Deepswamp, Louisiana, a local porch dweller ambled over to give the 'what's this here contraption' inspection every motorcycle rider experiences in out-of-the-way places. Maybe it was the various stickers, including the reflective cows, I have on the back of the bike that confused
him. So he asked, "Whur yuu frum?" San Francisco.
    "War zat?"
    Ohhhhh kayyyyy. Time to play ... It's a little ways across the state line. Ever hear of California? Next he asked a common question that would be salient if he were in Daytona :) "Ja ride it all da way here?" My truthful answer confused him even more: No, I rode it most of the way but every night I push it about 100 feet. (What I didn't say is after I register at the motel, I usually push the bike to my room - just to walk a little.) It was all too much. He retreated to the safety of the porch.

    Get me out of Louisiana. LA has the worst roads of any state I've ridden. Mexico must have come here to study how to make their speed bumps (topes) capable of wrecking traffic, not just slowing it. Then around Winnfield where I stayed last night, I noticed - no bumps. Roads like any other state. What gives? What gave is the civic contribution of Winnfield to LA politics. As I was walking to dinner I passed the Welcome To sign which said "Home of Three Governors", including Huey Long who was responsible for bringing pavement to the people. The story about him tells how the first year he had a highway budget, there wasn't enough to do more than a hundred miles or so. So instead of building one road, he sent the crews to a hundred different towns and had them build one mile at the edge of each. Each town loved that stretch of pavement. Then he asked the people next year to give him the money to finish "their" road.
    Still doesn't explain the bumps though.

    Practice swerving! If you never practice, you will never be able to do it when you need it. Swerving is fun when you don't have to - and fatal if you have to but don't.
    I saw it coming. When something doesn't look right, you should look for an escape. Long straight Texas two lane. All-terrain vehicle with two males ahead of me, traveling mostly on the road in my lane. Dump truck approaching in the other lane. The ATV rider began to veer to the right. I thought two things: he might hear me coming and be moving off the road, but the angle of his veer doesn't seem right. It is too sharp. And there is no path or driveway there. Oh ****, he's swinging right to turn left.
    I swerved hard to the opposite side of the road, no more than a foot from the edge of the pavement. He suddenly realized there was a vehicle behind him and stopped dead center in my lane just as I predicted. Both men's eyes were full of panic. I swerved hard back into the right lane and looked back in the mirror to see the dump truck smoking all six tires as the men tumbled off the ATV in terror. The truck missed.

    Looking for a route across Texas I haven't taken before, I noticed I was not far from Palmer. Palmer and Waxahachie are where one of my favorite never-was-famous slice-of-life movies was filmed: Tender Mercies. So I go see if I can find the old motel. Nope, as Rebecca would say, it's all growed up now.
    When I stopped for gas, a good ol boy comes over as I am refolding my map. He is very friendly. "Wur ya need t'go?" I've noticed a common colloquialism in Texas - people do not 'want' something, they 'need' it. Not: I'd like an ice tea, please. But: I need two biggo burgers an' I need a tea. Anyway, good ol boy sees the GPS and decides maybe he can't give me directions, but he starts naming BBQ houses and trucker restaurants in the direction I'm headed. Then he says, "Y'no, ah usta hav me wuna these, it wuz Japanese." I replied that Japanese built good bikes, but this is German. His next question still leaves me with no answer: "Whah wud the Germans wanna build a Japanese bike?"

    At one point today I had on all the top coverings I was carrying. The electric jacket liner because the day started cold. The leather jacket with 4 inch fur collar. The neck wrap to keep sidewinds out. And then the rain jacket snugged at the collar. My helmet was ratcheted down on top of all this, and everything fit so tight that I could not turn my head at all. What an education! When I finally hit a section of twisty road, I could not make the curves without slowing way way down below my normal attack speeds. Not being able to turn my head and look through the curve threw off the entire balance sequence. The bike simply would not lean. I felt like a rookie pushing the bike around a corner instead of leaning into it. Wow! We teach that the bike goes where you look, but it is disconcerting to not be able to look and have the bike refuse to go!

I started early to avoid the rain and ended late in Early.

437 miles
Winnfield US84 TX204 US175 FM85 I45 FM813 FM878 US287 US77 FM66 FM916 FM4 US67 Early
Sam Lepore, San Francisco

Previous Index Next
© 1997-2002