Alpine '96 Group PhotoThe First President's
Alpine Country Lunch
Alpine, Texas
Nov. 16th, 1996

From: Rob Lentini
Date: Mon, Nov. 18, 1996

Alpine is over and my motor is cooled down. Here's what went on...

Roger Austin and I left Tucson at 0500 on 15 Nov from our usual start place near I-10. As we entered New MX, we enjoyed a beautiful sunrise. First stop was Deming Cycle Center where we met Don Cameron and his staff--great people! Don was very kind (along with Iron Horse) to donate door prizes. Thx!!!

Our day's plan was to at least make Presidio TX (west of Big Bend on the Rio Grande). As we shot through Marfa and down to Presidio, it was clear we were early so we swooped along the "Camino Del Rio" until terminating at Study (Stoody) Butte for the night. A big BBQ and fairly long 700+ day put us to sleep quickly.

Next morning on "lunch day" we shot Big Bend's Santa Elena Canyon and Chisos Basin before heading north on US385 through Marathon and on into Alpine. Winds were fierce but generally trailing, allowing small throttle openings at 90+.

We got to the (open!!) Longhorn Cattle Co. at 1245--already full with engorging Prez'. Here's who came:

1.  Ira Agins, Santa Fe NM
2.  Roger Austin, Tucson AZ
3.  Richard Moore, Midland TX
4.  Delton Shirley, Monahans TX
5.  Sam Lepore, San Francisco CA
6.  David Haun, Austin TX
7.  Rex Wright, San Antonio TX
8.  Pete McMahon, San Antonio TX
9.  Mark Geowey, Austin TX
10. Doug Woodward, Austin TX
11. Richard Meltz, Santa Fe NM
12. Kent Polk, San Antonio TX
13. Mike Polk, Austin TX
14. Roger Albert, Austin TX
15. Rick Chevrie, Austin TX
16. Rafael Garcia, College Sta TX
17. Mark Crowder, Dallas TX
18. Carlos Valenzuela, Wichita Falls TX
19. Bill Walton, Denton TX
20. Steve Aikens, Clovis NM
21. Deryle Mehrten, Sierra Vista AZ
22. Paul Kent, Tucson AZ
23. Arno Jones, Tucson AZ
24. Warren Harhay, Boulder City NV
25. Herb Stark, Avinger TX
26. Jeff Black, Colorado Springs CO
27. Tony Black, Colorado Springs CO
28. Jan Hainbach, Austin TX
29. Mark Weiss, Chandler AZ
30. Kevin Yunk, Phoenix AZ
31. Rob Lentini, Tucson AZ

Spelling and home location is important, so please correct any typos or omissions!

All in all, a pretty good turnout for a remote location and possible bad weather!

Sam Lepore, of course, got the long distance Iron Horse shirt award--1432 miles from San Fran!!! Ooowww! Jeff Black and one other (can't remember--remind me!) got the two door prizes. And, everyone received a hand-made Texas key fob provided by Tim Wilkin of Houston (Thanks!!!)

Later that day, some of us met for drinks and dinner at the "Reata", a great Texas-style beef joint. I had to listen to Aikens' war stories during the whole meal--arghhh! :-):-) Good Texas meat, though. Just kidding, Steve!

Sat morning, me, Roger Austin, Arno Jones, and Paul Kent meandered quickly through the RT118 Texan "Alps" and on to I-10. From there, Rog and I split with the other two and had a BALL west of El Paso...

NM9 runs from just west of I-10 at El Paso through Columbus and on to Animas and old US80 in AZ. But...from El Paso to Columbus this road is generally straight, clean of animals, and unpatrolled. We AVERAGED 100+ to Columbus and ran WFO for over 20 miles--great fun!!!

Well, that's Alpine for 1996. How's this for an idea: Do different "Alpines" in different states? I'll organize an Arizona Alpine (RT666!!!) this spring. Anyone want to later do "your" Alpine? I'm waiting...

Rob Lentini
Tucson, AZ
Alpine "Lunch" was GREAT!!!

From: Richard Meltz
Date: Mon, Nov. 18, 1996

Hi Y'all,

Well by now everyone assuredly knows how successful the Alpine Lunch was. What really impressed me tho was the welcome put out by the Texas Highway Department. They had erected all these signs that read "Numerous Dips In the Road". They obviously knew we were coming.

Saturday morning several Dips took a high speed run thru the Davis Mountains. Arno, Steve Aikens, Doug, and another R1100RS rider (Sorry buddy, forgot your name) proved that four R1100RS's carving thru the twisty scenery in close formation make a picture as pretty as you've ever seen.

They also proved that my R1100RT isn't quite up to playing in the rarefied atmosphere of those Big Dippers. (Couldn't have anything to do with my riding skills could it?) Me and Ira played catch up all morning. But man can I catch up! The R1100RT really does go 130. Don't tell my wife how I know this.

and then on 19 Nov 1996,

Hi Y'all,

I'm sitting here pumped full of pain killers and muscle relaxants. I've just returned from the Doctor's office. My wife carted my sorry ass over there this morning when it turned out I could barely walk without collapsing in pain. Turns out 4 days and 1500 miles on the bike irritated an old sciatic problem and I'm in bed for a couple of days. Pain sucks!

So to while away the time I thought I'd let everyone in on what an educational trip this was. In no particular order, here are some of the things I learned on my trip to Alpine:

1 Reading BOTH sides of the menu at the Reata in Alpine may result in a round of free drinks.

2 R11s, both RS and RT versions, are true cruise missiles.

3 Texas cows are not impressed by BMW motorcycles.

4 Arno Jones does a fine rendition of a leg raising dog annointing the tire of an R1100RS.(Photographic documentation of these last two assertions exists.)

5 Vegetarians, or those simply interested in eating a low fat, low meat diet, should stay out of the Republic of Texas. As the old saying goes, "When in Texas you do eat, what they serve is lots of meat"

6 A vanful of adorable underage teenage girls exclaiming over how beautiful my motorcycle is and asking to sit on it, really do have the power to excite my lecherous heart (and other organs). Down boy! They got laws against that kinda thing in Texas. Freud would have a field day with the symbolism here.

7 Ira Agins, riding companion extroardinaire and almost shower buddy, would rather fly to snowbound Pittsburgh than fly in a crazy cowboy's helicopter.

8 You (and I mean YOU!) don't really know what your tire pressure is. Direct all requests for explanation to Steve Aikens.

9 Huge red and brown tarantulas are really cool, industrial strength bugs. They dislike walking on leather gloves.

10 In Texas, numbers are different. 45 means 80. 65 means 115. etc.

11 There are no cops in Texas.

12 Herb Stark is a fine rider and road companion. He owes me a blueberry.

13 The IBMWR is a group of superior individuals with whom I am honored to be associated.

14 Other stuff I can't remember.

Richard Meltz

From: Ira Agins
Date: Mon, Nov. 18, 1996

A lot of folks think that living in a place like Santa Fe, New Mexico is called getting away from it all. It's easy to think that if you live in a place like Pittsburgh (from where I am writing this). Traffic jams, concrete, and people, people, people. But where do you go to get away from it all if you live in Santa Fe? Alpine, Texas.

The Big Bend country is populated by. . .not much. Cows and oil wells far outnumber the human population of the area. One drives through the wide open spaces that define the American southwest experience. On the way down, Richard Meltz and I hardly saw a car, except around the great metropolitan areas of Roswell and Carlsbad. It's a rugged country where only the strong survive. The vegetation hangs on for dear life, as do the animals and people. It never ceases to amaze me how some folks actually thrive on the special kinds of adversity only Mother Nature can conjure up. But they do, in spades.

Alpine is the main oasis in the area. The county's population is around 9,000, with about 2,500 of them attending Sul Ross University. The 31 of us there for a weekend of riding, eating and good times nevertheless did not go unnoticed. We probably taxed the 12" water main (50 psi) and the 26 wells that fed them. We did not bring any trouble to the 9 city police officers in their 6 city police cars, nor to the 13 county sheriff's deputies, although they did give a wave. The friendly folks at the Reata Inn asked us if we were filming a BMW commercial. The owner of a gallery invited us to stop by. Locals waved greeting when we drove past. We weren't the "Wild One." We were the "Mild One." And we were welcomed wherever we went.

At the Railroad Blues bar Saturday night, two cowboys walked over to me as I was leaving. "I always wanted to ride on a motorcycle," sez one. "How long are you going to be in town?" I told him I was leaving in the morning. "That's too bad. I would have traded a ride on the back of your bike for giving you a ride in my 'copter." Damn! Big Bend from the air would have been a trip. "I'll have to catch ya the next time," sez I.

The Saturday ride up 118 past the observatory and around the mountains was wonderful. A perfect mixture of miles-long straightaways, elevation changes, twisties, and sweepers. The road was mostly in great shape and almost entirely empty of vehicles. From my trailing position, I could watch the group going through the sweepers, each following the line of the one in front of them. They looked like they were on rails, pure poetry in motion. On the straights, throttles were twisted to the stops. The GPS system on one unnamed President's yellow R11RS registered a top speed of 131.3 (not 131.2 as I thought was the case). Richard got a chance to push the R11RT he has decided to fix up and keep instead of fix up and sell :-). My R100RT was eating the dust of the R11s - I just couldn't get it to go more than 110 top and 105 sustained. When was the last time *you* were doing triple digits and watched five bikes in front of you get smaller and smaller? Woof! =:0 We stopped from time to time for some Kodak moments. The Davis Mountains hard by our backs and wild, open country in every other direction. At one stop, Steve Aikens drove back up the road to see if two other riders were coming. A few minutes later, his return could be heard. From a mile up the road, a small dot of a headlight could be seen. The quiet was punctuated only by his exhaust note as he cranked on the throttle. We all stood there, watching and listening, just taking in the beauty of the sight and sound. Yes! By the time Steve got back, I think we were all ready to crank it up. And we did.

The President's lunch following the ride was full of the characteristic IBMWR comaraderie. Credit Rob for sharing his inspiration with us. Sam Lepore won the long-distance award by coming from San Francisco. I was a little disappointed that folks like Joe Denton and Tom Childers could not emulate him. Tony and Jeff Black showed up from Colorado Springs, prompting the same thoughts with regard to Howard Shultz (just a little ribbing, guys. I know you're not as wimpy as others might be led to believe :-)). Jan Hainbach was forced to uphold the honor of the distaff riders all by herself, fighting headwinds and recording 28 mpg from Austin on her R100GSPD. Good going! Elsa? Karen Jones? Voni? Toaster Tank Girl? Herb Stark showed up and observed that he drove more miles than I did to get there - and he never left Texas!

I look forward to these Presidential gatherings more than almost anything I can think of. The fact we hold them in beautiful, empty places like Alpine, Death Valley, and Carlsbad adds an indescribable element, a feeling of closeness not only to each other, but to the sport we love. A perfect way to get away from it *all*.

There's the phrase "Get a life." I'm glad I have this one and you guys.

Ira Agins

From: Mark Crowder
Date: Fri, 22 Nov 1996

Mark's Alpine Adventure


This was my first IBMWR President's Lunch. It will not be my last. Many thanks to Rob Lentini and all the others that made this happen. Though the lunch/meeting is a small part of the following, it was not a small part of my enjoyment of the trip. I really enjoyed putting names and faces together. I promised myself this would be a short account. I Lied ...

Rain Sucks, and then it ...

Friday, 15-November, 1996
Hillsboro, TX. 7:20 a.m.

"Hi Bill, Mark Crowder" I introduced myself to my 'pen' pal of the last several weeks. Bill Walton lives in Denton, and was looking for someone to ride with to Alpine. "Why don't we take a detour and ride through the Hill Country on the way?" Bill had said "It's a little farther, but nice.". "Sounds good" I'd said. So, here I am standing in the parking lot of a McD's about 80 miles from home, Introducing myself to an IBMWR Prez that I'd "known" for several weeks -- and odd experience that is to be repeated many times. What better way to launch a trip?

After a Mc'D's hockey puck, coffee, and a bit of impromptu trip planning we slab it south to New Braunfels. Rain, large trucks and motorcycles are a sub-optimal combination. It's still drizzling as we roll into Bandera for lunch, but looking like it'll lift. Just looking at the all-you-can-eat-deep-fried-seafood-buffet at OST will raise your cholesterol count fifty points or so. Pretty good chow, though.

Fun roads for the rest of the day. 337 is wet, but has surprisingly good traction. 336 is dry in spots, and has less gravel than I seem to remember. 335 (air-time!) and 55 to Rockspring are dry enough for a good run. Even 377 is fun at a road-shortening pace. Got some new scratches on the left-side fairing lower. I'm either gonna have to slow down, lose weight, or re-work the suspension on this beast. Any bets? ;-) We roll into Del Rio about 17:00 -- completing our goal of getting out of bambi country before dark. As Bill and I are drinking beer, trying to figure out how the time-dilation effect of speed had created the camels on 335, washing bikes with motel-6 trash cans, buckets and towels, and grinning at the lady with the dour expression who was contemplating the extra laundry expense, I think to myself "Why do I drive myself to do this?"

Silly question.

Lunch Happens

Saturday 16-November, 1996
The Rendezvous

"The blub blub of old air-heads, the brrrr of oil-heads and that incessant whine of k-bikes makes for a strange auditory souffle'" I think to myself as Kent Polk, Mike Polk, Carlos Valenzuela, and Rafael Garcia roll into Don Marcionos in Del Rio where Bill and I meet them for breakfast. "And GoldWings make no sound at all!". Come to think of it, I don't know what caused me to think of "souffle'". It makes no sense really. I didn't discuss it at the time, though. It's not the sort of conversation you have at 7:30 a.m. with a table full of bikers who have just spent the last couple of hours riding in the rain. Old acquaintances renew, and new ones start. Kent tells of how his generator light had come on (important data point for later), but had gone out after the rain stopped.

Wind Sucks (It blows, you say? You've lived a sheltered life!)

"Really officer, I thought this was HIGHWAY 70, and the SPEED LIMIT was 90", I rehearse in my head as we pass the second cop car that Kent had said didn't exist. Well, at least there are only those two. :-) We ride on at a road-shortening pace through the cross-wind Gusts from Hell. I'm not so sure that some of the gusts don't rival our forward speed. Mike (on the 'wing) seems to be suffering the most, but it's throwing all of us around a good bit. It reminds me of when I landed at Presidio-Lely in wind conditions like this. It's not much fun on a bike either.

The Lunch

We roll into Alpine and check into the motel just after noon. Kent says his bike is making enough noise that the valve adjustment must have backed off, so we leave it at the motel to cool down and ride to Cattleman's to meet the other Prez's. We spend the next few hours in that weird "Old friends we've only just met" mode that's starting to become familiar. I'm going to have to make it to more of these things. Kent and Mike want to ride a loop through Big Bend before dark, as they will have to leave in the morning. I agree to ride along. There'll be plenty of time with the other Prez's at the Rail Road Jazz bar tonight. (Who is that I hear chuckling?)

The First Wrenching

It turns out that the end-float on /7's right exhaust valve has gone slack -- probably during the high-speed/sudden-stop shock cool treatment on the way in. No big problem there. We drop off the torque wrench with the mechanic standing under the "We don't Loan Tools" sign where Mike had borrowed it earlier and head south on 118.

This is Mike's first real road trip, so we engage in a little impromptu curvy-road training. Mike's riding improves dramatically during the afternoon and evening. It's the first time I've ridden a bike into this area, but it's really much as I remember it. Beautiful in that arid, rugged way that only desert hill country can be. It's a rough life out here -- about half of the structures are occupied, and half are boarded-up shacks. "The Store" at Terlingua where the first Chili Cook-offs were held has joined the ranks of the boarded-up shacks. At least the tarantulas aren't too aggressive.

A Continuous Loss

Ten miles or so out of Presidio we enter stage one of the charging system odyssey. It's getting towards dusk and the headlight on Kent's R100/7 doesn't work. Or the starter. Or pretty much anything electrical related. We're now at the precise location that is mathematically the farthest from Alpine. If you look up "The Middle of nowhere" in any fairly complete encyclopedia, you will find a picture of this place with a caption that says "see listing". A push start gets it running long enough to make it to the outskirts of Presidio where we enter stage two -- the bike doesn't run either.

The Second Wrenching

Kent and I ride into "town" looking for a battery while Mike waits with the bike. They're pretty much rolling up the sidewalks to put them away for the night. Kent decides that due to the gradual decline, there's probably nothing wrong with the battery itsself -- just the charging system. We get back to the bikes and try swapping the GoldWing's battery for the R's. No luck. However, Kent does manage to fabricate the worlds shortest jumper cables from an old set of copper plug wires. We set them to charging the R's battery. I head back into Presidio to get some longer wires. If this thing works, we're not going to want to pull the battery every time.

A Momentary Gain

My twenty-word Spanish vocabulary really isn't adequate some times. This is one of those times. At what is going to be my last hope, we have something of a language barrier. I really wish I understood enough Spanish to figure out why we need three translators just to go from English to Spanish and back (for a total of five people). The only confirmation I have that the whole process is working at all, is that it DOES produce some suitable wiring (hurrah!!). They won't take a dime for it either. Nice folks.

The charging works (hurrah again!). It has to run as a continuous loss system, but at least we are moving again. The rest of the night goes:

Ride, charge, ride, charge, ride, Marfa DQ/charge, Marfa Lights/charge, Alpine/charge-all-night. Thanks for the adventure, Kent (picture Kent spinning in terminal guilt-trip mode about now) :-).

Sunday 17-November, 1996

The Third Wrenching

With Bill Walton's help and guidance, we try various cleaning and jiggling things on the /7's charging system. Nothing works. It'd be a continuous loss trip back to San Antonio for Mike and Kent. I don't envy you guys.

The Road Home

Bill and I essentially back-track last nights ride. We intend to ride from Marfa to Riodosa, but we discover it involves a long stretch of dirt road, so we ride down 67 to Presidio instead. The river road (170) is a thoroughly entertaining ride, and Bill discovers that BMWs will actually fit inside the TeePees at the rest stop. The handicap ramp helps, too. :-)

Riding through the park makes me think "Who first found this place, and how did they survive long enough to tell anyone they found it?" With only the cactus, the scrub brush, and forbidding mountains to keep you company, it's a stark and lonely place. This is one of the many places in America where I find it inconceivable that people could have crossed on foot, horseback, or wagon. The scale of this place is daunting, and the river is absolutely inaccessible most of the way.

Afternoon finds us heading out of the park. We back-roads our way to 67 and on to Brownwood for the night. A rerun of "Forbidden Planet", pizza and beer cap off a good day's ride.

Monday 18-Nov, 1996

We work our way up 67 a ways and then Bill shows me some nice North Texas back roads I never new exist (thanks Bill!). The fall colors are starting to ripen up and it's quite a show. We part in the early afternoon at Denton. Still in the bike-trip spirit, I ride a loop through the Piney-Woods before heading back to Dallas well after dark. A truly remarkable weekend.

Some Parting Thoughts:

  • I wish there'd been a way to spend more time getting to know everyone. Oh well, there'll be other "lunches". :-)
  • Chunking the RT into corners still requires more conscious effort than I'd like. I thinks it's the up-right seating position that's throwing me. Maybe I'll get over it. On the other hand, anybody know of a low-bar kit for RT's?
  • The Marfa Mystery Lights are for real. No imagination required.
  • Ask Kent and Mike to tell you about the symmetrical scars around the top of Mike's head sometime. I think they were "taking me for a ride", but it's a good story anyway.
  • Meeting interesting people, overcoming insurmountable obstacles, seeing new sights, and riding fun roads are all marks of a good bike trip. This was a good one.

Mark Crowder

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