Adventure touring is the name of the new chapter in my motorcycling life.  It is marked with the arrival of a new motorcycle and the departure of two.  After many months of not-so-patiently waiting, my 2008 Suzuki V-Strom in what I call Black and Pewter, but the manufacturer calls black and silver, arrived. It is not that it took months of waiting for a back-ordered item though.  It was months because it took me that long to sell my other bikes.  I had spent a lot of time and creative energy with Hidalgo, the Mean Streak, and while I had realized that Hidalgo and adventure touring would not necessarily be a winning combination, moving through the emotional maze of a separation was not easy.  After all I had executed some pretty cool customization work on it, taken a number of great trips, and shot a multitude of amazing photos.  It was like saying Adios to an old friend and getting to the point of finally handing the keys over to a stranger was a bit like a hardrivectomy. A similar but less complex process had to also take place when it came to giving up on the Futura and our ill-fated relationship.

The new V-strom arrived in a truck from Florida.  It was christened Bucefalo, in   honor of the famous war horse of Alexander the Great.  In case you are wondering, this is the Spanish spelling of the name.  

      • Unload
      • 2 miles

      In reality though, it is the hopeful expansion of what ended up being a preface to this a few years ago.  You see, I briefly owned a V-Strom some years ago, but I was suddenly taken over by the custom cruiser fever and the V-Strom was replaced by the Mean Streak, the famous Hidalgo.

      • Industrial
      • Ready to Fight

      March 21-2009

      Houston - Brazos Bend - Houston  98.4 miles

      2008 - Suzuki V-Stromm DL-1000 / Yamaha V-Star

      Carlos Solis / Don Taylor

      Bucefalo sat patiently in its stall for almost two weeks, waiting for a weekend free of rain in the forecast.

      The day finally came around.  I had been looking forward to my first ride out of town on Bucefalo.  As I have done before, this ceremonial ride would take me to Brazos Bend State Park, south-west of Houston.  My ridding friend, Don, would come along, and we would set out promptly at 8 a.m. on Saturday.  The week preceding had been characterized by some really foggy mornings, but the forecast for Saturday was for a day of sunshine.  Great riding weather with mild March temperatures.  As I left the house to pick up Don, I stopped by the nearby gas station as the sun was coming up.  This was promising to be a beautiful morning.  Little did I know.

      As is took off for Don's house I started noticing some very light fog lingering.  Don lives about 12 miles from my house, and as I approached it the fog started thickening.  It was still manageable, and my main concern was whether or not people would see me.

      • Sunrise

      I made it to Don's house, and he was almost ready.  Kick-stands were up at 8 am as planned but by the time we had ridden two blocks, we found ourselves in a fog thicker than a good bowl of Gumbo, or, to borrow from my Guatemalan upbringing, thicker than 'atol del ceniza'.  Traffic lights were impossible to see.  Helmet face-shields trapped water droplets and the clear glasses I was wearing made it even worse.  Now I was really worried.  Not only was I concerned with being hit by a car that would not see us, but I was also concerned with nearly invisible traffic lights, the slippery tarmac due to fog condensation.  Thankfully we left the 'atol de ceniza' after about 3 or 4 miles of this.  While fog still lingered as we headed south on 59, visibility improved considerably and I was really enjoying the open road from the high perch afforded by the V-Strom platform.  The powerful and responsive 1000cc v-twin engine was certainly even more fun than I remember form my V-Strom experience of some years ago.

      We made it to the Crabb River exit, one that is engraved in my brain from my innumerable trips to Brazos Bend as a graduate student, and we proceeded left on Crabb River Road.  Every time I take this road I am amazed with the amount of development that has taken place here.  I have travelled this road for 25 years, and I always wish for the old days of seeing just a gas station, a bar and a convenience store.  But once you make it past the tracks, the old familiar cotton and rice farms start coming into view and my spirit gets lifted again.  I like this road because it offers a good number of turns and twists relatively close to Houston.  Today, though, with the fog still hanging low, we could not push as hard as we normally would have, or lean the bikes as strongly, as we tried to maintain the rubber side down and the shiny side up.

      Still, riding on the two lane road with the vast fields on either side was a treat.  Soon we approached the George Ranch, where just a few years ago, a deceiving oil light had forced us to cut short Don's first road trip on his new bike Venga, the wonderful Yamaha V-Star.  We stopped by the same rack of mail boxes which kept us company back then, while we waited for the man and his tow truck.  Thankfully this time it was just to reminisce.  Still we had a chance to catch a spider web covered in morning dew, hanging from the red post that held the faithful mailboxes.  

      • A Site of Memories
      • Profile
      • The Mail is Here
      • Fence
      • Gorillas in the Mist
      • Dew

      From there it was just a few more miles to Brazos Bend State Park, where we dismounted by the Spanish moss covered trees at the entrance.  This park is one of the great treasures of the Houston area.  You know that something is going to blow your mind every time you visit.  It was no different on this day.

      • Spanish Moss
      • Brazos Bend

      Less than two miles up the road we stopped for gas, coffee, and beef jerky, another tradition when visiting the area.  From there we turned East on FM 521 to Rosharon.  The sun was up by now, and the fog burned out.  Riding was now possible at a brisk pace.  We quickly made to Rosharon and headed North on Old Highway 288.  By 11 am we were back in Houston, with a great ride under our belts.

      The last Kodak moment was one that I had been planning for a long time, and was thankful has not slipped away because of my procrastination.  The Obama mural on Alabama  St in Houston.  What a silent historical irony, and what a testimony about the principles that have built this Nation blessed by God!

      • Hope 2
      • Yes We Can