Texas Traveler: Two Wheels Good, Four Wheels Bad
Photo by Brittanie Shey
Since the weather in Texas is finally what the rest of the world calls normal, nothing beats hitting the streets on two wheels. Texas Traveler can hardly explain the way everything looks and smells different when you get out of the cage (see entry number two). And we're not just talking about motorized vehicles. A state so vast and varied as Texas is the perfect place to explore on motorcycle, scooter or bicycle.
See, most people are emotionally attached to their cars, (especially here in Houston) and they'll try to tell you it isn't safe, or that it can't be done. But Texas is home to some of the biggest riding groups in the country, not to mention one of the biggest charity cycling events. Just be careful of those potholes. They're bigger in Texas too.
Usually, Texas Traveler is content to ride our scooter to UH on our daily commute, or take our bikes down to Disco Green for movie nights. But we're planning an epic two-week motorcycle trip to Big Bend over the holidays and as such we've been thinking a lot about organized riding events as a way to get used to the saddle. Below, three upcoming events for the three styles of two-wheeled vehicles.
Wallis Independence Ride Texas' "big race", the MS 150, isn't until April, but riders are gearing up now with a series of recommended rides. Last week was the Tour de Donut, an odd combination of bike race and competitive eating. The next ride is this Saturday in Wallis, TX, in honor of Veterans Day. Routes range from 12 to 65 miles, and the proceeds go towards the Independence Fund, which provides therapy and support to disabled veterans. What makes this ride unique is the participation of said veterans -- more than 75 disabled vets are registered to ride in the race on all forms of bikes, from recumbants to hand-cranks. If you can;t make the Wallis ride, the forum at BikeHouston is a good place to stay abreast of upcoming rides and races. See also Houston Critical Mass.
BMOA New Ulm Rally The Harvest Classic has just passed us but it's not too early to start planning for the next major motorcycle rally in Texas, the British Motorcycle Owner's Association's annual rally in little ol' New Ulm. This is a camping rally that takes place at the New Ulm Volunteer Firefighters' Park every May and includes rides through winding country roads to towns like Industry, Round Top (great antiquing there), Fayetteville and La Grange. If you can't wait until May, the BMOA meets the first Wednesday of every month at Hickory Hallow in the Heights. The Two-Wheeled Texans forum is a good source for Texas-centric motorcycle information, and there is a calendar of rides and events at the Ride Texas website and on Let's Ride.com
AmeriVespa 2010 Texas Traveler just got back from the aptly named Y'all Can Go To Hell, I'm Going To Texas vintage scooter rally in Austin. Texas is teeming with vintage scoots, so-called barn finds, but the state gets less respect in the vintage scooter community than supposedly hipper places like Portland or Chattanooga. (Seriously. Chattanooga.) Next summer that'll change. San Antonio is hosting AmeriVespa, the largest gathering in the country of scooter enthusiasts, over Memorial Day weekend. Vintage scooters and modern scoots of all makes and models are invited to attend, as well as anyone with an interest in two-stroke engines. Scooters are the most fun you can have under 50 mph. AmeriVespa is a big deal for Texas because the rally draws thousands of people annually, and this year it's expected to draw riders from Mexico, Italy, Belgium and places further afield. Rally organizers have also reserved the historic El Tropicano Hotel (warning: annoying embedded audio) for the event.