Rides and Tales

Observations From Behind Bars

Texas amble

with one comment

After my critique of last week’s challenging mini truck trip to Austin town, I guess it should come as  no surprise that I spent part of the Labor Day weekend in that same danged truck. This time out,  I was hauling the people and equipment required to perform Americana music as the trio, “Rosewood”.

Singer-song writer and friend, Al Barlow, had arranged for us to play Sunday afternoon at
Oma Gruene’s Secret Garden,
in historic town of  Gruene (Locally pronounced, “Green”) in greater New Braunfels, Texas.
Oma (German for, “Grandma”) Gruene’s garden is a shaded biergarten, of course, where a variety of beers and German food is served.

fm and darryl

The laid-back atmosphere typifies that of the Texas Hill Country; it’s the kind of place where you can make new friends and meet their kids and their dogs at the same time. Gruene is also home to “Gruene Hall”, well known to aficionados as the oldest dance hall in Texas and host to many musical heavy-hitters.

oma gruene's bandstand

There is never a shortage of motorcycles in Gruene, either, since the Texas Hill Country is known for it’s scenic roads and biker friendly businesses.

tracy at oma's

Darryl and I with Tracy, the lady who makes it all happen at Oma Gruene’s Secret Garden.

That said, we had a successful afternoon, saw familiar faces and met new people. We packed our gear, ate Oma’s excellent fare and put our fine selves on the road back to the third world.

The return was pretty uneventful except for the warning I was issued by a DPS trooper. I was going five mph over the posted limit but I believe he may have been driving 25 mph under it. I came up behind him pretty quickly before I changed lanes and passed. His cruiser lit up immediately. The consensus was that he couldn’t have clocked me, though I know he could have written me a ticket for something, if he wanted to. After we were rolling, again, Jill noticed that my state inspection sticker is expired; I don’t know how the trooper could have missed it.

During the drive back, Darryl, who I sometimes refer to as, “Guitar Boy”, invited me to join him and a mutual friend for a ride to Riviera, TX, the following day. I accepted.

Darryl rides a 650 Yamaha V Star, our bud, a Kawasaki Vulcan 800 and I followed on the Baby Shadow (1995 Honda VT600-C Shadow VLX).

The little Shadow is fun to ride, and while no “neck snapper”, she has enough power to get out of the way at 70 mph.

Since I’m considering riding the Baby Shadow, rather than my big Valkyrie, to an upcoming event I figured Monday’s 125 mile round trip would be illuminating.

To begin with the Shadow has forward controls that, combined with the stock handlebars and risers, cause me to lean back, slightly. Riding position on the Valkyrie is like sitting in a chair. I’ve replaced the Valkyrie’s  stock handlebars with ones that let me lean forward, slightly. At the end of the day, I could feel the difference in my back, not that I was hurting or stiff, I could just feel it. I may try putting some risers on backward to see if they’ll push the bars forward, a little.

The riding position wasn’t so much of a concern as the width of the seat. The stock Valkyrie seat is a couch compared to the stock VLX seat. The main problem turned out to be the seat strap, which tends to wedge in between the rider and pillion sections causing it to push against my lower back. That was fixed on the fly.

Mainly, though, I wanted to see if I could have a little fun on a Labor Day afternoon. I rode drag and the others took turns at point. The day clouded up, a little, and the wind was down.

We got out of town and ran into one of the isolated showers that have been occurring in these parts. It wasn’t enough to get us wet but it was enough to remind me now nicely rain stings the face when a bike has an ornamental, rather than functional, windscreen. We have enjoyed summer but the cooling effect of the clouds and the area showers was welcome.


Darryl took us to visit his kin and we all met for cold drinks in Riviera where amazing true stories were exchanged. On our return trip we enjoyed the night air on motorcycles that performed the way God intended. I’m calling the day an unqualified success.



Written by fiddle mike

September 8, 2009 at 5:16 am

One Response

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  1. Sure sounds like a hoot,bro.Sure’d luve to have been
    along feelin muthah nature on my face and in my hair!
    Them thar hills sound a blast,too.
    Me and the cage went and got some ribs and fixins
    and chilled out watchin the rain here for the

    Denny O.

    September 9, 2009 at 3:25 am

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