Of all the people I meet on the road, motorcyclists tend to be the friendliest and most interesting. Sometimes they’re fairly high on the wackiness scale, like this fellow riding with his club in Arkansas, but wackiness adds spice to life — especially when it arrives wearing a faux-Viking helmet and introducing itself as ‘Leif.’
Increasingly, groups of riders are cruising the Texas countryside, stopping for refreshment in places like the aptly-named Cruisers Ice House outside Santa Fe. Hill Country loops are especially favored; after a run through the famed route known as the ‘Twisted Sisters,’ riders congregate at Medina’s Apple Store, gas up at the Country Store near Lost Maples, visit the Motorcycle Museum near Vanderpool, or head to Camp Wood for burgers and beer.
They’re not alone. Miatas and Corvettes flock to the roads, and occasionally even a prim little sedan can be seen scooting over the hills, taking those curves with perhaps a little too much verve.
From now until March, bridge replacement on a portion of the Twisted Sisters will necessitate a detour, but that’s hardly a reason for concern. Untraveled roads abound; who wouldn’t want to be in the driver’s seat?
Take a ride with the Venice Vintage Motorcycle Club
Many of my favorite Texas towns — Vanderpool, Medina, Camp Wood, Leakey — lie along Texas Ranch Roads 335, 336, and 337. Collectively known as the “Twisted Sisters,” the roads serve as a magnet for motorcycle riders.
The 100-mile loop is among the most challenging in the state. The route, following canyons and climbing along the edge of jagged limestone cliffs, is marked by tight curves, shear drop offs, and a significant lack of guardrails.One fifteen mile section contains more than sixty curves: none of which could be called gentle. Even for experienced riders, the route is challenging. At one point, a highway sign warns, “Caution Next 12 Miles — Since Jan. 2006, 10 Killed in Motorcycle Related Crashes.”
Now and then, evidence of unhappy endings appears. At one scenic pull out, two crosses stood near the small parking area as memorials: one made of plain wood with incised dates, the other bejeweled and trimmed with gold.
But at the edge of the cliff, nearly hidden in the grasses, a different sort of marker caught my eye. From the iconography, I’m confident the person it honors was both Texan and Christian. Given the prickly pear’s spines, I know the artist was both creative and brave.