The Texas I know is from Western movies: A land of wide open prairies and Longhorn cattle that cowboys with a John Wayne swagger drive along the Chisholm Trail. But there’s a lot more to Texas than beef and Colt 45s.
Vanderpool, about 100 miles northwest of San Antonio, is in Texas Hill Country, where the roads twist, turn, climb and dive between rivers and trees. It’s the perfect place for riding a classic British thumper, and they don’t come much better than the 1969 Velocette Thruxton I’m riding with a group of men who prefer the single life.
The singular ride
Aussie Alan Johncock, owner of Vanderpool’s Lone Star Motorcycle Museum, is riding his alloy-engined 1953 Velocette MSS, while John Martin has brought along a 1971 Velocette Venom he recently bought. Butch Hudkins is aboard a 1956 BSA DBD34 Gold Star, while Peter Allen, who has made the trip down from Colorado, is riding the only pre-war bike on the trip: a 1936 Vincent-HRD Comet.
Leaving Vanderpool, we’re heading west toward the Mexican border and on to Big Bend National Park. “It’s a little too flat to be interesting farther east,” says John with due reverence to his Texas homeland. Peter is more forthright: “And we don’t want to go north — nothing there but rusting gas and oil wells, and the air smells like a bad fart.”
It is late afternoon and I’m following Butch as we wind our way north along Route 187 before branching off to Rocksprings and hitting Route 377 east. Butch is a Texas swinger — a bend swinger — and he’s making the most of the stomping power and impeccable handling of his Goldie. This isn’t the first one he’s owned; he bought a DBD34 fresh from BSA when he was a college student. “Used to whup the Triumph and Harley boys on my single,” Butch says. But while his first Gold Star had the chrome gas tank, clip-ons, rear-sets and special RRT2 close-ratio box, this time he’s gone with a big alloy tank, standard ratios and cow horn bars for a less radical ride.
First night stop is at the border town of Del Rio, where we cross over to Mexico for margaritas, music and dinner, and spend the night.
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