We rendezvoused at Buc-ee's in Temple on a Tuesday and rode together to the host hotel in Denison to stage for our 6 am Wednesday start of the BBG. Danny had provided me with the BAT BBG route instructions and data file for my GPS. This year's theme for the Big As Texas intense challenge rides is, well..."Big"! There is something "Big" about each of the stops along the routes.
|BAT "Big" BBG|
We departed the Hilton Garden Inn - Denison right at 6:00 am, September 11th. I would prove my total mileage with a picture of the starting and finishing odometer reading on my 2016 BMW R1200 GS Adventure. And, since the "Big" BBG rally flags have not yet been printed, I will be using a rally sized Texas flag.
It is customary in long-distance riding events to award the first numbered rally flag, usually the '00' or '100' flag to the Route/Ride Master. In this case Danny Dossman. Since I am the first rider to complete the Big As Texas BBG, I hope to score the next numbered rally flag as a souvenir for having volunteered.
Big Texan Steak Ranch in Amarillo, 325 miles from the start. In 1960, R.J. “Bob” Lee opened The Big Texan Steak Ranch on Route 66 in Amarillo, Texas. The Big Texan is best known for its 72 oz. (4.5lbs) steak. The steak is free to anyone who, can eat the entire meal, consisting of the steak itself, a bread roll with butter, a baked potato, shrimp cocktail, and a salad; otherwise, the meal cost $72. Since I was on the BBG clock, there was no time to stop for any samples.
Turning south from Amarillo, the next required stop is 23 miles to the Big Tex Randall statue in Canyon TX. Standing 47 feet tall and weighing 7 tons, Tex Randall is the second tallest cowboy in the state. He is 8 feet shorter than his counter-part at the Texas State Fair. Created and built in 1959 by local business owner, William “Harry” Wheeler in hopes of drawing tourist and locals to his Corral Curio Shop. He wears a size 75 boot and underwent a major restoration in 2016. The entrance to the beautiful parking lot is accessible along the ONE WAY frontage road that runs west to east.
Departing Canyon we continued south through the big Texas panhandle, and the, dare I say, big oil fields of the Permian Basin to Big Bend National Park. This segment of the BBG is just under 430 miles.
A check of the radar shows a big cell of thunderstorms south of Fort Stockton all the way to Marathon. We stopped in Fort Stockton to top off our fuel. The thunderstorms were daring us to continue with big flashes of lightning and big booming roars of thunder. Both Danny and I are experienced long-distance riders and recognize the risks of riding into thunderstorms. So, after Danny finished his big corn dog from the Pilot/FlyingJ Travel Center, we buttoned up and headed for Big Bend. The radar showed gap in the thunderstorm cell along our route and it was moving from west to east. The heavy downpour slowed our pace some but we reached the other side of the cell just before Marathon. It was dry from there all the way to the Visitor's Center just past the park entrance. As you can see there is nothing "big" about the Persimmon Gap Visitor's Center. Danny would change the photo location to the Big Bend National Park sign at the north entrance to the park.
Back to Marathon, we turned east for the next mandatory stop at Langtry TX. Langtry is the site of the "Jersey Lilly Saloon" made famous by the infamous Judge Roy Bean, Law West of the Pecos! But, we were after a bigger prize. A picture at the Rio Grande (Spanish for Big River), just southeast of the Langtry Visitor's Center. The Rio Grande begins in South-Central Colorado and flows to the gulf. Its total length is 1896 miles (1254 of which form the border between Texas and Mexico). The river provided life giving water for those who first settled in the area. A nest of Golden Eagles across the river led to the city’s name before it was changed to Langtry. At the end of a dirt road is Eagle's Nest historical marker, the required photo at this location.
I was so excited to arrive this mandatory stop before dark, I didn't read the instructions for this bonus. I was about to take a picture of the wrong sign when Danny hollered at me, "Hey, read the instructions!" Thank you, comrade. I wouldn't want this hard riding adventure ruined by a rookie mistake taking the picture of the wrong object at the bonus location. There are two historical markers at this bonus location. Clearly stated in the BBG instruction are:
"Take a photo of the Eagle’s Nest marker with the river and cliff in the background."
Four stop down and two to go. By the time we rode through Del Rio is was dusk. We were headed to Bigfoot TX, 202 miles from Langtry. The arrival time at Bigfoot was calculated by BaseCamp to be 23:00 (11:00 pm.) We got there 22:16, almost 0:45 minutes ahead of schedule. Bigfoot was first settled in the 1860’s and was called Connally’s Store until the post office was established in 1863. The present name is in honor of Texas Ranger William A. A. “Bigfoot” Wallace, a former resident of the town. So, the likelihood of seeing any large hairy creatures is pretty slim. But, since you will most likely be arriving after dark keep your eyes open just in case!
As you can see from the BAT "Big" BBG map above, its a pretty straight route from Bigfoot all the way back to the Hilton in Denison. Once we were on Interstate 35 we established a great BBG ride pace. We stopped for our last fuel stop before the finish and Danny asked if I'd like him to lead the rest of the way. At a 75 MPH moving average so far, we were maintaining a good BBG ride pace. Our ride pace from the start was consistent, with little wasted time at bonus or pit stops. That had us gaining about an hour under the BaseCamp calculated time. From past BBG rides, I learned to adjusted the top two speeds on BaseCamp to more accurately predict total moving time and overall time.
So, with just one more mandatory stop in Waco to make, our time back to Denison was looking good. The traffic through San Antonio around midnight was negligible. The same through Austin. Our last mandatory stop was to take a picture of the "Big Red Soda" sign at Health Camp Drive-In, Waco TX. Big Red is a soft drink created in 1937 by Grover C. Thomsen and R.H. Roark in Waco, Texas and originally known as Sun Tang Red Cream Soda. It is generally classified as an American variety of cream soda and it is the original "red cream soda". The name was changed to Tang Big Red Cream Soda in 1959 and to "Big Red" in 1969 by Harold Jansing, then president of the San Antonio bottling plant, after hearing a golf caddy say, “Give me one of those BIG RED SODAWATERS”. Additionally, the Health Camp Drive opened in 1949 and is a long-standing icon in Waco.
It was great riding this time of the morning and time just seemed to fly by. The transit through the Dallas metroplex was smooth and at a good pace. From there, it was about an hour back to the QT QuickStop station across the street from the Hilton Garden Inn - Denison. The dated business receipts were accurate and had all required items. Below are my ride statistics for the Big As Texas "Big" Bun Burner GOLD.
- Start: 6:00 am, Sep 11, 2019
- Finish: 3:27 am, Sep 12, 2019
- Total Miles:1,525.2 GPS, 1,515 MC Odometer
- Total Time: 21:27, 71.1 Ovg (Overall Average MPH)
- Moving Time: 20:21, 75 Mvg (Moving Average MPH)
- Stopped Time: 1:06
BaseCamp vs BubblerGPS
- Big Texan Steak: 10:59 vs 10:35
- Big Tex Randall: 11:26 vs 11:02
- Big Bend: 17:43 vs 16:57
- Rio Grande: 19:54 vs 19:12
- Bigfoot: 23:00 vs 22:16
- Big Red Soda: 02:05 vs 01:12
- Finish: 04:25 vs 03:27