Texas Gulf Coast and HoT Rally Finish

April 29, 2021
The weather was looking sketchy for my ride to the coast and to College Station to do photo work for Paul Tong’s Heart of Texas Rally.  Any other time, I would consider moving dates for better riding conditions, but with the rally finishing up on Saturday, I had to stick to the schedule.  There would be very heavy rain most all of the day on Friday, so I decided to cut the original 550-mile route down by 300 by riding a day earlier on Thursday to Liberty, just northeast of Houston.

I am still working on a couple of grand tours through this year, and there were stops available in East Texas for the Motorcycle Grand Tour of Texas and the Butt Lite X Grand Tour.  I met the owner of the Camp St Cafe Store in Crockett where I was documenting the Sam Lightnin’ Hopkins stop.  He told me that Crockett was a popular stop for blues musicians to make on their trips between Houston and Dallas.  The ride down to Liberty was nice and dry, but drizzle was just starting as I arrived at my stop for the night.

April 30, 2021
The rain set in overnight and I awoke to what looked like a really soggy day of riding.  But it would be a relatively short day of around 250 miles on somewhat quiet roads along the coast.

The morning rush hour traffic was not too bad considering I was on the outskirts of Houston.  I had to negotiate one busy stretch of road, but quickly headed to back roads towards the San Jacinto Monument.  The Lynchburg Ferry surprised me (didn’t do enough route research…), but luck had it where I rode straight on without delays.

Galveston was really quiet with the constant rain driving away the beach-goers.  I stopped in Texas City to grab another bonus for the MCGTTX and continued on to Freeport where I tried to dry out during lunch on the beach.  The short miles for the day gave me plenty of time to take it easy.  After a tasty burger at Sharkies in Surfside Beach, I made another grand tour stop at the Mystery Boat in Freeport.

Even with the short day of riding, I was more than ready to shed my wet riding gear and get to a spot for dinner.  I made my way along Matagorda Bay to pick up the LaSalle statue for another MCGTTX stop.  Scully’s was a great place on the bay for a shrimp and oyster dinner.

May 1, 2021
The thunder and lightning all night long made for uncomfortable rest.  It was still pouring as I packed up the moto for the morning’s ride to College Station.  I was a little concerned that the roads could be flooded along the coast considering the elevation being in single digits for miles away from the Gulf.  The civil engineers obviously did a good job with no low water crossings and a raised road bed.  Although the fields around me were totally under water, the road was fine.  I saw the storms on the radar slowly moving northeast and once the sun came out, my spirits were lifted.

A MCGTTX stop was made in Gonzales to document the old jail, and another in small community of Dime Box.  The Fire Museum in Brenham looked cool, but it was closed when I passed through.  Navasota would be the last stop of the morning for a couple of additional grand tour photos.

I rolled into the Heart of Texas rally headquarters at Cavalry Court and Matt jumped up from his station to document my time and odometer.  Once we cleared up I was not competing, I parked the moto and set up to photograph riders coming in from their four days on the road.  It was obvious that the weather created a lot of challenges for everyone.  Bikes came in with mud on their sides from naps on slick dirt roads.  Ken Andrew’s Harley was beat up badly from a hail storm.  Thankfully he had taken shelter in a small town, but the bike was out in the open.  It was fun seeing familiar faces coming into the finish.  Even with the severe weather over the last few days, I heard no reports of any major mishaps, which is a major objective of any rally master.

Maybe I should mention the theme of the rally to explain some crazy staff costumes… Wayne Boyter, AKA “The Penguin”, chastised the riders as they entered scoring.  You with me yet?  OK, the rally theme for this year’s HoT was “Holly Rollin'”, based on the Blues Brothers epic movie from 1980.

Paul Tong and Nancy Oz made great Jake and Elwood Blues characters.  The riders’ objective in the rally was to visit boni to collect money for the orphanage…  We had a great dinner and some future rally announcements were made by Cliff and Wayne (Senior Butt Rally in September and the Big Tex Rally in October).  Wayne caught me by surprise while I was photographing him when he pointed straight to me as the first winner of the Big Tex Rally in 2012.  Ummmm,,, not quite so.  I did win the rally clinic event, but Paul Tong won the main event.  But Wayne still insisted I was the very first winner…  Whatever… it’s all fun.  There were some stories and photos from the road shared and Paul finally shared the standings.  Michael Best, Ryan Nardo and Michael Brooke were the podium finishers for the 4-day rally and David Trail, Kerri Miller and Ricardo Machado finished up 1,2,3 in the 36-hour rally.

May 2, 2021
I took my time in the morning relaxing on the patio of my room and in the courtyard visiting with James and Karen Stovall.  James was the founding rally master for the Heart of Texas and handed it over to Paul Tong.

Once I packed up the moto and rode off, I made a stop on the A&M campus to document another Butt Lite X bonus at the Reveille mascot resting place.  A couple of additional stops were made on the way home in the absolutely stunning weather.  Even with the soggy couple of days, I had a great time on the moto and seeing all of my long-distance friends!

Ride Photos  https://photos.app.goo.gl/P7uGYaxC1dCHK8Zp7

Heart of Texas Finish Photos  https://photos.app.goo.gl/ApjX5LC39r8wpbtU6

Tracklog  https://www.alltrails.com/explore/recording/20210430-gulf-coast-and-hot-finish-146f7dd

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