"The Del Rio Kid Rides Again"


Big Bend Adventures

(As told by my loving brother, Kent)

 The Del Rio Kid Rides Again

I made the mistake of going for a scoot this weekend... I had blueprinted my Sporti and was hankering to try it out. The last couple of weeks I discovered that, with the newfound torque my Gal makes now, my old BT57's weren't gonna be long for this world, even if new. My days of hard riding being few and numbered, I decided to step down to a D205 rear in order to get more than a few k miles out of a rear tire.

I packed my partly newly invented Givi bag mount and bag and headed out Friday after dark. I'm supposed to meet up with The Kid and his gang in Kerrville. I was delivered a custom invitation. The kind you don't decline.

In case you hadn't noticed lately, Kerrville is a Law and Order municipality. They regularly parade supposed proceeds from the War On Drugs in the form of custom Police Specials in Kerrville. I was a bit surprised to discover that The Kid was willing to show his face in Kerrville, much less let a washed out old reporter like me interview and photograph him. I had an undefined suspicion that maybe there was a set-up in progress. One that might end up with innocents like me finding themselves wearing the shoes of the damned.

I warm up the 205 on the 16 Hump, peering between the remaining 8 square mm of faceshield not covered by bug juice as I headed into Kerrville to meet The Kid. I arrive at the meeting, provide the password to the cute girl with the incredibly big eyes. She lets me in. I wish I knew what she said, but my earplugs were still in and my helmet still on. I didn't want to risk dumping 2 lbs of bug remains on her doorstep by removing anything.

It's vacant. The Gang ain't here, but their trail is still warm.

Bits of food and bike gear and stuff all around. I tremble and wait. I turn on the telly and watch as a stuntman comes unsnapped from his airplane and plummets 100 feet to his death. I turn off the telly and wait.

Soon I hear the rumble. A brace of Concours, a SportWing and a CruiserWing rumble up to the wrong parking spot. They forgot where their hangout was. I see the Kid and his sidekick, Tonti, peeling off their C's. I let out a deep breath, walk up and begin with the introductions. Much later, after hearing the riveting tale of woe about how The Kid fought it out with the Cell Company over how to replace the cell phone he dropped on the trail earlier that day, I lay still, channel-flipping, trying to find that show about the doomed stuntman again. Possibly there was a note of warning in there somewhere.

The next morning, I have to show my stuff. I hate these macho biker things. But Well... I warm the Gal up and saunter back through the

16 Hump again. Something about 'Wireless Withdrawal' when I ask where they all disappeared to on the Hump. Not a time for questions with this breed of outlaw.

I flick and putt the Gal down familiar backroads. Watching the Sun setting on the Age of Biking in Central Texas that morning brought near mystical thoughts on what might be the short-lived Next Freedom.

But I'm no fortune-teller, I only watch the Patterns and see the Results.

Fuel stop. I check out the 205 and though I haven't even leaned the Gal over yet, I'm already at the Edge of Tread. Dang, Dunlop never did figure out how to make a round sport-touring tire...

Del Rio... I've heard rumors about how the Del Rio Kid got his name. Some weave a fantastical tale of a burnout with the locals.

While there is often a thread of truth in most myths, I suspect The Tale is mostly talk. I once met an old dirty biker... He pulled me to the side in a barroom where talk was cheap. He told me he once aspired to be a Wal-Mart kinda guy also. Until he rode with the Del Rio Kid. He said *he* was the one who gave The Kid his name! He even said that the Kid was... Ahh. Noone would believe that rant anyway. After all, we need our heroes and our villians these days.

I wait patiently in a back-street in Del Rio with the rest of his gang. The Kid is supposedly negotiating for a new Cell phone. We are told to wait for an hour. An hour. Tonti decides it's time to reconnoiter. The gang and I are to amble out of town in case a quick getaway is called for. Turns out that The Kid was ambushed by one of them wickedly beautiful senoritas that dwell in Del Rio, but he narrowly escaped. Out of the corner of my eye, I swear I saw Tonti beating The Kid over the head with his hat! Strange mumbles about the Del Rio Wal-Mart issued from Tonti's lips thereafter all weekend. No doubt memories of some long-ago near disaster that they shared.

We hole up that night in the Ft Davis camp. While remote, I carefully consider that remoteness doesn't guarantee successful flight. It was but a few years earlier, down the road a bit, where the remains of the Republic of Texas met their doom. History notes that SWBell had previously installed a T1 at that remote site, probably just for such an occurrance. What fate would meet this trade-off with sanity that had been engineered for me? While the camp was a logistical fatality as far as I was concerned, they had nice hot showers, even if one had to install packing on the outside of the shower valve to keep from getting scalded.

The next morning, The Kid woke us up at 3am. Life on the Run has it's difficult moments. We pack up and run the back exit, the Man obviously hot on our trail. The Kid says he has friends in the Observatory who will hide us out for a while. With their world-renowned optics, maybe we can pinpoint just who is after us this day. But no. Today is Sunday. Apparently, friends don't work on Sunday, so we hit the dusty trail again, skirting the mountains, headed for the border.

The Border being Candelaria.

There is just something special about getting a good road bike airborne. The Road to Candelaria proved it can exercise the best of suspension components, and the Best seemingly turn feet back into inches, which possibly is a mixed blessing. On one hand, one is denied the thrill of uncontrolled reentry, but with age come a few justifications.

At the End of the Line, The Kid's C-bike nukes it's rear brakelight switch. I take a few discrete pictures of The Kid trying to repair the lost cause, and finally point out a 3 second temporary fix while Tonti apparently fails in an attempt to arrange portage across the river for us and our bikes. We turn back to face our pursuers, a grim resolute in the Kid's face as I am selected to lead.

This is it. This is why I was brought along - to be cannon fodder for the Kid. Well, one can die a worse death, in the arms of an easy chair. I accept, but watch for an opportunity to lose the Gang and win back my freedom. I ride. Not so fast to warrant one of Tonti's infamous projectiles, you see. Just fast enough to let them know I'm not a coward. I cut, I burn. I run past the tread on the

205 but take care not to touch down the pegs or pipes on the tight sweepers. An ostentatious display would not be appropriate here.

In our retreat, I see no pursuers, only a sea-sick horse in a fast-moving horse trailer. I wonder how we lost them. I wonder how he knew where to go. Was it those years on the run that trained him so well, or... I think back to that old dirty, ranting biker.

Maybe it wasn't just a rant. Maybe this whole thing is...

It's time for my getaway. I'm point on the River Road. I decide to open my lead. With Tonti keeping an eye on me, I select a deceptive downhill left-hander with a little bobble in the bottom. I roll the throttle and hook the tank, the bobble lightly tinging my left exhaust, which normally sits 25 inches off the ground. The 205 hangs and I check the rear. I'm Free! I run for protection. I run for cover. Where are the really bad guys when you need 'em? Nowhere in sight, as usual.

They say that hostages tend to identify with their captors and as I cruise along, I began to suspect that I am falling prey. Where were those ruthless acts of legend? Where was that keen mind that always outwitted his opponents? Could this be true? This leader who forgets to clip in his cell phone? This tyrant who can't ride past the Del Rio Wal-Mart without stopping in? This ruthless who forgets that his friends aren't at work today? Was Billy the Kid ever in communications withdrawal? Did Jesse James ever forget what day the train was running?

I slowed a bit, pretending that I just accidentally ran off and left them on the River Road and in doing so, admittedly joined this interesting mix of legend and reality. We rode in the fog the next day. Tonti was sent on a mission and departed in the evening. Over dinner, The Kid made contact with unknown friends. The Cell Phone had been recovered out west of Kerrville when an old cowboy pulled over on the highway to check a shoe! He was so honored to have found a personal belonging of the Del Rio Kid that he was dispatching a courier to bring the wireless to the Kid the next day. From where?

Yep. Del Rio.

Yes, there's still magic on Texas backroads. Rolling fields full of flowers and hills burdened with cactus and mountain laurel blossoms. And rain. And legends like the Del Rio Kid still live on, despite what reality intervenes.

Some day I'll make it back home. But for now, I'll wave so long from the road; with the Del Rio Kid.

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Last updated 10/24/2004