85-MPH Run Down TX-130 - Saturday, 19 Jan 2013

The Tale of Two Routes

What a great day – couldn’t have been better!  Well, unless one of us won the lottery and split the winnings with club members.  But I digress.  A group of 17 AMSO members and friends, safely cocooned inside 10 MB’s and Smarts, made the high-speed run down TX-130.  And what a sight!  But now I am getting ahead of myself.

The day started well, with AMSO members gathering at ‘Point Valero’, in Bulverde, TX.  This gas station is perfect – big parking lot, pretty good coffee, and dual restrooms.  First in was Charles driving his ‘Grey Ghost’, a beautiful SL500.  Next in were Jeff & Lori in their SL600, Joyce in the blue ‘Mis-Behavin’ Smart, Don & Wicho in a sweet CLS550, the perennial Sak & Bebe in their SL65, and Baja in his SL560.  We warmly welcomed Wicho & Don, who have been following AMSO on Facebook and the website for some time; this being their first outing with us.

After quick coffee, gas, and a whole lot of friendly reacquainting, we’re off on the first leg of today’s adventure!  This first leg is a nice, easy back-country road route, starting north on US-281.  Making a right turn onto FM-1863 (Bulverde Rd.) brings the line-up through some nice mixed scenery of oak trees, ranches and tall scrub.  Continuing along, the road magically turns into TX-46 but the scenery continues to be nice southern Texas scrub.  Outside temps are still on the cool side, but the sun is shining through wispy high clouds.

As we continue east on TX-46, approaching I-35, the area starts to become ‘built-up’ with commerce here and there; the ranches giving way to tract homes.  A quick left turn onto Common Street and we are in New Braunfels.  Here the area is nice but rather non-descript, so we continue, ultimately making a right turn onto FM-306.  With I-35 in sight, our first destination, Buc-ee’s, is near.

Pulling into the Buc-ee’s parking lot is like navigating through a 1980’s version of Space Invaders!  The bazillion gas pumps are only matched by the bazillion plus 2 restroom stalls inside!  So weaving our caravan through the gas pump invaders required some concentration!  But the southern end of the parking lot was our destination and just pulling in along with us were our new friends, Ron & Mary Ann!

Parking and lining up the cars was perfect and in the next aisle over was a gathering of some modern-day Mopar.  Being a car nut at heart, Joyce just had to go over and socialize about the aerodynamic and technological advances that the Smart car had over the new Challenger.  When asked how the conversation went, she claimed intellectual superiority over the Mopar guys!  Well, that was her side of the story and she’s sticking to it!

So we meet Ron and Mary Ann, yak about Mercedes and Smarts for a bit, investigate the cavernous restroom facilities and load up on coffee.  And Bebe just HAD to get a bag of ‘Buc-ee’s Balls’, better known as Buc-ee’s Nuggets.  A quick driver’s meeting and we’re off on the second leg of today’s adventure with 7 cars!

So we’re heading out of Buc-ee’s, making a left back onto FM-306, and somehow Joyce gets 3 other vehicles in front of her.  So Jeff pulls over the pack to allow the 3 to pass, except the lead truck must be driven by Ma & Pa Kettle ‘cause they are slowing down with us!  Joyce looks to be perpetually stuck behind The Waltons!  Eventually, they get a clue and pass by… we are back together once again.

FM-306 through this area is nice… peaceful… the 7 cars all moving along as one… all is right with the world.  [ring, ring]  Cell phone rings.  “Ahhh, El Jeffe...  You missed Purgatory Road.”  Oops.  Scenery looked so good!  The karma was just so fine.  Oh well, make lemonade out of lemons.  After a quick bit of coaching from the Event Goddess, El Jeffe has revised the flight plan.  So instead of cruising along Purgatory Road, we continue along FM-306 and are treated to some beautiful views of Canyon Lake.  A quick right-turn onto FM-32 and we are sort of back on track.

The ‘advantage’ to this detour is that we get to drive through a portion of the ‘Devil’s Backbone’; a beautiful series of rolling hills and reasonably tight S-turns.  Setting the cruise control to 65-MPH provides a very exhilarating ride through this drop-dead gorgeous area of the Texas Hill Country.  So missing a turn provided a wonderful opportunity!  That’s AMSO!  (And we’ll be exploring ‘The Backbone’ more in February!)

Running through the ‘Backbone’, we make a left onto RR-12 and head through Wimberley.  Quaint little town but you have to watch the varying speed limits!  A little right turn and we’re cruising down RR-3237 toward Kyle, TX.  The scenery through here is really nice.  Same basic ranch land, but they are well-kept and pretty.

A couple more jogs here and there through the outskirts of Kyle and Buda.  We can almost smell the burgers, we are sooo close.  But as fate would have it, we all get through a RR crossing, except Joyce as she just can’t quite beat the dropping crossing gate.  So we pull over and patiently wait.  We stay together; no one gets separated.

Gate up and away we go!  A left here, a right there and appearing on the right is Dan’s Hamburgers.  We park next door at the Taco Bell since Dan’s parking lot is packed.  Soon we are linked up with our Austin friends – Anthony & Bambi in a pretty green ’94 SL500, Victor & Sally in a sporty red Smart cabriolet, and Ken & Udi in what is described as a hybrid Bim-Merc-Er.  Only one like it on the planet.  LOL  Ken stayed up late the night before covering the BMW logos with MB logos.  What a hoot!  Good job, Ken!

By this time, we were all famished and ordered up.  The menu at Dan’s is basic but extensive – 3 sizes of burger with an option of double-meat.  Cheese, jalapeños, fixin’s, the list gives you options.  The staff was fabulous and arranged one long table for us.  As a group we refuse to eat at separate tables!  It’s been a tradition that we ALWAYS eat together, at the same table.  And what a great time!  As usual, we were laughing and a hooting and hollering.  But the place is casual and no one seemed to mind.

Did we mention birthday girl?  It was Udi’s birthday and we had all signed a B-Day card for her.  A round of ‘Happy Birthday’ – all of us off-key – and the meal was complete.  It was a touching moment as we ARE all friends.  And friends do nice things for each other.

After investigating the restrooms, stretching the legs, and a lively driver’s meeting, we’re off on the last leg of today’s adventure – the main event!  A left, right, left, right and we’re on TX-45 eastbound.  El Jeffe is in front, pacing the pack making sure the Smart cars are getting up to flight speed.  What’s this blue blur in the rear view mirror?!?  Joyce comes screaming by the pack holding out her camera, taking pics and video along the way.  No doubt, bribery shots of how a blue Smart car outran a V12.  LOL  Well, ol’ Jeff can’t be that easily outdone, so he punches it to 110 and blows by, slowing only after getting back into the lead.  Good natured fun!

At this point, it’s like a stampede and everyone starts accelerating past El Jeffe!  But only El Jeffe knows where the ramp is for TX-130.  Sure enough, Ken & Udi in the Bim-Merc-er special and Sak & Bebe in the SL65 go straight… past the off-ramp.  As the pack (following El Jeffe) makes the long gentle right ramp at speed, we see ‘Oh, oh’ brake lights of our two wildcats.

No harm done and within a couple moments, both are back and the pack is whole yet again.  Cruising down TX-130 at 85-MPH is pure heaven for the driver.  One would think keeping a line of MB’s and Smarts in a nice straight line would be easy.  Nope!  Sort of like herding cats… they just go wherever they want!  And blow-by they did!

The road is awesome – smooth, wide, and very open.  Within moments, the ‘big boys’ are cruising on down at varying speeds as they taunt the 100-MPH mark.  The Smarts are doing great!  Hitting 90+ in some stretches, they were moving quite well.  Even passed a Mercedes G500, affectionately known as a ‘tipped refrigerator on wheels’.  El Jeffe stayed behind to ensure everyone made the stretch of TX-130.

It was beautiful.  Weather was perfect – about 70ºF with nice, warm sunshine beaming down.  Some very high clouds filtered a bit of the sun.  And everyone is burning up the highway.  In the distance ahead, we could see the big boys jockeying for position… Black SL, then a green SL, then a CLS.  The high-speed dance was well-executed and choreographed.

As the end of TX-130 came into to view, the off-ramp to the right takes onto I-10 west, which is a bit anti-climactic after the last 40 minutes of high-speed fun.  A short distance and Exit 610 brings us off the highway.  Surprisingly, the first traffic light brings us all back together as a pack.  Couldn’t have timed it better!

Into the parking lot of Los Cucos Mexican Restaurant we cruise - 10 cars filled with 17 people excited about the just-completed run.  Adrenaline high, nerves sharpened, smiles everywhere!  We park in a semi-circle and snap for pics, relive the past hour and head in for a cold beverage.

Once inside and at the bar, we continue laughing, hooting and hollering!  The timing was perfect as the place was near empty (mid-afternoon) which gave us great service from the staff.  Did we say Birthday Girl?  Yup – the staff gave Udi the sombrero and a very nice dessert on the house for her birthday.  Another round of really off-key ‘Happy Birthday’, and we’re just having a blast.

Although AMSO does not condone or encourage speeding, highest speed bragging rights went to Don who claimed a 130-MPH speed in his CLS; most were in the 100+ MPH range.  Even Baja’s 80’s vintage 560SL got nicely up to 100 MPH.  The Smarts are heavily governed due to their short wheelbase, but they brought in very respectable 90+ MPH times.  And the fact that we ALL ended up at the same traffic light, at the same time, after a 30+ mile high speed run is a testament to how the Smarts were doing!  Way cool!

But all things must come to an end and we – very reluctantly – began to say our ‘good-byes’ and headed for the cars.  Although we were at the end of today, we were upbeat by the thoughts of the next AMSO adventure and the calling of the open road.

Have fun, drive safe, and always strive for the best.  See ya ‘round the bend!

 Bob, when he learned he missed

the High Speed Run

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