Texas Hill Country: A Land of Simple Majesty

Text: Paul Pah • Photography: Paul Pah

I moved to North Texas from the Midwest more than two years ago. Not having explored the state much, tales of the roads around Texas Hill Country, west of Austin, had long intrigued me. Not being a fan of solo overnight expeditions, I received the perfect opportunity to explore that part of Texas when my old college friend informed me that he and his father would be strapping their bikes on a trailer and heading down from Minnesota. They wanted to meet up with me in Texas and ride to the Hill Country after catching the 2019 MotoGP at COTA that weekend.

The plan was simple—ride down from Dallas to Austin on race day and catch the action on track together with the associated festivities, before shooting to our campsite in Kerrville. From there, we would ride the Twisted Sisters the following day.

All signs were pointing to a great day ... Except my bike wouldn’t start and it was a chilly 45 degrees outside. Luckily, it was nothing a curious passing policeman couldn’t fix. A quick jump-start later, I was blasting down the highway toward the Little Czech Bakery for a hearty dose of kolaches, both the sweet and savory variety. The bakery, just north of Waco on I-35, is open 24 hours and is a must-stop if you’re in the area.

From there, it was another straight highway stint to COTA. Finding the parking lot was a nightmare as we had to navigate around confused and irate tourists. But as soon as we found the motorcycle lot—which is free, by the way—we were greeted by an ocean of bikes ranging from ancient Triumphs to fancy exotics. A shuttle brought us to the main entrance, and the marketplace beyond it was lined with everything from MotoGP memorabilia to overpriced beer. Manufacturers were showcasing their latest and greatest at a track test ride.

But the highlight was, of course, the races. Moto2 saw Thomas Luthi cruising to an easy win, while MotoGP shocked the bookies with Marc Márquez crashing out of a comfortable lead and allowing Álex Rins and Suzuki to take their first win of the premier class. The rest of the day consisted of taking Hwy 290 from Austin to Kerrville 120 miles away, passing by most of the region’s wineries. After setting up our tents and trailer, we headed into town for dinner at a place called The Boat, which is parked on the river and serves affordable and extremely fresh seafood. 

Riding With Beasts

The next day, we emerged sunburnt and dehydrated from our tents, but our spirits were high. After replacing my battery at Walmart, we started on the infamous Twisted Sisters loop—or Three Sisters, depending on who you ask. The 100-mile loop begins on SR 41 and US 83 and proceeds onto SR 335, SR 336, and SR 337, snaking its way over the hills. With some tight corners up and down the slopes and great views of rivers and Texan ranches, it is one the state’s most challenging and rewarding roads. 

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For the complete touring article, including facts & information, map(s), and GPS files, please purchase the November/December 2020 back issue.