Arkansas Motorcycle Trip Part 5

Sunday, and we are just starting to get into the riding groove. Its our third full day on the road and Hiatt and I are getting used to this life. The road waits, and all we have to do is wake up and eat breakfast. So we head down to breakfast for the second day in a row. We’re pros at this point getting at the food that we’re interested in. After a filling meal, we headed back to our room. That was when we saw some true Arkansas ingenuity. I have no words for this, so I’ll just show the photos.

 

We took Rockhouse road out to Berryville where we ended the previous night. This is a nice back road route that was lots of fun. A narrow two lane road encroached by trees. Those trees created eery early morning shadows! Hiatt was in the lead and took off like a rocket, occasionally slowing down to make sure I was still alive. I was uncomfortable with the texture of the road and the shadows to go too fast, so I took it relatively easy. At the end of this short diversion, we headed to the nearest gas station to fuel up and consider the rest of the day. At the gas station was a group of 4 riders doing the same thing as us. The license plates had them from Wisconsin, so they were on quite a journey!

We decided to re-run the 215 to Oark route because it was quite fun the previous day. This time, we would run it backwards and see it from the other direction. Its amazing to me how much faster things seem when you have already seen them before. This route passed by very fast. We were less worried about where we were going and discovering new things. Riding backwards on the route was like getting revenge to us. We focused on the turns that we didn’t take as well the previous day and not getting lost like yesterday.  We skipped the town of Oark and just made the turn to stay on the major path. If you’re wondering why we would re-ride the same route again, it may help to look at the pictures that follow. They best describe the roads we were on. The last photo of the group is Hiatt’s back tire. The dark spot is the portion of the tire he has been riding and shows just how far he has been leaning into the turns we have been riding! I would be lying if I said that I didn’t ride aggressive today either…


We stopped near the end of this route to have lunch at a Sonic. We just can’t seem to get enough being outside on this trip! Of course this is Mother’s Day (a made up holiday), so we called mom and both got to say hi to her. Then we proceeded to call our wives and wish them the same. Of course, we could each hear in our wife’s voice the need to have us home soon. We had been gone for a few days, one of them celebrating them. Of course, we can’t thank them each enough for allowing this trip!

At the end of the route, we were back in Eureka Springs. We had decided that we need to end up near Harrison, Arkansas at the end of the day to facilitate getting home earlier than planned on Monday. That would make the girls happy, and that is always a consideration for each of us! The plan was to head towards Harrison and run the Mountain View route from the pamphlet and be back in Harison that night. Of course, to get there, we could take the Rockhouse Road route again… So off to Rockhouse we went. I took the lead this time, but was a bit lethargic after lunch and road at a more civilized speed. My lack of speed turned out to be a blessing. Around a nearly blind left hand turn, there was a red truck that was backing out of a driveway that just seemed to be parked, blocking the road. As I slowed, it finally pulled back into the driveway and we passed without issue. Had the truck been there earlier in the morning, it could have been a much different story!

Not being that far from Harrison, we figured we would finish off the day with the Mountain view run and finish in Harrison where we started this adventure and get home to our girls early. We ran the route backwards from the directions on the map, but were getting good at it by now. The drive down US 65 South was long, straight and fairly boring. We had a near run in with a police officer for speeding in Harrison and decided we better take it easy on the larger highways. Going the speed limit after the last couple days was difficult, but we didn’t want to add any donations to local cities (tickets) to the expense of our trip. At this point, I was starting to get saddle sore from all of the riding we have done. I was ready to get off the bike and walk around. We came over the top of a hill and there was a very long downhill of at least a half mile. I was probably doing 5 – 10 over when I crested the hill with light traffic and let off the throttle. There at the bottom of the hill was a Highway Patrol officer waiting for people to speed down a hill. As we passed the bottom of the hill, eye contact was made, and he didn’t look to happy to see us pass. I watched in mirrors as we passed just waiting for him to come after. Once out of site, we may have speed up a bit just to add some distance. Then we found a place to pull off and rest.

There is nothing quite like canoe country. The rivers are peaceful and everyone seems happy. We stopped and walked down to the river to relax and stretch our legs. And *maybe* there may be girls where there are rivers and canoes…

Back on the road, we were rewarded with nice mountainesque views. At the far end of the route, Mountain View Arkansas, we turned up the scenic road to head back to Harrison. This road was secluded. So we may have speed up. Being that few cars were on it, I saw a couple of snakes on the road warming up before the evening. We made one more stop at a river to stretch our legs and had a treat. As we pulled in, the road was gravel and quickly went down into a large lot. I went first and had no trouble with the gravel. Once parked, we walked around and took pictures. Then we met and talked with Tabatha. She was a young cute girl looking for her grandmother who run a canoe outfitter on the river. It was a nice discussion that kept us off the bikes longer.



When we arrived in Yellville, Arkansas, it was getting dark fast and we were tired. So we found a hotel and decided to call it a night. This was the first no-name hotel, but it turned out to be just fine. Staying in Yellville positioned us to do part of another route from the trip and get home early to the girls on Monday night. Once settled, we went out for pizza. We sat outside and enjoyed the sunset and the 4 cars/trucks that we driving around town showing off.

Arkansas Motorcycle Trip Part 1 – Hiatt’s Counterpoint

I wanted to add a couple items.  The planning section for where Hogan and I went to was a little bit of a battle.  Hogan didn’t want to be land locked to a state and I knew Arkansas had some great roads.  The quest was to have a happy medium between adventure and just logging miles to log as many miles and states as possible.

We had decided that we were going to venture Arkansas after passing off some blog data about Arkansas and some Arkansas Motorcycle maps that explained the paths of travel.  The was the key factor in holding Hogan’s interest in Arkansas.  

Secondly after Hogan explained and I went with his idea we said no locking in Hotels.  We would move to were the weather was good and the roads rocked.  I had GPS setup on the bike along with a phone with the net.  Hogan was setup with a mini laptop and a phone which we got signal when we looked about 70% of the time.

Hogan kept telling me how I needed to have some waterproof clothes during the trip and told me what he bought.  I said those who prepare for rain get rain.  That is the positive thought I had to have during this trip.  Any rain was going to suck but I figured if I got any on me it would dry rather quickly.  The plan was to ride to the nice weather right?  Well, that is what I am going to do!  I was not going to bring my winter/waterproof pants…I would die from dehydration and heat stroke even with the vents open and liner out of them besides being about the size of my bag I had loaded up.  

So to add to the first day of travel, I got out earlier than I had planned from work.  Called Hogan and the bum was not ready to go…Well there goes an earlier start around 2pm.  So I stayed and my parents packing up a couple more items on the bike and visited with mom.  I didn’t pack that much but it doesn’t take much not to fit on my bike the greatest.  The worst thing I didn’t bring was my clear visor.  I had taken my smoked colored visor…BAD mistake but that is later.

I was about half way into re-cleaning my chain when I get a call from Hogan with a couple excited motivation verbs, he was out the door.  I was like ALSDKJFALSDKJSAF  I hustled up the rest of the chain, went back into the house and changed into my trip clothes.  I then tossed on the jacket, the earphones, plugged in the phone, put the helmet on and the gloves.  The gloves took a little bit as I had already started nervously sweating because I was out the door after Hogan had left and the excitement of the trip.  It was about 3:30pm and we had planned to scoot hopefully by 3pm. I then put on the helmet and strapped it on.  I turned the key nervously to the on position, kicked up the kick stand.  Flipped down the on starter switch, and pushed the ignition button.  The ole trust ZX12R fired right up knowing she was going to love the next five days.

As I started to easy out of the garage, mom was at the bottom of the drive way.  Like any big adventure during my life, she would be their or dad to video the dorkness called us kids as we adventured.  I rolled down the driveway and blip the throttle a little nervously and then eased out to the street.  It was almost like Battlestar Galactica as they loaded up to their fighters and launched.  I had that type of tunnel vision going down the street.

Making my way out with some rocking tunes playing, I made it to the highway a little later than my brother leaving…ohh well.  He has nothing on me with his touring bike.  I get on that on ramp and the sweet music of 10,500 rpm each gear in first and second gear!  I merged into 3:35pm 435 traffic with easy and moved pretty good even through the Grandview Triangle.  That itself was a good sign.

Harrisonville Missouri came rolling up and I was looking for my exit to get gas and hop on Hwy 7 to Springfield Missouri.  Here I topped off the tank I think about 2 gallons or so.  I guess it was not topping off as it does hold around 5.1 gallons.  It is always fun when you notice people look over at you with all your gear and this point the bag I had strapped on the back.  Crazy bikers…  So I topped of the tank just a tad…so I could extend my fuel window and mileage and started to re-gear up.  Gloves go on sweaty hands a lot slower than dry.  So far no problems.  Fired up the bike and started to make my way to the exit of the gas station.  

I came to a stop as I saw this car out of no where turning into the gas station right at me.  WTF….and then he noticed and I started to throttle and release the clutch to move as he grabbed more wheel and brake and gave the ” I am so sorry ” look.  This was not a good feeling to have just this short into the trip.  YIKES…come on people…I will say that is a horrible setup for the Gas station…its been like that for years, what a couple of painted lines would do for that place.

I left the gas station nice and easy, again having the tunes playing in my ears and I powered out of the gas station.  Nice easy throttle was the game plan and I did.  There was no hurry as I knew that Hogan had a 1/2 more of a trip than I did to get to Braums.  I was maybe half hour into riding down hwy 13 and I noticed the change in the clouds.  I could see a tiny bit of moisture on the roads but nothing that said fresh water.  YES…that is a good sign.  Because of Hogan I have missed this wave of weather through this area.  The road started picking up some more moisture the farther I got and the clouds go darker.  I was about 1/2 from Braums as I started to see a drop here or there but mostly it was spray from the roads.

I pulled off the highway on a off ramp.  My gloves where sticky from sweat as they strained to be pulled from my palm to my fingers.  I took off the GPS from the Ram mount that I had.  Reviewed the rest of the turns for our meet spot.  I put all the electronics into the tank bag and put on the rain cover to it.  I worked those gloves back on, then sat there a minute looking at the clouds and knowing…almost there!  Turned the key and fired up the bike and eased down the rest of the ramp.  Then I…uhhh didn’t notice there was no lane from the light and proceeded to head across the road and back on the highway.  Come on right…the light was green and that was all I needed.  Getting back on the highway the spray from the road was starting to hit me good.

I started taking my gloves to help clear away the rain from my smoked visor.  I stayed tucked on the bike as much as possible to keep the water spray from the cagers off of me.  The bottom of my jeans where pretty damp and my shoes but ohh well.  Those dry quick and it was not freezing thankfully!  I continued to make it into Springfield and continued to wipe away at my visor…damn why didn’t I think to rain x my visor!  I had made it through some construction and traffic and arrived at Braums if I remember right it was around 5:30 or 5:40pm.  I pulled up next to a car that was loading up and leaving.  I pulled off the helmet, then the gloves, then the ear plugs, and only then did I get my first break of the day.

I called Colleen and let her know I had made it safe and sound at our first meet point.  I think she was extremely relieved at that point.  But she did know that two crazy brothers together could equal more danger!  I waited…and waited… then I saw this guy on a gray Kawasaki pull around the bend.  Black helmet and visor was partial dark ( I am very envious of that visor setup ).  My brother made it!  Hell yes…he is in the house!  It got my heart beating faster.  The other half arrived, the crazier and more unsprung do’er of evil. I think it was just after 6pm maybe when he got there.

Hogan pulls up and shuts down his beast.  It was my first time to see his battle cruiser…aka the Connie in person.  It sounded good and he looked natural on the bike.  He gets his helmet off and looks at me with a grin.  It didn’t rain on you he asked me.  Nopers…just some spray.  With some classic hogan verbiage he calls me and says your a lucking something…  He goes on to tell me how it rained most of the trip down here.  I was laughing so hard…I then explained to him what we talked about before.  Those who prepare for rain get rain.  He could have just punched me right there and I would have still been laughing by the look on his face.  Just dead serious you need some real rain gear.  Wow it was classic.

Now the whole point of picking this spot was for Ice cream.  Guess what…Hogan talked me out of it because it was too cold.  So what did we do, have soft drinks.  Hogan had several refills move than I.  Because it was cool out he didn’t want have that as we warmed up and dried a little in the restaurant. Well, all that Lillis diet coke didn’t save him.  He was just as cold and had double the liquid volume in him compared to what the ice cream would have done.

So we go up to order food.  Burgers and Fries were a must.  Our order was read and we head up to get some supplies.  I started to fill up those little ketchup cups.  Hogan tells me no dude…you have it all wrong after I have 5 read to go.  He grabs the biggest plastic lid for the cups.  He procedes to place it under the ketchup machine and pile a HUGE serving or should I say about 13 servings of ketchup on this lid!  I am just laughing away at this monster serving on this lid.  We slowly eat and dry looking at the weather forecast on my phone.  We see the main front is gone and another one is due in pretty soon.  So we make another pitstop before we leave Brams.

Outside we take some photos, its around 7:10 or so as we continued to be tourist snapping photos.  We tossed our legs over our trust steads and tossed on our helmets as we were just going about 250 yards to the gas station.  We go there and filled up our tanks.  Something that happened very often on this trip.  Remembering Harrison Arkansas is a dry county, we went in for some drink that Hogan talked about.  Good ole Southern Comfort, a gas station specialty in Missouri.  We got out to the bikes and talked about our route and loaded backup on the bikes.  Gloves and Helmets back on, yes no music this time because the earbuds do make it very tough to hear with or without music.  We loaded up and set off to the south.  The day was losing light and we wanted to beat the next front.

We still had a good amount of spray from the cagers and a little mist here and there.  I continued to wipe my visor with my gloves and my vision for the road did not get any better.  Being with Hogan we seemed to add about 10mph to the speed limit.  We moved at a good clip as we finally came into Harrison Arkansas.  The first hotel was a Holiday Inn which Hogan pointed to and I gave thumb up.  We pulled in and I realized that Colleen and I had stayed at that Hotel before with the kids.  I knew where we were at which is always a great feeling!

We checking in sometime around 8:00pm.  After getting our room, two beds ( no chance of any jokes here Smile ) We decided to roll down the street to Wally World.  We geared up with jacket, gloves, and Helmet and decided to ride the half mile or so on each others bikes.  Lets say that I didn’t enjoy Hogans bike.  I am guessing its part related to riding a different bike in the dark on semi damp roads for a first time.  It was not my idea of fun once we had parked at Wally World.  Give me my bike any day, but I am sure on a nice day and a feel for his bike it would have been a more enjoyable ride eventually.  Anyways, back to getting parked and looking like a goon trying to get used to his grandpa like throttle and butter clutch… I gave him the keys and took mine back.  I like the raw feeling of a none hydraulic clutch and non silky smooth throttle like mine.

Inside Wally World Hogan broke out for the first time I think that day the first Cletus joke which had me cracking up.  It was one of many more to come over the next couple days.  We picked up some drinks and some chips I think.  We checked out and hustled out to the bikes.  We mounted up for the half mile ride back to the hotel.  Once inside Hogan demonstrated how to use a hair drier.  Honestly I had never seen a hair drier lay on the floor for 45 minutes drying gloves and shoes.  It was classic as I just put stuff on the A/C unit and it was dry in the morning.

We mixed our drinks and started surfing the TV.  Only to see us land on the Speed channel for most of the night watching a show on the new Eco boost for motor for the F150.  Damn…that was insane and would make anyone look at that truck for a future purchase.  We skipped around different TV programs but found are selves ready to hit the sack around 10:15pm.  Lights out, sweet dreams, the morning is not that far away…Alarm set for 6am.  The fun has only just began!

Arkansas Motorcycle Trip Part 1

Its Thursday, May 5th and my bags are packed. I kissed the wife and kids goodbye and took off for work. This was going to feel like a long day even though I planned on sneaking out of the office around 3:00pm. The plan was to meet my brother, Hiatt, at a Braums restaurant in Nixa Missouri. Hiatt is coming from Kansas City for this trip. Our initial thought was to meet in Columbia and ride together, but by going straight to Springfield, we would save a few hours of travel.

I got out of the office just as I planned around 3:00pm with the blessing of my boss. I placed the bag on my bike securely fastened it down with bungee cords. The weather looked like it could rain, but I wasn’t worried. Off down the highway I went. As I went South, the clouds let me know that I was in for a treat. My goal was to get about an hour down the highway. Cuba Missouri was my destination. They have a large truck stop that has several memories for me. Mainly, they are known for cheap gas and HUGE signs on the highway that won’t let you forget. Secondly, this is the truck stop where I traded my previous motorcycle for the bike I was riding now. I have been through several repairs and a complete motor and transmission replacement to get to this point. It was going to feel good.

Mother Nature didn’t want me to get to the truck stop dry. It was a race against her and the highway mile marker signs. Ultimately, I pulled into the fuel pump with a few sprinkles, knowing I was in for something more. I placed my helmet on the seat and started to walk around the bike to get to the fuel pump. This was when I got the first hint at what was in store for me. A quick breeze at the front of the storm tore across the truck stop knocking my nearly new helmet down and over several feet. This was stupid and embarrassing as there were two other riders there to witness my mistake. As I retrieved the helmet, I noticed their helmets on the high handlebar leaning in against the bike, using gravity to hold it in place. I have since used this technique to keep my helmet from being knocked over by wind or people with complete success.

I took a break from riding and walked in the truck stop to relieve myself and just relax. Back outside after the break, the rain had started and the front was still not through. I was going to get to test my new rain suit for the first time. It is a Tourmaster Elite II. The rain suit is one piece, so it took me some time to get it on and situated correctly. Once the suit was on and I had my helmet and rain gloves on, I realized that I could not get my keys out of my pocket. So I had to undress quite a ways to get at my pocket and get the key out. Key in hand, I put my gear back on and mounted up. Into the rain.

For the next twenty minutes or so, I was pushed around in the rain by the wind. I had to keep my speed about 10 mph lower than the speed limit to keep the bike in my lane and on the highway. The rain suit kept me very dry and happy. The gloves were indeed waterproof and kept my hands dry as well. At speed, the water beaded off the face shield and I had no issues with visibility. Occasionally a drop of rain would come in the vents of the helmet and get my forehead wet. Two more hours heading South and through one very slow construction zone, but I was making progress. As I approached Springfield, I noticed that the sky was clearing quickly. By the time that I turned into the Braums parking lot, the sky was mostly clear, but the ground was still damp. Hiatt was there waiting for me to pull up. Ohh, and Hiatt came from Kansas City and completely missed the rain! Lucky dude.

Once we were settled at Braums, I struggled to pull the rain suit down. With my jacket on beneath it, there wasn’t much room to move. I had a little water seep in through the zipper, but I believe I could have ridden another 4 hours in the rain before I became uncomfortable. After a pleasant dinner and catching up, we were excited to hit the road. We wanted to make it to Harrison, AR that night and find a place to stay. Harrison is only a little over an hour away. Harrison Arkansas also mailed me a great brochure (www.MotorcycleArkansas.com) that had several rides based out of Harrison. That made it an easy choice to stop at.

We arrived at dusk and found a Comfort Inn on the outskirts of town that had great rates. Once settled, Hiatt and I switched motorcycles and headed out to find some snacks and drinks. Because Harrison is in a dry county, we needed Coke to go with the bottle of Southern Comfort we brought with us. We found the Wal-Mart on Walmart Drive road… Once safely parked in the lot, we both swore that our bike was better! Each of our motorcycles is a different style and we have learned to love what we have. That is a good thing!

Settled back into the hotel, we both unpacked, had drinks and relaxed. I worked on drying my rain gloves should I need them again during our ride. We talked about where we wanted to ride on Friday and what our ultimate goals were. We were anxious, but completely free from a single care in the world. Tomorrow, we would ride off and have a blast! Nothing could stop our fun or adventure.