Arkansas Motorcycle Trip Part 1

Notes from my motorcycle trip with Hiatt. I made a logo, but never got shirts made.

Technically I should have included Kansas as he lives there, but its still funny for us!

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 ( 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.

2 thoughts on “Arkansas Motorcycle Trip Part 1

  1. Thanks for the first post of your adventure, Hogan! I know the work involved in writing, and I encourage you to write when you feel inspired to do so. The words will flow. Safe rides to you! -Brian

  2. 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 🙂 ) 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!

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