One More Trip To Arkansas
Posted by dutchinterceptor, 10 November 2008 · 398 views
So a few buddies of mine decided to make a three day run to the Ozarks and threw me an invitation. What to do, what to do? I had entirely too much on my plate, my wife had a huge list, my truck needed to be fixed, my lawn needed to be mowed, and most of all my bike was dirty. Consequently, I did the only thing I could do....start packing. The one real concern was that I didn't have a new tire to throw on in place of the Pilot Power with a thousand miles. I usually get 2500 miles out of a tire so I thought I'd be good to go....right?
Tyler, TX to Yellville, AR
The four of us took off about 8am in search of twistier roads. My buddy and I go up to Arkansas so often we've pretty much settled on that route and wind up stopping at the same places each trip. Our halfway stop is in Mt. Ida where we grab some gas and then head down the street to the local Subway. Three of us pulled into the Subway parking lot while the fourth guy opted to park behind the building where it was shaded. We were pulling gear off when a police car pulls up in front of the three bikes and blocks us in. I immediately start playing back all of the car passes and speed zones wondering what laws we broke.
The cop gets out, slips his mountie hat on and sternly asks me, "Is he with you guys?" I said, "who?" and he points to Tom behind the building in his red 'stich. It seems that there was an issue with the credit card reader on the gas pump we recently used and the transaction didn't go through. The lady at the station of course called the police and parking behind the building made him look super guilty. After a quick conversation with the cop, Tom rode back there to see what was going on. We were so concerned that we started eating without him. The lady told him that the reader on the pumps screwed up all the time but she didn't know why. He wasn't too thrilled but it made for a great joke the rest of the trip.
Have you ever checked the weather on the internet only to find out they were full of snit. The forecast showed NO rain for the next two and half years but you guessed it....rain. The last sixty five miles of the best roads in Arkansas were done in a nice soothing shower but hey, at least we were riding. My other three partners in crime got a little nervous on the wet roads so I took the lead and had a great time for a change trying desperately to stay relaxed. All went well till I hit a patch of sand on a corner resulting in my rear wheel trying to pass the front. I'd rate it about a nine on the pucker factor scale. Luckily it quit raining just as we arrived at the motel in Yellville. The drinking began soon after.
Yellville, AR to Yellville, AR
I haven't had much fun on MO roads due to too much road construction the last few times so I wasn't too excited when my buddy Glenn came up with this route. It was his gig and I was just along for the ride so to speak. I was pleasantly surprised with the clean roads and some pretty decent curves along with them. The highlight of the day was 125 in MO where Jay, Tom, and I took off while Glenn stopped to get some pictures. Jay and I eventually let Tom and his 1098 go on the tighter section of curves. I passed Jay with the hopes of catching Tom but the guy just disappeared into the curves of the Mark Twain Ntnl. Forest. Needless to say it was like riding with Baileyrock. Jay and I finally caught up to him at the Reuter, MO post office north of Bull Shoal's Lake where he had pulled off. We waited there for Glenn and ran into a nice couple from Springfield.
From there we rode down to the Peel Ferry and while we waited Tom asked if I wanted to ride his Ducati. I stammered a bit attempting to say hell yeah. My motorcycle resume is extremely limited so this was a momentous occasion for me. He explained to me that it was GP shift and I told myself that it wouldn't be a big deal. Just as I was throwing a leg over that beautiful Italian machine he says, "Oh yeah, I don't have any insurance on it so please don't crash it." He laughs as he walks away to take charge of my VFR. OMFG what a bike. I nearly blacked out from lack of oxygen because I was trying to suck in my gut to keep it from rubbing the gas tank. It felt like the handlebars were mounted to the front hub so by the time I shifted to second my wrists were numb and by the time I shifted into third my neck was numb so I couldn't hold my head up enough to see past the gas cap. All seemed to be going well. I was cruising along with all sorts of thoughts running through my head, specifically whether to shift up or down when two deer come shooting out of the trees across my path. OH HELL NO!!
So after a terrifyingly wonderful ride I turned it over wondering how the hell this fifty-three year old guy with a knee replacement rides it on 400+ mile days one after the other. The VFR instantly seemed buttery smooth after several miles on the v-twin and instantly made me appreciate it that much more. Since we stopped to change bikes Glenn and Jay got way up the road so Tom and I had to play catchup where again Tom disappeared into the distance as I was trying to keep his pace through the corners. The guys headed back to the motel while I rode to Cotter for some sunset shots and a bottle of Russian refreshment. What a day!
Tom and Glenn were on a schedule so they headed out early Sunday while Jay and I took a leisurely ride home. As I mentioned earlier I knew that my tire was questionable but didn't think cords would show as quick as they did. I made it about 220 miles before my tire started to come apart. All I could do was get as far south as possible knowing that my wife would have to bring my spare wheel to me. I opted for the town of Glenwood, AR which was twenty miles down the road and I made it about six miles from it when the bike got squirrely. After, I pulled off in a turnout that overlooked a nice river I double checked that I could get a signal on my phone and then sent Jay on his way home. I would have stayed there but the gnats buzzing around were driving me insane so I hopped on the bike and poked my way into town on a flat tire.
Two and a half hours later my wifey shows up with my extra wheel. After a quick wheel change and a pottie break we proceeded to drive 200 miles home at night dodging all manner of creature alive and dead. It's a little unnerving when you look up the road and see numerous glowing eyes looking back at you. The carnage on the roads was unbelievable but we made it home without any incidents. The only thing left to do was pay off my wife for having to make an emergency road trip. It all worked out!