Arkansas In April 2010
Posted by dutchinterceptor, 01 May 2010 · 1679 views
As usual I got a late start but made up for it soon enough once I got into Arkansas. The route I took is one that a bud and I have refined to the point where it's the quickest possible route while still including some entertaining roads. Heading into Dardanelle I got stuck behind a semi and while edging over to look for a clear pass i noticed something spilling out from under the trailer. I swerved over but not quick enough to avoid this foul smelling viscous toxic waste. It appeared to be just water pouring out of his refridgerated trailer but it instantly hazed my windscreen and visor. Once in town I pulled up beside the driver and hollered at him about it. He said, "yeah, don't worry it's just water I think." You think?? That'll teach me not to ride so close.
It felt good to make it to I-40 in Russellville cause I knew it could only get better from there and it did. I veered off AR7 to make a speedy run up AR123 and it certainly doesn't disappoint. Cut over to Jasper via AR 7 to Harrison. I checked into the Days Inn and when I pulled around back I noticed Motorman(Dave) and Hondalover(Mike) already there. Motorman was camping(RV style) just down the road. Hondalover had ridden in the rain on the way down and had a wet crotch to prove it. You did say it was rain right??
Soon after Gswanson(Gary), Adam79(Adam) and his dad(Kenneth) rolled in from OK followed shortly by Lee2002(Lee) from Kansas and all points in between. We hung out for a bit before deciding to try the Ptomain-Tavern next door. Typical chinese place with cats roaming around by the back door.
We gathered up after breakfast and headed off in search of better roads.
The weather was comfortably overcast but dry. We made our first stop the Peel Ferry and our timing was perfect. Fortunately, Bull Shoal's Lake wasn't white-capping so the cruise across was very smooth.
Due to the weather I opted for an on-the-fly route change diverting us over to Push Mtn. Road while things were still on the dry side. I wanted everyone to have a chance to be digitized by Push Mountain Pics and we had a good run. I must admit seeing the ambulance whizzing by made me a bit nervous wondering where they were going. Nah, no way our crew could have crashed and called 911 considering we just pulled onto the road. Still made me slow down just a smidge.
After regrouping we headed for gas and food for Adam. He gets irritable if he doesn't eat every 30 minutes. Sounds…uhh….familiar.
Still wondering about the chicks taking pictures of us but it was good fun either way. We had a good laugh watching Adam flirt with the Camaro Cuties while the rest of us sat in the rain amongst the long line of cars. Once underway we saw the overturned lumber truck that was holding everything up. Hope the guy was ok cause the cab looked like a sheet of wadded-up paper. Still soggy we made our way through the Ozark Mountains winding our way over to the small town of Jasper where we stopped for lunch at the 100 year old appropriately named restaurant, the Ozark Cafe.
After filling up(our bellies) we lazily headed out for more punishing fog and rain including a stop at the Grand Canyon of the Ozarks and then on to the south end of the famous Hwy 123.
The mesmerizing sweepers on the south end were easy enough in the wet but further up the ridge we headed down the well known switchbacks. They were littered with fine sand and gravel and were slicker than owl shit but we survived even though we had to pry Lee off of his bike when we stopped at the Mt Judea General Store. He was a little tense to say the least and I understand completely. Further north I split off from the group to grab some booze while they made their way back to the hotel. I knew for sure of a liquor store in Cotter so I headed there only to find out on the way back that there were four places just a few miles away from the hotel. (Doh!) Along the way the sun decided to thumb its nose at me as I was heading towards Yellville. I know the road well so I kicked up the speed and was able to have a little fun before the sky darkened up again with an occasional flash of lightening.
I walked into the liquor store dripping wet and the cute girl looked at me and said, "You're just not having any fun are you?" What could have been 18 miles turned into 80 but that's ok. I think everyone had a good time with the Smirnoff even after we found out that it ate through paper cups. LuvmyVFR(Pat) and three friends, Nate, Aaron, and Mike(IIRC) trailered in from Illinois and went out riding that afternoon since the rain had cleared. Pat was on his '04 with 92K miles and the other three were a Kawasaki ZX6, Ninja 250, and some goofy looking foreign bike called a 1098. As with any motorcycle gathering we stood around and talked politics till dark thirty.
The day's route including my liquor diversion:
We shared our hotel with several AKC dog show contestants. Their handlers were out in force letting the pooches walk and pee in the rain. Unfortunately, the ones next door to my room felt that barking was acceptable and consequently, woke me up at 5am.
Not a contestant but just some people that keep cute puppies in the trunk of their car.
Ah well, I was ready to go ride in the warm sunshine…uhh…err….clouds and rain. Adam and Kenneth opted to head for OK. Adam told me before they left that we were sure to get wet. Damn you!!
I tried to stop at a few scenic spots but the rain just made things pointless.
After a brief stop in Jasper to refuel the Ducati's puny tank we headed across AR74 to AR123. Halfway down we hit thick fog and the bottom dropped out just as I felt water trickling down my shirt eventually winding up in my crotch…..typical roadcrafter leak. My boots were damp from the day before but were quite squishy now. Once we made it to Sand Gap I looked over at Mike as he held his waterproof gloves up and wrenched out what seemed like half a gallon of water. Pat and his Illinois crew weren't as fed up with the rain so they opted to keep going hoping that things would clear up. They made a good choice cause it cleared for them just after we turned back for the hotel.
We finally saw sunshine once back at the hotel but it didn't last. Walking down the street to a Mexican food joint the sky opened up yet again but with a vengeance this time. Gary, Mike, Lee and I ducked into a convenience store just as it started hailing. We managed to get there and back mostly dry but that's how it went the rest of the day. Rain a while, sun for a while.
I think most of us were tired of the rain and previous nights drinking so we weren't quite as active but we still stood around talking politics and watching wet dogs. The drunk Kawasaki guys paid us a visit at one point to spread their good cheer. They were definitely living it up.
Saturday's Shortened Route:
Some of us packed up for the trip home. The others stayed an extra day to get in some more riding! Mike and I ventured over to Push Mountain before we separated for his northerly route home and my southerly route home.
Mike says it works for the dogs!
Wanting to try something different I doubled back down AR341, took AR14 to AR27 and then into Marshall. There I turned south and after a few miles turned west on AR254 near Dennard. Just when I think I had found all the good roads I run across this gem with its perfect pavement and lack of mailboxes. It has a mixture of tight esses and sweepers that will definitely wind up on my route the next time I'm up there. Nearly 200 miles after leaving the hotel I pulled into Russellville for fuel….fuel for the bike and fuel for me. The gas station has a closet where they make BBQ sandwiches and I must admit the pulled pork sandwich was darned good.
The ride home was mostly uneventful except for one stretch of AR27 near Ben Lomond. I had been cruising at 75 which is quite bit less than my usual 80 or 85, when I round a corner and came face to face with an Arkansas Statie. I chopped the throttle and reached for the brake lever just as his lights came on. Ah shit! I grabbed hard on the brakes so he only had to drive a few feet to pull in behind me. He asked if I knew how fast I was going and I told him somewhere around 70. He came back with 68 and reminded me that it's 55mph in Arkansas. I told him my wife was cooking steaks and I was in a hurry to get home. He chuckled and went back to his car to run his check.
After a couple minutes, he walked back up as I was calculating the damage in my head. He said, "I'm gonna give you a warning today but I want you to SLOW DOWN!" That makes 5 written warnings and one verbal warning in the last 10 years, 3 of which were on the bike. Hell yeah!! I am living right!! I did keep my speed at 55 till he was out of sight.
The Ride Home:
Like Lee kept saying, there's no way to control the weather but it would have been a much better gathering in the dry. The curves would have been much more enjoyable. Better luck next time I suppose. Thanks for the great entertainment guys!!
A Few Tidbits From The Ride:
I left at 9:30am Thursday and got home at 7:30pm Sunday with a total mileage of 1394.
The Days Inn in Harrison is a good place to stay as long as there isn't a dog show and you like Chinese food.
Hondalover's vented boots didn't leak but his waterproof gloves did.
Lee enjoys WWII stories.
Dunlop Roadsmarts grip well wet or dry and tend to ball up a bit after running Push Mountain.
Adam needs to eat a lot.
Surprisingly I didn't get lost this trip.
My gps shows a picture of a cruise ship when nearing the Peel Ferry.
Nate's clutch on his 1098 is louder than his exhaust.
We decided the VFR CCT's are Honda's answer to Ducati's dry clutch noise.
Tar snakes are greasy in the rain.
There is a liquor store 12 miles east of Harrison.
Gary doesn't ride well when his visor AND his glasses fog up.
Arby's has the coolest aluminum chairs.