Winter be gone ride - Arkansas/Missouri - 2012

Monday - Feb 20 2012

Few things in life feel better than striking out on the open road with your Wing with little or no preparation or fore thought as to where you’re exactly going and or why. The only reason driving this road trip is that the 4 walls are closing in on me and I just wish winter would go away. Yes, I know it’s been a mild winter and I’m truly thankful for that. However … it still SUCKS. For me if its not at least 70 degrees outside I’m not happy. I have heat and ride all year but it’s just not the same when it’s less than 70 degrees outside as compared to when it’s above that magical number. Nevertheless I needed to escape these four walls and the Wing and a slight break in the winter weather was all I needed. The weather was clearing to the West … well sort of and there are always my good buddies in KC waiting for a visit so off I went.

Departed Dover, Tennessee at 11:00 a.m today heading West. Yes … I know … what motorcyclist leaves for a road trip at 11 a.m. in the middle of the day. This is what happens without planning. I was going to leave tomorrow but after mulling around the morning and looking at the clear blue sky I wasn’t going to ride in circles around Dover, Tennessee one day longer. I’m outta of here.

I figured I’d head over toward Eureka Springs Arkansas to start. Trust me you can’t go wrong with basing any days ride around that town. Leaving that late meant a straight shot there with little deviation. No problem. Just being on the Wing and riding again without having to turn around and head home before sunset was a plus plus. The miles just rolled by with me and my thoughts. No stunning pictures to share no amazing stories of any particular excitment only found on the open road today … just me and the road which is the way I like it. I suppose some view it as boring … my wife in particular … who by the way graciously turned me loose again …. so that I may feed my addiction to the open road she just can not understand). There I was just sitting there and riding hour after hour in total enjoyment. I arrived in Eureka Springs just prior to a little front of rain moving in … figures. Nevertheless it held off long enough for me to get some food and settle into shelter before it hit. It’s moving pretty fast and should be out of here by the morning. Tomorrow should be a great day with temps maybe reaching into the 60’s. I plan to ride the pig tail in the a.m. before cruising up towards KC which is where I plan to be tomorrow night.

Resting tonight at the Ozark Swiss Inn in Eureka Springs. Very reasonable rates ($38) for this time of year and a nice room with wifi and amenities. They even let me park my bike under the overhang to avoid any potential bad weather. That alone won me over for a return visit when I come back this way after hitting KC.

Tuesday - Feb 21 2012

Today’s combination was 23-16-21. Those were the roads south of here I was going to unlock for the Wing during this mornings run before scooting up to Kansas City in the afternoon. I just had to get a taste of those curry roads with plans to do more when I get back here in a day or so. Weather later this week down here supposed to be really warm up with plenty of sunshine … could it be true? Today weather was already outstanding in the 40’s and blue skies as I pushed south along highway 23 stopping for my first morning stretch at War Eagle Creek … cool name.
Perfect spot to stretch and take in some of that morning air and relish life.
I hear this is a good creek to float down but I prefer to stay on firmer ground :-)

Moving on south down 23 I eventually came across 16 which is where I planned to head back east for a while. Most of the roads were in great shape having been scrubbed clean from last night rain drenching front that moved through. Traffic was light and scenes like the one below were coming one after another. CAUTION … viewing the picture below could cause you to cry if you’re a Winger unable to get out from behind your computer and ride …
Magical moment ...

Speaking of magical moments as I turned on to 16 I started to find gravel in many location around some of the turns. Gravel on a good highway is bad news for a motorcycle. The magical moment occurs when the gravel blends in with the road and you don’t see it until you’re in it and for a very brief moment the tires break traction with the road. About this same time is when your heart usually skips a beat as well as you wait for the bike to regain traction and continue it’s original course. My experience has taught me the best thing to do when this happens is to give no input to the bike, maintain your line through the turn and stay off the throttle. Almost as quick as it started it’s over and the tires reengage the road and off you go. Oh yeah your heart does start beating normally again also. It’s just one of the hazards you have to deal with when you ride on the edge of your skills but whenever it happens it’s always a magical moment that you won’t soon forget :-)

Hitting 21 north took me along the Ozark Scenic byway and it was another neat scenic road through the Ozark National Forrest.
What can you say … wish you were here :-)

Around noon I was back up towards Eureka Springs again and ready for the straight shot north to Kansas City, friends and beer. Got in to KC around 6 p.m. and my buddy Robert, Ken and I downed a few at the local pub before I bedded down for the night at Robert’s house. Thanks for everything Buddy!

Wednesday - Feb 22 2012

Waking up this morning I quickly realized … ok … maybe we killed a little too many brain cells last night and when I went to put my helmet on leaving Robert’s house my head felt so large I wasn’t sure is was going to still fit inside the helmet. No problem though as I eventually got it on … now if I could just get it to stop pounding. It was yet another reminder of the great time we had last night.

Blowing back south under partly cloudy skies and mild temps again I headed down highway 13 and jogged over to get a peak of Stockton State Park and Lake. Very nice for an early afternoon stop and walk.
Moving on south by late afternoon I was getting close to Eureka Springs when I saw the sign for Roaring River State Park (another cool name). I had been there before riding when I used to live and base my rides out of Kansas City years back and had some pretty fond memories of a particular stretch of road there that cannot be missed. In the park highway 112 intersects with highway F but the 5 mile stretch from that intersection on 112 that leads up the ridge and then runs along it is something special. I knew it was special as I glanced down at the trip odometer for this road trip and saw it click to exactly 1,000 miles as I began my first of many runs on that 5 miles stretch of heaven. To top things off it had just recently been paved and was in primo condition.
You can see my bike there off to the left in the distance… this was an exciting stop as I had to actually turn that thing round to get out of there as one of the ways out had very loose gravel and huge dips but I managed to get her turned. After these pictures I just rode this stretch back and forth marveling at how effortlessly the Wing can be tossed left and then right at 60 MPH on these sweeping majestic turns. It doesn’t get better than this. If you’re every down this way don’t miss this one. I was like a kid in a candy store. In fact, if all of the roads we could ride our wing on were packaged as candy in a candy store I’d be pointing to this one screaming “I want that one”. To good for words.

I finally tore myself away and I’m resting now in Eureka Springs again at Ozark Swiss Inn. The weather mans says tomorrow the temps might even hit 80 degrees in some parks of Arkansas (This is February right?). Man I called this trip right as far as the weather. I’m staying right here for two nights and dedicated the entire day tomorrow to riding every curvy road I can get my Goldwing’s tires on. So many roads … so little time.

Thursday - Feb 23 2012

In the crosshairs for today’s ride was AR 309 (Mt Magazine), AR 155 (Mt Nebo) and AR 27 all identified in “Ride Eureka!” magazine as being Top Roads in the area. The entire loop, allowing me to traverse all 3 spots, from Eureka Springs was just shy of 400 miles. Made sure I had a big breakfast before departing so I could wait well into the afternoon before requiring any food. Nothing I hate worse than having to stop to eat while I’m enjoying the ride. Riding for me seems to have supplanted the need for food in my hierarchy of needs :-)

Already 60 degrees at 8 a.m. it could have easily been a late spring or early summer day it was so mild … all that was missing were the leaves on the trees. The wind made its usual appearance but never became much of a factor … in fact it felt good as it was a warm breeze from a southerly direction. Few high clouds rounded out a phenomenal day of riding that saw temps well above 70 degrees topping out around 78 degrees by 2 p.m. It felt so good to feel warmth for a change and for me this was the warmest ride I’ve had this year to date.
With temps over 70 degrees I’m a happy camper. Maybe I did chase winter away with this trip … least for a while. For the first time I had to actually turn on the Wing’s air conditioner and set it to high. That basically involves opening up all the vents and cranking out those Baker Air Wings to allow that warming air to get in behind the faring and engulf me as I rode :-)
Such a tranquil spot on AR 309 on the way to Mt Magazine. Few minutes later and several twist of the throttle produce this view below from the top. Check out the bird soaring high on the wind currents … We could be related.
From there it was over to Mt Nebo. I wasn’t sure what to expect as I swung back northeast after leaving Mt Magazine and started heading up AR 155 to Mt Nebo. At first it was a leisurely straight ride to the base and then all of a sudden it climbed big time up to an 18% grade with multiple 10 MPH switchbacks scaling ever upward. I don’t think I’ve ever encountered turns that sharp and difficult. Compounding the problem the entire road was about 40 percent covered with loose fine sand. With no place to turn around I pressed on up. I tell you … I made it up but wielding a 800+ bike with turns that sharp was no easy task. Reminded me of going up Mt Graham in Arizona (Near Phoenix located northeast of Mt. Lemon).
Views from Mt Nebo
I wasn’t looking forward to going back down but all turned out well and by early afternoon I was hooking up with AR 27 that spurred off of Scenic AR 7 just north of Russellville. I’ve been on AR 7 before so AR 27 would provide virgin roads to test for the rest of the day. The afternoon zipped by and by the time I finished the majority of AR 27 and was veering back northwest to Eureka Springs the wind had change to a northerly direction and temps had fallen from 72 down to 64. This was a sign of a cooler day on the way for tomorrow.

Plans are to head back east towards Tennessee and home tomorrow. It’s been a great ride and I’m sure glad I was here for today’s outstanding warm weather. Tomorrow’s highs here is only projected to be 50 … a drop of about 25 degrees from today. Still not bad for this time of year. Today was without a doubt the best riding day this year so far for me!

Friday - Feb 24 2012

Winter never seems to disappoint and this morning it would have its revenge for allowing that one measly summer like day yesterday to sneak in there. I knew I should have put yesterday away in a bottle and saved it. A chilly willy 34 degrees and a stiff wind greeted me this morning as I loaded up the Wing and quickly slipped out of the motel parking lot and on to highway 62 east towards home.

The ride home today was uneventful! I know that doesn’t sound very exciting but in reality any time a ride on two wheels can be classified as “uneventful” you’re actually saying a lot. Compound that with days of riding and considering all that can go wrong out there on the open road it’s amazing to me we every get the courage up to leave our homes. It is the unknown and the excitement of what might happen while we are out there on the open road that draws us out to ride and explore around every turn I believe. It’s one great adventure where ever you go on two wheels … just point and twist :-)

As always time in the saddle of the Wing while it’s pointed towards home when a road trip is coming to an end is a very special time of reflection for me. Happy to be going home to the love of my life while at the same time missing the adventure and love of the open road is a mysterious dichotomy that I haven’t quite mastered yet … but I do plan to practice more. I know as the days warm and stay warm my better half will be ready to roll together again with me on my road trips but for now I’m a lucky man that she loves me enough to let me roll alone on road trips sometimes in order that I can love both her and the open road equally if that is possible.

I rolled into my neck of the woods just a few miles from home and stopped just in time to miss getting a great picture of the sun setting. Here’s the one I did get ...
Not to good … Funny thing about this is that I don’t need a picture of this sunset to remind me how special it was. I was there … in person … I didn’t miss a thing.

For me, over the last five days and 1,831 miles, the sun has been setting from the first moment I saw it rise each day and everything that happened in-between was truly fine living on the open road on two wheels.

Be Safe and Ride Often



My 2004 Wing and I have now logged 238,750 miles together and it ran flawlessly on this Road Trip.

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