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To Tour, or Not to Tour

29 Aug

That was the question!

A while back one of my riding buddies told me he’d like to ask some questions about cross-country touring.  Said he has a couple of trips in mind, but is wondering if he can do it.  Now, my friend is a big, strong man and a capable rider.  There are no outward reasons for self-doubt.  Clearly, his reluctance (perhaps fear?) has to do with the unknown.

Of course, my response to him was to tour — and that’s a convenient segue to the rest of my tale.

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While I haven’t toured for a couple of years, I’ve taken plenty of long rides and been on a few overnighters.  During that time I’ve grown a little older, lost some strength and stamina, replaced a powerful bike with a not-so-powerful bike.  Those changes eroded my confidence and conjured up doubts, questions, reluctance — and perhaps even fear about my ability to complete a cross-country trip.

The antidote for that fear was to tour in spite of my doubts. . . so here is Pearl (Suzuki Burgman 400) earlier this month loaded and ready to leave on a trip to Des Moines.

IMG_3420I rolled down the driveway at 4:15 a.m. and by 4:20 a.m. was filled with the sense of freedom and exhilaration that comes from moving forward on two wheels.  Lingering doubts?  Reluctance?  Fear?  No, no and no!

Texas was hot, even in the piney woods, but when I reached the Boston Mountains in Arkansas, the temperature began a steady drop.  Severe weather and flooding in Missouri forced me to take an uninteresting detour via superslab, so let’s skip all that and pick up with the ride back to Austin.

Headed south from Des Moines on secondary roads, looking forward to some good ole Heartland scenery.  While the Midwest has lost almost all of its prairie land, Iowa and Missouri roadsides, fence lines, and ditches are covered with native grasses and wild flowers.  I saw tons of chicory, prairie clover, sunflowers, Queen Anne’s lace, ironweed, coneflowers, and many others I couldn’t identify.  All morning a steady, light rainfall softened the light, but made stopping for pictures difficult.

One weird observation is that it seems like every time I’m in Missouri it rains.  What’s up with that?

In Springfield, Missouri, I searched out the World’s Largest Fork.  Pretty good roadside attraction and worth taking the  time to find it.

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South of Springfield, the road turned into a narrow Ozark state highway with plenty of twists, turns, and changes in elevation.  What a relief and joy to lean into the curves and knock those rubber doodads off my new rear tire.  That’s what I’m talkin’ about!

I’d called ahead and made reservations at The Trails Inn, a mom-and-pop hotel in Eureka Springs.  It was reasonably priced, had all the basics, was exceptionally clean, and the owners were friendly and helpful.

But here’s the kicker.  When I pulled in, the hotel parking lot was full of Burgmans, Silverwings, a Pacific Coast and Helix, and a few other types of scooters and motorcycles!  Note the custom-yellow Burgman 650.

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Turns out a group of scooter-loving friends come to Eureka Springs each year to ride and b.s. for several days.  They immediately walked up, introduced themselves, and invited me to their cookout.  Had an awesome hotdog and was put on the mailing list for next year.

As always, unknown friends are found in every turn of the road.  If that doesn’t boost sagging confidence, nothing will!

After an early good-bye to my new friends, I couldn’t wait to get onto the Pig Trail Scenic Byway, which gets its name from wild pigs that carved trails through the thick forest.  Being a weekday morning with little traffic, the road belonged to me.  The best word I can think of to describe the Pig Trail is enchanting.  Love it!

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The Ouachita Mountains and Arkansas River Valley are not technically part of the Ozarks, but in my mind it’s all the same.  While the Ouachitas, located in Western Arkansas, seem less rugged, they’re every bit as scenic and green as the Ozarks.  Magnificent riding.  All I know is the drive through Arkansas went way too fast!

Crossed the Red River and entered the piney woods of East Texas.  Spent the night a few miles outside of Alto with my good friends, Lynda and David.  I dislike the fact that they moved away from Austin, but am happy I get to visit their rustic hideaway in the trees.

Coming home the next morning, I reflected on my 2,200 miles on the road with Pearl.  I had to admit my touring life has slowed down a bit and, yes, there have been changes and adjustments.  In the end, though, the mileage and scenery are the same, no matter how fast or slow I travel.  Isn’t that what really matters?

So to get back to the original question. . . .  The answer, most definitely, is to tour!

Peace on the Road!
BT

Scootin’ the Ozarks Video

7 Oct

That’s right, folks!  Scootin’ the Ozarks 2010 video is now available for your viewing pleasure!  You’re only one “click” away from rally highlights and gorgeous Arkansas scenery!

Read about this adventure in a series of blog posts beginning with Scootin’ Outa Texas.

(If your computer does not handle High Definition, click on the HD in the bottom right-hand corner of the movie screen to turn off the High Definition.  It also might be helpful to let the movie load for a few minutes before you begin playback.)

Scootin’ the Ozarks 2010 Video

Peace on the Road!

BT

Scootin’ From the Ozarks!

19 Sep

Bon Jour, y’all, from Paris, Texas, and the Eiffel Tower!

This morning we reluctantly left a quiet Eureka Springs and headed south through the Boston Mountains.   Nice!  It was a little sad to transition from mountain curves to the straight roads of Texas, but it’s time to come home.  Today was long and hot, and we’ll  leave early tomorrow morning to beat the heat.  Still have over 300 miles to go.

I keep nodding off here, so will sign off early.   Bonne nuit!

Peace on the Road!

BT

Scootin’ ‘Round the Ozarks!

18 Sep

Still in Eureka Springs and am not sure how to begin describing the last few days.  The fellowship of the scooter crowd has been wonderful and the rides have been incredible.  We’ve spent full days in the saddle and the rest of the time socializing, so I’m way behind on journaling.  Here is a quick synopsis.

Thursday we looped north into Missouri on undulating ribbon roads that twisted and turned through green fields and national forests.  I can’t begin to tell you how many times my jaw was hanging open in awestruck appreciation.  For me the most memorable part was taking Peel’s Ferry across Bull Shoals Lake.   This was my first time to make a ferry crossing with a vehicle and it was a lot of fun — except when the ramp shifted as I was driving off.  Yikes! 

Here are Desha and I on the crossing.

Friday (yesterday) we did what’s called a poker run, where you ride to designated places, collect a token to show you were there, and are dealt cards when you return.  This ride took us east and had mile after mile of challenging turns through the mountains.  Too bad there wasn’t much of a chance to rubberneck, because the scenery was breathtaking.  Would have been a great day to be a passenger.

This shows the famous Ozark Cafe in Jasper, where we had lunch.

Here we are on one of the gas/butt breaks.  When was the last time you used a gas pump like that?

We made it back just before the poker run cutoff time, and although everyone in our group had lousy hands, we all had the time of our lives.

Today Desha and I washed up our bikes and entered them into the Show-and-Shine contest.  I’m happy to report that her bike won first place in its class, and here she is with her plaque.

This brief summary doesn’t even begin to describe how awesome this area is for riding and how wonderful it’s been making new friends, especially BFF’s Jennifer and Roy and Dave and Karen, who rode her little People 150 0ver 400 miles.  (Don’t ever mess with a single mom!)  Hopefully, though, in another week or so I can put together a video that will show you what the Ozark scootin’ experience is all about.

Peace on the Road!

BT

Spontaneous Scootin’!

15 Sep

Hello again from Eureka Springs, Arkansas!

Left this morning on what was supposed to be an approximately 25-mile roundtrip ride with our new friends, Roy and Jennifer, from Kansas City.  We visited the Cycle Gadgets warehouse, where we were given a warm welcome by the owner, Laurene Franklin.  Good prices since we didn’t have to pay shipping.

From there Roy led us down a nice little highway and across Beaver Dam to the Korner Kafe for a home-cooked meal.  Here are Roy and Jennifer waiting for lunch.

We all shared a tasty piece of  strawberry-rhubarb pie, and this shows our cooperative server dishing it up.

By the way, have y’all ever heard of a cloth sandwich?  It’s an acronym for cheese, lettuce, onion, tomato, and ham.

From there one scenic highway led to another, we ended up in Missouri, and didn’t get back to the hotel until 4:30!  THAT’S what I’m talkin’ about!

I will say, having people to talk to and hang out with on a ride adventure is a new experience, and it doesn’t leave much time to post.  I do love my long solo rides, but this is fun!

Peace on the Road!

BT

Scootin’ to Eureka Springs!

14 Sep

Hello from Eureka Springs, Arkansas!  What an amazing day of riding!

Left Broken Bow under clear skies and temps in the high seventies.  By the time we got to the Talimena Scenic Byway an hour later, the temperature dropped into the low sixties under a dark, ominous sky with freaky weird, swirling clouds hanging over the mountains.  Reminded Desha of Cecil B. DeMille’s The Ten Commandments.  We managed to stay south of the rain for the time being, and the wonderful, gently sweeping curves of Talimena were the perfect warm-up for the rest of the day.

Didn’t actually hit the rain until after lunch, and rode the Arkansas Scenic Byway under fairly heavy showers.  Very nice riding, but it did get a little chilly.

Just as we finished our hot tea and delicious pie at the Ozark Restaurant in Ozark, the rain stopped and we hopped onto the Pig Trail for some of the finest riding I’ve ever done.  Mile after mile of thick, green canopy covering the road.  The scenery was breathtaking, and we’ll be talking about this Pig Trail for a long time!  The riding wasn’t super technical, but definitely a challenge.

Don’t know yet what tomorrow will bring weatherwise or ridingwise, but stay tuned, same BT time, same BT channel!

Peace on the Road!

BT

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