Running around the rain

Friends were badgering me to get up early Sunday morning and take a ride. They wanted to make a run up to Queen Wilhelmina Lodge. The first problem is that I would have to be back in town by 5. That means we’d have to leave no later than 9 that morning. Additionally the lawn needs to be mowed, the house needs to be cleaned, I need to fix the screen door, and … I really just want to sleep in. But we decide to give to give it a shot. My wife and I leave their house about midnight, promising to be back no later than 8:30 the next morning. We get home that night and haphazardly do a few chores before hitting the sack.
Up the next morning and get ready to go, we only have coffee for breakfast because we didn’t get to the the grocery store on Saturday. We get to our friends house at 8:25, much to their surprise. They weren’t expecting us for at least another half hour. Our usual procedure would been to have called them about 8:35 saying we were running late. The fog is thick enough to swim in, and my stomach is growling, so we deicide to head for the north side of town and grab a quick breakfast. We had called another friend who said that if we were still in town at 9, he might join us. We wash greasy bacon and eggs stuffed in a crumbly biscuit down our gullets with weak, burned coffee while waiting to see if anybody else shows up.
The food gone, the other rider was a no show. About a quarter after 9 we head out. The fog is thinning quickly, but the sky is still overcast. I’m wearing a long sleeved shirt and the heavy damp air is cool. The other riders are wearing light coats. Nobody takes anything off for a while.

RR bridge over the highway.

The road diving under a railroad track.

We occasionally ride under a hole in the clouds and the sky turns blue. The sun almost looks strange. It’s been so long since I’ve seen it. But the holes are too small, and we’re quickly back under the clouds. The air is heavy and damp. Moisture collects on the windshield as we ride. My hands get damp on the bars. The sky is threatening, but it never actually rains.

Cadillac zipping around me.

When I let off the throttle for a second to snap a
photo, this antique cadillac zips around me.

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.
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We eventually get to the lodge at 2,681feet on the top of Rich Mountain. The sun has again made a quick appearance. Somewhere in the loose jumble of ideas we use as a plan was the intention of following the pigtrail back into Oklahoma. Looking back to the west from the mountaintop we see a vertical wall of water standing on the 30 miles of mountain twisties we’d be traveling. That idea is out. We’re not riding down a mountain in that.

menablog13

Checking the map for the fastest way down the
mountain.

As we watch, it’s getting closer. We decide to get off the mountain before it gets to us. Instead of following the 13 miles of Skyline drive back to Mena, we elect to take the more direct route down following 272 back to 270. Dropping just more than 1,000 ft in less than 2-1/2 miles, this is not a road you want to take on motorcycles in the rain, so we have to get moving fast. Fat droplets occasionally smacking the windshield urge haste, but the unguarded dropoff at the side of the road demands caution. Rain drops spatter the windshield threateningly as we negotiate the steep winding road, but the deluge never catches us. The road finally straightens out for its final run to the intersection with the main highway.

Rain on the mountain.

Our preferred route down the mountain is under
the deluge.

Back in the plains now on 270, we look back at the mountain top to see it crowned with the storm we’d just skirted. For 115 miles back to Texarkana, we continue to play dodge with the rain. At a gas stop in Mena, the clouds roll in just behind us covering the sun. We head out again, running out from under the clouds into sunlight. The rest of the trip sees us in and out of the sun as the clouds momentarily catch us, then fall behind as we open the throttles. At the last stop in Ashdown, another group of riders take note of the way the clouds seem to be chasing us. They question our virtue, suggesting divine displeasure as the reason for this meteorological display.
It’s 6 by the time I pull into my driveway. It’s been a little more than 230 miles since I pulled out this morning. There’s been just enough sun to pink my face, and I’m tired. But it’s been a good day and a good ride. Being chased by the rain has actually added to the fun. The grass is tall, the house is dirty and the screen door is still broken, but I’ve had a great day

— Guy Wheatley

One Response

  1. Oldman Says:

    A slightly different perspective.As far as badgering, I only remember having to ask once,however the part about how early we could drag the Wheatley’s out on a Sunday morn was, as always, an issue. We did stop far a tasty biscuit, bacon and egg and then headed out,for folks that complain about the excessive heat you would have thought that a cool misty (fog):) morning would be welcome. As the morning cleared the riding was excellent,as I remember the sun was shining with an abundunce of welcome cloud cover. We ride fast but stop often so needless to say we do not cover a lot of ground in an hours time.In other words it was high noon before we reached Mena so we chowed down and headed up the 13 scenic miles to the lodge. The part about seeing a flood of rain headed right for us was pretty much right on.
    We did take the short way down, no use tempting fate, it was a cool slow relaxing couple miles back down and then short trip back to Mena. There, under the cover of a nice cool cloud we stopped to sanck up far the trip back, my memory says blue skies with an occasional cloud cover,and a sprinkle or two here and there. As usual I spent too much time in Ashdown looking and talking bikes with riders from the Hope area, causing us to be shamefully late getting in (one hr late)lol.. If your a motorcycle enthusist you know this wasn’t a good day, it was a great day..As Roy would say Happy Trails to You.

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