Mar 4
Riding two up
icon1 Guy | icon2 Rides, Small Talk | icon4 03 4th, 2010| icon3No Comments »
Taking a break at a road-side park.

Taking a break at a road-side park.

The weather is warming up and the road is calling. It’s time to start planning weekend trips to some of the festivals in the area. Weekend rides are different from my daily commute in one important aspect. Most of my weekend riding is two up with my wife, and that changes the dynamic in more ways than just weight distribution on the bike.
Most of the time when I’m on my own, the bike is just the mode of transportation I’ve chosen. Even though I thoroughly intend to enjoy the commute, there will be an event or destination that was the impetus for the trip. The weekend, two-up trips are as much about the ride as they are about any particular place we’re going. We’re usually not on a schedule so we can hit the road whenever we get around to it. We’re also likely to take a more leisurely route.
Since we’re not in a hurry to get there, where ever “there” may be, we’ll take soft drinks and snacks along. If we get a little tired, or just see a pretty spot, we’ll pull over and take a break. This is not the riding that gets your heart pounding. This is riding that lowers you blood pressure.
With the saddle bags and T-bag, we’ve got a good amount of storage, but we can’t load the bike up too much. We might need some room once we get where we’re going. There are vendors at these little summer festivals, and we’ve got to leave room for some of their wares. One of the disadvantages of going on the bike is that you’re limited in how much you can haul back home. Or wait! Maybe that’s actually and advantage.
Other than spending time with the grandkids, I can’t imagine anything I’d rather be doing than riding with my wife on the seat behind me. It’s funny how adding a rider makes the bike lighter.

— Guy Wheatley

Feb 8
Iron Bridge on U. S. Highway 67

Iron Bridge on U. S. Highway 67

There will be a lot of people on I-30 between Texarkana and Little Rock on any given day. If the goal is to eat up miles as fast as possible, then that is the best route. Highway 67 between Texarkana and Little Rock offers a very different travel experience than that found on I-30. Less than a mile to the east of the controlled access, four-lane corridor, a more leisurely and scenic journey awaits.
Before I-30’s construction in the 1960s, U.S. Highway 67 was the main route between Little Rock and Dallas. Most of the old highway remains between Texarkana and Benton. It’s amazing that these two roads, so close together can be so different. For one thing, taking the older route will add almost 2 hours to the trip. Google only calculates an additional hour-and-a-half, but that is actual rolling time. I say two hours because of the many stops you will have to make going through small towns. Google fails to adequately take into account the time you’ll spend stopped at intersections, stoplights and other attractions that will stop you for a few seconds or minutes.
And those small towns are part of the charm and appeal this route offers. You can find little main-street and road-side cafes offering food and atmosphere you won’t find along the interstate. Even the chain convenience stores are different here. Clerks greet patrons with first names and genuinely friendly smiles.
I’ve had the opportunity to take that route several times on trips to Little Rock and Cabot. One of the most memorable was a circular day run starting out on U.S. Highway 71, and going through Hot Springs. (Ride report and photos here.)
My wife was riding two up with me and my son was with us on his bike. We’d planned to spend the night in Hot Springs, but the weather was nice and we just weren’t through riding. So we left Hot Springs about 11 pm and headed south down 67.
A beautiful full moon came out and rode with us. As the temperature dropped, mist rolled out of the ditches creating dancing wraths that disappeared as our bikes ran through them.
As we pulled into the driveway at 2 a.m., we were exhausted. But I could have continued this beautiful ride for a few more miles.
If you haven’t been on this stretch of road for awhile, give it a try the next time your out on a lazy run.

— Guy Wheatley

Sep 21
Running around the rain
icon1 Guy | icon2 Rides | icon4 09 21st, 2009| icon31 Comment »
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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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

Sep 16
Rain rain, go away
icon1 Guy | icon2 Rides | icon4 09 16th, 2009| icon3No Comments »

I weenied out of going to the Hot Springs Rally last weekend. I’d said I was going, even if it rained. But I was thinking of a few showers on the way up or back, not a deluge lasting the whole trip. Adding to the deteriorating weather was my wife’s declining health. She wound missing a day of work, so I was glad that I hadn’t dragged her out in the elements and exacerbated the situation.
Several of the tougher folks from our group did go.
One couple had a room for the night, so once they got to town they were able to find a dry place to sleep. Sharon and I were going to take a tent and find a spot somewhere. Again, that plan was laid before the monsoon set in.
The other couple made a day trip out of it. Well, more like a day and a half. They rode through the rain up there, rode in the rain there, and rode through the rain back to Texarkana. It was 3 in the morning when they sloshed into their driveway according to the ride report. Reading their adventures, I wish I’d been there with them. I’m sure they were miserable, cold and wet, but I can’t help but feel I missed out on something.
It probably sounds better sitting here in the dry than it would have wet, on the road.

— Guy Wheatley

Jul 8
Riding in the rain
icon1 Guy | icon2 Rides | icon4 07 8th, 2009| icon3No Comments »

We took a little ride Sunday afternoon. As we left the house, headed for First Old River lake, the sky was overcast and threatening rain. My son would be heading back to Dallas in a few hours and we wanted to get in one more ride before he left. Temperatures had dropped out of the triple digits into the low 90s. My wife was going to two-up with me on the Magna and my son would be on the Shadow. We decided to chance the rain. We packed some rain gear in the saddle bags and headed out.
It had rained earlier and the roads were still damp, but washed free of the oil that floats out of the road at the start of a rain. Though damp, the road still gave our tires a good bite. We reached out destination enduring only occasional light sprinkles. My wife is learning to ride and we had been coming out to this isolated spot for her to get some saddle time. She decided to make a few runs while we were there. As we got ready to head back, I suggested she take the Shadow as far back toward town as she felt comfortable.
We had barely covered one of the 18 miles back to town when the rain set in. It wasn’t a hard pounding rain, but it was steady and certainly more than sprinkles. I kept expecting her to pull over and let Brandon take the Shadow, but she kept going. As we pulled up to a stop together, I asked her if she wanted the rain gear. She said no. The temperature was mild and the rain felt good.
We eased back rarely going faster than 45, and taking corners at 25. We were on the edge of town before she finally pulled over. She still doesn’t want to ride in town, but she put a good 15 miles on the bike that day in the rain. While you would normally think of riding a motorcycle in the rain as an unpleasant experience, we had fun. The ride was relaxing and enjoyable. Even better, a new rider got a great confidence boost discovering that she could handle a bike in the rain.
I need more days like that in my life. What a great rainy day.

— Guy Wheatley

Jun 16

I’m back from vacation. I camped at Wright Patman, just a few miles from Texarkana. The original plan was to go to the Magna Owners Of Texas rally known as MOOT Mag, at Koyote Ranch in Bandera Texas. That’s about 488 miles from Texarkana. At the last minute, things came up and I couldn’t get out of town. So another MOOTster, who also couldn’t get to Bandera, and I had our own little ralley at Wright Patman.
We took a 160 mile ride with some of our BikeNight friends Saturday down through Vivian Louisiana, then over to Jefferson Texas. It was HOT! We hit Vivian at 11:00 am. At one point we stopped to ask directions to a store we were looking for. We were close to a car wash and one of our group dropped in some quarters and used the spray wand, set on rinse, as a mister.

While one of our group was seeking enlightenment, another was seeking relief from the heat. When it's right at 100˚ a car wash wand set on rinse makes a pretty fair mister.

While one of our group was seeking enlightenment, another was seeking relief from the heat. When it's right at 100˚ a car wash wand set on rinse makes a pretty fair mister.

Hallelujah! Praise the Lord and pass more quarters! Truley a revival from the heat.

Hallelujah! Praise the Lord and pass more quarters! Truley a revival from the heat.

We’ve just about decided to make that our Standard Operating Procedure on these hot summer rides. Go 60 miles and find a car wash. Soak down, head out and go another 60 miles and find another car wash. We’ll have to appoint someone to be sure we have quarters.

— Guy Wheatley

More photos of the ride can be seen on my personal Website:
Wheatley Photo gallery

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