The full credit for all content goes to Fiona Brown who took the time to recount her 2015 trip to Arkansas! To read her whole blog (and I recommend you do!) visit her website.
Monday September 21st, 2015: So here’s the thing…3 is an odd number
They say you should never do anything in 3’s but I'm always up for a challenge so next Monday Ivan, Marie-Anne (MA) and I will scramble aboard our 3 BMW bikes in Toronto and make a bee-line for Harrison, Arkansas to attend the 2015 BMW Riders Association rally.
It’s about a 5,000 km round trip, with at least another 1,000 km thrown in for “tootling around the Ozarks”.
With just one week to go planning is finally under way. What can I say, it’s been a busy summer.
Ivan is our route master.
MA is in charge of meals and motels.
And this is my first stab at blogging.
We’ve all done this type of trip before, but as every seasoned motorcyclist knows “It’s the mile ahead that matters most”.
Wednesday September 26th, 2015: When did Motorcycle gloves become so scientific?
In my early biking days (when any bike over 500cc was considered monstrous) it was nigh on impossible to buy women’s motorcycling gloves. Men’s small was the best you could hope for. They always leaked like sieves, and the fingers were way too long (think Edward Scissorhands), but what could you do
It’s taken me 3-days to narrow it down to the 4-pairs I’ll be taking to Arkansas. And the winners are… Clockwise from 1 o’clock:
Vented Die-hards: These are for the warmest days. Mesh back lets the air in. They are wearing well, but there is no end to the semi-permanent black dye that leaches out at every wearing. Bought cheap at a rally. Another of my Mother’s pithy sayings, “Buy cheap, buy dear” haunts me every time I have to scrub my hands clean with a nail brush. Aaaaargh!
The knuckle dusters: Officially the Rev’it Ladies Fly. Warmer than the diehards but still thin leather. Plastic knuckle inserts (not sure how they help?), tiny gel pad on the heel. Only one piece of Velcro so they don’t grab on to everything else you are wearing. Bonus!
BMW Ladies Summer: Not much change out of $200 (my first bike cost less) but worth every penny. Warm, waterproof, supple, perfect fit, handy-dandy visor wiper, and you can still feel the heated grips. Five big shiney stars. I’d buy 10 more pairs tomorrow…if BMW hadn’t replaced them with a “new and improved” version. The new version has a great thick gauntlet that doesn’t fit into the sleeve of any jacket I own. Double Aaaargh…what were they thinking?
Big Mamas: Big thick Rev’it H2O’s, still in the original packaging, and I’m hoping that’s where they’ll stay. If I’m wearing these, chances are we won’t be having much fun. Fingers crossed.
Thursday September 24th, 2015: Fun With Farcles
You think a house is a money pit? Just wait ’til you start farkling a bike. There’s a reason so many Doctors and Lawyers ride Harley®’s. They’re the only ones with big enough farkling budgets to do them justice. By comparison (and because they’re so darn fantastic right off the production line!) Beemers are a bit more ‘entry level’ when it comes to farkling. But, make no mistake, it’s still possible to spend a small fortune in the quest for perfection.
In 2013 I swapped my fully faired 1987 K100RS for a new R1200R naked Roadster (“The R”). It was a bit of an impulse purchase, as I’d been contemplating hanging up my helmet just the week before. I don’t recall exactly what changed my mind, but thank goodness the God’s of reason were looking out for me.
So, determined to keep the cost “under $20k”, be able to reach the ground with my stubby legs, have somewhere to carry my sandwiches, a shaft drive that I wouldn’t have to grease, and a curb weight that I’d have half a chance of maneuvering in a parking lot I ended up riding home on a low build R with a set of hard bags, and other extras.
So far, so good. Then the fun started. Corbin seat, Wunderlich screen and lift handle (so I can haul it on to the centre stand and check the oil – if I ever find the window), crash bars – in case that last step doesn’t go entirely to plan – and the obligatory ‘country living’ deer whistles.
Monday September 28th, 2014: And they’re off
8:29 a.m. Monday morning and The 3 Beemer Amigos (T3BA) are off to Arkansas.
It’s never a good thing when the first challenge of your motorcycling day is donning your rain gear without breaking into a sweat but, sometimes,”needs must”. It rained pretty much all day, right up until we pulled in to Franklin, PA just before 5 p.m. but we are still managing to smile, albeit a little wanly.
Along the Allegheny: Despite the poor weather the ride South on US 62 was delightful. The road hugs the banks of the Allegheny River, criss crossing a couple of times too. The trees are just starting to change colour, so anyone with time on their hands in about 7-10 days could likely enjoy a spectacular display of fall colours on this route.
Upon reflection: Despite our slow start, border crossing, and poor weather we clocked 445 km.
The staff at the Quality Inn, Franklin invited us to park our bikes right up on the sidewalk, by the main door, and under cover for the night. Guest laundry soon had our damp togs put back in order, ground floor accommodations are perfect, and there is a decent restaurant on-site.
Tuesday September 29th 2015: Rain, rain, go away…
Well we knew the forecast was gruesome, and so today was all about “grining and bearing it” in order to reach our destination in Harrison on schedule, Thursday afternoon.
The rain held off until noon, but from then on drizzled, spat, poured, and teemed for the next six hours.
Today in brief: 3 states, 2 major cities , 3 gas stops, 1 pee break (at lunch), 660 km travelled
Wednesday September 30th 2015: Sunshine on my shoulders
Time and distance: In Marie-Anne’s defence she had just woken up this morning when I asked her, “It’s 600 km to Poplar Bluff, are you up for that?”. To which she said, “But it won’t seem so far because we get an extra hour today”.Is it just me, or are you struggling to detect the logic in that?
She was right about the time, we did “gain” an hour today. We are now on Central Time. I think it happened when we crossed over from Indiana to Missouri, but as Microsoft has just (less than helpfully) locked me out of my account, due to unusual activity, you’ll have to check that for yourselves.
Blue sky is a game changer: It really is, everyone’s spirits were raised when the clouds finally broke.
Ivan re-set our route to include the first “touristing” event of the trip. A side-ride to Cairo (Kay_row) to see the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers.
Today Cairo is pretty run down (Ivan tells us that coal used to be the big thing around here but the local coal contains high levels of Sulphur, and that’s not popular anymore.
A valuable word about chips: No, not the kind you eat, the kind your bank has helpfully embedded in your Canadian Credit card.
The Americans are only just moving to this technology. When all 3 of us had our credit cards “Declined” after dinner Marie-Anne (world traveller, and seasoned shopper) had to give the staff a quick course in the “Slide and tap” technique for processing chip card transactions.
In less time than it takes to say “Declined, you’re kidding, I don’t believe it” she had them trained up and our bills paid.
The amazed staff, who only moments earlier had been looking at us as if we were con artists, were singing her praises as we left.
Thursday October 1st 2015: The eagles have landed
We rolled into the “Thrills in the Hills” rally, in Harrison, Arkansas around 3:00 pm this afternoon, and – believe it or not – the first person we bumped into was Jacques. When Jacques told me he had left Toronto yesterday morning I thought he was kidding, but Marie-Anne assures me he wasn’t. That’s pretty impressive endurance riding by anyone’s standards, but at 84-years young Jacques is surely one-of-a-kind?
Another day, another hotel: Today’s visit to the rally was short and sweet. Just long enough to register, pick-up our goodie bags and head for the Quality Inn, Harrison where Marie-Anne had (rather brilliantly) snagged a ground floor room, with by-the-door parking, and Jamie’s excellent restaurant within easy walking distance.
Be still my beating heart…it doesn’t get much better than this.
We even have neighbours with a Moto Guzzi Norge.
Friday October 2nd, 2015 Friday is “Rally Day”
Posers and polishers: I was the first of our group to surface this morning so I grabed a coffee and headed outside.
Sun’s up, check. Sky’s blue, check. Bike’s still there, check. Oh, and did I mention that the car park is full of guys feverishly waxing and polishing their trusty steeds?
It made a pleasant change to shed our full biking gear and step up the sartorial elegance.
Saturday October 3rd, 2015 -Awesome time in the Ozarks
Tail of the Dragon of the Ozarks: If you dream of motor biking 10-mph switchbacks, you don’t mind the odd herd of deer crossing your bow, and a variety of dogs sleeping (yes, really) right along the very edge of the road, Arkansas route 123 is just one of the State’s beautifully paved roads that are ready and waiting for you.
Oh, and did I mention, the scenery is spectacular?
Know your limit, ride within it: Much as we Beemer bums like to ride, it really is wise to be realistic about your limits. Not everyone is built for “super endurance” riding.
Sunday October 4th 2015: A really great day was had by all
An unexpected delight: Today wasn’t supposed to be anything special, just the first leg of a 4-day post rally trek home.
By the time we rolled in to Poplar Bluff, Missouri at 5:00 pm we had 490 unexpectedly spectacular kilometers under our belts.
The best of the best: Highway 160 east of Forsyth all the way to Doniphon (157 miles) could easily have been the inspiration for the fairground roller coaster.
A veritable cornucopia of 20, 30, 35, 45 mph bends, laced together with nery a straight stretch in between. On the few occaisions that the road straightened out it became a long run of tummy churning blind summits. Yee ha!
Monday October 5th 2015: Hot diggity!
626 km of mainly “super slab” (Interstate) today, from Poplar Bluff, Missouri to Indianapolis, Indiana.
No nip in the air this morning, and by mid-afternoon we hit 24C. Who would have thunk it?
Tuesday, 6 October 2015 : Almost home
Fall is in the air: Much as we hate to admit it, Fall was definitely in the air today with a chilly damp mist hanging over us for the entire 8 hrs and 616 km enroute from Indianapolis to Port Huron, Michigan.
Portions of the morning were borderline “pea soup” with limited visibility but, thankfully, fairly light traffic heading in our direction.
Mid-afternoon, after running the gauntlet for hours, the rain gear was finally pressed into service for the first time in over a week.
Canada here we come: The Blue Water bridge to Sarnia is just a slip and a slide from our Port Huron hotel and, if the Gods are with us, Ivan will find a way through the minefield of construction and on to home turf first thing in the morning.
A road sign on the way here said “Follow construction signs, not GPS”. First time I’ve seen that one!
Wednesday, 7 October 2015: The Grand Finale
Our final day on the road – Port Huron to Toronto to Ottawa.
Ride today was sunny and 19⁰C, very comfortable. Border crossing at Port Huron /Sarnia was very quick with no line-up. But trucks going into the US were backed up at least 5 kms.
And a final few words from Fiona…
I coasted into the garage at 7:00 pm this evening, having travelled 626 km on this final day.
It has been a truly marvelous 10-days, and a great finale to an excellent motorcycling season.
Great company, great roads, great food, and great riding weather (after the first 2-days).
Here’s the final route, 4,206 km all told from sunny Lanark.
Until the next time Ride safe y’all, and thanks for taking the time to follow us on our great Arkansas Adventure.