With four kids in the house, wifey and I don't often get a chance to go on long trips, but the time was right... and sis-in-law was up to the babysitting challenge.
Temps were forecast for mid-90s all three days, so we donned the mesh gear, with rain suits in the saddlebags. Though we would ride through a few showers, they were so refreshing, we never pulled out the rain suits.
We headed out from West St. Louis County at 9am on Friday. With all of the construction on I-44, highway 100 was the only way to go. Then we droned on I-44 to Cuba, Missouri where the fun would begin. MO19 from Cuba to Steelville has been straighted, and there's lots of county enforcement, so I watched the speed and tried to enjoy the music wifey had coming through the Autocom/ER6 setup. Lots of Boston, Kansas, Supertramp, old favorites.
After Steelville, MO19 starts to get fun. Big sweepers comfortably taken at 70 - 80mph. After SalemMO, there's a straight stretch and then yahoo city... all the way to Winona. Not a lot of visibility through the turns, but all high-banks. Staying on MO19, all the way to the AR border.
After Winona, MO19 jogs to the right, and then there's the roller coaster... long straight stretches with (no lie) sine-wave shaped hills. Smooth negative Gs, and smooth positive Gs... a lot of fun, but mindfull that objects between the waves cannot be seen, so don't get carried away on speed.
MO19, Alton to Mammoth Spring AR is just okay, with some straight and some sweepers... and there's a nice, clean Dairy Queen at the border with decent burgers.
*When in AR, slow down for all the little towns!* Everybody's a deputy, and some of the small towns write tickets for a living. Keep it under 10-over, and smiles all around... very nice people, and it doesn't take a moment to pass right through.
We took AR9 from Mammoth Spring to Sylamore. Long high-plains speeding becomes very technical, gravel infested canyon road. Highway 9, just north of Mountain View/Sylamore gives up nothing to Northern California's Highway 1 I rode just weeks ago... except the ocean scenery. Much, much less traffic, too.
Once crossing the White River at Sylamore, we took AR5 north to connect up with the "Arkansas Gap," Push Mountain Road. On our way there, just after Calico Rock we came over a hill to discover a POS vehicle passing another POS vehicle, in our lane, approximately 50-yards ahead. Wifey's fingers gripped deep into my ribs, at 75mph, there's no thought of brakes... I jumped on the white line very quickly, with no drama. I fixed my eyes on the aged red Ford Tempo in my lane and could see the teenager at the wheel, calmer than he should have been, but trying to edge in on the other POS cage. I saw grass to run off in, if necessary... but watched the oncoming car and held my course. The passing car shot right between. Wifey was scared, and mad enough to chase the driver, but I hadn't had time to feel any adrenaline, and what would it prove, other than exposing us to possible injury. Say a prayer and move on.
All was forgotten when we got to the top of Push Mountain Road, AR341 on some maps. It starts out long and tame, and turns into a racetrack with stripes down the middle. Just *try* to behave yourself on that road.
At the bottom of PMR, we took AR14 west. Very, very good road. Then at Harriet, take AR27 west/south. Oh, make sure you have fuel for this stretch and say goodbye to civilization. Ride AR27 to Marshall, where you cross 65, jog to the right, then get back on 27 to Tilly. This is some of the best stuff on earth. We scratched the mufflers, and her boots... and she was hanging off with me!
AR27 joins AR16 for a while here, but we stayed with AR27, headed toward Russelville for the night. When you reach Hector and Dover... you're in the cool-off period before Russelville. Take it easy coming into all of those towns. I saw LOTS of enforcement... and they were doing business with motorists.
450 miles, and we pulled into Best Western Russelville and settled down for the evening. The room was actually very nice, fairly cheap $60... and lots of local steakhouses all around it. We had a great shower, a great dinner, a great nightcap
and called it a day.
- more to come