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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
This trip had a purpose. I wanted to explore an area where I had never been and I wanted to improve my riding skills. I’ve been riding motorcycles for 30+ years, but I probably fall into that category of having 1 year’s experience 30 times over. So I figured I could use this trip to apply all of the tips and instruction that I have been storing in my head. Homework if you will.

I really enjoy prepping for trips so I print out my maps and towns to put on my tank bag. I also take my Garmin 60c (antique now) and use it for guidance as well. I guess I was so excited about the ride I forgot to include the printed directions and had only my handwritten notes. Also, something didn’t work when I downloaded the maps for Ar, and Missouri so the GPS turned out to be worthless.

I had picked out what looked like the best twisty roads from Arkansas up to Hermann, Missouri near St. Louis. I had ridden Highway 7 up to Missouri before so I used it as my main road through Razorback country.

Sunday was launch day, but I had to cook burgers for my father-in-law and my wife’s family since it was father’s day. By the time we had finished up and got back home it was 3:30 before I could start my trip.



She took my picture and wished me a safe trip, so off I go. Due to the late start I wanted to get as far as possible before dark so I took I30 (I hate slabs) to Arkadelphia then 7 up to Hot Springs for Sunday night.



Note the blue duffle bag on the back. My $19.00 purchase to replace my tailbag. The tailbag is so tall I can’t swing my leg over on mounting the bike. This duffle bag holds more and has a lower profile. Good buy!

Monday morning I woke at 6:00. Funny how easy it is to wake up when you are having fun. I was on the road before 7:00 and on Highway 7.

It was actually cool this morning as I wound up the highway. I passed a chopper with extreme ape hangers a bearded guy and a young girl in a tank top on the back. I bet she was cold. Farther down the road I stopped for a morning Coke (I don’t drink coffee).



You see a lot of these flags in Arkansas. They are really staunch states rights people or more likely ashamed of their state flag. The Arkansas state flag looks like a trucking company flag. Anyway, the chopper caught up with me at the stop so we talked. The guy and girl were on their honeymoon. They were headed to Branson. I congratulated them and wished them a safe trip. They had a small bag on the back of the bike and it couldn’t have held more than a change of underwear. They were traveling light.

A fellow Ducatisa e-mailed me and said to be sure and take Highway 123 loop off of 7 then eat at the Cliff House.


This sign tells me that things are looking up.



This sign means lets have some fun!

So I took his advice and boy was that the right move. This road is great. It was so much fun I road it 3 times before having lunch at the Cliff House.



A view of the open part of 123.


He was dead on regarding the restaurant. May be the best catfish I have ever eaten.



Restaurant view.


These bikes parked next to me.



Would you believe 4 women from Iowa were the riders. What is this world coming to?

Now don’t get me wrong about my intentions on this ride. I’m not a scraping the pegs or dragging a knee rider. I just wanted to practice corner entry, speed, acceleration out of turns and keeping my vision farther down the road instead of what is right in front of me.
Going a little faster than normal kept me concentrating on the road and what I’m doing so it could help improve my riding skill.

The highway 123 experience had my confidence level up and I was starting to feel the excitement of swooping through curves.



I had to catch the ferry to get started on 125 to Missouri. A guy flagged me down as I started to leave. He wanted to talk bikes. He was retired from Dallas and now lives near the lake. He rides an R1 and wanted to know how I liked the Ducati. Since I was fully geared up and leaking water out of every pore, he mercifully said for me to enjoy the day and bye. Boy it felt good to get the air moving.


I picked up Highway 125 up to Springfield, Mo. What a great road. Non-stop hills and 30 mph curves.




There is not a straight section of highway to be seen. On the throttle, off the throttle, right curve, left curve they just kept coming and coming.



I took a break from the fun at this peaceful creek.

Back on the bike and on the throttle, the Termignoni exhausts were singing today. By the time I reached the end I was exhausted. One hundred degree heat was a factor as well. This is the kind of riding this bike was made for, and it was a blast to ride.

I hit rush hour in Springfield so the stop and go riding was brutal. I found a Day’s Inn and called it a day. Second 100 degree day, ugh.

Tuesday: I hit the road at 7:00 am to begin my last stretch north and east to Hermann, Mo. Highway 42 was really a nice winding hilly road with pretty farm houses scattered on the landscape. Each one looked very clean and well kept.





Even the farm fields are neat.

I reached Hermann at about 1:00 pm.




Did I say it was hot. Proof!


Hermann is a wine country town founded by Germans in the mid 1850s.




They were sold the following deal to entice them to move from Philadelphia. 40 acres of flat farm land, you must work it for 2 years then it is yours. Otherwise, you get nothing. They came, but were shocked to find that the land is not flat farmland. So they surveyed the situation and saw that the wild Norton grape was growing well so they started making wine. With this they were able to make a living and start the town.




The fellow that sold them on the promise of flat land was ostracized and when he died, he was buried at the far end of the cemetery and is buried facing the wrong direction. That will teach him! In my opinion, they should have made him drink some of the wine.

I sat on the bank of the Missouri river and laughed to myself at the fact that I was about 700 miles from home and it is going to be 100 degrees every day.



The sun was starting to set.



Then it makes its final bow for this day.



As I was leaving the river I see this sign.


Wednesday morning I’m up at 6:00 and on the road (Highway 19) south for Mountain Home, Ar. Now 19 is a pretty road as well with really steep hills. It is almost like riding a rollercoaster. Your stomach feels like it is under your chin at the top and the forks and shocks compress at the bottoms. Quite a ride.

My lack of GPS and printed maps cost me on the road to Mountain Home, Ar. I failed to make a turn and ended up at Mountain View, Ar. So I decided to stay there instead and regroup for my next day’s ride to Mena.

Thursday my plan is to ride to Mena and spend the night. Then Friday push on home to Dallas. On the ride I suffered paybacks for my riding near the edge.

Two could have been disasters. Classic Oh Crap! Moments on bikes. Passing points are far between on these roads because of so many curves and hills. So I get stuck behind a pickup pulling a trailer. Finally a passing zone approaches and I see a car coming in the other direction. Well the Ducati is great for passing because it can pick up speed in a flash. So as soon as I reach the zone I jam the throttle and start my pass. Yep just as I start to pull beside the pickup another pickup reaches the highway from the left and is going to turn right. So he is looking at the oncoming car as well and starts out on the road into MY lane. Oh Crap! I squeeze close to the pickup that I’m passing (we could have shook hands) and powered on through. Can you say Adrenaline rush! Never had that happen before.

Now, believe it or not about 50 miles down the road I’m stuck behind a pickup, which is following a semi, which is following a pickup pulling a trailer. 45 mph. Okay, this is going to require a 3 vehicle pass since they are bunched too close to penetrate. When the passing lane appears. I put on my blinker so that the trailing pickup knows I’m going and I hammer the Ducati. I pass the pickup and he falls in behind me. I pass the semi, no problem. Then the Oh crap! moment. The front pickup and trailer puts on his left turn signal and starts to turn left off the highway. Hello Brembo brakes, I clamp down hard just as the lead pickup sees me in his mirror and jerks back in the lane. Wow, that was close. Who said lightening doesn’t strike the same idiot twice. So I forge ahead.

The road has straightened out pretty much by now so I begin to go on autopilot and daydream. (Mistake). Just outside of Gravelly, Ar. I see a 30 mph right turn sign. No problem. I swoosh through it without thinking then as soon as I straighten up I see this.



I’m into this left curve quickly and realize I’m going too fast for my skill level. So I increase my lean, and yes, I’m not going to make it. So I grab a little front brake to scrub off some speed and sure enough the bike stands up and I’m definitely not going to make it now. I inserted the blue arrow at the sign where I was headed.

Its funny how things flash thorough your mind so quickly. I immediately thought of all the idiots I have watched on Youtube make the same mistake and end up with an arse full of weeds. Now its my turn! I get off the brake and try to regain my lean but I’m in the shoulder gravel, then the weeds, but amazingly I missed the sign and didn’t tuck the front end. I snake my way for a few feet and then I’m back on the pavement. Thank you motorcycle gods. I was given a reprieve. Lesson learned. Never daydream while riding.

I was so amped up on this day I just kept the pressure on and rode all the way home. 11 hours in 100 degree heat. I was spent. This will be my last trip when the temperature is above 90. I promise. I gained a lot of experience on this ride and I’m thankful that the shiny side stayed up.
Missouri is a definite return trip. Next time will be in October or November sans the heat.
 

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Thanks for the report and photos. Having lived in Southeast Missouri (pronounced "Misery") as a kid, I know that the 100F temps are also accompanied by nearly 100% humidity.
I am glad you pulled out of the three close ones. Too many of us have been going down lately.
 

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Great pics, I am from SW MO and it is truly a great motorcycle area.
I live in SEMO for five years. Horrible place: tornados, bugs, flat as a pancake, and very high humidity.
 

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Looks like you had a really nice ride over some neat roads. I think you will always learn something new about riding when you take a several day cross country trip. riding for 8~10 hours a day for 4 or 5 days gives you a very different perspective about throwing a leg over the machine. It's great, isn't it!
 

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What a great ride. The photos are wonderful. I told you I was jealous before you left and now I'm even more so :)

Rick, just a tip for your situation #3. When that panic feeling hits and you start to freeze up, just remember if you're not already dragging something you can lean it more. Just trust your tires. It really can save your butt.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Mike, you are right. I'm mentally working on the belief that if I'm going wide on a turn to keep pushing on the inside bar and trust the tires. I still have a 1/2 inch chicken strip so the bike has yet to be pushed to its limits. I'm planning on trying a track day this fall.
Rick
 

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Mike, you are right. I'm mentally working on the belief that if I'm going wide on a turn to keep pushing on the inside bar and trust the tires. I still have a 1/2 inch chicken strip so the bike has yet to be pushed to its limits. I'm planning on trying a track day this fall.
Rick
The track is a great way to build confidence. Something else that helped me (which I strongly do not suggest doing) was the last time I froze up and went wide I got hurt and totaled a bike. I could have made it but I froze. Since then it's happened from time to time but now I seem to be able to say to myself "no way, not again" and force myself to commit to the turn and trust the tires. Boy, If I had $5 for every time I've said that to myself it would buy a new set of tires :)
 
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