Kawasaki Ninja 250R Easter Break Ozark Trip
Ride Report: April 13-14, 2006 - I had a four day Easter weekend. The wife and kids were largely busy on Thursday and some of Friday and the weather looked as if it was going to be very nice. On Wednesday I decided that picking up my Christian Motorcyclists Association colors and a leather vest would be as good an excuse as any to ride in the Arkansas Ozarks.
Planning was minimal and packing was light as the temperature range was to be upper 60s to upper 80s. I had read about Arkansas 7 in Ride Texas Magazine and determined that route would be a good one to take from CMA Headquarters to a "leather wholesaler" in Northwestern Arkansas. Arkansas 7 is Arkansass first state-designated scenic byway. Arkansas 123, another road I wanted to travel, was recommended by Arkansas local Ninja 250 rider, Mike Kemp.
The route was planned so that retracing a particular stretch of road would be held to an absolute minimum while still riding most of the length of Arkansas 7 and 123. The following map shows the area of Arkansas traveled during the trip. The first day of the trip I rode the Ninjette from DeQueen to Hatfield to Hot Springs and then north to Harrison and Eureka Springs. On the second day I rode to Missouri then south and west through Green Forest, Boxley, Clarcksville, Booneville and on home to Texas through Mena and the Talimena Scenic Drive.
A scanned copy of the map used on the tank bag during the trip.
Log and Comments
I left Commerce at roughly 9:30 AM and rode the Ninjette to via Paris, Texas, FM 195 East, and Oklahoma 37 to Idabel, Oklahoma. I then took Oklahoma 3, Arkansas 380, and Arkansas 41 to DeQueen, Arkansas where I caught US 71 North to Hatfield, Arkansas.
Christian Motorcyclists Association (CMA) Headquarters is located just about 4 miles North of Hatfield. At CMA I was assisted by a perky and personable young lady by the name of Lucy. She gave a brief tour and then pulled a selection of CMA patches. I was also assisted with a Xerox copy of the Western section of Arkansas from a road atlas when I requested directions. I used the copied page as my primary map in the tank bag for the remainder of the ride. After taking a few pictures of the CMA Headquarters and the CMA Iron Mountain Conference Center it was off to Hot Springs, Arkansas via US 271.
I took Arkansas 7 north at Hot Springs, Arkansas and rode to Harrison, Arkansas where I US 62 West to Eureka Springs, Arkansas. generally, traffic was light through out the trip making for a very enjoyable ride.
Two things became clear rather quickly in the Ozarks. First, Arkansas secondary roads are in much better shape than Texas secondary roads. The most likely reason for this is that during the recent drought Arkansas roadbeds have stayed intact due to the rocky soil in this part of the state where the drying and shrinking of Texas "black land" has literally ripped asunder the roadbeds of many Texas Farm to Market roads. Motorcycle travel in the Ozarks is nice because there are few surprises like large cracks in the pavement and sudden shoulder drop-off. One does need to be mindful of gravel from driveways however. Second, Arkansas locals have no idea what a speed limit is. Speed limit signs are nonexistent between towns and while the last speed limit sign may have been 55 MPH everyone behind you is trying to travel at least 10 MPH above that.
I had originally intended to ride to Joplin, Missouri and spend the night there. It was becoming abundantly clear that the "eyeball" mileage and time in route estimates of a Texan used to flat and straight roads was not going to work in the Ozarks. It was past 9:00 PM, I was still some 100 or more miles from Joplin, and I hadn't eaten since breakfast. I called the home support team and asked my spouse to cancel my reservation at Joplin.
I stayed at The Joy Motel in Eureka Springs, Arkansas. The marquise said "Clean rooms, Great rates, Yummy pancakes". Now who could turn that down? The Joy Motel began in 1929 as a camp on the outskirts of town. In the 1960s and 70s the Joy under went major renovations with the addition of several multilevel "motel style" buildings. The motel is still locally owned and operated and has kept the charm of the early to mid 1900s including some of the original cabins. Eureka Springs also a biker resort called Rider's Rest Motel Rider's Rest Motel that may well be worth a look.
After a restful night's sleep I showered, packed, and had the recommended Joy Motel pancakes along with good conversation provided by the delightful on-site manager. After fully "suiting up" I rode Arkansas 23 north from Eureka Springs to Missouri 86 and then south on Arkansas 102 to Green Forest, Arkansas where Ozark Mountain Wholesale is. I am glad I went by to personally select my leather vest as the sizes ran a little big and I purchased a 36 instead of the usual 38. Ozark Mountain Wholesale's prices were great and the service personal.
From Green Forest I rode west on US 62 and then south on Arkansas 21 at Berryville. Arkansas 21 took the Ninjette and me to Boxley at which point I turned to Arkansas 74 east crossing Arkansas 7 at Jasper and connecting with Arkansas 123 at Vendor. Arkansas 123 was a blast with many 10 MPH, 15 MPH, and 20 MPH turns. Often Arkansas 123 and other state secondary roads travel along creek and river banks so the scenery was captivating. The dogwoods were in bloom and the other deciduous trees were just beginning to bud.
After riding to the southern end of Arkansas 123 at Hagarville I took Arkansas 292 to Clarksville where I rode US 64 West and Arkansas 109 to Paris, Arkansas. At Paris I rode past a small scooter shop where I made a "U"-turn and then stopped to take a gander at some Italian designed Diamo Scooters. These were intriguing as they had a convertible top, windshield wiper and CD player. The owner of the shop said that business has been good. I suspect as fuel prices continue to rise we will see more imports of this type.
From Paris, Arkansas the Ninjette and I continued on Arkansas 109 to Booneville where US 71 South was traversed to Mena, Arkansas. At Mena the Talimena Scenic Drive was taken to Talihina, Oklahoma where I stopped at the Circle J Restaurant for a good down home burger and some onion rings for dinner. From Talihina I rode US 271, Oklahoma 2, and Texas 24 through Paris, Texas and arrived back in Commerce a little after 9:00 PM.
Most of the roads had a 55 to 65 MPH speed limit with travel at or slightly above posted speeds due to tailgating cagers. On the way home I got tired of being tailgated and or pulling over and ran the Ninjette 65 to 70 on the straight areas regardless of the posted limit (the locals weren't paying any attention to them and the defensive motorcyclist knows that it is safest away from and in front of any traffic). Fuel mileage on the last 320+ mile tank-full likely suffered due to this. Thursday started off calm and sunny but a strong southerly wind developed that continued for the remainder of the trip with gusts to 25 or 30 MPH. High temperatures both days were in the upper 80s to lower 90s. Fuel mileage per fill-up for the 1037 mile trip was as follows 75.65 MPG, 78.95 MPG, 75.51 MPG, and 73.52 MPG.
CMA Headquarters Sign
CMA Iron Mountain Conference Center
Rest Area on Arkansas 7
The Joy Motel, Eureka Springs, Arkansas
Blue Eye is half in Missouri and half in Arkansas
Ozark Mountain Wholesale, Green Forest, Arkansas
A parking area on Arkansas 123
Odometer reading noted while riding Arkansas 123
A clear sign of a good road on Arkansas 123
Hills on Arkansas 123
View from the saddle on Arkansas 123
Arkansas 123 stretches promisingly into the distance
Farm near Mount Judea on Arkansas 123 seen stretching in to the distance
Another clear sign of a good road on Arkansas 123
10 MPH Hairpins on Arkansas 123 between Mount Judea and Pelsor
View from Arkansas 123 near between Pelsor and Hagarville
Dogwoods on Arkansas 123 near between Pelsor and Hagarville
Creek running by Arkansas 123 near between Pelsor and Hagarville
View from the saddle on the Talimena Scenic Drive
View from the saddle further down the Talimena Scenic Drive
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