After a rough week at work last week, I recouped for a couple of days and Tuesday morning headed out on a new adventure with Randall. I have ridden motorcycles most of my life but always get excited when something different comes along. We had been studying the maps of the Ouachita National Forrest and had laid out a 200+ mile dual sport ride. Today was the day. There were lots of unsure things about this ride,
1) We weren't sure we could make it between gas stations.
2) We weren't sure we would have enough daylight, possibly finishing some of the asphalt section in the dark.
3) We weren't sure where we were going, the map uses numbers for roads and all of the roads have actual names for 911 service.
4) I wasn't sure how my RA would react to putting in that many miles.
We started out on Poteau Mountain Road and rode it out to Highway 71. Up 71 for 1 mile and turn back east and drop off of the hill we had been riding on top of. Just a little over 3 miles after turning off of Highway 71, I realized Randall was telling the truth. I just thought we had been in the middle of nowhere! We make a turn to the right and wind around the tight, twisty mountainous dirt road and are face to face with a semi coming toward us. I didn't know what he was planning on doing but I know I'm no match to play chicken with a semi pulling a trailer today. I stop and roll down into the ditch until he is by me, then I jump back out of the ditch and light the throttle up on the my KTM. In no time we are running 55-65 mph on the narrow, twisty dirt road again. Soon we get a rhythm going and are sliding the back end of our bikes into the turns and accelerating hard, often times sliding sideways with the front wheel in the air.
After stopping to check the map a couple of times, we think we know where we are headed. About 75 miles into our ride, Randall pulls over and ... once again has a flat tire. That's a flat tire two weeks in a row for Randall. To make matters worse, after finding a good place to pull the front wheel off to change the tube, Randall realized that he did not pack the new CO2 bottles to inflate the tire. So he put the front wheel back on the bike and head out trying to find a farm house that had a air compressor or pump. No luck. Either no one was home or we scared the hell out of them and they weren't going to answer their door.
Plan B resorted to us riding all the way into downtown Danville, Arkansas. Population 2392, most of whom drove by and stared at us (along with 2 policemen and a US Forrest Ranger) as Randall was changing his tire. They left us alone ... just wanted to watch. We had stopped at a filling station named Jerry's Station and borrowed some of his air, topped our bikes off with gas, grabbed a coke and a snack and were back on our way. If you are ever in Danville, stop in and say hey to Jerry, super nice guy with lots of stories. With all of the extra time spent with the flat and riding out of our way to find some air, we had to abandon the 200 mile loop, we were now in a race with daylight to get back to the truck.
We rode an extremely fast pace back taking time for nothing. We were coming in to turns hard, tapping the rear brake to get the back end broke loose and gassing it, sliding the bike through the corners on the narrow, single lane dirt roads. We were riding wheelies out of 3rd gear (at 40 mph) and jumping the bikes at every large rolling hump we came across in the roads. Most people, if they saw us riding, wouldn't believe that we are 51 years old, more like we're 20. I have often said that if I have to act like normal people do, I never want to grow up. We made it back with a little bit of daylight left.
This morning, after a good nights rest, I don't feel bad for putting in 150 miles yesterday. In fact the only thing that hurts is my wrist on my right hand (no jokes please) and both hands are stiff and swollen. We didn't finish the ride that we had planned yesterday, but we still rode hard, overcame adversity and laughed the whole way. And anytime you can do that, you have had a great day.