Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Took My RA For A Ride

I'd had all I could take at work, I had to have a week off and it had to be now. As meticulous as I am about maintenance on my bike and laying the routes out that I wanted to take, conversely I just haphazardly threw anything that got in my way into the dry bag about an hour before we left and strapped it on the bike. I'm on vacation!

We head up through the Ozark National Forest and ran across a guy from KC with a Husaberg 570 ... I was jealous. Soon we jumped back out onto asphalt and found some incredible roads through the mountains to ride. We passed by the old Vendor one room schoolhouse which has been taken over by trees and vegetation. There was also an old spring, still running, out behind the schoolhouse ... with snakes galore. We were there between 5-10 minutes and saw 3 good sized ones.

We left the school house and head out for the old Sylamore suspension bridge. It is one of two suspension bridges still left in Arkansas. I was a bit disappointed after seeing the Beaver suspension bridge first, much longer and in better condition. Still cool though and after shooting it from different angles, we rode across it. Then we were off for Yellville to get a hotel room and something to eat. First day mileage 303 miles.

The next morning we got up and headed out. We caught the ferry across Bull Shoals Lake and then rode up into Missouri. If you have the nerve to push it a little bit, the asphalt roads in this area rival a roller coaster. Spent most of the the day in the Mark Twain forest riding till we were whipped out. Second day mileage 140 miles. At this point I was hurting and started dreading the long ride home ... I knew it was going to be uncomfortable at best.

Day 3 we packed up and headed out of town toward St Joe. There is an awesome little smoke house there by the name of Coursey's. Greg bought a small bone in ham while I went for some thick sliced bacon. Next we finished our ride back via highway 123 through the Ozark National Forest. It's not for the timid, especially pushing a bike, but it's an absolute thrill ride! We found an old abandoned service station that we stopped and milled around at for a while. Once back down to Clarksville, it was pretty much uneventful ride back in to my house. Third day mileage was 219 miles. Little dawg was once again excited to see me arrive back home. She just can't contain herself some days. If I ever find a girl that gets so excited that she pees in the floor just from me walking in the door ... I'll marry her!  

The DOWN side of the trip is that I hurt badly and was pretty much incapacitated over the next 3 days. I did manage to mow the yard but could not trim it. I couldn't lift my right arm over waist high without extreme pain. It finally eased up the third day after returning. The UP side is I had a great time, saw a bridge I have been wanting to photograph for 3 years now and the bacon. I baked some in the oven the next day and if it tastes half as good as it smells ... well, lets just say I will be happy. After eating a couple slices for breakfast, I have to admit this is THE BEST bacon you can get anywhere. 

I still have 2 days left before returning to prison, aka work. I have logged, to date, 879 miles for my vacation week and am shooting for 1000. We have heavy rain forecast for the next 2 days so I'm not sure if I will get it or not, but I will do my best. Still, even at 879 miles for a week, thats not too bad for an old, fat, crippled guy!

Dirt roads that never end
Ran across a guy from KC with a Berg
The old Vendor school house
Spring out back that was running
Entrance to the school house
Sylamore Suspension bridge in north central Arkansas
Bridge from side
Bridge deck ... pick your line wisely if on a bike
My hand would barely reach halfway around the cable and
look at the size of the threads on the bolt for the cable tie
Sylamore creek that runs under the bridge
Bikes on the ferry
At the start of Glade Top Trail in Missouri
On the Glade Top Trail
Ft Douglas bridge
On the bank of the Big Piney
Abandoned service station 
Car rack outside the old service station

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

A Day Of Relaxation (Not My Idea)

Sunday we were up over 90° followed by strong storms Monday which were pushed through by cold air. It was 49° this morning and in the morning it is supposed to get down to 42°. This has thrown me into a moderate flare up which has me walking with great pain and difficulty both yesterday and today. Not one to get discouraged easily, I just adjusted my plans from riding yesterday to catching up on some older movies I had been wanting to watch. I watched Maximum Overdrive, Scary Movie 3 and a couple of James Bond flicks. Not exactly your intellectual, Emmy award winning movies but I enjoyed them nonetheless.

I have a couple of parts coming for my new bike. I'm building it kind of like Johnny Cash ... one piece at a time only I'm not getting my parts for free, like in his song. I have decided to go with soft bags on this bike and have sold my racks and small boxes that were on my 09. I had some cheap soft bags thrown back that I bought for my KTM but they didn't work out with that bike. I will use these bags until I can buy the Wolfman Expedtion Dry Saddlebags.

I'm on vacation next week and I have a three-day ride planned. I'm riding over to the middle part of Arkansas to shoot an old suspension bridge. Then I'm riding north up into the Mark Twain Forest in Missouri. We'll see what I can get into up that way. I use to race at a place called Chadwick not too far from where I will be. Hopefully I'll have some good new pictures for you on my next post. Oh, and I have to do the ferry ride across Bull Shoals Lake again.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014


Well. it happened. It had been over 5 years years since I hit the ground while riding. It was also my first REAL ride with my brand new motorcycle, which only suffered 1 small scratch mark on the engine guard on the right side. I had pulled to an intersection with a slight incline that dumped to an easy off camber turn. After checking traffic and starting to pull into the intersection, the engine bonked on me leaving me trying to turn while going uphill without any power. So I did the only thing you could do in a situation like this ... I fell over. I put a good sized knot on the back of my right hand but other than that ... I was fine. With my damaged ego collected and back underway, I rode another 180 miles that day without incident. 

My last crash before this one was a high speed offroad crash on my KTM525 back in 09. Randall and I were riding some technical but ultra fast single track in the Ouchita National Forest. We had been riding a fast pace for the tight trails that were still extremely slick due to the recent rains. Randall and I had both had a couple of near misses, but kept the pace up. Just as I top a hill in 4th gear and start down the other side, my front end washed out so damn fast I was about 6 inches off of the ground before I realized I was crashing. It had been a good 8 years, maybe longer since I had crashed that hard. I took all of the impact on my head and left shoulder. It didn't knock me out but I was dazed. I remember fighting to breathe, had the breath knocked out of me, and thinking that I broke my left collar bone again. This was the first really nasty crash I had since being diagnosed with RA and just in case anyone has wondered, it did not trigger any additional pain (at least not from RA anyway) or even a minor flare up. I was surprised to say the least. 

None of that this time with my zero speed crash. However, two weeks later and I still have a good sized knot on the back of my hand on the bone that runs to the index finger. Oh well, small price to pay for having big fun! 

BTW, due to my RA and being too painful to squat or get down on my hands and knees to work on my bikes, ta-dah ... my newest toy for my shop.

I hope everyone is outside this spring enjoying the weather and overly abundant pollen!