Like the vast majority of my trips, I see a window of opportunity and go for it. While sitting around Tuesday watching the sun beam down outside I decided to check out the forecast for New Mexico, south Texas and Arkansas. For no real reason, Arkansas was the most attractive this time out. This is my second trip to Arkansas. If you've never ridden the roads of Arkansas, please go soon. It's two-wheel paradise.
I planned on being gone for two days so packing wasn't an issue - extra pair of underwear, socks, long sleeve t-shirt, first-aid kit, toiletries. Yep, that's more than enough. Everything else can be had on the road. Tuesday evening I packed up the bike and decided on a route that covered roads I've never ridden. The intent was to make it to Mountain Home for the evening. I decided to start the trip with a run through the Talimena to warm up the tires and get the juices flowing. Then it was just a north easterly route that traversed some spectacular roads and eventually wound up in Mountain Home. I wasn't too concerned about how I would get back home. I figured I needed something to do Wednesday evening in Mountain Home.
I woke up early Wednesday morning and hit the road around 6:30. On the north side of the metroplex, I decided that a person cannot start a long trip without first stopping at a Waffle House for nourishment. As I had Waffle House on the brain it just so happened that one appeared at the next exit. The cosmos are cooperating. Life is good.
After a good breakfast, I set course for eastern Oklahoma to run through the Talimena. For those of you who are not familiar with the Talimena, it runs from Talihina, OK to Mena, AR along the crest of the Ouashita Mountains. Hence, the Talimena Scenic Byway. It's a spectacular road with many vistas and overlooks. Here's a map of the Talimena.
After Mena, I headed east on 8 through Big Fork and Black Springs. 8 is just another spectacular country road that winds it's way through Arkansas farm country. In Norman, I took 27 north through Story and then headed east on 314 to 7 north through Russellville. 27 and 314 are wonderful roads and 7 is the main artery from Hot Springs all the way north. It's a great road, but there tends to be a good amount of traffic compared to other roads. However, there's a section of 7 south of Russellville that i enjoyed last time and wanted to do it again. so I did. Here's are some maps of the areas.
North of Russellville I connected back with 27 north and took 27 all the way to Harriet where I joined up with 14. Any road in this area is spectacular and 27 was absolutely no disappointment. Just before Harriet, the Valentine started going off and I spotted kojak in front of me about a 1/4 mile. He took 14 north so I took 14 south. This turned out to be the best decision of the day as 341 off of 14 turned out to be the jewel of the trip. Totally awesome road. Ride from wherever you are to ride this road. The cosmos were good to me that day. I've seen 341 marked as 77 or Push Mountain road on other maps. Same road. Same result. 341 eventually runs into 5 and I took that into Mountain Home where I setup camp at the Super 8. :)
I bought a map and perused it for a good route before going to bed. The next morning I took 62 east to Salem and then 9 south through Oxford and Mountain View and then hooked up with 16 in Shirley. I took 16 all the way across the great state of Arkansas to 23 south in Brashears. 23 is called the Pig Trail Scenic Byway from Brashears to just north of Ozark. This is another little jewel of a must-do highway. Very winding, crooked and steep with a canopy of trees... the whole works.
After reaching Webb City I took 309 to Havana. 309 is an interesting road. It has long sweepers and then climbs into the mountains and runs along the crest for quite some time. Very cool road all the way to Havana. From there I took 10 east to 27 south and then hooked up with 28 west from Rover all the way to Needmore. 28's a great road that doesn't wind up through the mountains, but just meanders through the Arkansas farm country like 8 does out of Mena.
In Needmore I took 71 south to Mena, ran the Talimena again and headed home. Just shy of 1200 miles in two days and 900 miles through some of the best roads in Arkansas. I would recommend to all of you any of the roads I traveled this time out.
I kind of chopped up the route to display sections of it here, but if you're interested in having an MS Streets and Trips file of the entire route, here's a zip file you can download. Have fun!
I was very impressed with the ME880 Marathons. Before purchasing them, I couldn't find anyone on an R1150RT that installed them and I was a little concerned about how well they would handle the twisties. Well, I rode through the twisties extremely hard and they held up very well. I never felt the back end slide from underneath the bike. Earlier sets of the Z4s would need to be replaced after a trip like this. After 6K miles on the 880s I'm very pleased with them and they look like they have at least another 6K to go. We'll see.