Thursday, January 8, 2009

Bikes, Blues, and Barbeque 2008

2008 provided me the opportunity to head out on a road trip with my buddies (minus one black pearl Road King) to the beautiful land of Northwest Arkansas. For anyone who has never journeyed to this enchanted place, it is absolutely beautiful. We made the 1000 mile round trip back in September for the annual Bike, Blues, and Barbecue Rally, which is the largest charitable bike rally in the country. No tickets needed, but a portion of all proceeds from vendor and food sales goes to charity. The usual suspects were in tow, Mike and his "very popular" Honda ACE, Chris and his "hmmm, twenty-somethingth Harley (this one is Dyna Wideglide), and Javier on his Suzuki Boulevard.

We left on Friday morning after breakfast at What-A-Burger. For those of you who don't have the privilege of eating at What-A-Burger, you are missing out. We got on the road about 9am.
The ride out was uneventful. We took a roundabout route through northeast Texas and into west Arkansas. We headed straight north up to Fort Smith, AR and then hit the home stretch. We pulled into Fayetteville, AR around 5pm and headed straight for the rally grounds. Here are some shots of the parking lot.

We walked around to all the vendor boothes and saw a lot of cool bikes. I saw a Fatboy with a wide tire kit on it that I loved, and then I got to stradle this beast.
Not sure I would want to invest $40K of my hard earned cash into one of these, but it would be fun to rip open that V8 going down the interstate. The bikes sat really well for their size. Friday night was the public voting for the barbecue contest, so we paid $10 which got us a paper plate, a post-it note, and two drink coupons. We took the plates around to about 30 different trailers and was served sample-sized portions of anything from ribs to chicken to brisket. I probably had the best ribs I've ever had from the XXX Barbecue team. On the way out, you jotted down your vote on the post-it and turned it in.

So with our bellys full and our butts soar, we decided to head to the hotel. I bought my first pair of chaps (now I'm a real biker) that night, so like a kid at Christmas, I had to wear them to the hotel! I didn't mention before that coming through Ft. Smith, we erroneously decided to take the business route which funneled us through a lot of traffic and stop lights, instead of the interstate which would have saved us about 45 minutes. Well, since we were staying in Bentonville, AR (about 30 miles north of Fayetteville) we had a short ride to the hotel. However, we decided (erroneously, again!) to take the business route. So we got a steady of diet of stop lights and traffic. We finally get to the hotel, and crashed out. It had been a good day of brotherhood, barbecue, and of course, chasin white lines.

Next morning, Mike (owner of the lovely ACE), headed to the Yamaha dealership to get a new rear tire, since he noticed that his was down to the threads. The rest of us slept in until he called to say he was ready. Chris slept in more than the rest of us due to his wearing ear plugs. He had to due to the fact that Javier snores like a mountain lion with a head cold. Here's a pic of Mike and my handsome self at the Yamaha dealership.

Once we were all up and running, we headed back down to the rally grounds, then over to Dickson Street where the real party was going on. This is the original location of the rally but it has grown so much, it has been expanded to the fair grounds as well. There were bikes for miles, it was great. I saw some of the nicest bikes I'd ever seen, and some rather strange ones too. The one that sticks out the most was Harley Night Train someone had tricked out, but it still looked very much like a Harley. I guess, given all the glamour and prestige of the customs, I am still partial to the Harley design. Here's a shot of Dickson Street.
I thought this sign was great!!!

After lunch, we met up with a friend of Mike's who lives locally. He rides a sport bike and he lead us through the twisties between Bentonville and Eureka Springs. This is some of the most beautiful country I have ever ridden through. Here are some pics of the roads we traversed.

Notice the sign in this picture.

After the afternoon ride, we all headed back to the hotel for some chill time, and then we went to a restaurant that Mike recommended for a steak. The restaurant was very local, evidenced by the fact that there were only about 6 bikes in the parking lot and ours were 4 of them. The food was great and the conversation was good too. Back to the hotel and fast asleep (I know, we're a boring bunch).

Sunday morning we hit the breakfast bar hard and packed up all our gear. We posed for a picture at the hotel to commemorate the occasion and of course, I wore the chaps.
On the way home, we took the direct route. We headed out of west Arkansas and into eastern Oklahoma. We put the hammer down and was making great time when it happened. You know what I'm talking about, someones bike broke down. So, we ended up spending an hour trying to get the bolt replaced which held Mike's rear brake linkage to the rear brake peddle. Now, of course, the bolt hole was located somewhere only a small child could fit their hand, and it had to be located directly between the hot exhaust pipes and the hot crankcase.

We got back on the road and pointed our headlights south, for the last leg of the trip...we thought. Riding in the following order, Chris, Me, Mike, Javier, we were making good time through southern Oklahoma when a very odd thing happened. Chris has a habit of directing the oncoming traffic if he thinks they are intruding on his riding space. He not-so-discretely waves his hand in the direction that he wants the car to move. Well, he was in the act of doing this when an oncoming tractor trailer clipped his hand with his side-view mirror. It was wild, I heard a pop, and the mirror flew off the truck and almost hit Mike riding behind me. We immediately pulled over, not knowing what exactly had happened. The truck never looked back. There was no serious damage done, just heavy bruising and an immediate need for Advil. Here's a pic of Chris's hand.
The latest string of events prompted us to stop for lunch. We stopped at a little diner that had a full parking lot, assuming the place must be good if everyone in town was eating there. It did not disappoint. I polished off a hamburger and we let Chris gather his wits and let the Advil kick in. Back on the road, we crossed the Red River back into Texas and had an uneventful ride home. All in all, I would say the trip was fantastic. I had a great time hanging with the boys for a weekend, and it made coming home that much sweeter.

The most memorable thing about the trip for me, was when we pulled into a gas station upon arriving in Fayetteville. I stood their in the parking lot and all I heard was motorcycles. No traffic, even though we were 100 yards from an interstate, nothing but the rumble of exhaust pipes. It was amazing, and I had a grin on my face from ear to ear.

I am really looking forward to wherever 2009 takes me, as long as it is on the back of a motorcycle.


Lady Ridesalot said...

Very cool post! Looks and sounds like you all had a really great trip together, in spite of Chris trying to "high five" those 18 wheelers. I can't imagine how fun it was for him to use his clutch after that.

You mentioned the "curvy" road sign in one of your pics. I love it when I see signs like that. It's almost like the road is saying, "come play with me!"

The area looked beautiful and thanks for sharing the pics of your adventure. Hopefully, your 2009 adventure will bring you as much enjoyment as the last. Ride on!

fasthair said...

Mr. TRT: Great ride report. It helped me get over the five inches of snow I just cleared off my drive from last night. Looks like a nice place to ride, AK that is. Might have to put that on the list of places to go. If for no other reason then just the food. What’s a road trip without some sort of break down anyway? Just adds to the adventure in my book.

viagra online said...

Amazing pictures, I would love to leave everything behind and just get my bike and cruise all over the world, that is my ultimate dream. Excellent blog by the way.

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