|04-28-2012, 03:56 PM||#1|
Stupid Things Faster With More Energy
Let's start with a photo. This is the coffee mug at the Ozark Cafe in Jasper, AR. It became our mantra for the ride.
The morning caffeine was accompanied by the $2.99 special. Sean & I enjoyed this Fri, Sat, & Sun morning!
Plenty of bike-only parking in the forest:
A typical, quiet backroad:
Why did the chicken cross the river?
I spent roughly 73 bazillion hours pouring over the ride reports, photos, and tracks posted in the Arkansas Ride Reports thread. Huge thanks to the inmates who reached out to help!
I downloaded and examined all the tracks I could find for Arkansas on DualsportMaps.com, including all the SLAP tracks. Thanks for posting your stuff, all!
We are very familiar with the West side of this forest because we've ridden our street-legal dirtbikes for several thousand miles in that region. This ride was to focus on the area E of Hwy 21 from Hwy 40 all the way North to Jasper, AR. The plan was to spend Fri through Sun riding our big bikes through as many of the best roads as we could find.
Sean came from East of St. Louis, and I came from Kansas City. We headed out after work on Thursday meeting for a burger, fries, and shake at Billy Bob's Dairyland in Branson, MO.
We reached the Dogwood Springs campground in Jasper just after dark Thursday night. Nice toilet and shower rooms. They have RV spaces, cabins, and a swimming pool. They have WiFi if you get close enough to the office. We unloaded the bikes and I set up my little tent. Sean aired up his mattress to sleep in the back of his SUV. If you want quiet, remote camping, Dogwood aint it, but if you want convenience to town--especially the $2.99 breakfast special at the Ozark Cafe, then it works quite well.
Almost everything I planned worked out--which is surprising. Our tracks look like this. Red=Fri, Blue=Sat, Green=Sun, 460 miles total.
DAY 1: Friday, April 20
After breakfast, we headed S out of Jasper. We quickly hit rough gravel and snaked our way SE to Mt. Judea where we picked up the the twistiest bit of Hwy 123, the "Arkansas Tail of the Dragon". Unfortunately, it wasn't very fun because the fog was terribly thick with a light drizzle. I had a death grip and laser focus trying to navigate through the corners without losing sight of the road. I was nervously crawling through. The last time I came through, the weather was perfect--a much different experience.
Near the top of the mountain, we turned E onto a dirt road--this road was more dirt than gravel, and I imagine would be messy in a real downpour. It was tacky and sticky, but not gumming up the tires. Thankfully Sean & I both put on brand new knobbies for this ride. We'd have been in a world of hurt with the factory "dualsport" tires.
Along this section of road, we came across a Metro Bus Stop!
We waited for at least 45 minutes, but the bus ne[IMG][/IMG]ver came by! The folks up the road walked down to see if we needed anything--really nice folks. They got a real kick out of us stopping to see the bus stop sign. Turns out they sold the 50 acres to the guy and stuck the bus stop sign at the end of his driveway. Apparently he thought it was funny because he has kept it.
Finally we gave up on the bus and decided we'd better just ride our motorcycles. We spent the first half of Fri riding under heavy cloud cover and an occasional tiny sprinkle. I missed these cliffs somehow, but Sean made me ride back to see them.
They've finally repaired the part of Co-1 taken out by the landslide. You can get a bit of a feel for the enormity of the slide in this photo.
We came across the falling waters area. The creek along here was beautiful.
...and what I assume is called "Falling Waters":
Fri was our muddy day with the light rains seen overnight and off and on during the day. Some of the mudholes in the Ozarks hold water for months since the ground is solid rock under the relatively small layer of dirt.
The good news is that even nasty-looking mudholes USUALLY are nothing to worry about. Problem is, you just have no way of really knowing, and I've seen more than one bike almost disappear in mudholes out here!
We rode many miles of one-lane, no-maintenance roads--primo adventure bike stuff.
Somewhere along a great, rugged Jeep road that I think is named Linsey Mountainway, we ran into a group of Jeeps and Land Cruisers at the East Fork Illinois Bayou river. We had to cross here, and it was the biggest crossing of the trip up to this point. I had expected to get turned around at creek crossings plenty. I'm no stranger to burying a bike in a river and usually not afraid of them, but it was spring time, had been raining, and we were on our big bikes--not the dirtbikes. We spent a couple minutes working up the courage, and then I was the first to cross.
Sean had a small, handheld video camera, and I had the still camera. My camera takes crappy, 10 second videos, but here is Sean crossing the same river.
Now since Sean saw my line and therefore realized the bottom was relatively smooth, he had the luxury of keeping his legs up. While my boots were full of water, Sean's boots weren't even wet!
Thanks to zecatfish, we ended up taking "road" 1810. This thing was gnarly! It was more like the stuff I like to find on my KTM. Lots of bouncing on large rocks and multiple rough creek crossings. This one was short, but had a deep pocket. As usual, turned out not to be too bad. My F800GS is heavy to pick up, and I don't really want to drown it!
Then we came to this crossing...and it looked deep with a large tree across the path.
We found a better, slightly less scary place to cross, but the ATV trail on our side kept going along the river, and Sean wanted to try to make it W to the road using this trail rather than cross. We followed the ATV trail for some time, but it kept getting gnarlier and muddier...a handful on the big bikes. Again, we were both very glad we put fresh knobbies on the bikes before the trip. I finally convinced Sean that the creek crossing was quite doable. We backtracked and crossed without incidence. Sean did not post a video of this crossing, so perhaps we did not take one. The road on the other side looked more like a dry river bed with small boulders. The forest road was a short jaunt up this rough section.
At the end of 1810 we saw the forest road, but guess what? Yes, another river crossing. Sean still has dry boots at this point. In fact, I think he reached camp Fri night with dry boots.
From 1810, we ran up Indian Creek Rd. It is a narrow and enjoyable road. It had a tree down across that looked like it had been there some time. This was a road I could drive in my 2WD truck, so I was surprised it had not been cleared. We had to bushwack around the tree--there was no existing path.
Once up to Hwy 123, we cruised E to Hwy 7 then up to Jasper. We stopped at the "Arkansas Grand Canyon" overlook. It's an impressive view, but my crappy point & shoot camera does it zero justice.
Days 2 & 3 to come...
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TroyWolf screwed with this post 04-28-2012 at 04:11 PM
|04-28-2012, 04:29 PM||#2|
Joined: May 2003
Oh, I am the first to comment :-). What a neat place to go for a ride. Love the videos. Water crossings are like a box of ch...:-). You guys did well. I am not so sure about the legs up method, but it seemed to have worked here.
|04-28-2012, 08:05 PM||#5|
from the land of Toto
Joined: Nov 2009
Good write up Troy, I enjoyed it... Some friends and I are doing an Arkansas dual sport ride in
late May, I can't wait.... .
Ks-Rydr.... Two-lane blacktop isn't a highway, it's an attitude !
|04-28-2012, 09:10 PM||#7|
Joined: Jul 2007
Troy - you are the man! I simply do not have the patience for ride reports such as these but am eternally grateful. Even though I experienced each mile with you I am anxiously awaiting the next chapter!
|04-29-2012, 11:21 AM||#8|
Sat, Day 2
Saturday was going to be a GREAT day! We expected perfect weather and had high expectations for the planned route. I had strung together a 160 mile loop of some gnarly, exciting road sections I'd seen in various ride reports. I then connected those sections with the best stuff I could find using maps and aerial imagery. Well, even those "boring connector" sections turned out to be golden!
The family that runs the Dogwood campground includes a teenage son named Zach. Zach is cool and getting his motorcycle license any day now. He gave us a tour of the garage where they have various moto toys including quite a few old 3 wheelers. I liked this one--would have been good for the creek crossings!
We started by heading W out of Jasper on 74 then SW on 327. It is a beautiful stretch of highway--like pretty much all the highways in the Arkansas forests! It reminded me of the scenery riding around Kansas City...NOT. Soon we were off on gravel and the smiles behind helmets get bigger.
Sean and I had agreed "NO horse play" on this ride, but I couldn't resist. This guy was really friendly. Normally I have carrots in my pack, but unfortunately not today.
Many roads in the area start with signs like this. Kinda makes you warm and tingly all over.
You can camp anywhere in the forest, and we came across dozens of great places to camp. One of these days, I'm gonna put the tent and bag on the bike and just keep riding with no worries about making it back to base each night.
...a slight diversion...
I've owned the F800GS since June last year. This was the first off-road riding I've really done with it, and I was blown away with this machine. Before this I had a Vstrom 650, and there is no way I could have taken that bike through some of the stuff I rode these 3 days. Most of the time we were technically on "roads", but we road a lot of miles of stuff I could not have driven my truck through. We did a few ATV trail sections, too. The bike handled it all great. The F800GS has the power and suspension and handling to do some amazing stuff, but if you screw up and lay it down, she's a beast to pick up compared to my KTM 450EXC. I can pick her up myself, and had to do that a couple times. A couple of other times, I was glad to have Sean's help getting her upright. I can vouch for the SWMOTO crash guards and the BMW handguards.
Case in point.
The F800GS has a major weakness, though. It is very easy to damage the underside of the motor since the bike does not have a subframe to mount a skid plate to. The skid plate has to mount directly to the motor. A buddy and I installed the fancy BMW skid plates on our F8s. The very first ride he hit a rock coming off a small ledge and the skid plate mounting bracket put a hole in his oil pan. I decided to go back to the stock, plastic skid plate, which is what I used on this trip. I was mindful of this weakness at every log jump and boulder field.
Sean can chime in, but he was VERY pleased with his G650 XCountry! It's an extremely light and easy to ride machine. We both enjoyed riding machines that could take us down ATV trails and Jeep roads and through creeks and also cruise comfortably at 70MPH on the highway.
We rode by the parking lot for Hawksbill Crag, the most photo-graphed spot in Arkansas. It's a 3 mile hike round trip to see the point. We had a lot of miles to cover, and hiking that far in moto gear did not sound too fun.
This road is a bit S of Hawk's Bill, and really was a great ADV road.
An amazing campsite in a cedar grove on the bank of the Buffalo Creek (not to be confused with the Buffalo River)
Crossing Buffalo Creek
We came out on Hwy 16 and ran a few miles E to see the Glory Hole. You gotta go see this thing. When we arrived, there were probably 5 cars parked off the highway at the trail head. Most folks park here and walk the approx 1.5 miles down to the hole. However, with a good 4x4 vehicle, you can reach this little clearing/parking area. I may have added something to the sign in this photo!
Sean and I rode almost all the way down to the hole. Past the sign, it's an ATV trail. We reached a spot where we could turn around and park easily. After this spot, the trail turned into single-track. Of course we tried to keep going. I went about 100 feet and realized I was deeper than I should be on the big F8. Here is the point we turned around.
From our parking spot, it was a very short hike down to see the falls. There was a photography class out of Kansas City enjoying the falls when we arrived.
The hole from the top where the creek disappears.
The underside where the creek reappears.
Sean did not post the video, but you can find plenty of photos and videos of the Glory Hole online. Uh, be careful when Googling "Glory Hole"! Keeping the words "Arkansas" and "Waterfall" in the terms will help keep things family safe.
On our steep ride back up to Hwy 16, we met a man walking down. Kind of funny--see this thread.
From the Glory Hole, we headed a bit W on 16 then continued the adventure S.
We came across a totem pole in construction. This is being built by a guy named Bob.
The entire day was full of great roads--almost zero filler.
Zecatfish told us to look for a swinging bridge along Co 5550. We passed his waypoint, but no bridge. Soon a hunter on an ATV came by and we asked him if he knew where the bridge was. He said it was just a bit further down the road. We found the bridge, but first, we found this staircase leading down to the river. If you go down the stairs, you can see the bridge.
A couple hundred feet down river was the swinging bridge. It has seen better days, and no, we did not walk out on it. Sissies. Anyone know the history on this bridge?
We wanted to make our way up to Pilot Knob lookout. I had a road on our route that seemed not to exist. However, another mile up the road, there was a connector (also not on my map) that seemed like it might connect up to the old road. Sure enough, it did--and it was a mess! It had been freshly graded and was dirt--not gravel. It was steep with a lot of water berms. Sections of it had ATV trail markers and did not appear to be traveled much. It was fun working our way up the mountain!
It had open meadow sections like this:
Soon we were at the top of Pilot Knob, and what a view!
From Pilot Knob, we wound our way down on easy gravel to Hwy 164. The G650 had the low fuel light on so we slabbed it over to Hagarville for gas. We arrived 15 minutes before 6PM closing time! Good news because gas in this region is few and far between. It was getting late and my planned route was leading us into no-man's land...so we opted to cut it short and ran up Hwy 123 from Hagarville to hit the famous Big Piney Rd. WOW! This section of highway is not to be missed! We hardly saw any vehicles and the scenery was breath-taking.
Here is the narrow bridge over the Big Piney. Underneath is a popular place to hang out, cookout, camp, etc.
Next up is Big Piney Rd. I'd seen all the ride reports with people exclaiming how beautiful this road is. It did not disappoint. It's not a technically challenging road, but it's BEAUTIFUL. We had to cut our Sun route short, too, and opted to ride this road a second time. I'll include photos from both Sat & Sun for Big Piney Rd.
This is the Hurricane Creek crossing on Big Piney Rd. Depending on the water level, it's a double crossing. It looked dubious, but was rather tame.
Instead of taking CO 30 to the W or Parker Ridge Rd to the E, we went N on "City-Rd 311". Based on my research, I was doubtful this road even went through, but zecatfish gave me a track for it, so I trusted. It did go through, but it was narrow, very rough, trees to route around, and a washed out section that would give a Jeep a technical workout. Since the sun was almost down, we did not stop to take any pictures along this section. FUN!
Eventually we came out on Hwy 16, took that E to Hwy 7, then N to Jasper. Sean and I had grins that lasted well into the night. It had been a fantastic day of ADV riding. Every time we figured we'd seen the day's highlight, it got better. Miles of pure ADV pleasure!
Day 3 on the way...
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TroyWolf screwed with this post 04-29-2012 at 11:33 AM
|04-29-2012, 11:41 AM||#9|
Joined: Apr 2010
Location: Sand Hollow, Idaho
Man, this is a great ride report! Love all the water crossings. Kept me interested all the way through. And I can't forget to mention your last video section "Beautiful Road", that part looked fun!
Good stuff, thanks for sharing.
For the record, I hate snakes!
Admiral's Voyages http://advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=788178
|04-29-2012, 04:37 PM||#11|
Sun, Day 3
We ran out of time to finish the planned route the previous day. One of the sections we skipped was a section I was most excited to check out--a road/trail a local told me is called the Billy Jack Fjord Bypass. Billy Jack Fjord is a river crossing on the Big Piney that is only doable in Jul/Aug when the water is low.
So after filling our tanks with gas and our bellies with another $2.99 special at the Ozark Cafe, we set out. We both had a 4.5 hour drive home to do later today, so this would only be a 1/2 day of riding. In order to ensure we could fit in that Billy Jack Fjord bypass, we ran 37 miles down the highways to get down to that area.
Immediately, the bypass route got interesting (i.e. FUN!)
We came to a Y, but to the left was a closed gate with a NO TRESPASSING sign. Ahead was what really looked more like a rain run-off trail--not a road. In other words--it looked GOOD!
It quickly leveled out and became a tunnel through the thick forest. The road was a Jeep road at best that was turning more into an ATV trail the further we went. This spot along the way was just above a point where 2 creeks converged with some small waterfalls. It was beautiful.
Now somewhere along the way, our track diverged from the planned route. We came to what looks like an easy creek crossing except the flat rock was green and slimy--the kind where it's difficult even to walk across. The trail on the other side was not a road--it was an ATV trail for sure including some roots to get over, a 90 turn, and a short hill climb.
What my video did not show is that right after Sean picked up his XCountry, he went to swing his leg over and the bike just slid out from under him and slammed back down on the slimy, solid rock. It broke the tip of his clutch lever off. No problem, Sean likes the lever better and decided to cut the brake tip off, too.
Now everyone knows the adventure riding rule -- DON'T RIDE DOWN SOMETHING YOU CAN'T RIDE UP. I seem to operate with the idea of DON'T RIDE DOWN SOMETHING THE GROUP CAN'T GET BACK UP TOGETHER. That is, I find myself saying to myself, "Hmmm...this may be really hard to ride back up if necessary, but surely Sean and I can manhandle the bikes up one at a time!" Well, we came to a really rough creek crossing on a trail that was getting less traveled the further we went--PLUS we knew we were off the route line. To enter the creek we had to ride down a short but nasty hill--one that I knew could be difficult to come back up. I think I hesitated about 4 seconds and then...down the hill and struggled across the creek bouncing from rock to rock. The other bank was muddy and required some effort to get up. My F800 dug a trench for Sean to get through. You'll see what happened.
Sean found a convenient place to park his bike.
We made it maybe another 1/8 mile when we came to a pretty serious little hill climb. I barely got my bike up over the top and found a huge tree down blocking the path without a visible work-around. Sean had understandable reservations about riding up the hill due to large rocks and ground clearance issues. I was taking some stupid risks. We looked at our GPS TOPO map and we now had a huge ridge between us and the road we were trying to reach to the W. So it was time to retreat and look for where we missed the turn.
We get to come back across the creek.
...and yes, we had to work together to manhandle both bikes up the little hill. I know you are watching the video and thinking it looks like nothing. Heck, I even thought that seeing it in person. Once on the bike, the difficulty increased x3.
We found a trail heading W that almost had to be the way we missed except it quickly came to creek crossing with multiple NO TRESPASSING signs. So I'm going to need some local help if I'm going to figure out the Billy Jack Fjord bypass!
Another bike porn shot
We were a long way S from Jasper and time was getting away from us. There were a few other sections on my TODO list that were going to have to wait until another ride. We decided to make our way N back to Jasper--taking beautiful Big Piney Rd again and then Parker Ridge Rd. We didn't stop to take photos along the way but thoroughly enjoyed the entire ride.
We had one more thing we just had to see before leaving the forest. Sean had stumbled across something called the "motorcycle tree". He asked a street vendor selling Frito chilli pies and ice cream in Jasper if he knew about it. Sure enough, he told us to just ride to the top of Hwy 74. Sure enough, we found Wayne's World.
Back at camp, we loaded up, cleaned up, and agreed it was one of the best moto weekends ever.
|04-29-2012, 07:16 PM||#13|
|04-29-2012, 07:48 PM||#15|
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