MN to the Ozarks

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Day Trippin'' started by sheffib32, May 22, 2017.

  1. sheffib32

    sheffib32 Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jan 3, 2017
    Oddometer:
    44
    First Ride Report I've ever attempted so bear with me.

    The Trip

    Headed out this Friday for a 5 day run from the Twin Cities to the Ozark Mountains and back over Memorial Day. Planning to camp for at least 3 of the 4 nights. The tentative plan:

    Day 1:
    Minneapolis to Kansas City KOA
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    Day 2:
    Kansas City KOA to Joplin Campground near Mount Ida, AR

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    Day 3:
    Pig Trail, Magazine Mountain and general Ozark exploring

    Day 4:
    Ozarks to somewhere in IA or MO. I've left this day open ended in case I want to spend the morning riding the Ozarks more or put the miles on to get home sooner on Day 5.

    Day 5:
    Wherever I end up to home.

    The Rider

    I turn 28 years old in two weeks and have been riding since I was 16. Currently work at a large corporation doing AV support and video production type work. I'm a weekend rider so I'm burning a couple of vacation days and leveraging the long weekend to make this trip happen.

    The Bike

    2003 Honda VTX 1800C

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    When I was 8 or 9 my parents took me to the local big box store and told me I could pick out a new bicycle. I picked out a 10 speed Mountain bike and was extremely happy. For about 2 weeks. Shortly after that I watched the first X games and immediately wanted a BMX bike. That's kinda how I feel about the VTX. I bought it after taking a couple of years off from riding (my V65 Magna needed more work than my college budget and schedule would allow). All I've ever owned was cruisers and I thought this was the coolest looking one. I'd lusted after one since I was in high school and found this one in my price range, so I picked it up in the spring of 2015. Shortly after that I found ADVrider and now I'm lusting after an ADV bike, but the VTX has been a good to me and, well, money... so I'll be keeping it for the foreseeable future.

    My plan is to use this as a kind of diary of the trip and to keep my friends and family updated on what is happening throughout my time away. Glad to have you along for the ride!
    #1
  2. rx35285

    rx35285 Adventurer

    Joined:
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    Oddometer:
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    Looks like a great trip. You didn't ask for any feedback but I can't restrain myself. I've received tons of helpful advice for my AR trips so I'm adding my comments in that spirit.

    Looks like you are slabbing it to KC to make time. From there you might want to consider setting up camp a little farther north such as around Jasper or Turner Bend. Then you can leave your camping gear and take loops including Mt Magazine. 309 to Mt. Magazine is great but there are a lot of similar roads closer to the Jasper area, depending on how twisty you want to get. I like 123 and I always have to make a run to Oark on 103. You are probably aware they've had some rough weather down there so that might affect your plans. If you're so inclined, the folks on "Tejas and the Gulf States" in the Regional Forum have always been very helpful.

    Ride safe and have fun!
    #2
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  3. sheffib32

    sheffib32 Adventurer

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    Thanks for the reply! I would have loved to have been further north, however with it being a holiday weekend I had issues finding campsites. Most wanted you to book Sat-Sun-Mon (including every state park in AR) so that was out. MO was the same way. I had availability issues most other places. I wasn't going to risk a walkup in case they were all gone when I got there. So I'll have to make due with what I have. Weather looks good for the short time I'll be down there and the folks I talked to said the water is receding, so we'll see what happens!
    #3
  4. Tiger993

    Tiger993 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Oct 24, 2014
    Oddometer:
    276
    Location:
    St. Michael, MN
    Given your line of work, I'm expecting a top shelf ride report with lots of pretty photos and cool videos. No pressure. :D
    #4
  5. rx35285

    rx35285 Adventurer

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    You have done your home work! It's good to know what you learned. I've never been down there over a holiday and will remember this for future reference. Looking forward to your ride report!

    Ride safe and have fun!
    #5
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  6. sheffib32

    sheffib32 Adventurer

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    See, the issue is that I've been getting paid to make video for so long that I've never gotten into it in my spare time. The only camera I'm taking with me is my cell phone, so you just as well begin preparing for dissapointment!

    Sent from my SM-G920V using Tapatalk
    #6
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  7. mouthfulloflake

    mouthfulloflake Not afraid

    Joined:
    Aug 21, 2008
    Oddometer:
    29,687
    Location:
    The Berkeley of Arkansas
    Welcome to the Ozarks!

    I am in the same line of work, and I feel the same way.. I hate editing ride videos haha

    If you end up near North West Ar give me a shout
    #7
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  8. sieg

    sieg Wearing out tires......2 at a time, day after day. Supporter

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Southern Illinois USA
    If.............., you get near Bixby MO. and need a cheap $5 place to camp one night, Fri PM. to Mon AM. I'll be at our M/C club and you can camp there and hang out one night. It will be closed but some of us are working there and the shower and john will be open.
    #8
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  9. sheffib32

    sheffib32 Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jan 3, 2017
    Oddometer:
    44
    Day 0

    (Attempting a test post from mobile so I can hopefully update on the road)

    It's funny how fast these trips sneak up on you. All of a sudden it's the week of the trip and I realize that the bike needs a bunch of work and I need to order some new gear.

    The clutch has slipped on the VTX since I bought it two years ago. Not badly, but if you were really on it it would slip at the top of every gear. On one of my first rides this spring I was moving through typical city traffic (70+ on the interstate) and goosed it to get around a car that was acting strangely. High gear, cruising to 3/4 throttle and I got massive clutch slip. I ordered a clutch that night.

    Of course I then got busy and the clutch sat in a box on my kitchen table for two weeks. Finally had time to throw it in on Monday. I put clutch springs in last year hoping that would solve the issue, but no luck. So I had done this teardown before.

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    The whole job took me three hours, which I was happy about. Nothing fought me and the whole thing just fell together the way it should. Took it out for a test ride and was stoked to have full power available at any time.

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    Things still left to do:

    I have a new sissy bar bag arriving today (Wednesday) that I need to check out. If I like it, I'll need to test fit it on the bike and start packing it.

    Bike needs a 12V connection wired up on it. I have the parts, just need to get it done.

    Have a new and hopefully brighter headlight I might throw in if I have the time.

    Have to get all my camping gear, rain gear, etc lined up, gone through, packed away and on the bike.

    I leave Friday morning and have plans with friends/girlfriend both tonight and tomorrow night. In my typical fashion, I'll be rushing at the last minute to get everything done. More to come!

    Sent from my SM-G920V using Tapatalk
    #9
  10. sheffib32

    sheffib32 Adventurer

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    The other thing is that I'm used to working with really nice equipment. When the corporation is paying for everything it's much easier. To get all the gear I want I'd have what my bike is worth in camera gear!
    #10
  11. sheffib32

    sheffib32 Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jan 3, 2017
    Oddometer:
    44
    I think I'm set but I appreciate the offer!
    #11
  12. sheffib32

    sheffib32 Adventurer

    Joined:
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    Loaded up and headed out! [​IMG]

    Sent from my SM-G920V using Tapatalk
    #12
    Tiger993 likes this.
  13. Bigbore4

    Bigbore4 Long timer

    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2010
    Oddometer:
    1,785
    Location:
    Andover MN USA
    I'll follow along. I was just there with some buds. Make damn sure you get up to Oark and the cafe for some pie. The pie alone is worth the ride, but the ride? WOW.
    #13
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  14. sheffib32

    sheffib32 Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jan 3, 2017
    Oddometer:
    44
    Day 1

    Today started early. Part of the reason for going on this trip is because my girlfriend is going to Italy with a friend. Since she was going on a trip I thought I should too.

    We left to take her to the airport at 6:45. Got her dropped off and I was back home by 8. An hour of last minute planning and packing and I was on the road!

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    Getting out of the cities was a little stressful. Fast moving traffic and lots of abrupt slowdowns. Had a Park Avenue that decided it wanted to change lanes into the exact place I happened to be at that time. I had to jump on the brakes and horn to avoid him. He didn't see me until he completed his lane change.

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    First fuel stop was Albert Lea, MN. I have a 12V plug wired on the bike under the seat. I usually plug a cell phone charger in there and charge my phone on the go. I forgot to plug my phone in and found my charger melted to the exhaust. So that was the first thing I bought on the trip.....

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    Apparently Iowa has strict guidelines for Law Enforcement. Being "Manly" is not an option (Manly, IA)

    It was pretty smooth sailing down through Iowa. The northern part was cloudy and cool (low 60s). I debated adding more layers when i stopped in Albert Lea, but decided to tough it out. By the time I stopped in Williams I was pulling liners out of my jacket. It warmed up 10 degrees as soon as the sun came out.

    Going around Des Moines I had one of the closest calls I've had while riding. I was in the far left hand lane of 3 lanes of traffic. Moving along at 70-75. The car in front of me slows down and we drop to 60 over approximately a 1/4 mile. I was watching my mirrors and flashing my brake lights when I noticed the Trailblazer behind me getting bigger. Quickly. Just as I went for the throttle to head forward and towards the shoulder away from him, he came back to earth and became aware of his surroundings again. He went for the brakes and I heard the tires lock up over my exhaust and through my earplugs. Time to leave Iowa.

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    Stopped in St. Charles, MO and saw this bitchin covered bridge on the outskirts of town. Don't see those in Minnesota.

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    All in all it was a pretty uneventful day, which is what today was supposed to be. It's funny how easy it is to plan days like this one and not think much of it. Riding it is an entirely different deal. 480 miles matches my mileage high on a bike. All in all, I don't feel too badly. Tomorrow I'll head to a state I've never been to, Arkansas.

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    (I use Rever to track all my rides. It's nice to have the stats at the end of the day)

    In case anybody is interested I am posting pics as I go over on Instagram. I'm @sheffib32 over there.

    More to come.....

    Sent from my SM-G920V using Tapatalk
    #14
  15. Tiger993

    Tiger993 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Oct 24, 2014
    Oddometer:
    276
    Location:
    St. Michael, MN
    Good job being alert and aware of the two who tried to kill you.

    Your VTX looks sharp. I've got a friend who has ridden his early 2000's model out west several time and has toured the Canadian Rockies on it too. It's got 80k miles and runs like clockwork.
    #15
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  16. sheffib32

    sheffib32 Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jan 3, 2017
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    It's been a really good bike for me once I got it set up to suit me. I'm 6'4" and with the forward controls, Mustang seat and tall windshield it fits me about perfectly. I cruised at 70+ all day today.

    Sent from my SM-G920V using Tapatalk
    #16
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  17. sheffib32

    sheffib32 Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jan 3, 2017
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    Day 2

    Day 2 started at 6 am. Well, let me back up. I was the only tent staying at this particular KOA. Until after dark. Then a young couple gets placed RIGHT beside me. Their car was 6 feet from my tent. They were noisey and shining lights towards my tent until 10:30 or so when I fell asleep.

    So up at 6. Go take a nice, hot, long shower at the fantastic facilities and then back to pack up while the guy from last night chats with me. On the road by 8.

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    Today seemed to have a little more urgency and I'm not sure why. Just seemed like I was pushing harder for no reason.

    Rode through some rain near Osceola. Just a little sprinkle, hardly would have needed the rain gear, but I put it on anyway.

    Not much to talk about all the way down through Branson, which is a city I fail to understand. All I saw were billboards for entertainment (like Vegas but not) and mega churches. So sin and then repent?

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    Getting to the Arkansas border was a high point in the day. I've never been here before, and doing it on a motorcycle makes it all the more special.

    The scenery was already improving dramatically at the border and only got better as I went through Harrision and continued down Hwy 7 towards Jasper. Fantastic riding and jaw dropping scenery.

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    I followed 7 south through even more great scenery

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    Somewhere in here I was able to talk to my girlfriend and hear how things are going in Italy. Another high point in the day. Although it would be fun to be together, knowing that the other person is on an adventure helps lessen the sadness of going without them.

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    And then, all of sudden, the Ozarks were over. On a map it's sometimes hard to tell where the good stuff is and where it isn't. I learned that the hard way today.

    I continued on Hwy 7 to Russleville and beyond while becoming more depressed by the minute. I thought I had done a decent job picking this campsite (besides, it was the only one I could get) but I was beginning to realize how far away from the good stuff I was.

    I was also not taking the best care of myself throughout the day (remember the urgency part?). I hadn't eaten much and was not drinking enough water to account for the sweating I was doing (saw 91 degrees at one point). Combine those things, a little homesickness, a campsite that's not as good as I thought and I fell into a horrible mood. Not pissed off at the world bad mood, more like pull the blankets over your head and try to forget there's a big bad world out there trying to screw you over bad mood. I was sad and just wanted go be home right then and there.

    Got to camp and ate a breakfast bar and drank an liter of water and immediately began to feel better both mentally and physically. Got all set up and headed back to the main road to try and find some food and supplies. The Joplin store is just a little corner store that sells anything you'd need to go camping, but they also take food orders..

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    This fixed most of what was left of my foul mood.

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    My campsite is also massive. I'm probably 50 yards off the access road. There's a Marina behind me though, so I hope that's not too noisey tonight.

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    They're forecasting thunderstorms in this area overnight and through tomorrow morning, which isn't great. Hopefully I can dodge around them and not get too wet.

    The plan is to go to Rich Mountain, Mount Magazine, and then hit the Pig Trail. Although I have two nights reserved here I plan to take all my stuff with me. If I get all the riding done that I want to do I might head north and grab a hotel rather than head all the way back down south to my campsite. Then I can potentially get back Monday night if I push it pretty hard, or have two shorter days.

    All told, a roller coaster of a day. Hoping for an easier time and good weather tomorrow.

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    More to come...
    #17
  18. Tiger993

    Tiger993 Been here awhile

    Joined:
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    Oddometer:
    276
    Location:
    St. Michael, MN
    It's amazing what a good meal will do for a person's overall mood and disposition. Hopefully today's riding has been fun!
    #18
  19. sheffib32

    sheffib32 Adventurer

    Joined:
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    Oddometer:
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    Day 3

    Day 3 started with a thunderstorm moving through around 2:30. Wind, rain, and lots of lightning had me awake for about an hour. Not much restful sleep after that with gusty winds blowing the tent around. Due to the wind and rain I stayed in bed until 7:30.

    Took my time getting ready since I wasn't sure if there was more rain on the way or not. Finally set out at 9 for Rich Mountain.

    I took 270, then 88 to the west and stopped at the first scenic pull off when I saw another bike there.

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    The guy was riding a new Indian Springfield. I comment on his nice bike and asked how long he'd had it. He tells me it's a rental in an oddly accented voice. I ask where he's from. "Switzerland. I'm on a trip around the US." That started a flurry of questions from me. He started on the east coast and rode everything over there (BRP, Tail of the Dragon, etc), then to Chicago and started following Route 66. He detoured to the Ozarks because he had read about them. He's on week 5 of a 3-4 month trip. Puts my 5 day trip into perspective. I didn't get his name or find out if he's on here, but if it sounds familiar let me know!

    I took 88 into Mena and then continued onto the scenic byway (which is still Hwy 88). The next 14 miles were pure bliss. I would put that road up against the Pig Trail any day of the week. It takes you basically up the spine of the mountain with valleys on both sides. You're locked into the trees until there is a pulloff, where you'll find views like this...

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    3/4 of the way up there is a (unfortunately closed off) fire tower

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    I expected a visitors center or something at the end of the road, but nothing. The byway ends and you're faced with going to Oklahoma or getting on 270 and heading east. Next stop, Magazine Mountain.

    270 takes you east to Acorn, where I jumped on 71 north, then to 250 to Danville.

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    250 was one of the most surprising roads of the day. It was totally unassuming when I turned onto it, but had zero traffic and had nice 45-55 mph sweepers the whole way. Nice pavement quality to boot.

    Stopped quickly in Danville for gas and then headed for Havana, where I got on the 309 which would take me to the top of Mount Magazine. Another fantastic road. You get a sense that you're climbing, but the trees block the horizon. If you try and look through them all you see is sky. Finally, just before the visitors center, there's a pulloff where you can check out the view.

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    It's odd to have this much of a vista at only 2500 ft.

    A couple miles down the road was the visitors center. I stopped and bought a sticker (which I later realized is too big for me to put on anything motorcycle related) and then headed towards the lodge.

    When thinking about going to the Ozarks, this is the place i thought about.

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    By that point it was 1:30. Decision time. Did I need to keep pushing to make the Pig Trail and a loop up north? Or could I make it if I hung out awhile longer? Ultimately hunger won out and I headed downstairs to the restaurant.

    They had a lunch buffet, which, while not outstanding, hit the spot.

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    Not a bad view either...

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    After lunch it was 2:30. If I rode the Pig Trail, then turned around and rode it back, I figured I could make it back to camp with daylight to spare.

    I was a little disappointed with the Pig Trail, to the point where I had search the internet after I got done with it to see if I rode the right part. It had the worst pavement quality of the three scenic rides I took today, had the most traffic, and I didn't think the road did anything that the other (Rich Mtn and Magazine Mtn) didn't. But, I can still say I rode it, and in both directions too!

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    After that it was time to make tracks back to the campsite.

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    It's easier to just put the map here than to tell you where I went.

    I've learned a few things about the Ozarks since being here. I was expecting an experience like the Black Hills in SD or the North Shore in MN. Very touristy and epic road after epic road. The Ozarks, to me, aren't like that at all. You have to search a little harder for the good roads. Things are a little more spread out. Most of the area, while tourist friendly, would not be considered "touristy." The only bit that I've seen that is like that was up on Hwy 7 between Jasper and Harrison. Otherwise, you do your exploring amongst everyday people living everyday lives. That's very different than the Black Hills, where the whole thing is set up for tourism.

    I did a fair amount of research to find some good rides. I was also limited by time and where I was located. However, I stumbled over more good roads than I sought out. You can ride on a fairly straight and level road for 40-50 miles and then come upon 3-4 miles of bitchin road out of the blue. The Ozarks are funny that way.

    I forgot to start Rever before I left so I don't have a mileage count on the day. My closest guess is about 380 miles, which took me about 10 hours (with an hour for lunch).

    Tomorrow morning the goal is to pack up and leave early (shooting for kickstand up at 7am). Going to either do the Pig Trail or Hwy 7 again going north, then put on as many miles as I can before I get tired. I'll grab a hotel somewhere in Missouri and be back in Minnesota by Tuesday afternoon.

    The trek north starts tomorrow...
    #19
  20. Toadady

    Toadady Push'n parts Supporter

    Joined:
    Dec 15, 2003
    Oddometer:
    6,200
    Location:
    Southern Missouri
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    #20