Dave Got a KLR 650

The big news this past week is that Dave bought a motorcycle, a 2006 Kawasaki KLR 650, the same model and year that I have. This is a very good thing, as we can bring one set of backup parts for long rides, and we will both be more likely to know how to fix problems with each other’s bikes. Here they are, with Wisch’s Suzuki DR 650, before we got them muddy on Sunday:

truk and Dave with the KLR 650s

We rode for about 3 hours on Sunday in Crittenden County, just over the Mississippi River from Memphis. I wanted to show the guys something interesting I found a month or so ago, which is the exit point for the original automobile traffic bridge over the Mississippi for the area. It is located right next to I-55, on a old railroad bridge where they bolted steel girders onto the bridge and covered them with huge wooden planks almost the size of railroad crossties. You can’t see any wood in this shot (it has all rotted away), but you can see what remains of the bridge as it arches up and prepares to go east over the river and toward Memphis.

Original Memphis Road Bridge

It was a beautiful day to go riding, needless to say. We ran into a really nice guy from Midtown out riding on the dirt roads with his girlfriend, and he took us to a nice spot opposite Memphis, evenly between the I-40 and I-55 bridges, almost even with the end of Mud Island. We all enjoyed the view of downtown, and while the river was rising, it almost looks so calm as to be swimable.

Here’s a shot of Wisch and the scene across the river, back toward Memphis.

Wisch and the Memphis Skyline

Here’s Dave before I accidentally sprayed him with mud from my back tire as we were leaving that place. (Sorry about that Dave…)

Dave and the Memphis Skyline

We got deeper into the mud that afternoon, going all of the way from I-55 to a road north of Marion entirely on dirt (well, dirt, mud, deep puddles, and lots of fallen, wet leaves). The ride was challenging but rewarding, and we all got adequately lost and dirty. We ended up taking a rest in Marion before heading back over the I-40 bridge back to Memphis.

Hanging Out in Marion

If only Big John’s had been open.

If you are looking to read about an incredible adventure motorcycle trip, please read their ADV Rider thread. Yes, I know it is over a hundred pages long, but the hours spent will be worth it. If you only have 10 minutes, just read a few pages, perhaps of their ride from this summer. In summary, some truly crazy (and very brave) guys traveled from Poland to Magadan in Eastern Siberia in 2007, and this year, they explored a big chunk of Eastern Siberia, usually without even the benefit of roads. They didn’t let the isolation of the area, or the bears, or the lack of fuel or spare parts, stand in their way. This looks to be an amazing adventure, and they are still publishing pics from the summer ride daily.

Ozark Trail Ride – Day 3

David and Scottie Sunday Morning

The next morning was, well there’s no other word for it, CHILLY. We built a roaring fire and tried to warm up enough for a last ride on the bikes before heading home. There were several trails near the campsite that we hadn’t explored, so we finally suited up and headed south on Johnson County Road 5861 from Highway 123, which was a beautiful ride right beside Big Piney Creek. Well, at least, until we came to the end of the road, which literally terminated by running directly into the creek. It wasn’t even clear if the road continued around the bend or not.

End of the Road

So, we turned around and headed back to Highway 123 and got some pics underneath the one-lane bridge we had stopped on the night before to look at the stars.

David and Scottie Under the One-Lane Bridge

Still not ready to leave, we headed north on County Road 5861 (right beside the bridge), which turned out to be one of the best rides of the weekend. We quickly came to some higher ground with much better creek crossings than the road that ran south. David got soaked crossing the creek here, but it made for a fantastic picture.

David Crossing a Creek and Getting Soaked

Scottie’s lighter bike made crossing these creeks look easy. Or maybe he’s just better at it…  🙂

Scottie Makes a Run at the Creek

For several miles, the road just meanders beside Big Piney Creek, with high rock walls on one side, dripping waterfalls from time to time, and the full creek on the other side. It was gorgeous.

County Road 5861

You could even ride underneath one of the waterfalls.

Scottie Under the Waterfall

Eventually, we turned right and followed followed Forest Road 1202 up into the hills, which presented some beautiful views of Big Piney Creek as it slithered through the valley below.

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The weather was warmer and sunnier than any of the previous days, and we all would have loved to have been able to ride the rest of the day, but real life beckoned us back, out of the wilderness, away from the falling leaves, and into the cruel arms of responsibility and schedules.

OK, going home wasn’t that bad, but we all had a wonderful time, and we were already making plans to come back as soon as possible, even if the leaves were already gone.

Found this thread via search engine? See all of the photos of the trip, or review Day 1 or Day 2.

Ozark Trail Ride – Day 1

David and Scottie Preparing to Leave

I knew when we turned on to Highway 123 off of 7 that the riding was going to be amazing. Having never spent much time in the southern Ozark Mountains, about 80 miles east-northeast of Little Rock, I didn’t really know what to expect. Surely there would be trees, some hilltop views, and some twisty road riding, but it was a mystery just what else we would find.

Boy, was I in for a treat…

Haw Creek Falls at Dawn

We selected to camp in the Haw Creek Falls campground upon setting out from Scottie’s place. This beautiful spot, just off of Highway 123, doesn’t provide drinking water, but the camp sites are few, clean, and located right next to the falls and a lovely rushing stream, meaning we fell asleep to the sound of rushing water and woke up to a misting waterfall with autumn red and yellow colors in the background on the surrounding hills. Haw Creek Falls offers some wonderful hiking and is a great location to use as a base for float trips in the area (click here for a pretty good free map), but all we could think about when we arrived was getting the bikes off and hitting the trail.

truk on the Trail

We immediately headed down 123 and found a forest service road (1003) off to the right that took us northeast, into the Ozark National Forest. There are county roads, farm roads, and forest service roads throughout this area, as well as ATV trails, some of which connect to one another and others that just simply end up at some wide spot in the woods. We went down both extensively over all three days, sometimes poking out on a major highway, and other times running into a dead-end at someone’s hunting cabin and needing to turn around.

Scottie and David on the Trail

Everywhere we went, there were little streams to cross, ledges to peer over, and straightaways to zoom down. Occasionally, we would run into someone on an ATV, usually carrying a bow (it was bow hunting season), who would occasionally stop for a chat. But, most of the time, we saw no one. It felt like having this section of the Earth to yourself, where some giant painter had dripped color that changed shades as the sun skimmed across the horizon.

Forest Road

The best ride of the day was an accident. Click on this link to see a satellite photo of the area. We crossed this little bridge over Big Piney Creek, and Scottie decided to take a little road up the hill to the left, which is marked on the map as City Road 311 (but the last way I would describe this is as a “city road”). This little windy road took us up above the creek for miles, up and down the little hillsides in the area, but always keeping the rushing creek, thanks to all the recent rain, just to our left. It felt like finding a tiny little gem that no one else knew about. We saw no other human beings or activity for an hour, just falling leaves, a well-maintained dirt road, and the sounds of water rushing over rocks. Perfect.

Scottie and David at the Big Piney Bridge

We only rode for three hours the first day, but it was just enough, and we returned to camp to feast on some chili pie and homemade brownies. It got a little cooler that we would have liked, but we had a big fire, plenty of beer, and even a nip of scotch. And a full day of riding awaited us the next day.

Scottie and David

Read on to Day 2 of the ride, or check out all of the photos from the trip here.

Home Safe from the Ozark Ride

truk, David, and Scottie Before Setting Out

I just got home from a fantastic motorcycle ride this weekend through the Ozark National Forest.

Scottie, David, and I made the most of our time, riding Friday afternoon, all day on Saturday, and then a good part of Sunday.

We climbed up and down rocky ravines, zoomed down gravel forest roads with yellow and red leaves falling around us, and went places that the confused both our Gazetteer and the GPS.

I’ll post some more text on this trip, when I get a few free moments, but you can already see some of the pictures here.

A Gravel Road, Western Tipton County, and a Couple of Motorcycles

Hey, what is this? A post that has nothing to do with Italy? Crazy! Yes, I know, but I did something pretty fun today that had nothing to do with Italy, so I thought I would write about it.

After dealing with a bad cold the past couple of days and being notified that my Advanced Motorcycle Safety Class was canceled today (not enough people signed up), I headed north with Wisch to clear my head. We ended up exploring a large swath of western Tipton County, the county north of Shelby County, where Memphis is located. (Here is a map of the area where we spent most of our time.)

Some of the best roads were around Herring Hill Road (which is partially gravel), Pryor Road, and Coon Valley Road (which is almost entirely gravel). This picture may be the first one of me with my 2006 Kawasaki KLR 650, which I’ve had since May.

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Wisch took this while we were on the Richardson Landing boat ramp, which currently ends in a very low Mississippi River. This is a shot of Wisch on his Suzuki DR650.

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Note the clearly superior riding gear. I’ve really got to get a light, bright jacket with armor sewn into the joints. What isn’t clear in this photo is Wisch’s equally clearly superior riding skill, but someday I’ll get a movie of one of his trademark wheelies and prove it to the world. His skill on the superbike track is already pretty well known.

Perhaps one of the most strangely beautiful sights I’ve seen recently is how this little road twists and turns through an area completely overgrown with kudzu. Yes, everything except the trees, the sky, and the road in this photo is kudzu.

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All in all, a very fun ride, one with several other small roads that we left to explore another day.