Start: St. Louis, MO
End: Mammoth Spring, AR
Route: 21 South/32 West/19 South/63 South
Miles Ridden: 234
Roller coaster type roads and camping were on the agenda for this leg of the trip, but just after some conference calls for work. Chris and I added one more member to the wolf pack with our friend and co-worker David coming down to St. Louis from Minneapolis to join us on this epic journey. Once we each completed our calls, we headed south from St. Louis on our way to Mammoth Spring and the Riverside Resort which was our camp site for the night.
Heading south from St. Louis we stopped in Potosi for lunch and to take our last call for the day. From there we went on to Route 32 West which would prove to bring out the sport bike DNA engrained within the Tigers. Route 32 is a veritable roller coaster of a road. Ups, downs, sweeping corners, most of which are banked, holding a late apex to make the most of the next corner, being able to set up lines for three corners at once, and anything you could love about twisties on a motorcycle are what it has to offer. Once again the Tigers handled this task superbly with the compliant and stable WP adjustable suspension working effortlessly to make transitions and cornering a breeze. Equally was impressive was the torque curve from the 800cc triple, which allowed us to traverse this section mostly in sixth gear. Chris ended up dragging a feeler peg as a result of the fantastic handling characteristics. Very impressive for an adventure tourer.
We stopped in Bixby, Missouri at the junction of 32 and 79 at the Bixby country store for our first rest. There’s an old caboose outside which they’ve converted to a dining car and is surrounded on the outside by railroad memorabilia such as crossing lights and various signs. Inside, to the right is the post office, straight ahead a convenience store, to the left a deli, and in back seating for the restaurant. You can pump your gas, walk inside, grab a drink, sandwich, bag of chips, etc. and just hang out with others who stop in. When you’re ready just head to the counter to pay, let the owner know what you pumped for gas and what you ate, then you’re rung up and out the door. It’s awesome to see it all done on the honor system in this country store that is truly a step back in time with its antique signage and décor inside. Chris said the parking lot is jammed with motorcycles most weekends and is a well-known gathering point and rest stop.
The rest of the journey into Arkansas couldn’t hold a flame to Route 32, but that’s not to say it wasn’t bad. Chris did a great job picking out entertaining routes for us the entire time we were traveling. We arrived at the Riverside Resort with just enough time before sunset to make camp. On the way down the three mile, groomed dirt road while going about 12 miles per hour, the front wheel of my bike suddenly washed out with the wheel wrenching to the right and the bike starting to dump out from underneath me. I thought I was going down for sure especially loaded up with all of my luggage. I stomped my right foot down hard and torqued the bars back to the left and immediately the Tiger complied and settled back into its slow crawl down the road. Whew! Once we settled at the office of the campgrounds, we went to pick our spot right on the river and spaced out from others.
Our sleeping apparatus of choice was not your standard tent and sleeping bag, but rather hammocks and rain covers. We strung up the hammocks between trees, set the rain covers (in my case, a tarp I went and purchased at Wal-Mart nearby) and inserted a small inflatable air mattress. A special thanks to Chris’s friend James for lending his hammock to us for the trip. Being right on the Spring River, we were serenaded to sleep by the babbling waters up river and a brief thunderstorm. Each time you shifted a bit in the hammock, it slowly rocked you back and forth. I’ll take this over tenting in a heartbeat.
Another surprise the Tigers had in store for us was how many four foot pieces of firewood they could carry. With just a couple ratchet straps and some good balance, we managed to get our eight dollars’ worth in firewood for the night. We brought this back to the camp site before heading back into town for dinner. The three of us enjoyed steaks and baked potatoes at a restaurant right on the state line; so precisely placed that our bikes were in Arkansas just outside the window while we sat in the restaurant in Missouri. Back at the campsite, we battled to light the damp wood we had assembled in a truck wheel fire pit. After quite some time we ended up with most of the wood in the fire so the heat could expel the moisture and the wood could burn. Chris quipped that it was “the single most jacked up, Jenga-looking, wishing well from hell campfire in the history of camping.” David shared with us some home brews he had made as well; he made a killer winter warmer for the record as well as a solid Scotch ale. Our playlists of choice on a weatherproof Bluetooth speaker included Led Zeppelin, Elton John, Billy Joel, and David’s first taste of some old school ska. We turned down for the night, David used his electric toothbrush (really roughing it) and we rested for another big day of riding ahead of us.
To put a little focus back on a big reason I’m doing this ride; I’m raising funds and awareness for Multiple Sclerosis. If you’ve read this far, please take the time to visit my fundraising page here and help me achieve my new goal of $1,000 dollars for MS. Thank you to everyone who has donated so far and crushed the $250 goal I started with. We are now just $440 shy of the $1,000 goal.
#BostonToAustin #BahstinTaAhstin #ForTheRide #ForTheAdventure #MS5000