How the Routes Came to Be
Here is the result of the scouting that MurrayG, David Bearden, and I did last month (read about that here
. Most people are arriving Monday night, and there are three full days of riding planned, if you wish: Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. So we put together three routes in case you want to ride every day.
Eureka Springs sits at the NW part of most of the good riding in Arkansas (there is a tiny bit of good riding west and even more north, into Missouri, if you want to explore). What we did was comb these sources:
- An excellent Arkansas Rider's Guide by Mario Caruso.
- A good web site on sport bike roads in Arkansas.
- DeLorme's Arkansas Atlas and Gazetteer, which helped us spot good roads because of the curves and elevation changes, which are charted well.
- Local knowledge, since all three of us had ridden there a bit, though Emerson was the expert.
We marked all the 4 and 5 star roads on a master map, and then strung routes together while minimizing duplication. Then we rode each route, Bearden leading, me taking notes in my digital voice recorder, and Emerson dying to pass us.
Here's your road research team.
The Route Maps
Here is the master map that shows the final three routes. (Click here
for a large version of the same thing.) Please note that I will bring each of you a copy of the color map as well a copy of each route.
These are just here for your reference.
The big red "X" marks the Iron Horse, and the big red "L" marks indicate the lunch spots on each of the three routes.
The Route Sheets
Each route has a Word document and a PDF. The Little Eight and Big Eight routes have mileage and turns on the first page, and then a city list on the second page (for routing purposes). We had to scrap the third route we put together because it sucked
so Emerson put together the route sheet for the Lopsided Eight--it's in a slightly different format. Click the link to download whatever version you want for preplanning.
The route in red is the Little Eight (254 miles).
The route in green is the Big Eight (291 miles).
The route in purple is the Lopsided Eight (220 miles).
Which Route Should I Take?
Love twisties and want an excellent adventure? Go for the Big Eight. It's probably the most challenging.
Want to start out slower on a shorter ride that's a good mix? Go for the Lopsided Eight. It's probably the most easy going.
Only going to ride one day, two-up? Go for the Little Eight. It's probably the most scenic.
Fuel and Fuel
Don't get low on gas. Some of these routes (especially the Big Eight) don't have many fuel choices. And if you leave early, fill up the night before. Many stations are closed until 7 and even 8a!
Each route has a lunch spot. Be careful on the Little Eight, because there are limited lunch hours at the recommended BBQ stop. There's an alternate a few blocks away in case you miss the window. If you decide to eat elsewhere, take a snack in case you can't find something when you are hungry. There are some very remote parts on this ride.
The Road Conditions
While you won't have the same vistas we had at Gunnison, the road conditions are far superior. In fact, they are excellent. Traction is superb, and you won't find more than a couple potholes on an entire route.
But do watch for these things:
- When you go to pass a car in Arkansas, they will slow down as a courtesy. If you are following too closely, you are going to end up in their trunk. It's a strange custom, but they are very courteous.
- Corner entry speeds are over-cautious. Do whatever you need to in order to be safe, but when the sight lines were good, we regularly doubled the yellow "caution speed" signs and then added 10 mph. You'll catch on quickly.
- There are virtually no shoulders on any of the routes. Ride precisely and efficiently. There's little room for error.
- There are lots of dogs, armadillos, and deer. And hitting an armadillo is not like hitting a squirrel.
- It's a very motorcycle friendly state!
The Iron Horse is several miles E of Eureka Springs on 62, on the south side of the road. The lat/long is:
N 36 23.871, W093 39.283
We will have no organized rides or designated ride leaders. Just do your own thing, meet up with people along the way, or organize a ride yourself. That's the purpose of the ride sheets--it lets people self-direct the rides without all sorts of strange group riding rules.
Having said that, may I make a few suggestions? Thank you!
- Be courteous at the start. That means being ready at the designated time, with a full tank.
- Ride in staggered formation, about 1-2 seconds apart, on straights. When it gets twisty, ride in single file with at least 3 seconds between you. That'll help the following rider not fixate on the leading rider.
- After you've made a turn, go ahead and turn off your turn signal.
- Decide and announce where you'll stop and gather people again.
- Distribute the ride leader's cell phone number.
- If you leave the group and don't tell anyone, leave a voicemail on that leader's cell phone so they won't worry.
- Don't worry about the rider behind you unless you are a good enough rider to be able to watch them in your mirror and still ride well.
- Agree on a GMRS/FRS channel.
- If someone is following closely, be courteous and let them pass. If they pass you on a double yellow, get over it. The only time you should get huffy is if they endanger you personally. Otherwise let it rest and let them be responsible for themselves.
- Want feedback about how you are riding? Ask people. It's a great learning experience.
- If there's an accident, leave only enough people there to help--the rest of you should keep going and not become a road hazard.
If you want some ride coaching or aren't sure why you are struggling with a particular stretch of road, grab one of us and we'll talk through it. You should not press yourself. Do realize that everything you do is at your own risk, so ride your own ride.
Have fun, for goodness sake! I'm still on a high from a month ago. This part of the US is a little treasure. Where else could you ride through utterly remote areas through towns like Deer, Nail, Fallsville, Fifty Six, Ozone, Forum, Dog Patch, and Ben Hur. By the way, you might be extra careful in Fallsville.
We leave you with this telling shot: