Mental Health 101: Get On the Bike and RIDE!

((Ed note-Red River BMW Club member Drew Newcomer is always up for a ride. Sometimes, though, life gets in the way and riding gets shunted aside. Drew was feeling a little sick of the status quo a week or so ago and decided the only prescription sure to relieve was some time in the saddle.))

By Drew T. Newcomer
Do you have a job that sucks sometimes? (Or, maybe you are one of those folks that have a job that sucks all the time.) Well, I work with the public, so I guess mine is somewhere in the middle (though I am grateful to be working!!) Some people deal with stress by venting to their husband, wife, significant other, some drink, some kick the dog, while, for many of us, the path to sanity is via two-wheeled ride therapy. I was just about to go crazy when a three-day weekend presented itself beginning March 12. So, taking advantage of the time I packed up my trusty R1150R and headed north.

While the skies were overcast and things were still a little cool (hey, that is why I bought the Gerbings!) I pointed the R up the familiar LA 15 to 558 to US 7 right below El Dorado. Once I reached Camden, AR, I turned northwest on AR 24, which is a very nice country ride, until I intersected AR 53 about 15 miles south of Arkadelphia. AR 53 is a nice country road/country ride itself and it took me to AR 8 where I turned west. I really enjoy riding 8. The surface is pristine and the road rises falls and has plenty of nice sweepers that keep things anything but boring. And, the topography changes nicely as you head west into the Ouachita Mountains. After a very comfortable 250 miles, I found my destination of Mena, AR and the king size bed waiting for me at the Limetree Inn.

Saturday morning dawned overcast and cold, but I wasn’t in any kind of hurry. After a nice breakfast in the motel restaurant, I loaded the bike and turned the heat on and headed up AR 88. While clouds were plentiful, the fog, which can be brutal on this road, was not a problem. Climbing up 88 towards Queen Wilhelmina State Park, I felt like I was the only one on the road. A couple of whitetails waved to me as I headed west and neared the Oklahoma State line. 88 becomes Oklahoma 1 at the border and I continued west as the sun continued to climb and the clouds begin to dissipate. I rode Highway 1 into Talihina.

In Talihina, 1 and 63 run together until intersected by OK 2 which took me to Antlers, OK. The geography had changed and this area reminded me very much of the Texas Hill Country. In Antlers, I continued west on OK 3 to Atoka. I continued west through Indian Country on OK 7 to Sulphur, OK where I turned south on US 177 through the Chickasaw National Recreation Area. By now there wasn’t a cloud in the sky and the Gerbing’s were no longer needed. The recreation area is very well maintained and there is a good bit of history to be found here (which means it may be worth another trip!) After appreciating some of the wonderful scenery, I rode 177 south to OK 199 where I turned away from the sun and found US 70 in Madill, OK. After 300 miles I pulled in for the night in Durant, OK and found great accommodations at the local Best Western. After a great meal and a couple of cold ones, I pushed the clock up on the bike and crawled into the hotel room’s easy chair. I have found, over the years, that sometimes, there is nothing better than riding alone – but never being lonely. This was one of those days.

With the time change, morning did not come early. With plenty of daylight I headed into the awakening sun and traveled US 70 to Idabel, OK where I zigzagged on OK 3 to the Arkansas State line (where 3 becomes 32) and a break in Foreman, AR. 32 kept going east to US 71 where a lunch stop was in order in Texarkana. I stayed east on 82 to Magnolia where I turned south on 371 until I turned back east again on LA 2 in Sarepta. I rode 2 to Farmerville then back home on LA 15.

The weather had been ideal all day long. Spring is coming (as evidenced by the daffodils along the highway.) I was again reminded of the catharsis that can be attained on a two-lane on two wheels.

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