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.
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.