10 October 2011

Trip Report: Arkansas Fall Gather Ride Day

24 Sep 11
My first riding day

After the stress of just getting there, I was so keyed up, I think I could have left to go on a ride right away. V10 and motoed both said they didn't know what time the ride would leave. It varied but they'd wake us up in plenty of time to join them. I felt confident in speaking for my roommate because the last message I'd gotten from thepopularjock was something along the lines of he definitely wanted to ride in the morning and he'd leave a key in the door (but not the light on).

The day before three riders had gone down. One was serious enough to need air lifting to the closest hospital. He had a broken back but was expected to recover. Everything else was minor and those guys were still riding. It left me thinking maybe I wasn't supposed to be there when I should have been and everything happened for a reason.

When I got the HHR, I wasn't even thinking about that vehicle when I started thinking about getting something. It just seemed to be destined for me to get one. After hearing the news about the multiple crashes, I was in a kind of move with the flow mood. Yes, I'd driven all night just to get there and ride with these people but I also did it to hang out with them too.

So when our wake up call was grommet knocking on the door saying they would be leaving in 10 minutes and wondering if we could be ready to go by then, I went with the flow. No, we couldn't be ready in 10 minutes maybe half an hour but we didn't want to hold them up either. It wasn't their fault we'd arrived in the wee hours of the morning.

Where we were going to meet the group
grommet and thepopularjock exchanged some details about where the group would gather for lunch then disappeared into the sunshine. Then it was a bit of a furry as we washed up and went to see if anyone was left around. You see, I needed to change my rear tire. Yes I'd had two weeks to get that done but I didn't get the tire until Friday morning. I just couldn't multi-task finding a car and buying tires for my motorcycle.

I'd been working from some imaginary list. There were things that needed doing and I was scratching things off and moving on to the next. Like after TheMomma died, I went ahead with installing the R6 shock and multiguage because it's what I was planning to do. I didn't put much thought into it but did it because it was something to do.

Leading up to the Gather, it was much the same thing until I derailed myself by deciding to get the car before the trip. It was like something was driving me to get the car more than tending to the rear wheel on the bike. So it happened that when I finally left to go to Arkansas, Baby was still wearing that worn tire and I hadn't put much thought into the chain problem beyond knowing it would need replacing and I wasn't happy about that. In fact I put it out of my mind.

Our Ride
So after thepopularjock and I realized that everyone was gone, we looked at that tire. Well, he looked at the tire. I knew that I was willing to do another ride on it as long as I didn't push it. After the accidents the day before combined with not knowing the roads, I didn't expect to push it. So we put the lunch spot in the new gps and headed out. I think it was Oark.

Earlier I'd had the new gps, the old gps, and later the phone gps guiding me through the night. The new gps's route matched closely with my old one so I felt confident in it's routing ability. The estimated times were way off though! The first thing it does is tell you how many air miles to your destination. Why? Because it comes loaded with CoPilot. Get it? Yea, I didn't like it either. I hadn't had time to figure out how to change it so it would read road miles. As we rode along, I noticed it was cycling between a lot of different information. We left Eureka Springs a different way than the way I came in.

And I quickly discovered the sweeping curves with signs that read “50 mph” are too inviting to take it easy. Once I realized how grippy the road surface was and that I still had pretty good grip, all thoughts of taking it easy seemed to have slipped my mind! I hadn't taken the time to mount the cameras, thinking I'd do it once we met up with the group.

It was a beautiful morning to be riding. I was already regretting not having the cams rolling. thepopularjock is a good riding companion. It took me a little while to get used to his style; that is where he should be when exiting the curve. I was leading because of the gps but I'd forgotten to bring the bluetooth transmitter. It was still at home in my room where I left it after charging it.

So instead of having instructions in the helmet I had to keep glancing at the unit and made sure the volume was up high so I could hear in beeps or dings. After a bit, I was comfortable enough to get the camera out and try to take pics. Its a new camera and I don't like it. I should have brought the old fuji. I'll be giving the new one to my niece after I buy something of equal value for my nephew.

I tried to get a pic of thepopularjock but this was the best i could do.
I put the camera away when I realized I'd missed a turn. At least I think I missed one, it was one of those blue signs with gold letters. Every road that those signs indicated looked like paths down to the moonshine still!

We stopped a couple of times so that I could get a better look at the route and ended up talking. Those stops turned into breaks as if we'd forgotten that we were supposed to be meeting the group. After awhile, I decided that to get to where we were going, I'd have to take one of those roads. When we finally did, there was a red dawg at the top that looked like he might have chased us. Instead, he shook his head and went back into his yard. I didn't think much of it at the time but a mile or so later, I realized that dawg knew something!

The gps said 2 miles on this gravel road. But a closer look revealed it was leading to another gravel road that was 15 miles on it. I didn't have the rubber or the inclination to dirt it all the way to Oark so I consulted with thepopularjock again and we decided we were better off turning around. We'd just find somewhere to eat and catch up with the others later at the hotel.

I used the poi on the gps to find a nearby town and we headed in the direction. At the top of the road, another dawg greeted us. He seemed to be smiling as if the other one told him about the two idiots on street bikes and he was heading in our direction to see the inevitable wreck. Not this time pup, these two idiots got smart about a mile back and were going back to where we belonged.

thepopularjock needed gas so that was our next stop.

After filling up the bikes, we went to a Taco Bell/KFC combo joint and had lunch. Yes, we were that hungry! After some more good discussion, we headed back towards Eureka Springs and the hotel, Candlewick Inn.

We arrived just in time! The group was getting ready to head out for dinner in Eureka Springs at a local spot. Somebody had a brother or something with a winery and they would be meeting us at the restaurant.   I got to meet fz1grl though!

thepopularjock and I took the HHR into Eureka Springs to meet the group. It seems we waited forever for a table but there was plenty to keep us entertained in the little town. We all spent time getting to know each other and after a super long wait when the last 24 hours were beginning to catch up to me, we finally were seated.

We had the whole balcony to ourselves. It was a fantastic meal with great company!

After dinner, thepopularjock made sure to ask around to get my tire changed. He had it all arranged so all I needed to do was bring Baby around to the parking lot tire shop! We had an ex-No Mar employee who bragged he could get the tire changed in less than 5 minutes. There were plenty on hand to keep him to his word.  But before that, we got together at 38fordhwk's request.

He had a surprise for everyone, trophies!

Since the hour was getting late, it was time to open the tire shop.  He had a little trouble getting the axle out and the wheel off of the bike but he did have that tire off and the new one on in about 5 minutes. At least I think it was that long, I was busy talking to Seena and fz1grl.

It wasn't until the wheel was back on the bike that they realized there was something wrong back there. With so many FZ1 experts around, I knew I was in capable hands and just watched as they diagnosed the problem: bad wheel bearings. Not just bad but “Girl put that bike back on the trailer, I wouldn't ride it like that” bad.

When I saw the wheel wiggling in the swingarm I'd already decided that. I'd taken enough chances driving all night and didn't want to use up my good will. I left Baby right where he was and after a little more socializing with gixxerjasen, we called it a night.

thepopularjock was hoping to join some others for a ride the next morning while I contemplated when to leave. I could get some rest or take off in the morning with the rest of the gang.

Thanks for reading,
patrice, theWolfTamer

Last part of the report.

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