Twisty roads and scenic vistas – what a great place to ride!
Earlier this spring, I had to make a decision on what rally I would do over the summer. Last year I attended the Red River Gorge Rally in Mt Sterling KY. That was a great event and I will return in the future. However this year I had to choose between the Red River event and the Big Lynn Lodge gathering. I had not been to Big Lynn so that event won out.
I booked my room and started to look for a roommate. My friend Rob Burditt was the obvious choice. Our riding styles are compatible and we seem to get along. The two things that make up good roommates on these motorcycle events. We spoke and decided that since we would be trailering to the event we might as well bring our non touring machines. Bob has a beautiful ZRX that he can load up into his little transit van, so he was set. About a month ago we went and purchased Jamie a new motorcycle. She is a newly licensed rider and she has not been able to break in her new machine. What better way to break in the Z400? I would take the little Z to Big Lynn and I have to say I am so glad I did!
Bob would meet me at the lodge as we were coming from different directions. I had to work on Wednesday so I had the Z400 loaded up and ready to go. I made it through the day and headed out around 4PM. It was HOT and I was glad that I made the choice to trailer instead of riding the Big Versys. This was a much more comfortable ride. I made it all of the way to Paducah KY before stopping for the night. I was glad I had driven so far, as now the trip on Thursday would be an easy one.
I got up early Thursday morning and hit the road. Visions of twisty roads in my head. I was really looking forward to a break from work and I could not think of a better way to do that than riding these great roads. The drive was pretty easy and I rolled into the Lodge around 12PM. I could not check in that early, so I decided to unload the Z and run down the road to have lunch at the Little Switzerland Inn.
While sitting at the bar enjoying a burger, a lady and her son came to the bar. She seemed a little distraught. Come to find out her some was having a little diabetic issue and needed to eat right away. They ordered food and sat down next to me. I started to chat with Corbin her son. What an engaging young man. He told me that he creates greeting cards, drawing and painting the pictures himself. He gave me his card and was so excited talking about his website. His eyes lit up when talking about his art. It was a great experience and this young man warmed my heart. I picked up this young mans tab for his lunch. Corbin made my day and made me smile. Thanks Corbin! Go check out his website.
I rode up and down 226A a couple of times, getting used to the little Z. That bike handles so good and once I got used to keeping the revs up, the bike was a blast! I checked into the lodge and unpacked and got a nap in before bob arrived. We helped him unload his ZRX. It was a tight fit in his van, but Bob has it down to a science. It is cool the way he can load it up and secure in in that little van. We enjoyed the evening catching up and walking around the lodge kicking tires and talking with all of the riders. There was a great mix of machines. The weather was amazing and I could not have thought of a better way to end the evening. The lodge includes dinner in the price, so when the dinner bell went off it was cool having everyone in the same area, enjoying each others company. Fun times for sure!
I got to meet Dave Brickner the organizer of this event. I had chatted with Dave over e-mail and facebook, but never had met him face to face. What a great guy. I volunteered to do the ride report for this event. (yes this is it!) He made all the riders feel so welcomed.. His smile greeted the riders at the check in table, making for a great experience from the beginning. Thanks Dave for letting me be a part of your wonderful event.
Before we called it a night, we sat on our porch and enjoyed a few adult beverages while chatting with some new friends. I got to meet Chris Parker for the first time. We have spoken a number of times via e-mail. It is always good to place a face to a voice. Chris made our logo for the Ozark Escape and will also be working on a few other projects for Jamie and I so stay tuned. We have big news coming soon! Chris invited us to ride with him and a few others the next day. We were all in.
We woke up to a foggy Blue Ridge type of morning. Breakfast was good and by the time we finished eating, the sun was out and the promise of great riding was ahead. Dan Steinberg would lead the ride today. It was a group of 8 bikes, consisting mostly of sport touring bikes. We were assured that the pace would be spirited and that it was! I was afraid the Z400 would be outclassed. The good news was the roads were mostly tight and twisty so the Z400 was right at home. In fact it held its own very well. Only in the few straightaways did the big bikes run off from my little stead. It was so nice having a local leading the ride. Dan knew all of the great roads. We had a ball. We experienced narrow back roads, twisty roads with little margin for error, and everything in between.
At one point we stopped for a break at the Mast General Store. The general store has been in this area since 1883, it is a great slice of Americana! What a cool place. We took our time looking around and chatting. The weather was great and it was starting to turn into one of those magical motorcycle days of riding.
One of the things I have seen at multiple MSTA events is how accommodating riders are to take along new riders. This group did not know Bob and I , yet they invited us to ride with them. I think we got a good compliment when later in the ride, we asked about how we did and they responded by saying, that we kept up and did not crash, so we took that as a win! I have ridden this area in the past, but have never taken in the SNAKE. The Snake is a road full of 489 curves in 22 miles of pristine tarmac. It was a treat and a blast to ride! We were fortunate not to have a lot of traffic, so the experience was a great one! The little Z had a ball on this road and it was a grin inspiring. I don’t know if we could have asked for a better day to ride.
One of the coolest things about this ride was watching Dan and Matt. I remember riding with my dad and his friends back in the day and it was one of the best memories I have of him and I. It brought back a flood of memories watching these two interact, enjoying some motorcycle bonding time. I made sure to tell them to stop and enjoy these moments. I wish I would have ridden more with my father before he passed. Watching these two made me realize how special those times were with my dad and I on our bikes. Just another reason to love motorcycles and how it brings people together.
As we made our way back to the lodge, I was thinking to myself how much fun I had on the Z400. It was one of the best days of riding I have had in a very long time. We got back had some dinner, enjoyed more adult beverages while listening to the tunes from a very good live band. Sorry I did not get the name of the band. It was a beautiful evening. just another day of amazing riding was in the books. I felt so lucky to be here, enjoying my time with old and new friends. What a great day!
Saturday morning arrived and it was another foggy morning. We took our time and enjoyed the early morning. Coffee always tastes so good on road trips. We walked around and kicked tires. Today would be an easy day. We wanted to rode in the morning and get back in time to load up the bikes before the rains came.
Bob and I explored the famous Blue Ridge Parkway while making our way up to Mt Mitchell. We enjoyed a little hike to the peak to take a few pictures. The Blue Ride was in great shape and on this early morning the traffic was not bad at all. I forget how beautiful the BRP can be. After playing tourist, we made our way back to camp. We did stop at a cute little coffee place to take a break. The owner was very friendly.
We rode back to the Little Switzerland Inn and had a great lunch. We took our time, had a couple of beers and spent some good time, to reminisce about the past 3 days. We got back to the lodge in time to load up the bikes before the rains came. Just to hit on it again, the Z400 was amazing. It was the perfect tool for the job! The day was highlighted by one of the biggest rainbows I have ever witnessed.
Sunday morning arrived and at 4:30am, the alarm went off and the day was started. It had rained most of the night and I would drive for a few hours today in rain as well. It was a long drive home, but a good drive. It was nice being able to put my thoughts together after such a great weekend. I made it home by 5PM. Looking back on the weekend, it was so much fun. I can’t wait to do it again next year and I hope to see you all there! Let’s Ride!
Canaan Valley WEST VIRGINIA was the home for this years MSTA National Event! Our First STAR!
We were so disappointed that due to the world events, STAR 2020 in Cape Girardeau was cancelled. We were so excited to attend our first STAR. When the decision was made that 2021 would be held in Canaan Valley in West Virginia, Jamie and I were all in. We signed up early and started to look at how we could make it a good 10 day vacation. The wheels were put into motion and the planning started.
After a few days of planning, we decided that we would head out to STAR on Thursday June 10th after I got out of work. We would continue early Friday morning and get into Canaan Valley sometime around late afternoon. This would be easy to do as we made the choice to trailer the bike. We wanted to be able to camp during our stay and this is the easiest way to do that.
Black Water Falls SP was our destination for the rest of the week. We would camp there and spend the rest of the week exploring the West Virginia landscape. The stage was set for an epic journey, so let’s ride!
Thursday June 10: The adventure begins.. after work of course!
It is always a long day when you start vacation at the end of a work day. The good news was, the day went by quickly. Jamie met me at the store around 3PM and we were ready to hit the road. We rolled a few hours down the road and stayed at a hotel in Rolla Missouri. Looking back on it we probably could have drove a few more hours and have gotten closer to our destination. We ate a quick dinner and made it an early night, as we wanted to get going early the next morning.
Friday June 11: West Virginia here we come! The rain joined us as well!
We got up early, grabbed some coffee and was in the Jeep headed to Canaan Valley by 6am. We beat the Friday morning traffic in St. Louis and enjoyed a nice drive across Missouri, Indiana and Kentucky. We did not stop much as we were making great time. Jamie and I love road trips. It is a great time to chat and solve all of the worlds issues. The weather was great until we rolled in West Virginia. As soon as we crossed the border the skies opened up and it rained… HARD, for the next 5 hours! We were very happy to be in the nice dry confines of our Jeep. There are times when a trailer is awesome and this was one of those times.
We arrived at the Canaan Valley Resort around 7pm, wet and a little stressed out after driving hours in some of the hardest rain we have seen in a long time. We left the bike on the trailer since it was still raining and more importantly we were starving! The rooms were decent at the hotel, but the lounge was awesome. It was open, served cold beer and had some pretty darn good pizza. It was not a long night. We had been on the road all day and the visions of great roads were in our heads. We slept very well.
Saturday June 12: Today we ride! What a Beautiful day!
I got up bright and early to grab a cup of coffee before heading down to the jeep to unload the Versys. We slept very well, and we were excited to hit the road. We had set up a ride on Facebook earlier in the week. We did not know who would be coming, but it really did not matter. We wanted to enjoy the wonderful sights and smells of West Virginia.
Jamie and I have gotten the routine down in unloading the Big V. We had her off the trailer, bags installed and ready to roll with 30 minutes. We went inside had breakfast and then geared up to ride. As we approached the lot, we were greeted by Tom Ernst, his wife Kelly is the new treasurer for the MSTA, so he was solo for the day, as she attended to MSTA business. He would be joining Jamie and I on the ride today. He was the only rider who joined us, on this fine day. We had a wonderful day riding. This is one of the reasons we love riding events. It is a great opportunity to meet new riding friends. Tom was great to ride with. We look forward to riding with him and his wife real soon.
We got back to the hotel in time to register, get some swag and to relax and kick tires for the rest of the evening. It was a wonderful way to start our first STAR experience. The lobby was full of riders and the smiles and laughs could be heard all over the resort. It was a great feeling. It had been a long time since gatherings like this had happened. Everyone was making the best of it.
Walking the parking lot is always one of my favorite things to do, during these events. It is so cool to see all of the bikes, to speak with new friends and to catch up with others. The evening cooled down and the rains stayed away, so the rest of the evening was very pleasant. Tomorrow would be another day of good riding and exploring some of the most beautiful countryside in America. Life is good and we were just starting our vacation.
Jamie and I enjoyed the evening together, as we enjoyed a few beers and just relaxed, hanging out around the resort. The rooms had a nice little balcony and that is where our evening ended. It had been a wonderful day.
Sunday June 13: Drones, COUNTRY ROADS, camp set up and oh yeah the Rains Came!
We woke up to a rather wet forecast for the day. It looked as if the skies would open up in mid afternoon. We enjoyed a nice cup of coffee in the early hours of the morning, taking in the cool temps and the amazing views. It could not have been more perfect of a set up to fly the drone. So off I went. I took the drone up and was able to capture some pretty cool video, along with some great photo images. It was a beautiful Sunday morning.
Yeeha, Tommy Victor and his friend (sorry I forgot his name) joined us for a short ride to breakfast. Jamie and I had to be back by 11am to check out of the room. We had reservations at Black Water Falls SP for the remainder of the week. We are more comfortable with the camping life instead of the resort life. The ride was great and the company was even better. We had a great morning and enjoyed each others company. Breakfast was good and the short ride was just what the doctor ordered.
We ate at the Brandywine Family Dining. A small quant place with good food and service. If you are ever in the area, you should go check it out.
We took the backroads back to the hotel. The roads in West Virginia are wonderful. It was a great way to start the day with a good little breakfast ride. We got back to the hotel in plenty of time to pack up and check out, without having to rush around. The campground was only 10 miles form the resort.
Black Water Falls SP was easy to find and we were surprised at how nice the campgrounds were. Yeeha Stephen from Ft Worth Texas was already set up on the site next to ours. Jamie and I would call this campsite home for the next few days. It took about an hour to set up camp. We were fortunate for that, as the rains came and continued for most of the evening.
We went into town and had some dinner at a local pizza place called Sirianni’s Pizza cafe. The service was slow, as the place was packed, but we were not in a hurry. We took our time, had a couple of beers and got back to the tent to sleep the night away. Tomorrow we would ride again.
Monday June 14: Yeeha recovering, Bacon waffles, wind turbines and twisty roads!
Monday morning rolled around and the weather cleared. We had rain most of the evening, which made it great sleeping weather. Our friend Yeeha was struggling with some food poisoning from earlier in the week. He decided to stay close to camp and do some smaller rides for the day. We loaded up a route that was supplied from the STAR event and hit the road. It was a route that took us on narrow country roads, outlined with huge wind turbines, with beautiful valley views of rolling farmland. It was a great morning to explore.
Our first stop was breakfast at a local place called the Breakfast Nook. The food was very good and the owner took time to tell us the story of the restaurant. He talked me into getting a bacon waffle and I have to admit, it was tasty. Jamie had the biscuits and gravy. I got a little taste and DAMN they were good. I would be getting that the next time we ate there.
The roads in this area vary in width and surface. Most of the roads are small two lane roads with little margin of error if you go off the side of the road.
The roads are all twisty and the grin factor is set at 100!
The road surface was not the best, however when it was rough, it allowed for a slower pace and some time for us to take in the breath taking scenery. We really enjoyed the riding and the various change of scenery made it a wonderful day of two wheeled excitement.
We met up for a late lunch at the Main Street Grill in Romney WV. The theme for this trip, was not to be in a hurry for service. Most places were under staffed and it could be felt. We were not in a hurry so it was not a big issue. The food was good and our server was very nice.
We enjoyed the rest of the afternoon, at the camp site. We just hung out, took a nap and enjoyed the cool weather. There was a couple that came in from Virginia camped next to us with the greatest little trailer. We spent some time taking a quick tour of their awesome rig.
You can check out more information about the Sylvanssport Go here on their website.
We really enjoy doing the basecamp thing. We love setting up camp and being able to sleep in the great outdoors, cook our own food and mingle with other like minded people. It gives us the best of both worlds. We get to bring enough camping gear to be comfortable, we enjoy the savings that camping provides and we have the Jeep to explore in if the weather turn bad.
We love motorcycle camping, however this type of camping allows for some creature comforts that could not be enjoyed if we had to carry all the gear exclusively on the bike.
We spent the afternoon, taking some pictures and video. It was so relaxing, just hanging out at camp. We made dinner and watched, as the deer made there way around the back of our camp. We got the drone up and took some pictures of the surrounding area. Just another great day here in West Virginia.
Tuesday June 15: Yeeha joins us for a ride. Seneca Rocks, Door prizes and campfires.
Today was awesome. Yeeha started to feel better, so we loaded another route from the STAR archives and hit the road. We did breakfast again at the Nook. As had been the case earlier in the week, the food was great, the service was better and another day was started in the best of ways. Good food and coffee makes for a great day! We rode up to the resort to check the door prize list. Jamie and I won a couple of gifts. The day was getting better by the minute.
Today was the most technical riding of the trip so far. There were many twisty roads with plenty of challenges to keep us on our toes. Today was an amazing day of riding. Jamie and I have rode in many states. CO, NM, UT, TN, NC, KY are some of our favorite places to ride and today West Virginia joined that list. WOW! This was one of the best days of riding we have had in a long time. We enjoyed a spirited pace on some of the best roads in the country. It was in a word… SPECTACULAR!
On a side note the Versys rolled 18,000 miles on this trip.
The afternoon was filled with more great roads, with spectacular views around every corner. The valleys and farm images stood out like we were reading a national geographic magazine. For those people that do not enjoy our two wheeled hobby, it is hard to explain how grand the day was. The sights, the smells and the pure adrenaline of spirited riding is one that we will not soon forget.
We ended up with a little stop at Seneca Rocks. We had to do the stop at Yokum’s to get a drink and to take some pictures. We spoke with a number of riders that came in and out for fuel and gas. It was a great place to take in the views along with enjoying all the motorcycle traffic.
We headed back to camp to to cook some dinner and to enjoy more of the great outdoors. We have a good set up for cooking at camp. I love cooking while camping and nothing tastes better than food by a campsite. Throw in a few adult beverages and it makes for a wonderful evening.
Wednesday June 16: More spectacular riding, hiking Black Water Falls, MSTA group picture and banquet.
We awoke to the sound of birds on this chilly morning! The temperature was a very pleasing 42 degrees! While we had been enjoying very comfortable temperatures for the entire length of our journey, we were seeing that back home in Arkansas, summer had rushed in with a vengeance. We were so thankful to be waking up in beautiful, cool West Virginia.
We got up, enjoyed a nice cup of camp coffee, then geared up and headed to MSTA central. We enjoyed a nice breakfast and then loaded up to go for a ride. Like I mentioned before, the weather was very comfortable and it made for a wonderful morning to ride. We explored the countryside and just took our time meandering around the area. We were in no rush, just soaking in the freedom that only two wheels can provide.
We stopped and had lunch at a neat little place that had been recommended by someone on the MSTA Facebook page. Melanie’s Family Restaurant located in Aurora WV.
The staff was very nice and they expressed genuine joy that some of the riders from STAR had been stopping by and eating in their establishment. We had a great time, chatting with the locals and explaining why so many riders from all over the country would come to their little slice of the world. We smiled and expressed our gratitude, for having the opportunity to ride around the area and mingle with the locals. We told them how lucky they were to live in such a beautiful place.
One of the great things about exploring on our motorcycle is finding little “mom & pop” treasures like Melanie’s. On these trips we do our best to help support the local community. Time and time again we are not disappointed.
We finished up lunch and reluctantly got our gear together and got back on the road. Today was a big day as the STAR banquet was this evening, so we wanted to get back in plenty of time to hang out and attend our first STAR closing event.
We arrived at the camp site sooner than we had anticipated, so we put on some comfy clothes, jumped in the Jeep and headed down to Black Water Falls. This trail and waterfall was only a mile down the road from the campsite. The area had some serious rainfall in the past 48-72 hours so the falls were flowing with aggression. It was a nice little hike to the falls, however the time spent was well worth it. The falls were spectacular. If you are ever in the area, this is a “Must See” spot.
Jamie and I were attending our first STAR Banquet so we did not know what to expect. The hotel was buzzing with laughter and activity. Everyone was starting to understand that this great event was coming to an end and most folks would be loading up and heading home the next day. We spent a couple of hours enjoying everyone’s company and taking in a few adult beverages.
Before dinner was served the group was escorted outside for a group photo. I had spoken with Patrick, our illustrious president and he thought it would be cool to take some drone shots, so I launched my mini and took a few shots. It was a lot of fun hanging out with all of these motorcycle enthusiasts.
After the group picture we all made it inside to grab a table and to share a meal together. The food was decent, I don’t recall what we had, so it must not have been that good. However the company and the conversation made up for any deficiencies in the area of food. We all had a wonderful time and the highlight of the evening was Calling Peter on speaker phone to let him know he had won the motorcycle they had given away! It was a great way to end the evening.
We finished up saying our goodbyes and headed back to the campsite. Jamie and I were so glad that our trip would not end for a couple of more days.
Thursday June 17: Goodbye Yeeha, Meeting the famous 2Wheeled rider, Harpers ferry and Antietam
We got up in time to say our goodbyes to Yeeha. He had come from the Lone Star state to hang out and camp with us. He had battled severe traffic, a serious bout of food poisoning, and a leaky tent, but never let it dampen his trip. (at least he did not show it to us). I have ridden many miles with Yeeha and it is always a treat to be around him. We look forward to our next journey together.
We loaded the Versys onto the trailer last night for the long drive back to Arkansas. Today we would be exploring in the Jeep. We were headed off to visit Harpers Ferry and then go visit the Antietam National Battlefield.
First we had made plans to meet up with Mario from 2WheeledRider on Youtube. He lives in the area and was gracious enough to meet up with us. We love watching his channel and one of the cool things about social media is meeting folks that you probably would never run into, except for that great thing called the internet. Go check out his channel.
We jumped in the jeep and hit the road. Even on 4 wheels, the journey was a good one. This area is so scenic. We arrived at the Mountain View Diner and grabbed a table. Mario arrived a few minutes later. It was great meeting him and exchanging some stories. It was a good breakfast and I think we all had a good time. We were thrilled that Mario took sometime out of his day to hang out! Fun times indeed. Maybe someday we will all get to ride together.
As I was planning this trip, I knew that I wanted to go and explore the Harpers Ferry and the surrounding area. The small historical town of Harpers Ferry is located at the confluence of the Potomac and Shenandoah rivers where Maryland, West Virginia and Virginia meet. We found a parking spot and spent the next few hours walking these historic streets. Famous for the John Brown’s raid on the Armory here in Harpers Ferry, there are many buildings to explore and to learn more about this pivotal time in U.S. History. We could have spent the entire day in this quant little town.
We enjoyed lunch and headed to Antietam National Battlefield. This place…. on then, Union soil was home to the bloodiest day in American history as a combined 22,717 were either killed, wounded or missing.
Jamie and I spent the rest of the afternoon driving and walking the grounds. It was very sobering. Such a bad time in U.S. History. We were both glad that we got to experience this hollowed ground.
We enjoyed a leisurely drive back to the campsite, going over all that we got to take in on this amazing Thursday. We stopped and had a BBQ sandwich at the Mountain State Brewing Company, before we ended the night, sitting by a fire and enjoying each others company. I love that we get to experience these trips together. It was a wonderful evening in West Virginia.
Friday June 18: LAST DAY in West Virginia, River Gorge Bridge and a evening with family!
It was a sad morning, as Jamie and I made some coffee and rolled up the rest of camp. It only took us an hour or so to get completely packed up and stowed away. There is always a let down when the reality hits, signaling the end of our vacation is near.
We hit the road with Lexington KY as our ending destination for the day. Jamie has family in Lexington and we were going to spend the evening with them, getting some food and catching up. It has been a couple of years since we got to spend anytime with them.
We had a scenic drive and made pretty good time on the roads. We were surprised at how busy the park around the bridge was. We did a nice little hike and enjoyed the time at the bridge.
It was starting to get late in the afternoon so we needed to get back on the road and make up some miles. We love these road trips and this day was another example of why. Great scenery, and wonderful conversation made the miles easy to do.
We had a great visit with family and enjoyed some really good pizza. What a great time with family. It was a great end to a wonderful day.
Saturday June 19: The end of a fantastic journey & sushi!
We woke up early and hot the road. It was an uneventful day. We got home early in the afternoon, in fact we got home in time to clean up and go get some sushi for dinner. This was a fantastic trip.
Every time we do the basecamp thing with the motorcycle and the Jeep we understand more and more that this is the way we love to travel. It allows for us to be comfortable, to and from our desired destination, avoiding fatigue from excessive weather and long straight boring days on the interstate. We love the fact that we can stay fresh, place only true quality miles on the motorcycle and it allows us to have a vehicle if needed. It is the best of all worlds.
We also love the fact that we can camp, save some money and enjoy the great outdoors. It has become our favorite mode of travel.
To answer the question at the beginning of this post. Was it worth the trip?
Absolutely! Jamie and I enjoyed the MSTA STAR in Canaan Valley West Virginia. We met some great folks, got to ride some amazing roads and we felt like part of a group that is interested in growing our great hobby! I want to take a moment to thank the Executive Committee for all of their hand work in making our FIRST STAR a memorable one. Patrick, Norm and the rest of the team, deserve kudos for organizing such a wonderful event. The routes were well thought out and the venue was perfect for the size of our group. We loved the fact that we could camp close by and still take part in all of the events. We are already looking forward to attending next years event. So until that time comes, be safe out there.
2nd time was the ticket! Jamie now has her motorcycle endorsement!
Jamie took a couple of weeks to recover from her first class, both mentally and physically. Yesterday she got up with the excitement of a kid on Christmas morning! She seemed very confident and was looking forward t getting back on the bike.
She called me a couple of hours after her practice time to let me know that she passed the riding portion of the class and never even came close to dropping the bike! I am so proud of her.
Jamie went and took the Arkansas state written test and passed easily. She is now a fully licensed M endorsed rider!
Now the fun starts! We will be practicing a ton in a parking lot, allowing for her to get familiar with her Z400. She fully understands that she will be practicing for many weeks before we jump into a real world situation. We are in no hurry for her to hit the road.
I want to take a moment to thank you all who wrote and gave support to Jamie when she had failed the class. Our family and friends along with our social media community was so positive and it really made Jamie and I feel good. Thank you all for the great support!
Stay tuned for more of Jamie’s motorcycle adventure.
Jamie signed up and took the Rider Safety Course offered by our local Pig Trail Harley Davidson. She signed up for the three day class. She was so excited and ready to take on this new challenge. Here is how it played out.
On Monday June 28th, Jamie arrived at the dealership early and ready to go. She had her gear on, as the class description explained that they needed to have their gear available all three days of the class. Unfortunately on this day she would be doing book and class room training so the gear was a little overkill. They spent the entire day doing the reading and going over all of the rules of the road and what to expect for the class. She got to meet her class mates and share their riding experiences. The class started with 6 female and 1 male rider. When she arrived home, she was so excited! So ready to be on the bike.
Tuesday June 29th rolled around and excitement was in the air. Jamie arrived early as to avoid the traffic in getting to the dealership. That morning she climbed onboard her Harley Street 500. She could sit on it firmly with both feet on the ground. She did notice that the weight of the bike (516lb) was substantial. On a side note I was surprised that they would do the class with bikes this big. I remember back in the day crawling my large body onto a 250cc Honda rebel. This bike was bigger and more powerful.
Jamie struggled with the weight of the machine, along with the distance from the clutch and front brake levers. She dropped the bike multiple times on Tuesday morning during the rider drills. She struggled with latching onto the front brake with too much force, making the bike come to an abrupt stop, allowing the weight of the bike and gravity to take over. That is not a good equation.
She sounded so defeated when I spoke with her at lunch that day. I told her to hang tough, listen to the instructors, relax her grip on the bike and most of all to have fun. She had a much better afternoon. She learned the basic of counter steering and to look where she intended to go. She did not drop the bike the rest of the day. her spirits were high when she got home.
The good news was she was gaining confidence on the machine and adjusting to the weight. On the opposite side of good news, Jamie looked like she had been a member of “Fight Club” she was battered and bruised. The goal is to get a good nights rest and go back at it tomorrow. The group would get to practice in the morning and then they would break, eat lunch and then take the written test before jumping on the bikes to complete the road testing session.
Wednesday June 30, test day is here! Jamie woke up and was not feeling 100%. She was in pain from the previous days dropping and picking up of the bike. She said she felt exhausted, but knew that later in the day she would feel better. The morning session did not go well for her, as she was not feeling like herself. She dropped the bike a few more times and even worse than that, was the fact that she started to doubt herself. The group stopped for lunch and Jamie started to feel a little better.
The riding session arrived as all of the riders started out doing the different exercises. Jamie’s first exercise was the dreaded U-Turn. As she was doing a left hand turn, she took the turn too slow, then compounded the issue with grabbing onto the front brake. As described prior, the weight to gravity factor was not in her favor, as she dropped the bike. Little did Jamie know, that this one mistake on her first exercise would yield a failing score. However the instructor allowed her to do the exercise again, where she completed it with no issue. Jamie did the rest of the exercises with little to no issue. Had she not dropped the bike she would have passed the assessment.
After all the riders completed the ride test, they went inside to cool off and take the written part of the course. She crushed the written test scoring a 98%. The test results were tallied and the riders were told their scores form the riding part of the test. Jamie did not pass. She was not the only rider to fail the riding portion.
I arrived at Pig Trail HD, around 4pm, as they were having a celebration of learning event to end the class. We all gathered in the class room and shared some stories, along with a few slices of pizza. The spirits in the room were elevated and the group was having a ball. The instructors gave a little talk to the group, even giving little awards out to the particapants.
As the event came to a close, the director of the riding Academy, pulled Jamie and the other rider to the side and explained that they would be able to take part in another 4 hour practice session, then take a quick break and return to retest. There would be a fee of $125 to take part in this session. We did not really care, as we just wanted the additional chance to practice and retest.
The cost for the initial class was $350, so adding another $125 was not a big deal. I do feel the class is a little pricey, but Jamie had a wonderful experience.
Friday July 9th – We have an update as of this evening. Jamie will retake the test on Monday July 19th. She should be healed up by that time and ready to roll! We posted Jamie’s video account on YouTube and asked for some thoughts and feedback. We had so many great comments and well wishers reaching out to wish Jamie the best. It was awesome. You can see the video here. Leave us a message and tell us your thoughts. Did you pass the class on the first try? What motorcycle did you take your motorcycle course with? Have you taken more advanced riding courses since you completed the Motorcycle Safety Course?
Windscreen & Frame Sliders are added – Jamie is ready to ride!
The time is almost here! Jamie starts her riding class on Monday June 28th. She will be attending the riding academy at Pig Trail Harley Davidson here in Rogers Arkansas. I don’t think I have seen her this excited in a long time. She is ready to go!
However before she can ride her new Z400 we wanted to add a couple of modifications that will make her riding experience a better one. The first mod we decided on was the taller windscreen from Kawasaki. The Meter Cover is a taller screen that covers more of the dash and allows for a little more coverage from the air.
The installation was very easy and it only took Jamie and I 30 minutes to get it all taken care of. Our first impressions are positive. Jamie liked the look and I think it will add a little more wind protection. It did not take away from the look of the bike. We are both pretty happy with the outcome. What do you all think?
Next up was the Kawasaki Frame Sliders. We know that the odds of Jamie dropping her bike over the next few months while she gets accustomed to the weight of the Z400 are high, so we want to ensure we can protect the bike as much as possible.
As we were breaking out all of the items to install the sliders we soon realized that we were missing one of the locking nuts. Jamie jumped in the car and headed to Sunrise Marine & Motorsports. They gave her a new nut and she was on her way in no time. Special thanks to the dealership for the quick fix.
I have to give a shout out to Fabiricio Solanes as he had a great video showing the installation. Even in Spanish the visual was a huge help. Once Jamie arrived with the final nut we finished the installation in less than an hour. Very simple and should offer a great level of protection for the new Z400. They do stick out some but we knew that would be the case. I think they look ok on the bike. What do you all think? I wanted to make sure we did not have to cut on any body pieces. This was pretty much a plug and play assembly.
We will be adding a few more mods in the near future. I will be getting her a tank bag along with some spools so we can use a Pit stand to help with oil changes and adjusting and cleaning the chain. We will be ordering these items soon, so stay tuned for those mods as well. Thanks for reading and if you have any suggestions for any additional mods for the Z400, shoot us a note and let us know.
We had been trying to get a camping ticket for this event for over two weeks. I got a message on facebook that a RV site had opened up. Jamie and I jumped on it! We were heading for West Mineral Kansas to camp next to the worlds largest electric shovel, Big Brutus.
We had a tough week, so when Friday rolled around and we had a three day weekend ahead of us, both of us were excited. We were going to spend the next few days meeting new friends, visiting with old friends all while camping in the heartland of Kansas.
We packed up the JK and hit the road around 11am. It was an easy drive, just taking over an hour or so. We pulled up, found our spot and set up camp. We spent the afternoon, just relaxing and walking around all of the cool rigs. The vendors were set up so we got to look around before the larger crowds arrived. We are always amazed by the way people set up their rigs. It seems we always learn something from the way people set up camp.
It looked like the weather was going to roll in later in the evening, so we got back to camp to cook dinner early. We wanted to eat, clean up and go listen to some music before the rains came. The rally had a number of bands schedule to play for the group. We ate some burgers and then took our chairs down to Big Brutus to listen to some music, while partaking in a few adult beverages. The evening was a lot of fun, however the rains came so we had to get back to camp to avoid getting drenched. It was a great day. A much needed day of rest.
It rained most of the evening, making it easy to sleep well. The bad news was the fact that I drank fluids all afternoon, so I spent half the evening going to the bathroom. I guess that happens when you are getting old. We got up and had our oatmeal under our new moon shade, while enjoying a good cup of coffee. Nothing beats breakfast and a hot cup of joe after a good night of camping.
Before I move on from the morning, I am going to speak about the Moon Shade. Before I purchased the moon shade, I had reached out, asking if it would work well with a 2dr soft top. I was assured that it would work great with the magnets that they offered for installation. Well let’s just say that is not the case. The roll bar on the back of the JK will not hold the Moon shade. We did solve the problem by lowering it down to the body of the Jeep. We saw a couple of rigs that used the shade with new Green Elephant tent poles, so we think it will work out in the long run. Just be careful if you have a soft top before ordering the Moon Shade.
Saturday was not a total rain out. The rain subsided by 10am, so we decided to jump in the Jeep and go explore some. There is not a lot to see in the middle of Kansas but we had a great day driving around the countryside. We took a slight detour to the Kansas Crossing Casino. We stopped for lunch, but of course we had to spend a few dollars. Jamie had some luck and paid for the gambling and the lunch we had. A BIG WIN! We enjoyed the day and decided to head back to the rally by mid afternoon. We wanted to do more of the rally. We listened to the bands, watched a class and ate some unhealthy fried food from the food trucks at the event.
We finished the night sitting by the fire, while listening to the music from a distance. It was a wonderful way to end the day. Jamie and I had a lot of laughs and just enjoyed a lazy Saturday evening sitting by a camp fire. Speaking of camp fires. We purchased a Fireside pop up pit. It folds up small but allows for an above ground fire. It was a huge hit! It worked out so well and was easy to clean up and store. We should have purchased one sooner.
I have to say that I had the best night of sleep I have had in a long time. I only got up once during the night and we did not wake up until almost 7am on Sunday morning.
Camping is not for everyone. I am just so glad that I get to share this great activity with my beautiful wife. We truly enjoy these moments together. There were a number of couples and families camping at this event. It is so cool seeing people binding while enjoying the great outdoors. Just another reason to love the Overland community. Everyone is so friendly and so helpful. We always seem to meet the nicest people at these events.
We took our time getting around on Sunday morning. We were not in a hurry for the weekend to end. We cooked up some eggs, sipped coffee while watching rigs wrap up and get ready for their journey home. We enjoyed the morning, before packing up to head home. It was such a fun weekend and the event was enjoyable. We are looking forward to attending next years event. There is not much wheelin going on, but that allowed for plenty of time to visit with all of the rigs and get to know folks in attendance.
One of the highlights was getting to see Matt’s new Gladiator. Matt and his wife run a great YouTube channel called Ozark Overland Adventures. If you want to know what wheelin in the Ozarks is all about, this is the channel for you. Go check it out. They also have a website and other social media outlets.
One of the coolest thing about this event was the location. The history of Big Brutus makes the entire experience a special one. If you are ever in the area, stop by and visit Big Brutus, you will not be disappointed. The BIG IRON Rally was amazing. Come join us next year! Take care everyone and be safe out there.
The Ozark Escape – What a great way to start the 2021 riding season.
We woke up on Thursday morning, not believing that the day was finally here. The Last Ozark Escape happened in April of 2019 in Mountain Home Arkansas. Little did we know that it would take over 2 years to host another Escape.
With all of the chaos of 2020, it was nice waking up to some form of normalcy. The world events are still on the forefront, but it seems that we are slowly getting back to life. It will never be the same, but it sure is nice to see events taking place and people gathering to enjoy the finer things in life. Motorcycle rallies and “Just for fun events” are a few of those things that we might have taken for granted in the past. Not any longer.
We have been planning this event, since the day we had to cancel last years ride. The day was finally here and the riders had spoken. As we rode off Thursday morning to meet some friends at the Oark Cafe, the Ozark Escape had over 74 riders signed up from 11 different states with riders coming from far away places like Minnesota, Wisconsin and Ohio. It was setting up to be a great weekend. The weather was beautiful, if not a little cold as we took off. We met up with John from Cincinnati at our local departure lounge, then road down the the Ozark Cafe. The weather and the roads did not disappoint. We rolled into the Cafe to be greeted by Jim from Bixby OK riding his beautiful Goldwing. Within 10 minutes, David, Bob and Yeeha all rode up. Just seeing old and new friends with smiles on their faces made my morning!
We enjoyed a good lunch, catching up with good conversation and laughs. While we were waiting for food, I even got the drone up and took some video. It was a great way to start the day and to kick off the event. We rode all afternoon, taking advantage of the sun. We were all hoping that the rain in the forecast tomorrow would somehow go away.
We woke up Friday morning and as luck would have it, the rain was coming down. Looking at the weather radar it looked like it would rain for most of the day. We decided to cancel the ride, as it was not looking good. We wanted to ensure the safety of the group and this was the right thing to do. We jumped in the car, headed down the road and had some breakfast. We were getting word that the riders were all cutting the day short and would do little rides later in the day as the rains cleared.
We all geared up and headed for Eureka Springs around 11am. The radar had a a nice little break for a couple of hours, so we thought it best to take off. The hotel was very accommodating. They let all riders check in early and opened up the breakfast area for us to use as a gathering place. This was a great gesture and appreciated by all of the riders. The Quality Inn In Eureka Springs was a HUGE hit among the group and all parties, thought it was a great place to hold next years event as well. So stay tuned form details on the 2022 Escape.
The hotel was full and there were a number of bikes in the lot when we rode in. We quickly checked in and headed down town to get some lunch. We ate at Sauced, good food, good prices and the service was awesome. We would recommend this little gem on your next visit to the area.
After lunch we went back to the hotel and spent the afternoon and evening chatting with friends. The place was packed and we counted over 35 riders hanging out. We all ordered pizza later in the evening. It was so cool, hearing the room filled with motorcycle stories, laughs and riders just enjoying hanging out with like minded folks. It was a fantastic evening! Come to find out, a lot of the group got some miles in as they rode in away from the rain. Some even took off later and enjoyed the routes that were provided. It was not a lost day and the rest of the weekend looked to bring more of the same.
Saturday morning started off the same way that Friday did, however there was good news. The radar said that by 10am the clouds would part and the rain would stop. We ate a quick breakfast at the hotel. This time the radar was correct. A group of us geared up and hit the road. The location was Jasper Arkansas and the quant little eatery called the Ozark Cafe. We took the long way round, even getting to turn things up a little on AR 16 as the roads dried. It was a nice spirited ride to lunch.
The Ozark Cafe was busy, but as always the food and service were top notch. We logged a good 220 miles before getting back to the hotel. The group all split up and headed into town to get some dinner. Unfortunately we were not able to eat at the same location with the entire group due to the large amount of riders. A group of us at ate the Rocking Pig. The food was decent and once inside the service was good. We finished the evening chatting and enjoying a few adult beverages. Another great day in the books.
All good things must come to an end. We woke up on Sunday morning to beautiful skies and a forecast that did not include rain. Life was good. Most of the riders took off early as they had many miles ahead of them. Others stayed around for another day of riding. We joined our friends Becky & Jeff for breakfast and a quick ride around the area, before we went back to Eureka Springs and loaded their bikes up on the trailer for the 7 hours back to Louisiana.
We ate breakfast and then did a little circle back to the hotel. We stopped by the golden gate bridge and then rode some twisty roads back to the hotel. Jamie and I watched as Becky & Jeff loaded up the bikes. We said our goodbyes and headed back to the house.
On the way home, we had a little recap of the weekend events. Even with the rain, the event was a huge success. There were over 60+ riders at the event, representing 11 different states. We had so many great comments from the riders and everyone seemed to enjoy the weekend. Check out all of the pictures from the event here. We also had some riders submit their photos. Check those out here. If you want to submit some of your pictures from the event, contact us for the link.
Next years event will be April 22-24, 2022 at the same Quality Inn location More details will be available in the next few months.
It was great seeing our friends, both old and new. These “Just for fun events” are so much fun and this event did not disappoint. I want to thank all of the riders who attended the event, all of those that provided feedback on the event. We intend to take into consideration all feedback to enhance this event going forward. Thanks again everyone, this event would not be the same, without your support. Hopefully Jamie & I will cross paths with many of you at STAR and more events during 2021.
This event is right around the corner – 67 riders are signed up so far. This looks like a great way to kick off the 2021 riding season!
I think we are all excited about kicking off the riding season. The interest in this event has been off the charts and it looks like it will be the biggest and best Ozark Escape to date.
I have had many questions concerning the event, so I thought I would address those in this blog update.
First of all this is a “JUST FOR FUN EVENT”. Many of you have asked what that means. So here goes.
A JFF event is a FREE event, that brings like minded motorcycle enthusiast together to meet up with old friends, meet some new ones and most of all, enjoy the great roads of Arkansas and southern Missouri.
The event is not structured, there is no check in. If you are looking for a welcome package then you will be disappointed. This event is all about the ride! Here is a little breakdown of what structure we will have, but do not feel like you need to do any of this, That is what is so cool about JFF events.
ThursdayApril 15: Some riders will ride in on Thursday so that they can ride and explore the great roads on Friday & Saturday. I know many of you have already booked a room to arrive on Thursday.
FridayApril 16: This is the first real day of the event. Some will ride in on this day, enjoying the great roads to this wonderful destination. Jamie and I will be starting this riding day from the house. We will rendezvous with riders at the Emory Melton Inn & Convention Center, eat some breakfast and then hit the road. We will be doing 204 wonderful, twisty miles, hitting some of the best roads in the area. I will lead a group, however for safety and enjoyable reasons, I will not lead a group of over 8 bikes. If more riders show up we will have to break up in groups. The routes are all here ready for download. I don’t think anyone rides to these types of roads to be lead around like a parade.
We will end the ride at the hotel in Eureka Springs. Since this is a JFF event, everyone can make up their own minds for dinner. Most of us will just order pizza and have it delivered to the hotel, but do not feel obligated to do that. There are many food options in Eureka Springs.
Saturday April 17: Today we will leave from the Hotel at 9:00am. The same limits will apply, as I am trying to keep the riding groups to 8 bikes or less. Everyone will be on their own for breakfast. We will stop in Jasper Arkansas and eat at the Ozark Cafe or the Blue Mountain Cafe and bakery. Remember the routes are available online, so anyone can lead a group. I know our good friend Doug Freeman will be leading a spirited group on Saturday as well. So reach out to Doug at the event if you want to join him. His ride group limits may differ from mine, so keep that in mind.
We will finish up after lunch with a nice ride through the Ozark countryside. We will make it back to the hotel mid afternoon. If you want to ride more or take different routs I will give you some ideas later in this article. Click on the images above to get the google Maps version of the routes. You can also click here to download the GPS files for the routes.
The good news is we have over 65 riders signed up for the event. the bad news is we have 65 riders in the event. With that being said, we will not all be able to go to dinner together on Saturday night. The world of COVID will make that impossible as most places could not accommodate that many people. In fact this large group would have been tough to get in one place even in the best of circumstances. So I am going to list a few places that will be close to the hotel.
We will finish the evening, kicking tires, swapping stories and just enjoying the evening.
Sunday April 17: This is the day that we say our goodbyes and head back to the house. There are a few that will stay and enjoy more time on these wonderful roads. The rest of us will head home, with fond memories and looking forward to next years event.
More ozark escape information
Here are a few things to think about if you are attending the JFF event. I am sure I am missing something, so let me know if you want other information listed here. I will try and make that happen.
#1- The weather this time of year can be very unpredictable. One day it will be in the mid 60’s the next it will drop down to the low to mid 30’s so come prepared!
#2- The roads up here in Arkansas and Southern Missouri are amazing! Just remember that many are very challenging and the twists seem to never end. Remember to RIDE your own RIDE! We want everyone to go home healthy and happy!
#3- This time of year the roads tend to have some debris, be mindful of gravel, rocks or other items in the road. It has been a long winter and some of the roads may have some obstacles.
#4- if the group stops for gas.. get gas! Also remember to start off each ride with a full tank of fuel. Do it the night before or early the day of the ride. Don’t be that guy who holds up the group because they did not fill up prior to the ride.
Make sure to check out the Arkansas Motorcycle Guide. It has some great route information. There is also a great article on the best places to eat in Arkansas.
I can’t wait to see you all at the event. Jamie and I look forward to meeting you all. I will be taking plenty of pictures, flying the drone and shooting some video. I will also be writing an article for the MSTA magazine. I would love for you to share your images as well. Don’t forget to check out the Ozark Escape Facebook page.
So until April 16, stay safe and healthy and Ride Safe!