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!
I am booked and set to attend my 1st Big Lynn Lodge Riding Event.
Well it is official! I will be attending this years Big Lynn Lodge event. I was contemplating if I would attend the Red River Gorge Rally like I did last year, or try a new event. I love riding in the NC area, so I thought I would give it a try. Patrick’s Red River Gorge Event is a great one, however my vacation time is limited so hard choices need to be made.
I will be leaving from Arkansas on Wednesday evening after work. I should arrive Thursday afternoon. I will get to ride and attend events on Friday & Saturday before loading up and heading home on Sunday. I am looking forward to this event. I have attended a number of MSTA events and I am sure that I will not be disappointed!
What a great weekend. Well except for losing the drone.
Jamie and I kicked off the 2021 camping season with a BANG! We headed down to Devil’s Den State Park and met up with our good friend Rob. We enjoyed a relaxing weekend with some camping, cooking and a little jeep exploring. It was a successful kick off to the camping season.
We did have a little set back as I crashed my Mavic Mini and lost her in the creek. I did get to see the footage as the phone keeps a cached copy of the footage. Things happen, so it just gives us a chance to upgrade to the Mini2.
Stay tuned to see those videos.
Don’t wait for the “right” vehicle, the “right” equipment just go do it! Go Explore, you can thank us later!