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Arkansas Upper Delta


1moreroad
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Fun ride today over in the Arkansas Delta.  The weather has been unstable (the 30% chance of rain yesterday turned into a commute home with thunderstorms), so I didn’t want to commit to a ride over to the Ozarks which would have been 600+ miles.  So I picked a couple of locations I wanted to see and strung them together into a 440 mile ride.  For a change, I didn’t have a planned route, but just used the GPS to hop from stop to stop.  The whole ride came together well.

After the thunderstorm Friday, I realized that, while my jacket didn’t leak, the water wasn’t beading up on the Gore tex, so I stopped at REI for some Nikwax.  Then I stopped at motorcycle dealers in Memphis and Jonesboro.  I talked to the Yamaha dealer in Memphis about the FJ’s 2nd valve job later this year (they’re 3 - 5 weeks behind on work right now).  At the different dealers, I test sat a new BMW R-RT (impressive seat and screen), Goldwing (impressive screen, tank splays my legs out too far), Kawi Z900 and Z900RS (RS-SE might work, the base Z900 rear seat isn’t even useful for luggage), and a few others.  The only Yamaha I saw was a 700 Tenere that had already been sold.  I couldn’t believe that Kawi is still making the ZZR1400 and Concours 14.  They feel like bikes from a different age (which they basically are).  The customized Suzi DR400SM is available for sale – custom plastics and an awkward looking but maybe effective windscreen.

Then I headed up to Walnut Ridge, on the so-called Rock N Roll Highway 67.  Walnut Ridge’s claim to fame is that the Beatles traveled through their airport one weekend.  Carl Perkins (Jackson, TN), Johnny Cash (Dyers, AR), Elvis Presley (Tupelo, MS) also all performed in the area.  Walnut Ridge has commemorated both with a Beatles park and a Guitar walkway.

https://www.arkansas.com/articles/musical-heritage-arkansass-upper-delta

By now I was getting hot and thirsty.  More and more little coffee places are popping up around the AR Delta.  They’re drive-throughs or trailers – not full-blown, sit down places.  Slurped down a blended mocha and rolled on.

I was finally able to get a good ride in on Crowley’s Ridge (https://www.arkansas.com/articles/exploring-crowleys-ridge) from Harrison to Helena.  I’ve tried to ride across it or down it, but I’ve either run into traffic or private property and dirt roads.  I finally figured out the main route and a couple of good extensions off of it.  I did make a short stop in Forrest City (named after Nathanial Bedford Forrest who camped there while building a railroad after the Civil War).  Not much going on there especially with a population of 15,000, but the murals are nice.

Last stop was Helena, AR.  The downtown contains an odd collection of statues, memorials, and museums.  There is a boxcar built in the mid-19th century used to deliver supplies to the French right after WWII, a T33 jet trainer, and a new memorial to the Elaine Massacre, something I never knew about until this afternoon (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elaine_massacre). Unfortunately there is not much active downtown, at least on a Saturday late afternoon.  Even restaurants that should have been open, weren’t.  I did get a picture (in the distance) of the Mississippi River bridge on the edge of Helena.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Nice ride. I never ride in the Delta but have always found it a strangely beautiful place. I need to ride Crowley's Ridge sometime, too.

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Sure sounds like you had a great ride. Thanks for the pic's and history lesson.

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He who dies with the most toys wins.

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15 hours ago, Kemp said:

Nice ride. I never ride in the Delta but have always found it a strangely beautiful place. I need to ride Crowley's Ridge sometime, too.

There are little bits and pieces on some minor roads as well as sections that are dirt, but if you follow Rte 163 from Jonesboro to Wynne (take 14 east at Harrisburg) then 64 west to Bus 64 to 284 south to Forrest City. 1 to Marianna then head east toward Mississippi River State Park. From there you can stay on the paved road all the way to West Helena. 

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4 hours ago, Paladins31 said:

That area is definitely on my list of areas to ride.  I hear the Ozarks have great loops as well.

Ozarks, Ouachitas, Mount Nebo, Mount Magazine, Petit Jean Park, Talimena Scenic Byway, etc., etc.  So much good stuff north of I-40 and into southern Missouri.  The only downside is that all of the good rides run north-south, so it's hard to connect them if you're riding cross country.  Great as a destination, though.

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