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Missouri Ozarks


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Ride Report – Missouri Ozarks
I had one last opportunity this year to take a multi-day motorcycle trip over the July 4 weekend. Weather definitely put a damper (pun intended) on my trip, but I still had one fantastic day and one very good morning of riding.
Review of the bike after 3000+ miles
The bike works excellently, mostly. The engine is, of course, superb. I played a little bit more with the upper rev ranges, but stayed mostly around 6000 - 7000 rpms on twisty roads. Fuel mileage was ~ 46 mpg for the trip which is what I expected. Traction control keeps the front wheel down – it came up a whisker in 2nd gear – and it might have saved my bacon on an unexpectedly rough bridge at the apex of a corner at the bottom of a hill. On my old bikes, I would have straightened up and run a little wide. On this bike I held my line without a problem. The roads were mostly good, and the suspension was fine for them. The bike is very stable in corners – in a couple of 30 and 40 mph huge, constant radius sweepers that lasted several seconds, the bike would hold its line with just fingertips holding the grips. It is also a little slow to turn in, especially in linked right-left corners. I’ll raise the forks when I replace the tires if not sooner. I’ve got no front end wobble, even with luggage on at extra-legal speeds. I’m not seeing any feathering on the tire sipes, so, for me, the suspension works if I can speed up turn in. The bike has spent a handful of miles on gravel and dirt roads, and it does fine. The stock seat is fine in a Roadcrafter with bicycle shorts – my standard touring clothing.
I’m having a little problem with the handlebars. (1) my shoulders get sore after about an hour. A little stretching on the bikes helps, and I have ridden for 3.5 hours continuously (a tank of gas) with no additional discomfort. A quick photo op solves the problem completely for 45 minutes – an hour. The seat is in the low position and the bars are in the standard location. (2) I have to keep getting my hands behind the bars because they float up “above” the bars with more wrist angle. The wrist angle is slightly different (my hands aren’t truly higher than the bars, but my wrists are bent), but it makes a big difference in steering feel and control. This happened on my old Ninja after hours of riding, but it happens in minutes on this bike. A little forward lean might help so I’ll try moving the handlebars forward.
Now I have to do something about the wind noise. On my trip last month to Louisiana, the wind noise was loud, but manageable. With lots of freeway travel due to weather on this trip, the wind noise was just to d**n loud. As everyone else has said, I can tuck in low behind the screen or stand up tall and get rid of the worst of the noise.
With that said, here is my trip report….
July 3, 300 miles
While my plan had been to spend most of my time in the Missouri Ozarks, I wanted to take an opportunity to ride Push Mountain Road in Arkansas first. Weather changed those plans. Close to home I saw light, scattered showers.
The rain only got heavier. There were numerous wrecks around Memphis and cars were pulling over on I-55 in Arkansas because of all the rain sheeting on the road. My Aerostich and my gloves held off the lighter rain, but not the 1+ hour of heavy downpour. Water got past my tank bag cover – that had worked so well last month – and even into my helmet from around the chin and the through the vents. The display on my camera doesn’t work anymore, and I was soaked. Once off I-55, I looked west and saw even darker clouds, so I decided to get to Missouri, where the weather maps showed clear skies, as fast as possible. This is the weather in Jonesboro where the rain was lighter than Memphis.
There are a couple of good restaurants, but I had to visit 4 of them before I found one open. Grumble. All through lunch I kept dropping things and getting more and more frustrated about it – a sure sign to me that I was already tired and not well rested from work. This was going to be a short day. As soon as it started raining in Missouri, I found a motel and took a nap. I was done riding by 3 pm. I did have a nice dinner with some couples on Harleys riding to Branson.
Missouri state line
July 4, 500 miles
Saturday dawned cooler, humid, but NOT RAINING. After getting through some straight roads…
…I stayed on twisty roads in the Missouri Ozarks. It would be hard to list all the roads I traveled, and my GPS only saves a short track. Most of the roads are 20 – 40 miles long, but there are so many good ones! My recommendation is to start with black and gray lines on the AAA state map, then use Google, then connect all the roads together. Everything on the AAA map that shows as paved, was. But, with apologies to Shakespeare, there are more good roads on earth than are dreamt of on your maps. Google maps with satellite view and Microsoft Streets and Trips found some of them. The Mark Twain Forest southeast of Steelville has good roads as does the Forest on either side of Van Buren.
The roads were mostly 55 mph 2 lane highways with mostly good pavement, some patches, and 30 – 50 mph sweepers. Some roads never had more than a few hundred feet of straight section before the next turn. The vast majority of the corners were constant radius, although many apices were at the peak or trough of a short hill, weighting or unweighting the suspension.
There were many little towns in the area. Most of them were decorated for the holiday. Surprisingly there were several drive-in movie screens, too, seemingly in the middle of nowhere. Not too many restaurants open for the holiday, but the BBQ in Caledonia was very good. Bonne Terre has a couple of attractions including its own Space Museum. The museum is a display of the personal collection of a local with some unique items. There was also a strange little tie dye shop outside Salem. I don't think these were the only mushrooms around the place.
July 5, 400 miles
I spent the morning heading southeast and back home. Highway 19 that runs across the Ozark River national park is fantastic, and I was very fortunate to have the south bound road to myself.  I found a nice way to finish the fun roads near Waynesville with miles of sweepers.
From there I headed back into the Arkansas delta. The heat, humidity, clouds, and traffic were all building up so after just a few miles on Crowley’s Ridge, I headed home. When the weather is a little cooler, the Ridge might be a good place to explore.
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