"The Trans Arkansas Trail" - The "TART"
Planning the TART
took several months of planning in MapSource and daily viewing in Google Earth to determine that I had maximized the amount of dirt we rode on. Then the real chore came when planning a workable date that was available to everyone that was planning on riding. Then last minute changes were made to the route after input from Mike (10Cup), we broke the ride up into three legs and added camping areas to our intinerary. Then last month we determined that we would leave on Thursday, October 7th, 2010 and so we did
This route was designed as a South to North or North to South route through central Arkansas. It starts at Eldorado, Arkansas in the south or Blue Eye, Missouri in the north (both on the border of Arkansas).
throws everything at you during different stages of the ride. It can be benign, exciting, dangerous, and just plain exhilarating. When we started the route we started it with a bang! TEN inches of deep baby powder Bull Dust in the first 10 miles. This should have been a clue for us. There were also loose rocky trails, high speed gravel, very long technical uphills, dangerous downhills with baby head rock and loose sand, deep sand, some mud, puddles, creek crossings, tarmac, chip & seal, deer lease problems, Paper Mill property, ATV tracks, unused and overgrown trails, rocky trails with huge crevasses to fall into, closed gates, locked gates, private property, beautiful scenery, a number of re-routes to perfect the route and some great camping places.
A DISCLAIMER* Though parts of the TART could be done on scooter, this is NOT is not a big bike or a street bike trail. If you are a really good technical rider it is suited for a 650 cc or below bike. However, it would be very dangerous to try some parts of the ride on anything bigger. You can get lulled into thinking that the route is easy and all of sudden, wham! here comes a technical section. There were also areas that so remote that it would take a significant amount of time for help to arrive. I strongly recommend riding with a buddy or at the least traveling with a personal locator. It should also be noted that much of the southern section of this route is very low lying. During rainy period it may become impassable.
Routes and tracks of the TART
will be available to anyone that wants them when I am finished cleaning them up and adding way points. Also, there is still a small section left unridden which will be done in the next few weeks.
So, take a seat. Come along for the ride! Welcome to the "TART"
As planned we left on the 7th and trailed to JoeNuclear's house to avoid scrubbing off the new knobbies. There would be more than enough tarmac from Joe's to Eldorado.
We off loaded about 8:30ish and waited for Joe's house to show signs of life.
At about 9:30 we were finally en route for Eldorado.
Our first stop was nearing Hot Springs. We at the "Cajun Boiler", it was outstanding.
Sorry, we were kinda hungry
Mike (10Cup) on the left and Joe (JoeNuclear) on the right
So after we arrived in Eldorado my GPS popped up with "Flamingo Motel" just ahead on the right. Flamingo Motel? I don't remember programming a stop there but Mike did when I asked for input. So, there we were the "Flamingo". Wasn't bad really, we had a "working" lady who wanted to offer her services, and a cheap room (no, not by the hour). The motel was clean and was only $42 a night and it was a family owned busines with the proprietors being most gracious people.
We sat down after dinner and had a few beers and proceeded to teach Mike the fine art of poker. It was a good evening with good friends.
The others would join us on Saturday at Choctaw Recreation Area.
Getting ready to leave the next morning, can you say overloaded? Not heavy but certainly bulky.
So, we finally bid Eldorado goodbye at around 9:30 am. Don't plan on getting aired up there. All of the gas stations have straight air chucks and you can't get them onto your rims. We ended up having to air up Joe's tires with my air pump.
Joe couldn't even get his air gauge working. Airing up here sucks
Coming out of the Bull Dust. Man that crap was powdery. I am not even sure you could navigate this area when it was muddy.
The trails were rough so after about an hour Joe and I had to adjust the loads on our bikes.
We had beautiful country lanes lined with pine and shady. It was a very relaxing portion of the ride after negotiating the bull dust.
Through the Weyerhauser Forest
This is also oil country
This time of the year the hunting leases on forest product land are very active. We were very lucky to have not been shot this weekend although we saw only a few hunters in their camps. These towers are virtually everywhere. Some were almost 4 stories tall.
We had ridden about three hours now and came to a locked gate on a hunting lease. This would be common throughout the day. But this one was open on one end and closed on the other. We had committed some time to this point so we decided to go for it.
As I looked back at the gate once through it. I noticed that it had a hunting club sign on it. This happened over and over during the ride.
At about 1:30 I made I came to this intersection and waited for over 30 minutes for Mike and Joe. Neither showed up.
We were spaced way out due to the amount of dust so I just gave it more time, half an hour, forty minutes...nada. So, I figured we had a flat, mechanical problems or someone needed fuel. There was fuel about 12 miles away so I hightailed it to Sparkman to see if they were there. Nope, so I hightailed it back. And once again waited at the next turn, nada.
Joe had taken a wrong turn due to using a version of mapsource not compatible with my route. When he realized the error he routed back to the next intersection. There he met Mike coming out of a particularly bad riding trail. About the same time I found them at the corner shown in the screen shot of my GPS. Mike looked whipped. His allergies were raging and he said that he had enough and was going to Arkadelphia to overnight then go home.
After I had time to reflect on the day I realized that I should have rotated the lead and got Mike out of the dust. Perhaps this would have helped him cope better. My bad. So, we bid Mike goodbye here.
Joe and I pressed on. This trail would deteriorate into an almost obliterated path. We slowly picked our way through jumping logs, dodging deer towers and counting our blessings that they were empty of hunters.
One of many streams, we didn't have to ford any today.
We arrived at Degrays Lake for our first night in the tents about 3:30 pm
More to follow