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Old 11-29-2009, 01:31 PM   #1
EnderTheX OP
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My BMW F800GS and I in the National Forests of Arkansas... I will be back!

Hi everyone!!! I was feeling restless over Thanksgiving weekend since I had more of a weekend than I am used it. Here in the US where we have about 10 days of vacation a year for most people we have to make use of any free day we can and go riding!!!

I got an idea in my head earlier this week to ride up to Arkansas where they have tons of cool National Forests and find some dirt. Since I didn’t know any of the dirt roads out there I enlisted the help of my fellow ADVers in the regional forum on my thread here:

http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=528010

The guys in AR were a great help and communicated with me throughout the trip with the help of my new fancy phone with internet access in relatively remote locations.

I only took the day before the trip (Thanksgiving after going to my parents house for the usual feast) to prepare. The maps were plotted and loaded into the GPS, the gear was spread all around the living room, the bike was prepared and I finally lay down to a restless sleep dreaming of mountainous dirt/gravel roads.

Here is a picture of my bike on Thanksgiving night fully loaded and ready to go. I can’t claim the existing dirt on the bike as part of the trip since cleaning the bike took a back seat to a nut & bolt check, tire check, chain check, and gear check. My poor 08 SV650S looks lonely in the background, I am sure I will be riding her as soon as I get back though lol.




These are the maps of the tracks I saved over the trip.

FULL MAP:




A close up of most of the dirt:




Some stats for the trip:

Days traveled: 2
Miles Traveled: 981 miles
Approximate dirt miles traveled: 250-300
Hours spent in the saddle: 19 hours
MREs eaten: 2
Deer seen: 0
Deer hunters seen: many+more
Bike drops: just wait and see lol
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Old 11-29-2009, 01:50 PM   #2
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On Saturday morning I head out and pound some pavement out to Oklahoma. I have not driven/ridden the route I am taking so it is interesting to me, I always love seeing more of my homeland… Texas!





Part way to AR I get on a cool road that initially starts out as quite a thrill. This is what I came for!!! This is Joslin Rd in Oklahoma.




Unfortunately I get stopped on my route after Joselin Rd splits into two D roads. The D road I needed to take (D4289) quickly became iffy and I reconsidered traveling down this road. Here is a gps view of where I was, I am turned around at this point ready to backtrack.





This is what I was faced with when I turned around. Yes I can get through this and in-fact I did travel all the way down the left side of the mud puddles to turn around. The problem was when I talked towards the end of the puddles the road all but disappeared and when I took my helmet off I could head chainsaws down the way. Someone probably had his family over for Thanksgiving and made them get out and clear some trails on their land lol.





After I got the bike turned around (not too bad even fully loaded) I took another shot before backtracking to the main road and heading towards Arkansas!




Getting into Ouachita National Forest there were a lot of cool stuff to see!! Even though many of the helpful peeps in my regional forum suggested routes through the Ozark National Forest (north of here) I think there is a lot of promising routes through the Ouachitas!!


I was constantly surprised by how green the water looked in the streams around here.





Same place different angle…




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Old 11-29-2009, 02:03 PM   #3
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These types of roads are amazing. I have no idea what, if any, speed limit there is on these roads but I travel at the speed I am comfortable at… which is super fast! I am relying on my GPS to show my how tight turns are ahead of my since I can’t tell through the trees. In areas where there are sheer cliffs (many) I slow down and yell “Oh shit there’s a cliff” every once in a while hahahha..





Getting closer to the top of this mountain I am on. This National Forest (Ouachita) is trippy because the mountains are all super long and relatively strait. The forest service roads travel directly on top of them since that is the obviously easy access route to any fires/etc.





At some point you have to go down lol. This road can be traveled at high speeds if you don’t mind the sheer cliffs, trees, etc on all sides of you!!




At this point I have to give a wave to the hunters out there. None of you guys shot at me even though most of you gave me the evil eye as I passed by hehe. I felt lucky I had an orange helmet on, a fact I realized only later in the game. I am sure for the 100-200 of you guys I saw out in the woods there were probably 500 I didn’t see. I asked a game warden I met later if I was disturbing the hunt by razing around on my F8 and he laughed and said no problem.
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Old 11-29-2009, 02:04 PM   #4
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Looks nice. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 11-29-2009, 02:11 PM   #5
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Well, it's a good thing you didn't meet up with any stray bullets or bambi running for his life! Looks like you had a great ride, thanks for posting it
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Old 11-29-2009, 02:42 PM   #6
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My GPS was routing me through some small roads I know I did not intend it to go through. I think it was on the “shorter distance” setting when I created the route, which is fine with me if it goes through cool roads.

I saw this road on the GPS, very short, and said “why not” and tried to take it. It is CR-E1553 near 270 on the Oklahoma side of the border.




You could tell this creek crossing has been recently paved, would have been nice to forge the river!!




More fast roads, the light was fading but it seemed to be fading the entire day. Winter is strange to me because the light seems to never be full. In Dallas I am used to days that never seem to end, nights that are hot, and a dominant sun that beat on your skull mercilessly.





The roads on the sides of the cliffs were amazing, I don’t think I have experienced much like this before, especially the unguarded dirt roads of the national forests. All I could hope for is grabbing a tree strong enough to hold me if I went over the edge lol. Sure if you only were putting around at 10 mph on your 4x4 you would never see any danger but I had some ground to cover. Some speed is required to cover 1000 miles in two days on roads like this!




Here is the end of the day bike wise… I am at Cove Lake campgrounds in the Ozark National Forest. The place is quiet, only one other family is here and they are on the other side. During the night two other families arrive at the campground and they all stay far away, I am happy. I can’t tell you how much I hate listening/seeing other people when I am camping and I took quite a risk coming here, but all is well.

During the night the family that has been there a long time suddenly yelled out very loud to scare away a bear I did not see. I am used to bears in camp sites throughout my journeys (the closest I came was probably 4-5 feet through my tent wall when I could feel the bear’s steps on the ground and hear her breath) so I took care to clean all my food and ensure none of my gear in my tent had any scent. I had a signal on my phone and sent out a few messages/posts/e-mails to friends to confirm where I was. Of course people are used to me going on random trips for no reason so it is mostly a formality.

Here is the last pic I took of the day, with my phone… Don’t ask my why I didn’t take out my real camera but this was handy and I was enjoying the warmth!

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Old 11-29-2009, 02:47 PM   #7
MoBill
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Lovin' F800GS Ride Reports.

Nice roads, thanks for the report.
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Old 11-29-2009, 02:55 PM   #8
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That night it was very calm with no wind so I managed to keep way relatively well. Even with my fancy ultra-light cot in my tent I had relatively restless night in the test and it got really cold towards the morning but nothing a pair of thermals and my sleeping bag couldn’t handle!


The morning:







This place was awesome… not many people here during the off season. I am at Cove Lake Campground in the southern Ozark National Forest.





A close up on my bike and my gear. Everything you see on the ground I had in my test to keep from getting wet during the morning dew. The Giant Loop Great Basin bag does well outside and I don’t have to worry about anything inside getting wet.





I was worried about my tires for the rest of the trip. They were already worn really low and I had at least 600 miles to put on them. These are the Metzler Karoo Ts which do really well on all surfaces especially dirt but wear FAST (~1k miles on these). Or maybe I just ride like a bat out of hell….


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Old 11-29-2009, 02:57 PM   #9
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Subscribed!!!



This looks good.
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Old 11-29-2009, 03:03 PM   #10
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Here are some morning pictures I took at the camp site!











After many attempts to get a decent macro shot in the low light with no tripod I finally find a tiny spot in one of my pictures that may yield a decent shot. Trust me with a tripod we can do way way better than this lol.





I take my morning sustenance through IV, I mean MRE… So far I have enjoyed most of these but the “Pinto Bean and Pork” MRE really sucks!!! Not to be disheartened, I also eat a cliff bar to get the taste out of my mouth.


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Old 11-29-2009, 03:09 PM   #11
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^^^ Forgot to mention this is my favorite most trusted Camelbak. I have used this on mountain-biking, road and dirt motorcycle trips, absolutely amazing. I am on my second bladder (the first got really bad lol) and it is still going strong. Thank you Camelbak!!!
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Old 11-29-2009, 03:20 PM   #12
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So now I start on day two on the roads that Zecatfish has provided me. I really have to compliment everyone in the regional forums for helping me and being friendly! I can say this experience on the forums and in AR has made me want to come back more often!



The day started out on some pavement and finally I get to this point:




The roads continue on as smooth dirt and I haul ass knowing I have some miles to cover.




Here is a shot of the typical early morning roads I was traveling on day 2.




I got to the top of the mountain I was riding on and it was an amazing site!!! It is fun to feel like you are climbing for many miles here, opposed to the constant up-down you get in Texas from the hill country (I love Texas!).





The view off the side. I made a point to get off and soak it in, most of the time I was concentrating on the road instead of the scenery (don’t worry the road is plenty scenic too lol). Sorry since I don’t have a tripod there are tons of pics of the bike instead of me… actually if I had a tripod I would still only take pics of the bike lol.





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Old 11-29-2009, 03:33 PM   #13
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Soon I was a super smooth dirt road (I think this is part of the TAT) and hauling ass towards the lunch station in Oark recommended to me by fellow ADV riders (THANKS!). This was a small creek crossing on the way.





This is the interior of the Oark Café. The place was packed!!! I tried to take this pic covertly since the other 50 people inside were obviously locals but I am sure everyone here is used to the random dual sport rider coming through. If you are within 50 miles of here for lunch you must go!!!!

I totally want that sign in the background!!! Beef-Pro woot!.




Just in case you didn’t take me seriously… This is one of the best burgers I have had in my life, a double ½ pound bacon cheeseburger. Note: the ½ pound patty, triple bacon strips, and cheese is ALL doubled!!!! I am glad I did not order frys as I wolf down the whole thing and then try to settle my insides as I fill up with gas outside. Everyone here is really nice! I am jealous of their ability to live in this part of the world but I would hate the 400 mile commute to my work place…



Dang… now I am really craving another burger from Oark, AR…. Oh yeah and they do it Texas/Southern style with the mustard instead of the mayo like the yanks like it
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Old 11-29-2009, 03:49 PM   #14
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Alright back to the riding… After refueling myself and my bike I was on the route ZeCatfish had shared with me. I found myself on an offshoot that dead ended on my GPS but his route said went through. Fun stuff…





I quickly found out why it dead-ended, this is where I turned back for the first time this ride. Sure it doesn’t look like much in the picture and I definitely respect everyone in previous ride reports where I have said “oh that looks easy” in their pictures.

Upon closer examination the middle of the river was flowing fast and was at least 1 foot deep with ½ foot ledges everywhere. I am sure I can get through this but since it was not on the map and I did not know what was on the other side I was not sure I could get back the same way… I needed another person for encouragement and assistance if need be to really feel confident.




Oh well.. time to slab it around the area. Sorry catfish! I can see the route is totally open but I didn’t have the balls to try it this time. Luckily this proves there is stuff out there that will satisfy more hardcore riders and help me improve my skills!!!





This is the other side of the road I gave up on. If all goes well you should come out of here to where I am from the creek crossing.





Time to go down the mountain! I stopped here because the road was so steep and I needed to kill the bike in gear to keep it from rolling while I got the camera. The sheer cliff on the side made things really interesting on the way down. This is one of those areas where people who have a wild imagination and are afraid of heights should not take their eyes off the road!!!!


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Old 11-29-2009, 03:51 PM   #15
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great pics

Some great pictures of one of the best kept secrets in the south. I've traveled many of the same roads and crossed the same streams and never get tired of them. So many roads there if you just use the gps and get off the main roads. However some dead end into gas well areas now when they used to continue. Excellent report.
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