Diane was "representin' " in this start-area photo. Diane and I rode for Team Garver, along with Mark Wyatt, Sarah Miller, and team captain David Gambill.
The bunch immediately crossed the Clinton Park Bridge, which allowed a little time for legs to warm up before hitting the open trail. In the case of the little pack of friends that I was riding with, we got an early break as one of our group flatted before getting across the bridge. He did not improve his standing when he declared that he'd noticed the tire was low but had "aired it up in the parking lot". In an effort to protect my friend and prevent him from gaining a reputation for mechanical ineptitude, I will refer to him by the pseudonym of "Mr. Jones". After a quick tire change for Mr. Jones, we set off in pursuit of the 136 riders who had passed us. As we slowly gained ground, passing first groups of moderately fit riders on town bikes, then working our way on up through the food chain of faster riders. We caught Diane's group and passed them as they casually chatted on their approach to the BDB. I think their conversation and giggling somehow related to a group of guys that they had passed frantically changing a tire a the foot of the Clinton Park Bridge.
Ride mates Sam, Tom, and Dumas on the open road.
The route was a good one, taking a familiar route west through Two Rivers Park and out Barrett & Garrison Roads to Ferndale. After going out Kanis Rd. to Paron, things get a little fuzzy. Except for a short stretch of Hwy. 5, I had no idea where we were.
The roads were lightly traveled and rural, with plenty of narrow, unstriped chip-and-seal, but it was very pleasant There were no major climbs, nor was it flat, with rolling hill followed by rolling hill for mile after mile.
Diane and her new friend Joan were all smiles when they arrived at the Hot Springs Transportation Depot, having their ride and stops at every support station. The time I spent awaiting their arrival was well-spent with a massage and a couple of Diamond Bear Pale Ales.
At the Arkansas MS Rides, Ricky "Cigar Man" Skaggs is very popular, as he brings boxes of good cigars and the Diamond Bear. My relationship with cigars is a bit like that of the 10,000 Harley-Davidsons that were in Hot Springs for a rally. I like them just fine until they fire a bunch of them up.
Little Rock rider Kris French transporting a friend's bike to the hotel after a visit to the cigar man.
We were not the only bikers in Hot Springs. This was the parking scene all over downtown, and a few thousand constantly cruising Harleys made for a really noisy environment. Nothing against the bikers, but many MS riders complained about a lack of sleep.
Joan and Diane complementing their finisher's medals with a pale ale. It's a nice color match of awards for a job well done.
The ride to Hot Springs was great but it will likely move back to Petit Jean, as the motorcycle rally is an annual event that coincides with the MS dates. The MS150 rides from Mather Lodge at Petit Jean State Park have been among my favorites over the years, and the lodge has been recently renovated. Put the MS ride on your radar for this time next year. It is a great cause, a rewarding ride, and very good way to put some miles on your legs before the BDB100.