Last year the Highroller crew started the tradition of a Memorial Day Ride. Last year we rode from Fayetteville to the top of Mt Magazine. This year we wanted to see some new scenery and up the ante a little. The basic premise of the route was simple; start in Paris AR, head down to the top of Mt Nebo, loop back around to climb the back side of Mt Magazine, then descend back to Paris. A detailed version of the route can be found here.
Our Mantra for the ride
Sam doing his best conquistador pose
We met at Highroller at five thirty and began packing up. I had it all planed out in my mind that we would use a combination of rear racks and bed mounts to make it all fit. In true Highroller fashion though, we ended up just throwing all the S-works bikes in the back of the truck tying them down with inner tubes and cruising down the road. I was super happy to see Scotty that morning on his enduro bike. He would prove an invaluable resource for water and support on the ride. The rendezvous point for the start was the Cowie Winery just outside Paris. All told we were Nine riders.
Nine is a good number of riders for a ride like this. If all are evenly matched the group will roll along nicely since each rider will have adequate time to rest during each rotation. The added benefit of this number of riders is that you don’t get stuck talking to the same person the whole day.Before we even started though we almost lost one of our riders. J had forgotten the bag that contained his cycling kit and nutrition for the day. Luckily, I had and extra set of clean kit in my bag and he was able to borrow it for the day. With everyone accounted for we rolled out of the parking lot at eight and didn’t have to stop to regroup until we got to the top of nebo.
Our nine man group.
Lake Dardanelle and the Nuclear power plant.
The first thirty fiveish miles were mostly flat. We all enjoyed the conversation and great views along the way. Looming in the distance though we could see what would be our first major challenge of the day. Mt Nebo is one of Arkansas’ most well known mtns. Its slopes explode skyward pitching up to as much as 20 percent (according to the Garmin). Rising 1,350 feet above the mountain valleys of west central Arkansas, Mount Nebo gives visitors a spectacular view of Lake Dardanelle, the Arkansas River and the surrounding mountains. The climb is not super long but the pitches and switchbacks are backbreaking.
Another view from the top
After regrouping at the summit. We all relaxed and enjoyed some ice cream that the visitors center sells. My trip was almost ruined here because the ladies at the visitors center noticed i had not signed the back. They had the scissors out ready to cut it up because I had left my id at the start. I had to sprint out side and get some of the other guys to vouch for me. The ladies thought it was hilarious. Once we started back down the switchbacks it was everyone for them selves again. We lost Alex somewhere along the way and only managed to get the group back together to start the worst section of the ride. AR 27 was a very busy road with very little shoulder. Thank goodness we had The motorcycle to help control the memorial day traffic. Our group started falling apart a little too. Several riders were getting tired and several others were feeling good. This is never a good dynamic for a group ride. Our next stop came just in time to raise everyone’s spirits. Corndogs are known to do that.
From there it was hwy ten to Havana and then a right turn up towards Magazine. The group worked well together through this segment. As we rode we were treated to the somewhat intimidating view of magazine from the valley floor. A picture is worth a thousand words so the next bit you can figure out on your own.
The view from Havana
I love these signs
Somewhere on the mtn.
The overlook at the “top”
A group of us regrouped at the top and then decided to head down to the last stop of the day to wait for everyone else. The gas station/ restaurant we stopped at boasted the “best burgers around” After more than 70 miles in the saddle it did not dissapoint.
We were blissfully eating and joking around unaware of the drama that was unfolding behind us. The story is a long one that probably isn’t interesting to anyone who wasn’t on the ride. Let’s just say that it involved: one of our riders, a motorcycle, inner tubes fashioned into a tow rope, the phrase “this is F*;%ing AWESOME”, a crash, a skinned knee, and a bruised ego.
Once we were all back together we rode the last miles back to the winery as a group. Everyone was tired and the group quickly dispersed into cars bound for home.The winery was closed, but a couple of us were poking around the winery and noticed a guy walking around like he owned the place. Turns out he did. Robert Cowie was kind enough to show us around his collection of church bells and give us a private tour of the winery. We enjoyed talking to him and left with more than a couple of bottles.
Robert standing next to the largest church bell in AR
I really enjoyed the ride and am already planning next years route.
Thanks for reading ,