Welcome to 2023 with new adventures! I’ll be using the maps at this link —>> The Arkansas DOT <<— and an “Atlas & Gazetteer” to plan unpaved/off-road/ backroads county maintained routes around the state. The goal is to ride a dirt road in all 75 counties, hopefully travers the county off-road!🤞 Follow or join me as I make my way around the beautiful state of Arkansas!
I’ve already done a fair amount of traveling on the Yamaha Tenere 700 off-road across Arkansas since March of 2021, when I first rediscovered the state after being away almost 30 years. (I had “PCS’d” from Little Rock AFB Arkansas to Travis AFB California back in 1993) So here is a map and list of the counties I’ve covered already and will be focusing on filing in the rest this spring.
My plan is to find friends and contacts with driveway space or State park campgrounds in various parts of the state to park the van and camp while I spend a few days doing “Clover leaf” loops back to the van at night, about a tank of gas in the T-7 should be enough riding for each day.
The Tenere 700 has a set of the newly released Heidenau Ranger 70% off-road /30% on road tires with only a thousand miles or so on them and plan to test them out as I make my way around the state. I’ll also be trying out the newly designed(this is actually the Prototype) Adjustable side stand from AltRider. There will be updates on how these products work for me as I test them out so stay tuned!
On my fall loop I was very fortunate to camp at a few motorcycle specific campgrounds across Appalachia. Wether you are traveling solo on your bike or like me in the van with a bike, these campgrounds are very welcoming for the moto traveler. Safe spaces, power outlets , hot showers and friendly smiles all await you. On my loop I visited or stayed at 4 campgrounds in 4 different states.
The first campground on my list is the most unique one. It’s private land that’s mainly used to host moto events throughout the year. It’s called the TOAD just outside Tellico Plains Tennessee. Events like March Moto Madness , GS Giants rally and the Let’s Take a Ride Eastern Rendezvous are hosted there throughout the year. The riding out that way is spectacular! Getting to one of those listed events is the way to get in. But the Smokey Mountain 500 passes by the front driveway so if you are doing that, I’d contact Mickey Fouts to see if you can stay the night.
Next up on the list is the Mountain View Motorcycle campground , literally just inside the North Carolina state line in the town of Elk Park NC. Its run by a great couple Mark and Janine Cornell that have turned a 20+ acre orchard into a campground, training area and gathering place for the adventure motorcycle community. When I was on my way up there to check it out, I had received a message from Janine that Mark went down on his TW-200 when a deer jumped in his path. He was in the ICU up at the hospital in Johnson city Tennessee so she likely wouldn’t be around. I was to make my self at home and I could park next to the main building. Mark was stable, though he did sustain broken ribs and collarbone on the left side of his body. I was surprised to see Janine later that afternoon when she returned to let the the dogs out and grab a decent nights sleep after making sure Mark was well cared for. To help with Marks medical expenses their friends have started a Go Fund Me page at this link ->-> Help Mark <-<- Since the accident he’s back home and resting but will need at least one surgery to reset the collarbone. Hoping and praying for a quick recovery Mark! Back to the campground, The main building has 2 bathrooms, 4 bunks a “kitchenette” with motorcycle lift and tire changing abilities. There are also a number of 1 room cabins and tent spaces around the property. The rates are very reasonable so please check them out. You’ll be blown away by the hospitality! There are weekend events planned frequently so it’s best to call a head. Tell Janine hi for me!
Two Wheels of Suches (Georgia) is a motorcycle mecca of sorts in the hill county of North Georgia. Every road into or out of the little village is super twisty and can be challenging if not paying attention. I first camped there a few years back in the van and the Super Tenere where I took a couple days getting to know the area. I was not disappointed! I was able to pull up the van on the edge of the creek that flows through the campground. Also, part of the Smokey Mountain 500 mentioned earlier passes through town so it’s a great place to stop for a night. There is a restaurant on site that does prepare a few meals, nothing fancy but filling.
In the previous post I mentioned Giorgio Torregrosa of the Little River Adventure Campground outside Fort Payne, Alabama . He’s a super nice guy that’s building quite the complex. A bit over 20 acres of dispersed camping but plans to run power and water to several of the sites. There’s even an open area for training and he’s able to host larger events and rallies. The entire location is nestled between 20+ miles of gravel roads in the Little River Wildlife Management Area and the “Dragon” of Alabama. (county road 176) Scenic views and excellent riding on road or off. The campground is also the only Destination Yamaha location in Alabama where you can rent Yamaha motorcycles or Rad Power E-bikes. Give Giorgio a call when you want to see some beautiful areas of Alabama.
Now for the bonus!
It’s the goal of Dustin and Kate Coit of So live So Ride to establish a motorcycle campground called the “MOTO RANCH” and training facility in the Ozarks of Arkansas near the Trans American Trail. The 27.5 acres on State Route 21 north of Ozone Arkansas was just purchased a few weeks ago so lots of details and plans are in the works. They were kind enough to give me a walking tour of the place and explain some of their dream. “Glamping” tents with great views, rustic and powered tent sites, training area, even a pond to be cleaned up for a post ride dip are all part of that dream. Dustin and Kate are transplants from the Denver area and the street/cruiser side of the moto world. They have both really taken to adventure riding and even competed in a GS Trophy event. Kate wrote an article about their adventures for the the BMW owners monthly publication BMW ON . I’ll be following closely their progress on the property and even let them know I’d love to help out when I’m in Arkansas if they need a hand.
So, wether traveling across Arkansas, Tennessee, North Carolina, Georgia or Alabama as an Adventure rider and don’t want to rough it in the woods, there are campgrounds that cater to our Adventure riding and all have excellent riding not far away. Please stop by a these places and tell the owners hi.
Part of why I do what I do is to “put the social, in social media” to get out and actually meet the people from the various FaceBook groups, Instagram and web forums. Some have been close personal friends, Vanlife, Traveling Vagabonds, Tenere 700/ 1200 groups and even contacts from old High School buddies.
The fall season started before I left on the 2500 mile loop. Good friend Heidi from Vancouver, Washington was on a mission to carry out a final request from one of her dear friends that passed last year. Before spreading her friends ashes in Colorado, Heidi took them on a roadtrip all the way out to Missouri, Arkansas and Louisiana. They stopped by the property for a night while passing through. Heidi and her husband run Cruise in Consignment in Vancouver Wa. It’s a used moto gear shop. She’s been a good friend for over a decade. It was great to see her and hear her stories of the road….. and she brought me fudge from Uranus!
Not too much later was a visit by Ms Maura from Savannah Ga. that had just completed a 4 month, cross country solo “overloading”adventure in her Toyota 4 Runner from Florida to Alaska and back. We have mutual friends Myron and Cherie in Indiana that got us connected while she was out on the road. We missed each other earlier in the summer when Maura was in the PNW …. I was enjoying my lemonade 😉 but were able to meet up on her way back through. She stayed for a couple days in Arkansas and I got to show her around the Ozarks, then she returned the favor by showing me around Savannah while on my loop. A good friendship amongst travelers has developed. I’m sure this won’t be our only adventures together. One more great thing about this lifestyle, getting to meet some pretty amazing people!
On my way out and back of the loop you’ll notice I cross paths in Nashville… thats for 2 reasons. One is to see my former PNW buddy Kyle and the other is to have some really good fried “HOT” Nashville chicken. Luckily Kyle works about 2 blocks away at Nashville BMW/Ducati from Haiti B’s HOT Chicken. Kyle Plannich is a great guy that has already accomplished some amazing things. Ran a motorcycle shop in southern Mexico on the Guatemalan border, Coffee importer and now head Ducati salesperson in Nashville. He’s also a great mechanic working on both my Super Tenere and T-700! Stopping by the dealership with lunch both times through gave of some good time to catch up. Lots of stuff to drool over at the dealership too !
—————————————————————————————- I made 2 stops in North Carolina to see old and new friends. Greensboro was my first stop, Ms Deena Jacroux and I go way back, she’s retired now and living closer to her daughter and grandson. It had been several years since we had seen each other, so it was nice to spend the evening catching up with her and her beau Steve. Parking the Yamahauler wasn’t the easiest so I couch surfed, a first in a while. Until next time Deena and Steve!
Next on my travels outside Asheville, North Carolina was Robert Abbot and his wife Sherry. They are RV traveling snowbirds with ADV bikes. Having a couple mutual friends and a in few of the same groups on social media, he had said it was ok to park at the mobile home park they own as I passed through. Bouncing between the Appalachian mountains and Big Bend area of Texas is a great way to spend a year! They are definitely doing it right.
Dropping down into Greenville South Carolina the following day was to meet up with the larger then life character “Are Dubbya Bee”(RWB) aka Robert Barnes. RWB runs one of the fastest growing ADV social media groups “Redneckastan Dual Sport and Adventure Riders” It’s a bit rough around the edges and breaks most of the rules of other ADV groups across the board. He’s also the mattress king in the town of Mauldin at the Mattress Folks . Meeting him was a hoot! Got a better feel for the Admin position I have with that group as to the direction and discretion needed(hint, there isn’t much🤭) Spent the night behind the mattress shop before heading out the next morning.
The next day was a somber one, I headed into Augusta Georgia and the Fort Gordon Army base to see the Electronic Warfare range named in honor of a good PNW Tenere buddy that passed away last year from Covid. Sergeant First Class Gary “Joe” Rankins was a friend and host on my travels through the years. Joe was there at my going away party in 2016 for the 48 state ride then he PCS’d to Upstate New York where he and his wife Susie hosted me as I rode through that part of the country. Susie asked one of his co-workers on post to get me a little tours of the range. Lots of training happens there for new soldiers just learning their jobs. I then went over to their house to help price some of Joes moto gear so she can clear out the garage a bit. A tough chore but glad I can help. Miss you buddy!
Some of the items are still for sale, please message me if interested
One of the last stops on the way back was in North East Alabama with Giorgio Torregrosa at the Little River Adventure Company . I’ll be covering more about his place in part 3 but I’ll fill you in about Giorgio. A Puerto Rican native and motocross racer since a young child. He’s become quite the entrepreneur with the campground, motorcycle and E-bike rental. He’s also Alabamas only Yamaha Destination location. I first met him this spring at the Let’s Take a Ride spring rally. Seeing all the bikes he brought made me take notice. Glad I made it a point to pass through! Giorgio took me on a mini dual sport adventure with a pair of the rental XT250’s (mini Tenere) within minuets of the campground. Awesome scenery! Thanks for the quick tour, looking forward to spending a few days out there on the T-7!
Next up in part 3 is about a few of the ADV campgrounds that I’ve stayed at and one that’s closer to the Arkansas property. Stay tuned!
First off, it feels great to be back out on the road in the van! I’ll have to break this up into at least 3 separate blog posts. The Lets Take a Ride Eastern Rendezvous, Fall colors with the great people I’m meeting on the road and ADV motorcycle campgrounds .
The “Let’s Take A Ride” guys from Tennessee had another meet up/Rendezvous like in the spring but this time it was way back in the holler of Tellico Plains Tennessee. It was held at the T.O.A.D , if you know what the March Moto Madness “Mother rally”is or where the GS Giants host some of their events, you’ll be familiar with the area. The Smokey Mountain 500 Adventure route pass close by which only adds to the certification on just how good the riding is in the area.
There is something for everyone from single track to one of the most famous motorcycle roads in the US, that being the Dragon of US 129 and Deals Gap on the North Carolina/Tennessee border with 318 curves in 11 miles. The Cherohala Skyway completes the perfect day loop with elevations of 5000ft. I hadn’t done the Dragon on the T-7 yet so it was time since I was in the area. Thanks to Killboy and 129 photos for the great pics!
Some of the routes the LTaR guys had for us were in some very scenic areas on the Tennessee and North Carolina line. I met up with Johnny Giles on his “new to him” 2012 Super Tenere to explore that area. Thanks Johnny for joining me!
I even took a morning to hop off the provided routes to head down into Georgia and the Two Wheels of Suches motorcycle campground. I had camped there in previous years and the roads around town are amazing! Couldn’t be this close and not stop by. The colors were breathtaking!
Looking forward to seeing what David, John and the LTAR crew will have in store this coming spring!
AGGRESSIVE for an Adventure tire. Would be great with a fresh set before any BDR, TAT or the other Adventure routes that are popping up across the country, but do expect to swap them out not too much longer after completing the route.
Running from Prudhoe Bay to Ushuaia might take a few sets. Up and back to Tuktyakatuk might take 1 set depending how much pavement is on your way.
It’s advertised as 70% off road 30% on road and I would agree with that. I’m hoping to get the span of an oil change out of them of 4K-5k miles. So far so good!
I made it across the damp pavement of “The Dragon” US 129 on the Tennessee /North Carolina border and it’s 318 curves in 11 miles. That was asking all of that 30% on-road traction though. You could feel the “give” of the rubber tread in the corners if pushed too hard.
Deep gravel was a challenge in the Cherokee National Forest on the Tennessee\ North Carolina border but not for the tire, more for the technique and skill for the rider I only went down once.. Johnny Giles was with me to help get back upright. Thanks!
They are a softer compound tire then the K-60 Scouts I’ve run on the Super Tenere for over 90,000 miles. These Rangers are more suited for softer and or deeper terrain. I hope to get to some soft stuff over the life of these tires and not just burn them up on the pavement.
I’m heading to the swamps of Louisiana next month so I’m sure there will be some nasty muddy levees down there that will give them a good test.
Sorry it’s been a bit since my last post, lots of stuff to catch up on….
My last post was in November of last year after getting to moms in South Louisiana for the holidays. The property in Arkansas got started with the driveway and pad cleared but the winter rains (and some snow) moved in holding up the progress until this coming week! (1st week of August)
My daughter and her husband flew in for Mardi Gras, a first for Logan and about 17 or 18 years for Madison. And yes, crawfish was on the menu!
In March I met up with DJ and his wife Sandy in central Tennessee for an ADV meetup/ camp out with the “Let’s Take a Ride” group. It was a fun weekend of camping and riding the backroads of that part of Tennessee. They are an excellent gang with a lot of time put in to designing the routes. DJ and I are planning to hit their fall meet up in October.
After that great weekend, I got back out to Arkansas to camp and work on the property while getting in as much riding as possible. It was great meeting up with new buddies Armondo (JoJo) Brad, David, Ken, Michael and Tom for a few “ride to eat” days. Thanks for making me feel so welcomed! Exploring with a few native Arkansans sure is fun! JoJo even let me keep the T-7 and a few power tools in his garage for the summer. 🙏🙏🙌
As it was starting to warm up, I was getting ready to head back up to the PNW is when the “fun” really began. Elsa had flown into Dallas and was going to ride with me back up to Washington in a quicker then normal 5-7 days on the road. We didn’t even make it out of Arkansas. 🤨 On the way up to the property driving in from Dallas, a 16 year old in grandma’s sedan played kamikaze into the front passenger wheel. No injuries to all involved but the Yamahauler faired much better then his Toyota, that’s for sure. Thats what $11,000+ of damage looks like. 🙄😡
My “Arkansas network “ really stepped in to help us out. Sandra came up the next day to get us to my aunt and uncle, Kris and Jon’s spare car they keep at a local airport and use of their Air B&B the MarFly Cabin on the very scenic White River. Old boss Dave and his wife Lori offered space in the garage for the gear that got pulled out of the van while its in the shop plus a spare room (and pool!) for a few days while we got the insurance work set up and planned to get Elsa back to work up in Washington. We are both VERY GRATEFUL for the friends and family that helped smooth out that tumultuous time. 🙌🙏
Insurance got us back to Washington so Elsa could get to work and I could take care of some dental work (1 root canal and 2 crowns 🥴) medical appointments and even jury duty! 🙄 See, these lemons are adding up…
It was good to be back on my Super Tenere after Kyle had taken such great care of it all winter. Thanks for the coffee! 😉 Then……. At the 92,500 mile mark, “something” happened in the transmission that would require an entire deconstruction of the motor and gearbox . That, not being in my budget, I’ve decided to sell it to a mechanic as a project bike for a fair price. I did request that if he ever gets rid of it, I’ll likely buy it back if given the opportunity. The 2012 Super Tenere has been an amazing bike that built and shaped who I am . 😔MORE LEMONS!
Soooo Now, this week (or next) the van should be done at Cowboy Collision in Heber Springs and Patrick should be done on the dozer spreading more than a dozen dump truck loads of gravel on my driveway and pad. With it being 90f – 100f across most of Arkansas until September, I’ve decided to hold off my return for after the Labor Day weekend. What is helping occupy my time while waiting is I do have access to Elsas cabin on a private campground in the foothills of the Cascades with a 7-acre spring fed lake. It gets up to about 75f on only the hottest days for first few inches, then much colder the deeper you go. Hiking trails and a waterfall are also on the property. So if y’all need me, I’ll be sipping lemonade here on the dock for the rest of the summer. 😉
I was able to spend a great few days in the Ozark National Forest as I headed south for the winter. Pete Petrick, owner of the “TAT Shak” in Booger Hollow, Arkansas yes, I spelled that right 😉 , was gracious enough to let me park the Yamahauler there as I spent several days riding day loops. He even joined me one day to show me some great roads! Pete is also a veteran, Super Tenere and Ford Transit camper van owner, What’s not to like!
The “TAT” stands for the Trans America Trail, a coast to coast mostly dirt and small roads route from North Carolina to Oregon. It passes by Pete’s mailbox and with an unused 40+ year old single wide mobile home in the front yard, he thought it would be a good thing to host travelers as they made their way across the USA. What a great idea! It offers basic but comfortable accommodations like a hot shower and possibly a beer in the fridge. It’s hosted travelers from around the world and most that do the TAT plan on a night there.
It’s all free of charge but he does accept donations, he said it helps keep the lights on. Through his generosity for a safe haven, the travelers do help out.
The next day Pete took me on a few of his favorites but went “easy”on his “big bike” a 2012 Super Tenere with 1/2 bald tires. He is a hare scramble rider that enjoys the technical single track, the harder the better. I said that’s not my style of riding so easy roads it would be. Riding in the deep woods as the leaves started to change was beautiful. Thanks Pete for taking it easy on me!
Up next was meeting the Adventure Riders of Arkansas the following morning in Dover Arkansas. I think about 12-15 made the ride. I had met many of the riders earlier in March on a campout they hosted not far from the TAT shak. That was a great weekend! click on this link to read more about it. More great roads, scenery and adventures from the group. I will really enjoy riding with that bunch! One of the ARA riders, Armando Nelson is an Army veteran that was actually stationed with me at Little Rock AFB in the early 90’s, we didn’t know each other back then but have made fast friends since. a small world for sure.
My last riding day out that way was just me on the bike “seeing where that road goes” A nice loop to take pics of the fall colors. Found some good spots!
I told Pete to expect my return in the spring, and I hope to not show up alone! Either doing the Trans America Trail or not, the TAT Shak is a great place to stay!
It was about a month overdue for my departure from Washington (for good reason) but I finally hit the road on the 10th of October after the last few medical appointments. Said goodbye and thanks to Elsa for caring for me after surgery then had coffee with my girls on my way south east to Oregon. Hit a bit of snow at Chinook Pass in Washington and at Tollgate in the Umatilla Wilderness of Oregon, escaped it just in time! Stayed with PNW Tenere member Liz in Joseph, Oregon and she showed me around her favorite spots in the Hells Canyon area. Liz is the widow of Fred Bebisheimer, who was a super nice guy that will be missed.
Then it was off on my longest stretch to Roosevelt Utah for a quick overnight to see Aaron and Kate with their baby in their skoolie bus laceyadventuresofficial. The next day was more light snow as I made my way across northern Colorado through Craig, Steamboat Springs but hit a dumping of the white stuff at Jackrabbit pass. The Yamahauler did great on the packed snow and ice! Staying with Pete, Lisa and Brady of MeerkatADV then Pete and Kat outside Denver to get to the grand opening of the Revzilla store a couple days later.
A few months back I saw on line where” Gearchic ” Joanne Donn was looking for help to run the soon to be opening Denver location, so I sent the notice to friend and former host Tana Todd. Well, now friends Tana, Brady and Pete all now work for Joanne! The power of social media! It was nice catching up with Joanne since our last visit many years ago meeting her and the boss at the RevZilla HQ in Philly.
Colorado was quickly in my rear view to a spectacular sunrise around the Kansas border on the way through to Oklahoma for a night with Angie then on to Arkansas to my Aunt and uncles Air B&B ” Marfly retreat ” on the White River in Mount Olive. It was time to get the bike out the back and go RIDE! My first time since the surgery felt sooooo good!