Arkansas Bicycle Club

 

 
 

The 2018 BRAA has been completed

22 Apr 2018 5:43 AM | John Linck

Yes, the Bike Ride Around Arkansas is completed.  The weather was great and the roads provided.  Unfortunately for me, it only lasted two days and one night.  Making a living jumped up and took me away.  A blast of wind hit a marina in the state so I was called to work.  However, the rest of the group continued and encountered many sights along the way.

The tour started at Wal-Mart in Camden, AR.  The store manager granted us permission to park our vehicles for the week while we toured.  It was a chilly day as we headed South on US 79 toward our first campsite 30 miles away.  

This road had medium to light traffic for a US Highway and did have a good shoulder.  The terrain featured rolling hills and scenic country.  

We stopped at a grocery store in Stephens, AR for evening meal provisions.  We knew there would not be a cafe in the area.  Each person made their own selections.  I had decided before the start that I wanted to do more cooking in the camps, so I bought a couple hamburger patties and cheese.  

The group stopped at a convenience store/cafe in Stephens for a late lunch.  However, this was not a good day to get a hot sandwich for the kitchen is closed on Sundays.  We made do with what was there and traveled on.

In late afternoon we arrived at Logoly State Park about 6 miles North of Magnolia.  This is a neat little park for tent camping only.  The park attendant and the park ranger were very cordial.

Our traveling group started with 5 riders.  Jim Britt and myself were on the original BRAA about 11 years ago.  Robert Carrol is a veteran rider in the group.  Paul Young was starting his first fully loaded tour ride.  We also had our special guest from Illinois, Rob Grider, who is also a veteran of many BRAA events.  Great group.

This area was a tourist draw from back in the late 1800s due to some mineral springs.  Jim and I walked to the springs only to find them mostly dry due to a falling ground water level.  Still interesting and a good walk.

Everyone prepared their meals in camp, including the hamburger patties I bought.  This actually worked out well. 

We had a chilly night with the temps dropping barely below freezing.  All the reports were that a good sleeping night was had by all. 

Personally, I did not stir until about 7:00 AM Monday morning.  I boiled some water for a hot cup of coffee.  Breaking camp was not high on my list of desirable chores when the hot coffee tasted so good on this cool morning.  However, it had to happen.  It seems that making and breaking camp gets easier as a week progresses, but this was the first morning.  I finally got it done and we rolled out at 8:30 for Magnolia and breakfast.

Although we try to find local cafes, this morning brought us to the ultimate national establishment, McDonalds.  It actually worked out well but it does not have the local flavor we like.

We took US 82 East upon leaving Magnolia.  We did find road construction underway, along with lane closures.  It is a bit odd being on bikes, or a trike in my case, in a line of vehicles waiting to pass through the construction area.  Once we got to move we allowed all vehicles to go first and then "scurried" through the area.  Unfortunately for me, our "scurry" was mostly up a slight incline.  I was simply winded by the time it was done, but recovered quickly.  

Then I received the phone call from a very good customer that I was needed at the damaged marina.  The indication was "next week" was not an option.  I had to go to keep this good customer.  At the next crossroad I had to depart.  So sad.  One of the other guys will need to continue with this story about the 2018 BRAA.  


John Linck

Comments

  • 23 Apr 2018 10:28 PM | James Britt (Administrator)
    We appreciated John's planning for the tour and sorry he had to go. We stuck to the towns to visit on the list, except we skipped Crossett, and we altered the routes. Day 2 was finished by riding into downtown El Dorado. Paul knew the territory down there and we got off of Hwy 82B quickly and came in by some very nice houses. We had a late lunch at Johnny B's. We went in to Tucker's RV Park just east of E.D. on Hwy. 63. He was pleasantly surprised that we were bicyclists, not motor bikers! Same thing with the Smackover mayor later. Mr. Tucker cooked up a big pot of etoufe and rice. The ingredients that we saw were a big block of frozen crawfish tails into the mix, sausage and a lot of cream. Rob was not familiar with the Cajun dish, but unfortunately he went to sleep and didn't wake up again to try it. Day 3, we were going to Moro Bay. The direct route up Hwy 63 was only about 25 miles with no food (so we thought) so we decided to do a longer route. More later.
    Link  •  Reply
    • 25 Apr 2018 7:34 AM | James Britt (Administrator)
      Day 3. We looked at the map and a back road showed paved and a state road to Lawson community and then gray after that, but we were told it was paved the whole way to our next stop for food at Strong. We bought a few groceries to cook that night. We were heading to a fairly sleezy drive-in place that John and I saw on the scouting drive, BUT there was a fairly new and very nice cafe with burgers, specials, and ice cream, so we stopped there, River Bottom Cafe.

      From Strong, we took the low-traffic back round north to Hwy 63 and the short ride to Moro Bay. It was very scenic. The State Park is usually on a lake, but the flow was strong since the Ouachita River was running through it at high water. The park had been flooded a few weeks before. Mosquitoes came out in droves at dusk, but mostly subsided when it got darker. They have nice cabins there that would be the go-to later in the spring and summer. We were going back to El Dorado the next day. The direct route was only 25 miles without any known food source, but we ended up modifying later that day at Old Union for day 4.
      Link  •  Reply
      • 25 Apr 2018 6:56 PM | James Britt (Administrator)
        Day 4. We went by Old Union on the way out the day before, and the 1 gas station didn't look that great for food. When we came back, we had a local recommendation and it did have a large seating area and good burgers. We saw a country road going north to Calion Lake and community that looked interesting, going between that lake and the O. River. Another nice back road. We were told the town was named for CALhoun and UnION counties. The lake was very pretty with cypress trees at one end. I think it was a small fishing community and it had a store/gas station for a snack.

        We left there on another country road weaving around to El Dorado, Calion Road it was called on the map, but a couple other names on the ground. It went all the way to the Court House Square in downtown El Dorado and kept us off of Hwy 7. We knew dinner was waiting for us back at the RV park, so we just had a snack at the creamery on the Square. I had a nice sorbet. You dispense your own and pay by the oz. so you have to watch it.

        We doubled back a few miles back east out of town to Tucker's RV for another night. I forgot to mention that we picked up Coreen at Moro Bay and lost Paul when we first left Tucker's. He had to get back for some duties. We knew Mr. Tucker and his wife would like Coreen. This time we had ground deer meat wrapped in bacon with Texas caviar for the side and beer and cold drinks. He has a huge cooking trailer that he can cook 12 or 24, a lot, of briskets for charity events. We talked pretty late into the evening. I think the Tuckers enjoyed our visit.
        Link  •  Reply
        • 28 Apr 2018 6:20 AM | James Britt (Administrator)
          Day 5 was greeted with Spudnuts that Mr. Tucker brought in fresh that morning. We packed up and headed out through El Dorado. The road to our next stop, Smackover, was only about 15-20 so we decided to go long. First, we had breakfast at Johnny B's off of the Square. We saw "Southern Arkansas Nature Center State Park" or something like that on the map on our way out of town on Mt. Holly Road. We stopped to walk through the gardens and mostly nice paved trails showing local plants and trees.

          The Mt. Holly Road to the NW was again very nice and low traffic once we left town. We went as far as Lisbon and turned back north to Smackover. We hit Hwy 7 with a gas station store. Robert had a meal. I guess the rest of us were still full from breakfast. They had good-looking fried catfish and salads. Our weekly goal was to eat, or not eat, the fried potato wedges that all the gas stations have. We went south about 2 miles to the Natural Resources Musuem. This was our only time on Hwy 7 but it had a very wide shoulder.

          This Museum was amazing. We said it would rival the Smithsonian. The displays on the oil and brine industries were amazing and they had a nice mock up of old downtown Smackover and a dark elevator that took you down showing the formation of oil under the ancient seas. We were regrouping, waiting for the others, when Lt. Gov. Tim Griffin came by and started talking and invited us to his fund raiser that was starting. We had catfish, shrimp, and beer and talked with some of the local big wigs. The state senator said a trail was being proposed or built between E.D. and Ruston, LA. This museum is definitely worth the road trip, and maybe stay at Union Square Lodging for the night in E.D.

          We finally got into town and set up at the edge of the city park. It was very nice and had a long walking trail. They city opened the bathrooms for us. Mayor Neal came by and talked to us for a long time about the town and local history. He also was pleasantly surprised that we were bicyclists, not motor bikers.
          We walked around town and spotted the donut shop for the next morning. They also had some food at the gas station and a small Pizza Pro.
          Link  •  Reply
          • 09 May 2018 11:16 PM | James Britt (Administrator)
            Day 6, our last day. It was a short ride back to Camden. I was up early and walked over to the donut shop. They had maple bars, cinnamon rolls, breakfast wraps and all. The place was busy. We visited the town CPA who is a triathelete. We talked to him awhile. We had directions to get to the "crater," about 3 miles out. A local guy who knows the area to check on his oil wells, told us a "better" way. It turned out to be about 15 miles, but scenic back roads.

            The crater out Norphlett and is from a 1922 explosion of gas that had been coming out of the ground from months until it blew up killing some people. You could read a paper at night in town 3 miles away for months until it was extinguished. It's mostly overgrown now. We went back to Smackover the short way and found a Pizza Pro for lunch. It was good.

            We took the back road that parallels Hwy 7 until the south end of Camden. There, we had to get on the side of the highway for a couple miles and go over the expressway to get back to our cars. I think there was a little better way but we didn't know the town.

            The BRAA was completed.
            Link  •  Reply

Address: P.O. Box 250817, Little Rock, AR 72225-0817

Phone: (501 912-1449

email Jim

Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software