After 12 years of the same route around Lake Ouachita each February I was a little nervous about making the change to Lake Greeson. The Lake Ouachita ride was definitely a success - over and over. Why change success? Traffic was getting worse and worse.
We pedaled away from the Glenwood Country Club at 11:00 on Sunday, February 23, 2019 with our first stop 11 miles away at Kirby, AR on Hwy 70. Our group consisted of 12 riders ready for three days of riding and two nights of camping. Even though this was a Sunday morning, there was considerable traffic. The wide shoulder on Hwy 70 made the stream of cars and trucks a mute point. The rolling hills on this part of the route seemed to be a challenge, but later on we found this was actually not all that bad.
We had lunch at the cafe in Kirby. The food was very good, but the ladies were a bit overwhelmed by a bunch of hungry cyclist in addition to their normal Sunday lunch crowd. We had plenty of time, but all was well.
Kenny Gober and I had stayed at a motel in Glenwood the previous night. We had purchased a couple steaks to grill over a campfire during our first camping night. As we were nearing Kirby we discovered the steaks were still in the refrigerator at the motel, 9 miles back in Glenwood. Luckily we were successful in purchasing the last two steaks at the grocery store/general store across the road from the cafe.
Upon leaving Kirby on Hwy 27 there were a number of hills to climb before we turned on a dirt road that took us to Laurel Creek Campground on Lake Greeson. Four miles of gravel, dirt and mud were interesting but not a problem for this group. No crashes reported. The campground is primitive with no water or electricity. However, the vault toilets were clean and well supplied and the picnic tables were in good condition.
That night everyone prepared their own meals and then enjoyed a campfire, which was needed with a cold night falling upon us. And cold it was. The water on our table was frozen the next morning. Everyone survived and was ready to travel the next morning.
There was a warning that the middle day was going to be the hard travel day. It was just that, but also scenic and enjoyable. Of course the first part of the trip was getting back to pavement. There was one flat which is a great record for a total of 8 miles of dirt road with gravel. Then came around 10 miles of hilly road, but once again good shoulders.
Our first stop of the day was at a cafe in Murfreesboro. Once again the food was great, and we had a good hard working waitress that kept things moving. This was a very good lunch experience on the road. Unfortunately, due to being a witness in a trial the next day, we had to bid farewell to Jim Britt after the meal. He pedaled back toward Glenwood as we went on toward Daisy.
There were a few new riders to our group, which we always like to have. As this day kept going the new riders were becoming settled and the group was becoming a nice cohesive set of riders. This always makes the traveling enjoyable.
The afternoon scenery was great. The traffic was very light. The weather was quite tolerable. The steep, but fairly short, hills kept coming and coming. We did get occasional breaks, especially with a stop at the community of Nathan where a small store was open. But, the hills kept coming. I was getting tired, and it appeared I was not alone. We turned on Hwy 279 with about six miles left to New Hope where we could get some rest at a store, where I did down some chocolate milk and a bar.
We traveled the last nine miles back on Hwy 70 with the good shoulders and some nice scenery of the lake. A little after 4:00 PM we arrived at Daisy State Park where the tents were thrown up and the showers started. It was nice to clean up with a hot shower and then fix a hot meal. I think I stayed up until almost 9:00 PM before making my way into the tent and the warm sleeping bag. The temperature did stay above freezing for the night.
The third morning was warmer, so preparing for the final ride was easier. The group was ready to go by 9:00 AM. We pedaled the 6 miles or so to Kirby where we took a short break and then started the final 10 miles to Glenwood. We crossed the bridge over the Caddo River and then up a slight hill to the Fish Net cafe which flipped on the "Open" lights just as we arrived. Perfect. Two riders had to go on, but nine of us enjoyed a great lunch buffet and conversation.
After lunch we went the final mile or two to the Country Club where we loaded up the bikes (trike) and equipment for the trip back home.
I am considering this route a "keeper". Maybe a change or two and maybe not, but it will be with us for a number of years.