curves and grooves

The sun was beaming in my window this morning, beckoning me to come out and enjoy the clear skies. I had one more class to attend at the conference, and then Lib and I were free to take whatever route home we wanted. Interstate, with its open throttle, laid back groove; twisty hilly curves with the obligatory shifting and leaning, or long gentle curves where you might scrape a peg once in a while. Yes, Arkansas has it all. I chose Highway 23 from Brashears to I-40, and any rider of Arkansas roads will recognize that by a more common name: the Pig Trail. The swoops and shadows of Hwy 16 from Fayetteville to Brashears was pleasant appetizer for the fun to come.Screenshot (241)

I had been listening to old B-52’s in my earbuds as I rode, and as I turned south onto 23 the song “Roam” came on, so I set it to repeat as Lib and I found the rhythm of the road. The hills don’t come immediately, but instead the road starts out wide open and closes in as you go, soon becoming a tunnel of foliage and cool air and unadulterated joy. I took most of this in 5th gear, barely pushing my senses and reflexes enough to enjoy the thrill and andrenaline without discarding caution. Only on a couple of switchbacks close to the middle did I have to downshift, and for once, I seemed to have the road to myself, with no trucks in front of me or faster vehicles behind. Glorious. Cool, even cold, air, then warm at the unshaded spots, and then diving and curving back into cool shade, feathering the clutch and accelerating through the curve and repeating. I stopped at the gas station at 1-40 to take a break and check my map and decided to opt out of the interstate home in favor of continuing straight on to take Hwy 16 East instead. As I began to enjoy the long, consistent radius curves of 16, I felt sorry for the massed of bikes that came out of the tight curves of the Pig Trail to take I-40, apparently unaware of the joys of 16 on the south side of the interstate. Where 23 challenges the rider with tight curves and surprises (if you haven’t memorized it) in dense woods and hills, 16 offers broad fields where you can see what’s ahead and take it in stride, allowing you to enjoy the leans that much more.

As I came to Subiaco, I gave in to a long held curiosity and pulled into the campus of Subiaco Academy. This location has housed a benedictine abbey since just after the Civil War, and the present structure has been in use since the end of the 19th century. This is a little known treasure of Arkansas, because it is hidden in the “middle of nowhere.”

I always appreciate church architecture and decor that directs my attention and thoughts to the Creator, rather than a stage performance, but that’s more and more rare.

From Subiaco, I was on my way home. Close to Dardanelle, I found myself eating the words of my previous post as I ran into an unexpected wall of rain. The weather went from sunny skies, to cloudy, to waterfall, in seconds, and within a couple of minutes I was drenched through as I had no opportunity to safely pull over. In about 15 minutes it all disappeared, just before I pulled onto 1-40 to make good time and let the wind dry me out. That never happened.

I don’t believe I’ve ever had a bad day of riding. Oh I’ve laid it down in a mud puddle or a parking lot – once I forgot to put the kickstand down at a fuel pump after a long ride. That would have been embarrassing if anyone had been watching. But to borrow a phrase from the fishing world, a bad day of riding is better than a good day at work. I still like rides without breaks or falls best though. I found this clever poster at the BMW shop to show the effects of riding in comparison to other questionable hobbies.

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