Updated: 11 hours ago
As the event coordinator, there's nothing quite like the anticipation leading up to a “Just For Fun” riding event. The Ozark Escape has always held a special place in my heart, requiring a year's worth of meticulous preparation and planning. Yet, the sheer joy it brings to sport-touring and Adventure riders is worth every ounce of effort. This year, the event surpassed all expectations, drawing in an even greater number of riders than last year with 72 riders registered and 59 converging at the Best Western.,
On Thursday, I jumped on the Versys, anticipating a wet ride. With a mix of luck and cautious maneuvering,
I managed to arrive at the hotel unscathed, but it was clear that not all riders were as fortunate. Stories began to surface of intrepid Texas riders braving hours of relentless rain, while other riders faced numerous encounters with the elements as they made their way to the picturesque town of Eureka Springs. That was the bad news. The good news was the fact that beautiful weather would greet us for the rest of the weekend.
I checked into the hotel and was greeted enthusiastically by the manager of the property. They were very happy to have our group staying at the hotel. I got checked in and realized that I was one of the first riders to check-in. I thought it would be a great time to take a nap before everyone started to show up. The distant hum of engines gradually grew louder, rousing me from my temporary slumber. Curiosity piqued, I peered out the window, and what I saw left me in awe. The parking lot was now adorned with an impressive array of motorcycles, gleaming under the overcast sky. Eager to join the group and kick some tires, I made my way downstairs, ready to immerse myself in the spirited conversations and warm greetings that awaited me among fellow riders.
After kicking some tires and exchanging stories, I made my way across the street to the Gravel Bar, where Dustin and Kate, our dedicated Adventure ride guides, awaited. These remarkable individuals generously volunteered their time, and I couldn't be more grateful for their invaluable assistance and friendship. We gathered around a table, indulging in a delicious meal while savoring a few well-deserved adult beverages. Conversations flowed effortlessly as we caught up on each other's lives and eagerly discussed the thrilling rides that awaited us over the next two days. Dustin and Kate, the proud owners of the esteemed So Live So Ride Moto Ranch nestled here in Arkansas, would showcase their exceptional riding prowess over the next two days, leading rides around Eureka Springs. Their expertise and passion for the sport heightened the anticipation and added an extra layer of excitement to the event.
As I headed to bed, the skies opened up and a steady rain fell. The forecast was good, so we hoped we would awake to clear skies.
Saturday dawned with a brilliant display of clear skies and radiant sunshine, a stark contrast to the weather we had encountered yesterday. It was as if the elements themselves were conspiring to make this day of riding truly extraordinary.
As the designated leader for the street ride, I couldn't help but feel a surge of excitement. We met at 8:45 AM, for a brief but crucial safety and ride meeting to ensure that everyone was well-prepared for the journey ahead. With kickstands up promptly at 9 AM, our group of 12 riders set off, ready to embrace the twisty roads. Simultaneously, Dustin and Kate embarked on their own exhilarating adventure, guiding a group of six riders through the off-road trails. The day held boundless promises of exhilaration and camaraderie.
Our pursuit of the perfect twisty roads yielded an abundance of thrills and scenic delights that exceeded all expectations. Along our route, we encountered several noteworthy landmarks, each adding a touch of intrigue to our ride. However, the true highlight of the day awaited us as we delved into the captivating landscape of winding turns and undulating roads that makeup MO90.
The exhilaration of attacking the perfect apex of each curve was an adrenaline rush like no other.
As our hunger grew, we made a delightful pitstop in Bella Vista, Arkansas, where we indulged in a well-deserved lunch. With satisfied appetites and recharged energy, we resumed our journey, knowing that the road ahead still held countless surprises.
Upon our return to the hotel around 3 PM, serendipity struck as fate would have it. Just as we arrived, Dustin and Kate's adventurous group of riders rolled in as well. The air crackled with shared excitement and beaming smiles adorned the faces of every participant. Tales from the day filled the air as riders eagerly exchanged stories of triumph and memorable moments from their respective ride. The joy and enthusiasm were contagious, forging connections and making memories that would last a lifetime.
As the sun began to set, riders dispersed to explore the charming town of Eureka Springs on their own, each seeking a memorable dining experience that would perfectly cap off the day's exhilarating adventures. Eureka Springs is a magical place that holds a special allure for participants of the Ozark Escape.
With Saturday's arrival, the heavens bestowed upon us another day of promising weather, setting the stage for yet another remarkable day of riding. Multiple groups embarked on their chosen routes. Arkansas is a hidden gem for all motorcycle enthusiasts, Regardless of the direction riders pointed their machines, a plethora of exceptional roads and trails unfurled before them. The state's diverse topography, from sweeping curves to scenic byways, catered to every rider's desire.
As the day drew to a close, riders gathered in the hotel parking lot, basking in the shared afterglow of yet another fantastic day of riding. Anticipation filled the air as the clock ticked closer to the much-anticipated Saturday dinner at Myrtie Mae's. However, as if to add a twist of unpredictability to the event, fate decided to throw a challenge our way.
Just as 30 riders settled into their seats, ordering drinks and eagerly perusing the menu, the power abruptly went out, not only in the restaurant but throughout the entire town. Amidst the darkness, no one grew upset or directed blame toward the staff who were working diligently to accommodate our group. Instead, riders embraced the unforeseen circumstances and focused on the invaluable company of fellow riders. Laughter and conversations filled the air, creating a warm and inclusive atmosphere in the midst of the power outage. It was a testament to the flexible and adaptable spirit that unites the motorcycle community.
The restaurant staff, understanding the situation, went above and beyond to ensure our comfort and satisfaction. They graciously comped our drinks and extended the offer of a complimentary salad bar, showcasing their dedication to customer care even in the face of unforeseen challenges.
In the end, what could have been a moment of frustration transformed into a memorable and heartwarming experience. The power outage served as a reminder that the true essence of the motorcycle community lies not only in the exhilarating rides and shared adventures but also in the unwavering support and positive attitude that binds us together, even in the face of unexpected obstacles.
As the evening progressed, the parking lot buzzed with the bittersweet realization that the end of the event was drawing near. Riders gathered, engaging in heartfelt conversations, and sharing stories while "kicking tires" in the dimly lit parking lot.
While the end of the Ozark Escape evoked a sense of longing, there was solace in knowing that the memories created during this remarkable gathering would endure. The shared experiences, laughter, and camaraderie woven throughout the event would forever be etched in the hearts of all participants.
The Ozark Escape had become more than just a ride; it had become a shared tapestry of experiences and, friendships.
Sunday morning arrived, and Jamie and I were greeted by the harmonious rumble of motorcycles, serving as an early morning symphony of departure. The final day of the event had arrived, and riders gathered to fuel up with breakfast before embarking on their respective journeys back home. Some faced a short and leisurely ride, while others had hours upon hours of road stretching out before them.
As the Versys roared beneath me on my ride home, my mind wandered back to the whirlwind of the weekend that had just unfolded. The memories danced before my eyes like a vivid film, each frame filled with warm smiles, genuine friendships, and the electrifying thrill of riding. For those who had yet to experience the joy of riding in Arkansas, You are missing out! The state's hidden roads, enchanting forests, and picturesque towns provided an immersive and invigorating experience for riders of all levels.
The Ozark Escape serves as a gateway to this enchanting realm, a reminder to all riders that they were missing out on an incredible journey through the heart of the Natural State. We hope to see you all at next year's event. Until then…