The original idea was to seek out the best roads in Arkansas, a task I realized would be impossible in the few days I had to spend here, even with the aid of my excellent Butler Map of the Ozarks. As it turns out, any road in Arkansas that’s not an interstate is a great motorcycle road; bike tires should wear evenly here from shoulder to shoulder with no need at all for a harder compound in the middle.
The hardest part of riding in Arkansas for us bi-coastal types is getting here, but my Victory Cross Country 15th Anniversary Edition loaner, complete with heated grips and seat and cruise control, made the eastward trek quite literally a blast. East of Phoenix, AZ 60 is a beautiful two-lane drive through high country with little traffic and open sightlines that lets you proceed even faster than the 70-mph limit, and sets you on a backroad trajectory right into Arkansas – so fast the vents in my excellent Shoei Neotec had sucked my hair into stylish cornrows by the time I climbed off in Brownfield, Texas, after covering the 800 miles from Blythe, California on day two of my ride. Kudos to the traditionally styled Victory’s ability to cover ground in a very modern way at a burn rate of no less than 36 mpg.
There’s nothing like a long motorcycle trip to re-gap your synapses and restore your belief in the time/space continuum. Most of the time the hours slide by unnoticed, leading to nothing more revelatory than cocktail hour. On a motorcycle slicing along at 80 from 150 miles away, two hours has you in Roswell, New Mexico, just as predicted – with just enough time to stop for a photo and a wrong turn.
Once you’re there, Arkansas is like going back 20 years or maybe 120; there’s just a little bit less of the me-first attitude that’s prevalent on the west coast. Everybody drives American cars, Baptist churches outnumber BMW coupes, and nobody understands why you’re disgruntled to climb off your motorcycle after an 800-mile day and find out you’re in a dry county.