March 26-28, 2004. Fifteen riders made the ride, and a good time was had by all. The riders were as follows: Carl Chapman - Booth, TX - DR350, John Desch - Topeka, KS - XR650, Tim Edwards - Topeka, KS - KLR650, Mark Gardner - Edmond ,OK - GS650, David Hemphill - Lawrence, KS - DR650, Kenneth Houk - Wichita, KS - KLR650, Kurt Lyles - Edmond, OK - KLR650, Lee McElroy - Bethany, OK - XR650, Pete Miller - Jones, OK - R100gs, Gary Miller - Edmond, OK - KLR650, David Mills - Burleson, TX - KLR650, Steven Mills - Shawnee, OK - KLR650, Randy Meyers - Shawnee, OK - KLR650, Morris Shelton Jr. - Tulsa, OK - KLR650, Dennis Zeigler - Lenexa, KS - LC4

Friday, the ride started at 8 am, with overcast weather and 55 degrees. Six riders headed southeast out of Eureka for the Buffalo river area. The route consisted of asphalt, fire roads, and mostly gravel back country roads. It did sprinkle, but never enough to put on the rain gear we all had with us. Lunch was in Jasper, AR., a neat little town with the county court house in the middle of a town square. We arrived back at the motel around 4:30 and the temp was 72 degrees. The riding conditions were perfect since rain the day before completely cut the dust out. 175 miles total on this day.

Saturday was the big ride. Fifteen riders started out, we made it about a mile and I had to stop to fart around with my GPS. Pete's battery shot craps so he and four riders split off to go find a new battery and try to meet up with us later. They ended up doing their own ride since finding us would have been near impossible. I layed the route out using a Mapsource road and rec program. One major drawback to MapSource is it can't tell you if the road has been closed or has a locked gate across it. We ended up taking several detours.

I found another reason to dislike ... 4-wheelers (ATVs). We were going down a wonderful forest trail that was quite remote and primitive. I was in heaven. There were several water holes we had to cross and all seemed to have smooth bottoms. Well, being the lead rider I got to find out not all were smooth. I started through one hole with trees on each side so you had to go in one small area just the width of a 4-wheeler. Water was covering the very deep ruts and center hump those darn Atv's make so when the front wheel started to disappear I tried to turn only to have the bike flip over when I tried to cross the center hump that I had no idea was there. The riders close enough to see it sure got a good chuckle at my expense. I guess I was lucky not to have sucked water and muck into the bike.

Lunch was at the Oark general store, it's a step back to the past. Everyone should try to ride that area and go to eat there before their riding days are over. Again, no dust due to damp conditions. Temperature started at 62 degrees and 210 miles later it was 75 degrees. Finished the ride around 6pm.

Worst thing that happened on the ride was a flat for Tim E. When you think about it, we had a good safety record; ten bikes at 200 miles per bike = 2,000 miles of fast paced trail and gravel road riding with no mishaps.

On Sunday the OK. riders were packing up to leave and a severe thunderstorm rolled in. My wife and I hopped in the truck and headed home only to find out it was raining so hard I had to drive about 25 mph due to not being able to see. Thirty miles later, it was still raining but not as heavily, so the rest of the trip home was at 70 mph. I can't wait to hear what the Okies have to say about riding 200-250 miles in the rain.

Several of us talked and we are going to make this a annual ride, maybe next year you can go with us.

David Hemphill - writer
Kenny Houk - cover shot
Carl Chapman & Tim Edwards - album photos

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