Shamrock Tour® - Eureka Springs, Arkansas

Text: Michael Miller • Photography: Michael Miller

My destination, Eureka Springs, an authentic nineteenth-century resort tucked away in the Ozarks, is 992 miles away. While on my way and passing through the Smokies, it was 37 degrees and sleeting. The next afternoon in Arkansas, it was 92 and bright. Quite a contrast, and it set the tone for the next few days.

In Atlanta, visiting with Michael Orr, Aprilia's marketing czar, I find him to be very accommodating and downright hospitable. Not only did he buy lunch, he also took care of all the details before I left that afternoon on Aprilia's touring road rocket, the Futura, a bike that handles traffic and curves with equal amounts of nimbleness and performance. It is definitely a SPORT-touring machine.

Upon my arrival in Eureka Springs, while checking into the Edelweiss Inn managed by Cindy and Bryan Sumpter, I quickly learned what kind of hosts they are. Bryan rides, too, and right off the bat he assures me all I have to do is call (from anywhere) if I have any problems. He'll bring his trailer and pick me up - now that's hospitality.

Tour 1
Scheduled as my longest day (close to 400 miles) and expected to be a real roller coaster: I was not disappointed. The day started out a nice 64 degrees but soon got hotter. The route went the same way. Down 23 and onto 62 east, I headed past Berryville and into Green Forest, turning left onto 311, a residential street that had me thinking, "Where's the fun in this?" And then I passed the last house and started cutting left, right, left and right. It was on!

The theme was set: "shift, lean, lean the other way, repeat..." and it turned out to be a day of aggressive riding on roads that practically demand it. The asphalt, "pitch and chip," is a really assertive substrate that provides serious traction, but it does take its toll on tires.

Taking 311 into Missouri, where things settle down, I dead-end on 21 and turn north to pick up 21/86 over to Ridgedale, MO, and head south on 65. Crossing back into Arkansas, I've jumped on the carnival ride once more. It's as if the roads know that you've just had a rest and now its time to rip with excitement again.

One hazard has become apparent - the dreaded box turtle. The previous week, they had 10 inches of rain and a lot of small animals were displaced. To rephrase an old joke "Why did the turtle cross the road?" the answer is now known: "To go home." I spotted quite a few of them trudging along, so it was a day of "turtle-dodge" and I even played a round or two of "turtle-polo," slowing down to gently boot them into the grass.

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For the complete touring article, including facts & information, map(s), and GPS files, please purchase the January/February 2005 back issue.