I grew up in Arkansas, so it’s fitting that I’m heading to the Ozarks for my first Shamrock Tour®. I plan to spend roughly a week in northwest Arkansas, with Fayetteville as my home base. The Bikes, Blues, and BBQ 2021 rally was set to provide plenty of opportunities to meet folks, listen to great music, and eat award-winning barbecue.
And then COVID canceled the rally. But, instead of giving up on my Shamrock Tour, I decided to embrace the changed plans, knowing I can find adventure anywhere as long as I look for it.
First, I have to ride around 300 miles from McKinney, TX, to Fayetteville, AR. Even though I usually avoid interstates on my motorcycle, I-49 north from Fort Smith, AR, is beautiful. It feels like it’s all bridges snaking through the trees of the Ozark Mountains. The Candlewood Suites in Fayetteville puts me up for the week. Once I unpack the bike and check the route for tomorrow, I head to Mangos Gourmet Taco Shop for tacos and nachos before hitting the rack early, anxious for the first leg of the tour.
Recommended Lodging: Candlewood Suites
Candlewood Suites in Fayetteville is a perfect spot to begin and end each day on this Shamrock Tour. They say they’re the closest hotel to the University of Arkansas and they offer free shuttle rides to games during football season. The rooms are spacious, with a living room, a full kitchen with dishes and cookware, and a large bedroom. There is a little “market” in the lobby to buy snacks and toiletries if you forget anything, and during the week of the Bikes, Blues, and BBQ rally, there is a bike wash station around back. Find it at 2270 M.L.K. Jr Blvd, Fayetteville, AR, (479) 856-6262.
The Healing Waters of Eureka Springs
The weather couldn’t be more perfect the entire week. It’s brisk and chilly in the morning and warm enough in the afternoon to change into a lightweight Bohn armored shirt.
The first leg of the Shamrock is a 150-mile loop to the northeast, riding through Springdale on the way to Eureka Springs. But first, a stop at the world-famous Pivot Rock and Natural Bridge. The road leading to the entrance is more of a wish list of what a road wants to be when it grows up. The once-paved Pivot Rock Rd is now a rough series of potholes, rocks, ruts, and encroaching trees. Low and slow, all the way in.
The half-mile trail to see Pivot Rock and Natural Bridge costs $7 and is an easy walk through the woods. The bridge sneaks up on you pretty quickly, and Pivot Rock is around another turn of the trail. I expected them to be a little bigger, but it’s still a nice place to stretch your legs for a bit. Once you’ve seen the two main attractions, be sure to explore the rest of the area. Tucked away in the trees is a clearing filled with hundreds of piles of stones, arranged to look like little monuments or cairns. They’re literally everywhere. I make one for RoadRUNNER and leave it right on the edge of a stone outcropping.
Motorcycle & Gear
2014 Suzuki V-Strom 1000
Helmet: Sedici Sistema II
Jacket: Sedici Avventura Waterproof Jacket
Pants: Sedici Avventura Waterproof Pants
Boots: Red Wing Shoes Dynaforce
Gloves: Sedici Fillipo Waterproof Gloves
Luggage: SW-Motech Evo Engage Tank Bag
Downtown Eureka Springs is just a short trip back on Pivot Rock Rd. Speaking of which, be aware that Eureka Springs is full of twisty and unpaved roads and steep hills disguised as roads. My GPS seemingly tries to kill me at one point, leading me up an unpaved off-camber, full of big rocks road. Luckily, my Metzeler Tourance Next tires didn’t let me down.