Just a Leisure Ride in Missouri, NOT…….



In the afternoon of Sunday September 1st, 9 bikes and riders headed south from Springfield, Mo., along I-65 to meet up with two more bikes and riders, for what would be an absolutely tremendous ride along three beautiful country roads, in and around the Branson, Mo. area.

One of the difficulties in bringing a large group, to take a ride along some very challenging roads, safely and enjoyably, requires knowing the abilities of the riders in your group. But, what if some of the riders have never been on these types of roads and therefore, can not accurately access their skill levels? What we did, was to include a sample road, that we could use as a reasonable criteria, along our path to our meeting place. It was explained that we would travel this particular road, but we would take the road only at a easy pace. But, that it would give them the idea of the conditions and the style of the roads that we were to be riding.  When we got to our meeting place, we then asked everyone where in the group they thought they belonged. We divided the group on to three sections. At the front were those riders that thought they would be able to aggressively attack the roads we would be riding. In our case, there were 4 bikes in this section. Our next section, was for the moderate riders, in which we had 5 bikes. Then finally, in the last section, we had an inexperienced rider that could take the ride leisurely, followed by an experienced rider as the tail, to keep a watchful eye on everything.

            Now, the first leg of our trip would repeat the same road that we used as a sample road, earlier. By doing this, we could reassess our plan only a few miles later, and make sure that everyone was where they should be in the group. In our case, everything seemed to be working.

            The first road we took, route 248, had more curves than countable, being able to take these curves anywhere from 20 to 60 mph. I have always considered these roads to be perfect Wing roads. They are not the switchbacks of the dragon at Deals Gap, but they provide the ability to really push your bike around, and to be able to cruise leisurely if you want. The lead group was out of sight in short order, and the second group put some distance between them and the third group. CB communication was constant, filled with the usual, speed information, turn information, road condition information, and even discussions on how to ride your bike, using counter steering and looking through the turns. At every major stop, which in this area, is mostly stop signs, we had each group wait for the others, so when we made a turn or change of direction, we were all together. Rt 248 runs for about 34 miles and at the western end, it is more open country and rolling hills. At route 39 we headed south. This very short, 8 mile stretch of road, provided everyone with one of the more exciting rides ever. Many of us have experienced the roller coaster hills of Stage Coach Trail near Galena, but those are like a roller coaster at Kiddy Land, compared to what route 39 offers. Upon my urging, as I knew this road would be begging for more, the lead group attacked the hills, and only a short while later, I could no longer remain in the moderate group, so I moved up to join the first group. I did first let the second group know that I was proceeding and to take the route at their pace. At the top of some of the hills you could easily see two or three hills ahead, very clearly. We did reach some high two digit speeds and well, some might have been even higher, but we will leave that alone. For those that have experienced the Eagle or similar first hill height of a tall roller coaster, can you imagine the same feeling coming over a ridge to see the bottom of the hill a very, very long distance away and at a very steep incline. Can you say, WWWOOOOWWWW!!!

            When we came to route 76 which we took to the east, I had everyone pull off to the side of the road and take a breather. I wish I had a video camera to catch the expressions and conversation that took place at this rest stop. The adreneline was really flowing. There were 18 very excited riders. The reason for taking the rest stop, was that I realized that it was important to enjoy the ride we just took, but more important to calm down and regain our senses for the continuing ride ahead. If we had continued immediately, the juiced up energy would not have allowed everyone to think clearly, and we had some very twisty roads, yet to ride. Breaking up your ride, as you change road conditions would be a wise idea for any group ride. Think about how you would be feeling after spending 2 hours traveling at 75 mph on the interstate, followed by a twisty road, traveling at 45 mph. Your head would not be properly geared for the lower speed and you will most likely find yourself traveling way too fast for the conditions of the new road. So, consider making stops when the conditions change.

            Our third road, in this trilogy, was route 76, between route 39 and 13. This road is a bit more scenic with tree covered roads and the curves have a few more hills included. Also this roads will let you to see through two and even three curves ahead, which allow you to flow from one side lean to the other, without stopping in the middle. Something we don’t get much chance to do at home. When we reached one of the very few stop signs along the way, one individual got off his bike and came my direction, and just said, THANK YOU, and got back on his bike. When we reach the end of this part of the ride, one of our bikes left the group to join others, but offered, that this was one of the best rides they have ever been on. More on this later. Now, due to the time, we took a ride through West Branson and up around route 265, which gave us a good birds eye view of Branson. Then we dropped down, and I do mean dropped down, a very long and steep new road that they have put in and came in the west end of town. We pulled into the restaurant, Charlies, a little later than planned, but to the motioning of our Ice Cream leaders, who had saved us parking places. With the exception of some late food, everyone had a very good time, though some were embarrassed by the beautiful entertainer, mostly those with slim hairlines. I understand pictures are coming. After dinner, we took a very comfortable ride back to Springfield. The majority of this group road about 150 miles, while one couple ran 400 over the course of the day, they were the lucky ones.

            In hind sight, though the ride was safe and very enjoyable, in conversation later, we think we should have had a lead bike for the inexperienced rider, in addition to the tail bike that we had. In this way, the inexperienced rider would have had a guide to show them the right way to travel through the curves, and how to judge the proper line of travel. In the future, this should be kept in mind, and even though it requires some sacrifice, it will keep the group safer, and the last thing you need on any ride, is an accident. Also the object of our chapter and GWRRA is education and safety. Which when done, provide lots of fun.

            On Monday, as we were leaving the hotel for home, we, our chapter received some very nice compliments. In fact I would say that these comments strike at the heart of what our chapter has worked very hard to achieve and identifies who we really are. The comments were as follows: First, I had probably the best time riding a motorcycle that I have ever had. And second, I have traveled with many different groups of people, but have never ridden with a group that spends so much time during a ride conversing and communicating about education. From letting everyone know the conditions of the road, to the types of curves or the speeds that we should take them at. And then the discussions of how to ride the bike, counter steer, bend the elbows, look through the turns. Thank you and I look forward to riding with you again.

            Thank  You for the Thank You