Thrills in the Hills

Lunch at Low GapLast October I had the opportunity to attend the BMW Riders Association (BMW-RA) national rally in Harrison, Arkansas. A few other club members were planning to attend– so we made plans to ride over. After all, it’s not often a national BMW event is held within an morning’s ride! I met up with Randy and Jeff near Catoosa and we proceeded east to Arkansas, and a great weekend. A number of other local club members were also camped out at the Boone County fairgrounds.

Here’s a nice video somebody put together from their trip to Thrills in the Hills…

Our group ended up camping in what was a baseball diamond. The ground was wonderfully smooth. The only drawback was they didn’t allow us to park the bikes on the field. But we were just down the hill from the main pavilion where the food and beer was located. Over the coming weekend we got see old friends, meet a couple of new ones and ride some absolutely incredible roads.

I bet many of you are familiar with the roads in this part of Arkansas. Highway 7 is legendary. It’s the state’s longest highway, and the majority of it is designated as a Scenic Byway. Years ago Road & Track magazine published an annual list of America’s ten best roads and Arkansas made a perennial appearance. The honors alternated each year between Highway 7 or the famous Pig Trail (Highway 23). But there are plenty more to choose from!

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When you’re in the asphalt equivalent of a candy store it isn’t easy deciding where to ride. Most any direction we went would offer endless twisties. Over the course of the weekend we passed the old Dogpatch complex, visited the Wagon Wheel Resort near Peel’s Ferry, survived the switchbacks of Mount Judea (the locals pronounce it Judy) and had lunch at Low Gap.

The 2015 RA rally was attended by about 1,000 riders. That number is a bit lower than their last two events– but those had been held at the Barber Motorsports Complex and the Biltmore Estate! While the accommodations at the Boone County Fairgrounds were a tad more modest, the hosts did a wonderful job organizing on-site food, beverages and a trailer dispensing hot showers.

But most of us came for the roads and camaraderie, and those definitely did not disappoint.