Touring - Cruised West Arkansas
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Past tense, "cruised". In college, I was out of state and went to a university in Russellville, Arkansas. My father lived 50 miles west at Ozark. My buddy's dad lived near Fort Smith. My other buddies lived in Little Rock / NLR. You could find us bicycling anywhere along that line. I bought my "Challenge" touring bike in 1984 and was using it to make those trips.
November, 2012, I took that 28 year old grand touring bicycle back to Arkansas to run that line again.
My lovely parmachi and I made a vacation week out of it.
We drove to NLR (the speed trap of Sherwood, actually). My college buddy took us to Fort Smith (and he went off to visit his dad).
Squeeze and I had a blast bicycling the 203 miles back to her sister's house. Instead of four days, we wound up taking five. No problem. We were not in a hurry and it was her first time to bicycle that kind of distance outside of the Texas (flat) area near where we live.
Same bike. Took it instead of the Big Dummy because it knows the way.
Same bonehead driver, only a lot heavier now. 150 against the 107 when I bought the bike.
Same beautiful bicycling.
US 64 from Fort Smith to Conway. In Conway, you do NOT turn and 64 will. You are then on
Arkansas 365 from Conway to North Little Rock. It will cross into Little Rock on the same bridge that you see famous footage of from the military occupation of Little Rock (Central High School) of 1959.
Ask me if you are not from Arkansas and want to bicycle west Arkansas. I might be able to help.
12-16-12, 08:22 AM
Great state for touring, Arkansas. NW on my to do list. Specifically the old hwy from Fayettville to Alma, and more.
thanks for your post and for those that want to tour Arkansas, the Arkansas Bicycle Club is a very friendly group and a wealth of information on roads and routes as well. In fact on their website and forums they have several suggested routes throughout the state.
12-16-12, 06:15 PM
Thanks for the route information, Salek.
I toured South West, Arkansas about a month ago but never got north of Lake Greeson. I hope to find some time this spring-summer to tour the area you mentioned. Do you know much about the roads north of Conway?
I rode from Fayetteville to Mt. Magazine a couple of years ago....
HWY 16 to HWY 23 (Camped at Redding on the Mulberry River)
HWY 23 to Ozark (Camped on ARK River at Aux Arc Park)
HWY 309 to Paris then up the hill to Mt. Magazine.
I want to do the trip again, but go down HWY 71 cut over to Ozark and ride all the way to Hot Springs...
12-21-12, 08:50 PM
Drove thru Arkansas once & detoured on a couple of the back roads, it was pretty scenic & interesting. Some of the valleys were fragrant with smoke from charcoal-making, I hadn't known it was a big cottage industry there. Rolling hills that would seem to make for moderately-challenging riding. That might have been east Arkansas, don't remember. Tennessee was scenic too, with the Smoky Mountains & the hollers with real old-fashioned log cabins.
Somehow this got out of order. This was a response to the post about cycling 71.
That would be 71. I remember when 71 was a DEATH TRAP FOR CARS and you could forget bicycling. Today, I have only traveled 71 from FtSmith to DeQueen. Now, that section is a proper "highway" according to the legal and ancient definitions. I never drove the upper section when I claimed to be the Second (not the First) Fastest Car on the Pig Trail. (The Pig Trail is 23.) I have still neither driven (with that Second Fastest Car) nor bicycled it as a "responsible adult", whatever that is. I presume, assume, and hope that from FtS to Fayett'Nam that it is now a legally defined a dictionary defined "highway", too. I recommend asking current natives to assist with determining the safety of that route.
Actually, I would like to bicycle up 71 from Fts and then the Pig Trail down to Ozark. Maybe, I shall. One more "Bucket List" item...
to Kbabin, in case this post wanders as did my last.
I lived in that area for years and never knew that Aux Arc allowed camping. Rats, I wish that I had known that last month. You did the Pig Trail (23). Major jealous. I sooooo want to bicycle that. 309 was my private "air corridor" back in the 80s with my Karmann Ghia. We claimed to be the Second Fastest Car on the Pig Trail.
Did you go up/down the north side of Mt. Magazine??? The north side has 6.95 miles of unbroken grade. You can coast for nearly seven miles!!!! Otherwise, you are busting leg for nearly seven miles.
7 is a beautiful drive. Not sure about bicycle safety. However, when I was at I40 and 7 to get a degree, there was a couple that would bicycle from Hot Springs to Fayett'Nam on Friday to visit friends. Sunday, they would return. That is a 14 hour run according to those very well built folks.
As to roads north of Conway, keep in mind that you will be in the Bostons and Ozarks. Except for the "big ones" such as 65, the roads may not have shoulders at all. I have not driven (never cycled) 25 in over 10 years. I am not sure if it has been upgraded to "highway" status. This is where I would certainly defer to the Arkansas Bicycle Club.
As a life-long resident of northwest Arkansas, last year a friend and I cycled across the state, north to south. Started in Blue Eye, MO (about 20 miles from Branson, MO) cycled to near Harrison, then thru Russellville, Mt Ida, and Hope, then on to the Louisiana border. Here's my blog, lots of photos! http://www.ozarkcyclingphotographer.blogspot.com/2011/09/ride-across-arkansas.html
Read read a portion of the blog. Great intel. Now Squeeze and I can plan on that ride. Even though I am a native Texan, I got my degree in Rutt'ville. I worked at Cagle's Mill for the years that it took to get the degree.
I did not remember the shoulders so that is very important. They may have widened the road in the 30 years that I have been back home.
I also dread the stuffin's out of that Jasper climb. It was scary enough noticing the truck traps while driving it in my Karmann.
01-01-13, 12:17 PM
Thanks for the link to your blog. That looked like a really fun trip through beautiful country. I hope to find myself in those hills sometime in 2013.
01-01-13, 12:46 PM
Most of the roads in SW Arkansas, at least those I experienced away from urban centers, seemed better than what I've become inured to in Texas. However, there was quite a bit of commercial traffic, including logging, oil field, and poultry trucks, on many of the remote highways. Local knowledge and experience are invaluable at identifying these, google maps don't always tell the whole story.
Although it didn't have much of a shoulder, this road south of Dierks had very little traffic.
Thanks for the tip about consulting with the Arkansas Bicycle Club.
You wrote "I would like to bicycle up 71 from Fts and then the Pig Trail down to Ozark.". HWY71 is very quite now that I-540 is the main route and it a great ride anytime. HWY16 to the Pig Trail (HWY23) should be done on during the day after the commuter traffic has passed. HWY23 is good just about anytime...
Your route would be possible, you would just need to figure out how far you can ride a day and work out the camping side of things...
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