Thursday, November 20, 2014

Seven Guys and 700 Miles to Dickson Street

By Spencer Blanchette, Chicago, IL

Starting out south of Chicago
Day 1: September 22, 2014

I rode with seven buddies from Chicago to Bikes Blues and BBQ this year.  Most of us have been riding together for about five years. For the past four years we have planned a long ride like this. We had a blast.

As we set out to make the trip, present were Bobby Utesch, Rudy Zimmer, Mike Wegworth, Brad Hurst, Kevin Walton, Chris Harrison and myself, leaving south Chicago for the Rally.  We were joined later by another three guys from Southern Illinois. 

The seven of us started out together from a truckstop south of Chicago on I-80 and route 47.  We left after breakfast at the R Place Cafe (best biscuits and gravy I've had). From there we took route 47 south to 74, then headed east to 57. Took that south from there.

Kevin southbound toward St. Louis
We hit a few spots of construction, but not a cloud in the
Knights of Columbus for Pizza
sky the whole day. Temps were a little low, but jackets, hats and gloves took care of that. After winding through a two lane road, we stopped at a Knights of Columbus hall where Kevin's family treated us to pizza and cold beer!

After leaving with a belly full of pizza and beverages, we
Bobby on the MLK Bridge, St. Louis
donned our helmets for the last hour of the day (Missouri is a helmet state). After a nice relaxing day, we rode across the MLK bridge into St Louis, where we would be parking for the night. Nice to see the sun as it sets and reflects off the arch - it's the little things that remind you what a great country we live in.  We had a perfect ride today, about 350 miles on a lazy route to St Louis.

Day 2: September 23, 2014

Kevin heading in to Devil's Elbow
We rolled through downtown St. Louis before
Elbow Inn at Devil's Elbow
stopping at a Harley dealer to buy things we don't need.  After leaving there, we rode about 100 miles west to Devils Elbow.  Then about another 70 miles west and ten south for an early dinner at Lambert's.  The sun was starting to set as we entered Arkansas, and went down completely as we arrived in Fayetteville. A bit over 700 miles, great trip so far!!

Rally Time: September 24 - 27, 2014

Taking a break during rally riding in Oark
After we were joined at our rental house by three other guys from southern IL (Don Shanks and his buddies, Chris and Doc) we decided to ride up to the top of Mount Nebo, 125 miles southeast of Fayetteville. The ride to the top of Mount Nebo was short but great.  For anyone who hasn't been there, it's a great ride!

Riding through Arkansas is not something you can describe, it is truly is something you have to be there and do. It's something you simply must experience.  There just aren't words, or even photos, that can do it justice.  Don't get me wrong, pictures and videos are great, but the memories from being there with a great group of guys like this is what it's all about.

The good thing about going with a large group is once you get to your destination, you can split off with a couple guys and go your own way for a few hours, or hit a dive bar, greasy spoon, or roll through the college campus like a creepy old man.

The view from the top of Mt. Nebo
Mike had a dead battery when we were leaving the house one night for dinner, once we pulled it, Rudy snatched it and before we knew it, he and the battery were gone. He rolled up a short time later with a new one, picked it up across town for Mike. One of those things that Murphy usually makes happen in the middle of nowhere, but this whole trip was pretty flawless.

Bobby was able to meet up with his uncle who lives near Fayetteville. A few of us wanted to hit up the helicopter pilot about getting some flight time over the strip, but never got around to doing it. It's been a little more than a few years since any of us were enlisted and got to take a spin in a bird.

Ride Home: September 28, 2014

The last photo as Spencer split off from the group
heading home
We left Fayetteville this morning just after 7am.  We hit the highway and I walked in the door at home 12 hours and 661 miles later. Here's the last pic just as I split off from the group.

We will definitely be back for more BBBBQ. The people of Fayetteville were great, the riding was awesome, the food was excellent, and we couldn't have asked for better weather. Hell, it's the only trip I've ever been on where I didn't need my rain gear!  I asked the guys for their comments about the rally, but being men of few words, I got only one reply:  "BADASS!!"








Spencer with Bobby riding beside

Spencer at the Harley Dealership in St. Louis

Spencer and the guys riding through MO