Southern States Tour – Day 53

Day 53 Route
Day 53 Route

Today was hot, humid, and sunny. Temperatures reached 91 close to Mena, Arkansas this afternoon but they were cooler in the mountains.

Day’s distance: 253 miles
Total trip distance: 9,541 miles

At dinner last night, my new friends suggested that I not miss the Talimena National Scenic Byway. Of course, heading south meant that I would not spend more time in Missouri. In the end, I decided that while I was only in Missouri a short time, I would visit again next year on my intended Northern States Tour of 2016.

Deciding to head south today, I wanted to end up in Mena, to set up an early ride along the Talimena Byway.

Hwy 23 is a well maintained two-lane road passing through hills and farmland.


The Arkansas Pig Trail was closed, the road being washed out from the recent heavy rains, so I chose a route that went through the Ozark Highlands Scenic Byway, aka Hwy 21.


I stopped at the Ozone Burger Barn, a few miles north of Clarksville for a quick lunch.

Lunch Stop in Ozone, AR
Lunch Stop in Ozone, AR

Crossing the swollen Arkansas River,


and headed up Mt. Magazine …


which treated me with some pretty views …


and nicely maintained twisty roads.


The rest of the ride was uneventful and hot, as the temperature climbed into the low 90’s. I was happy to land in Mena and take a cool shower.

At one point today, I was only 20 miles from Dardanelle, the place where I hit the rock in the road. I covered quite a bit of Western Arkansas and its roads over the last three days. I did get into Missouri, but only for a short time. The time spent in Bentonville getting the bike repaired really threw me off my schedule and I feel like I lost two days. But I rode some great roads, I have a whole bike with new tires, I met some great people, and I have another story to tell.

I’m ready for Oklahoma.

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