Column: "The Sports Trail": Rolling thunder last weekend did benefit some here

Wednesday, June 5, 2002

by David McNeal

Motorcycles were everywhere last weekend here in Carroll County, gleaming, shining, leather-laden, and roaring.

Wait, wait. I know, there was a lot of noise, and some traffic congestion, but there was also some good accomplished for the citizens who prefer four wheels to two.

With the Eureka Springs Blues Festival in full swing, bikers could get a two-for-one last weekend as a big Poker Run was held to benefit the Area Agency on Aging Foundation.

Yep, on Saturday, 172 motorcyclists from five states converged on the Victoria Inn to ride through the heart of the Ozark mountains, helping to raise an estimated $3,000 for the foundation.

There were 294 poker hands bought for $10 a pop, which means some of the riders were buying more than one hand.

Here's how it works. A route is planned, with stops along the way. At each stop, riders draw one card, then go on to the next stop. At the end of the five, or seven, stops, everybody winds up back at the starting place and the best hands win.

In this case, the Area Agency on Aging Foundation won, and so did the riders who made the trip. Because after a wonderful cruise through the mountains, the Blues Festival awaited.

The route for the Poker Run was a blast, to Huntsville on Hwy. 23, then off to Kingston, and on to Boxley and the Buffalo National River. That features some of the most majestic mountains (and curves) in Arkansas. Then on to Jasper, up Hwy. 7 to Harrison, then back to Eureka Springs.

Food, drink, and door prizes awaited the touring riders, with most back by 6 p.m. And after a spectacular ride, it was on to downtown Eureka Springs for some Blues excitement.

If you made a trip downtown on Friday or Saturday, you will never have to go to a motorcycle shop again. If there was some piece of chrome or leather, or paint job you didn't see, you probably didn't get around to all the locations.

How many bikes were in town Saturday evening?

Hummmm. Well, when Alice and I went with friends Gordon and Linda Wellman to eat at the Pied Piper on Saturday evening, there were over 100 motorcycles in that parking lot alone.

There were close to a hundred across from the courthouse, and many more tucked into parking lots and small corners too tight to get a car into all over town.

There were also a lot of riders who didn't want to chance bringing their $20,000 investment into that traffic action, so they just stayed at the motels and hotels and left the bikes parked.

Hundreds, that's the best I can guess. And all of those riders were buying meals, snacks and souvenirs, and staying somewhere.

You see, motorcyclists, although ingenious about utilizing the space on their bikes, don't bring food, drink, or housing when they visit us.

They do bring money, and expect to spend it.

There has been a lot of complaining about the noise the riders make as they roar through the stone canyons of downtown Eureka Springs. It is annoying.

But if you watch, spectators on the sidewalks are often calling for the riders to rev those engines, egging the egos on.

Many ride quietly by, letting those big combustion engines lope along as they cruise which shops they want to come into. And if they park in front of a business, with all that chrome and leather shining, a crowd invariably gathers to gawk and wish, which brings shoppers in.

I hope everyone remembers the complaints about too many tour buses, and how that source of revenue vanished because of those complaints.

Gleaming, shiny, chromed with leather, and sometimes annoying. But that's the way it is when you have house guests.

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