Rides, Rallies and Events Recap

Magna Riders Association Visits Eureka Springs, Arkansas

Written by  June 30, 2005

Harley riders have the H.O.G. BMW riders have their own clubs and rallies. So do people who ride Honda Goldwings, or Victory Cycles, and even Indians. Heck, even people who ride vintage motorcycles have their own organizations.

But a group just for Honda Magna motorcycles?

The Magna, that sleek, four-cylinder piece of machinery that’s at its best cruising along the highway between 70 and 80 mph, is, to say the least, in a class by itself. While out on the road or at poker runs or other events, you may see a Magna or two among the other hundreds of motorcycles.

Magna riders are as unique as the motorcycle itself, and I was elated to find two groups on the web: Magna Riders Association, and Magna Owners of Texas (MOOT). I was even more ecstatic to find out the MRA conducts rallies and that this year one was going to be close to me in Eureka Springs, Arkansas.

I live in Kansas about 25 miles south of Kansas City, Missouri, and Eureka Springs is just more than five hours from me—a one-day ride. The event was scheduled for June 6-11.

I’ve been to Eureka several times but never on a motorcycle. Despite the anticipation of riding Arkansas’ hills and twisties, there were some reservations about riding that far to stay five days with people I’ve never talked to, much less met.

Are they hell raisers? Whips? Chains? Boozers?

Not this crowd. I quickly found that organization and safety on rides is foremost.

Greg Cothern, who started MOOT, took over for MRA organizer Kevin Reinhold who was unable to make the trip because of personal reasons. He did a great job from the first day’s ride.

“We have several rides mapped out,” he told the group. “Some people like to ride a lot of miles every day others like to ride long one day and short the next. It’s whatever you decide to do, and if some people want to go on their own, that’s OK, too.

“But when we ride in groups, we’ll have a leader and a trailer. And if someone has trouble, the group stays together until the problem is taken care of. Don’t leave anyone by himself or herself.

“And when we stop, there’s no drinking of alcohol. If you want to do that when we get back, that’s fine, but not while we’re riding.

“Our first priority is safety.”

Throughout the week, we took rides of more than 200 miles to less than 100. No matter which direction you go, there are plenty of curves, hills, dynamic Arkansas scenery, and plenty of places to stop, such as the world’s largest windchime just south of Eureka Springs on Highway 23.

One place of interest was the Pea Ridge National Military Park where a Civil War battle took place March 7-8, 1862. More than 3300 men were killed or wounded.

Union soldiers had battled the Confederates in Missouri, and had driven them into Arkansas where they were met with reinforcements. But after the two-day battle, faced with dwindling ammunition, the Confederates withdrew leaving Missouri in the hands of the Union Army.

There’s a museum at the site, and for $3, visitors can ride through the battlefield where historic sites are marked, and tour the Elkhorn Tavern.

Twice we took rides to War Eagle, Arkansas, on the War Eagle River south of Eureka. There, a working water-powered grist mill continues to stone buhr ground cornmeal, whole wheat flour, cereals, rye, grits, and mixes.

It’s the fourth mill constructed at the site. Sylvanus and Catherine Blackburn settled there and built the first mill in 1830, which was washed away. They built a second that was burned by the Confederates during the Civil War. The Blackburn’s son built the third mill in 1873.

Jewell and Leta Medlin, and Zoe Medlin Caywood built the current mill in 1973 when War Eagle celebrated its centennial. The mill is an authentic reproduction of the 1873 mill.

The mill is open seven days a week, has plenty of craft and milled items to buy, and also houses the Bean Palace Restaurant that serves breakfast and lunch. The specialty? Cornbread and beans!

There’s also a teatime for desserts and drinks from 4 to 5 p.m. The pecan and blackberry cobbler are to die for, especially with a scoop of ice cream.

The area is open for fishing, swimming, and picnicking.

While we were there, The War Eagle Seminar was taking place. It is an educational program of the Ozarks Arts and Crafts Fair Association, which also sponsors the nationally known War Eagle Fair and the Springtime War Eagle Fair. It begins the first Monday of June.

Students (of all ages) enroll in the two-week woodcarving course. They are assigned a different instructor each week. Visitors to War Eagle are encouraged to walk through the large tent and building that house the crafters to watch and talk with the participants.

Their abilities range from beginner to the very talented.

Cost is $200 for the 10 days of instructions. One-week courses are available for $100. Participants can choose from woodcarving, basket making, sculpting, silk flower arranging, woodburning, bird carving, chip carving, and other areas. To learn more go to www.wareaglefair.com

We took rides through Bull Shoals Lake, up through Missouri to Table Rock, through Branson, and crossed a one-lane wooden “Golden Gate” bridge at Beaver Lake Recreational Area northwest of Eureka Springs.

There are several caves one can stop and explore: War Eagle Cavern, Mystic Caverns, and Cosmic Cavern.

And then there’s Eureka Springs with its hilly downtown and a variety of shops. The city is almost in a time warp caught in the '60s with hippies, young and old! There are plenty of restaurants from which to choose. I didn’t have a bad meal the entire trip.

Want to experience a meal on a train? Then ride the Eureka Springs & North Arkansas Railway. Sit back, watch the scenery slowly roll by and enjoy an elegant dining and gourmet cuisine offered in the Eurekan Dining Car.

Or stop by the Christ of the Ozarks statue. It’s large enough to hold a full-sized automobile in the palm of each hand. You can find it at the site of The Great Passion Play where audiences can experience performances about Biblical events under the Ozark skies.

We had some great rides, and saw some and did some fun things. But it was meeting other fellow Magna owners that made the trip. By week’s end, there were more than 30 Magnas with a sprinkling of other bikes. The Magnas covered the three generations: V45, V65, and the VFC 750.

It was interesting to see what other Magna owners had done with their bikes. Some were filled with custom chrome. Older models had been refurbished.

One thing I noticed, other than not drinking while on a ride, was that all wore helmets, and nearly all wore protective clothing. Each person was friendly and ready to help if needed.

And talking Magnas was a joy.

I met some great people, and look forward to seeing and riding with them again.

Greg and his wife Kristi, and her 17-year-old son Devin, the cleaning guy. Every time I saw him, Devin was either cleaning and polishing his bike or someone else’s! It was fitting that he won the cleaning set at the end of the rally.v

Dobie and Val from California. Dobie makes custom parts for the Magna with his Cycle-istic.com company. Val rides a Goldwing trike.

I hope Earl made it back to Florida. He was heading into some torrential rain. There was Elliott, a computer technician from Chicago, who found a place for custom beer after a day’s ride.

Doug and Linda trailered their Magnas from Georgia. Doug had more chrome on his Magna than I had ever seen before. Ted and his friend Darlene came from Knoxville. So did Bill.

Charlie came from near Philadelphia. Joe had a lot of patches on his vest showing all the places he had been. Luis enjoyed taking pictures of girls, and Larry was a postal worker in Texas.

Craig and Shawna rode in from North Kansas City, Missouri.

And then there was Bruce and Judy, and Jim and Renee, who came from Iola, Kansas. Bruce had just finished getting his bike put back together and running the week before the rally. “I’m just hoping that it runs all week,” he said, and laughed.

David, a jeweler from Lebanon, Missouri, and Mike, a chiropractor from Iowa, were the first two people I met. We rode for about two hours the first day and then got something to eat.

And then there was Rick, a locksmith from Lee’s Summit, Missouri, the only casualty of the group. On the last day, he rode his bike into Eureka Springs. He went to turn a corner, and his bike tipped over on one of the unlevel streets. He and the bike ended up in the grass, but he pulled something in his leg getting the bike back up.

It was a good time, and I’m looking forward to seeing my friends again at next year’s rally. Rumor is that it will be in Knoxville.

Story and photos by Chuck Kurtz