Behind the Handlebars header

August cruise in is gone to the dogs

If you don’t want to sell it, don’t price it!

I found this to be true when I sold my Black Betty Road Queen recently. Congratulations to the new owners Jack and Sharry Lovan of Willow Springs. Sharry coordinates a weekly jam session Monday nights at Mugs Coffee Shoppe in downtown Willow Springs, as well as working on monthly bluegrass venues at the theater. They have been enjoying rides into Arkansas and are happy to back in the biker scene.

So, the pursuit was on for a different bike for me with the sale of Betty. When considering a bike purchase, of course you look at the style and color you want, but you also must consider if it fits you. Are you strong enough to hold up the size bike you desire? What is the seat height? How much power do you need? Sometimes these answers are easier sought with the guidance of a sales person for new riders.

I decided I wanted a blue and white Harley Davidson Softtail Deluxe. It is known primarily as a lady’s ride as it has a seat height of about 24-25 inches. While there are several ways to locate bikes, I chose Shopping by Internet is great when you are just looking, but when it comes down to a purchase of a bike, I wanted to buy in person. Off we went on a road trip north with one deluxe about 400 miles from us and another waiting in Wisconsin if the first fell through.

Surrounded by cornfields on all sides, we pulled up the graveled lane to a nice farmhouse, garage and shop. Trying to act not too in love with the bike, so I could remain neutral during wheeling and dealing mode later in the visit, I looked around outside the garage and noted there was a shooting range at the back of the property. A shooting range in a state with such negative attitudes toward conceal and carry? We were delighted to get a tour of this gentleman’s shooting range, set up with steel targets of all sizes and distances as well as a large hanging plate that resounded in a loud gong when fired upon. Shooting commenced and when the smoke cleared and brass cooled, we found that we had connected with new Illinois friends Kerry and Kathy Smith at Canton, Ill. We did bring the deluxe home and her name is DD.

Area riders from Texas and Howell counties met and road to Big Spring Park at Van Buren. Eleven bikes snaked through the hills and hollers we love to ride and arrived at the park mid-afternoon. Enjoying the beautiful scenery is only part of the ride, as one rider took a dip in the spring. We were amazed that the outflow of the spring, which is noted to completely fill Busch Stadium at St. Louis in 33 hours. Now that’s a lot of water!

A visit to Van Buren is not complete without a stop off at Jolly Cone. After refreshment, we were back on the road, headed home to experience what every rider who rides has to deal with, rain. Donning rain suits, we journeyed on and all returned safely to their prospective homes.

The August cruise-in at Houston will not be held due to our collaboration with Dogs Off the Leash Run and Rally at Eminence, which kicks off Thursday night (Aug. 21). Come down and see all your friends at the rally. Day passes are $15 or weekend passes are $30 with proceeds to Combat Vets Association. The rally kicks off Thursday night (tonight) with establishing camp and karaoke on the main stage. Arrowhead Campground will be full to the brim with vendors and eateries that offer all three meals, specialty items in a family friendly zone. Friday events are the annual float trip and concerts that night with Chris Johnson and the Back Row Revival band and nationally renowned Confederate Railroad. Saturday holds the annual poker run and two new events: A bike show judged by Liam Myrick of Houston, and a veterans parade of bikes. Saturday ends with evening concerts featuring MoJo Kings of West Plains area (with a blues flair) and the ever popular Kricket Alley (from Pulaski County).

Sunday morning biker church with Butch Spacek tops off and concludes the four-day weekend. Check it out on Facebook at eminencedogsofftheleash or online at

If you don’t ride in the rain, you don’t ride. Keep safe friends.

Kerry York is a lady rider and resident of Houston, who coordinates monthly Houston cruise-in events from spring to fall. Email

After a warm ride, Houston resident Jody Jones enjoys the cool air while viewing Big Spring near Van Buren.

After a warm ride, Houston resident Jody Jones enjoys the cool air while viewing Big Spring near Van Buren.



So my wife and I finally did it.

For a long time now, we’ve been saying how much fun zip-lining looks. Last weekend, the talk turned into action.

On a picture-perfect day in south-central Missouri, with temperatures in the low 80s and a slight, dry breeze, we drove to Eminence and spent some time at Eagle Falls Ranch, a ziplining establishment that’s now in its fifth season of operation.

Can you say adventure?

Wow, I can truly say this was one of the most exciting, exhilarating, and just plain enjoyable things I’ve ever done. From the first moment I stood at the edge of a platform with the ground about 50-feet below, knowing I was about to jump off and rely on a some nylon and metal gear to help me safely reach a second platform at the end of a cable several hundreds of yards away, my adrenaline ran hard and steady.

Doug Davison

Doug Davison

And the 4,000-foot-plus course features five separate sections, so we did that five times. What a rush – awesome times a hundred.

Until you’ve hung from a harness and zipped along a cable at an elevation that puts you about even with the top third of mature trees on both sides of you, it’s a bit hard to imagine what it’s like. But here’s short glimpse into the experience – Shannon County style.

Once you exit the shuttle van that takes “tour” participants to the beginning point of the course, you’re quickly introduced to the reality that reaching the first segment’s jump-off platform requires crossing a wobbly, wooden suspension bridge with your harness connected to an overhead cable.

Fact is, reaching every starting platform requires negotiating the same kind of contraption, sometimes at a very steep angle.

But while it’s a bit strenuous, it’s always safe, because at virtually every moment you’re on the course, Eagle Falls guides who accompany each group of zippers make sure your harness is hooked up to cable.

Once you leave the starting platform, zipping down the cable is far easier than you think it will be. It’s a smooth, comfortable ride, and the metal-on-metal sound caused by the friction of the pulley and brake contraption (made by industry leader BrakeHawk) sliding along the thick cable provides an unusual and appropriate accompaniment to the half-minute of sky-high bliss.

I’d compare it to the sound of 30-pound test monofilament fishing line screaming out of a reel just after a salmon has taken your lure in a deep Western Washington river – only louder and more metallic. And with cables and wooden platforms attached to tall poles high up in the trees in many directions, the scene is like the Swiss Family Robinson meets ESPN’s X-Games.

At times the speed is pretty fast, but the braking unit is easy to use, and the guides provide clear instruction as to when they should be used – even in mid-flight. And reaching the higher speeds is one of the best things about ziplining; you can’t help but feel a heightened sense of excitement when you’re almost literally flying down a cable that way.

Eagle Falls’ course takes you over roads, buildings, and even a small lake, and its final leg ends with a run-out landing zone where you come to Earth on your feet, and run to a stop similarly to a skydiver.

When he was disconnecting me from the final cable, one of our guides asked me if I had fun.

Like some kid who had just gone for his first roller coaster ride, I smiled and said, “totally – one of the coolest things I’ve ever done.”

“That’s what we want to hear,” he said.

Anyway, I’m not sure I’ll ever be ready for rolling down a hill inside a “zorb ball” (another rather extreme activity offered at Eagle Falls Ranch) or diving off of an 800-foot high bridge with my ankles fastened to a giant rubber band (to me, bungees are meant for fastening boxes to ATV racks, not suspending humans from high places), but I’d recommend ziplining to anyone with a penchant for experiencing the unusual who doesn’t mind stepping a bit out of their comfort zone.

Personally, I’d say ziplining belongs on the old bucket list for anyone who’s in the right kind of condition and possesses the right body style to do it. One thing’s for sure, there’s nothing else like it.

Doug Davison is a writer, photographer and newsroom assistant for the Houston Herald.  Email:

Houston Herald writer Doug Davison cruises along a zipline at Eagle Falls Ranch in Eminence, Mo.

Houston Herald writer Doug Davison cruises along a zipline at Eagle Falls Ranch in Eminence, Mo.