Road Hogs: Arkansas Businessmen Find Big Motorcycles Are the Ultimate Stress-relievers

by Jon Parham  on Monday, Feb. 28, 2000 12:00 am  

"I could picture myself as a 50-year-old Tom Cruise," Johnson joked.

Johnson said he is attracted to the thrill of being out on the road. He said he loves being "completely alone" listening to the roar of the engine as he cruises down Arkansas Highway 10 west of Little Rock.

One reason the purchase of a motorcycles may be delayed is the cost. Pitts' 150-horse power Yamaha R1 runs around $11,000. The much heavier Harley Davidson touring bikes and cruisers favored by Woods, Bailey and Johnson can range from $18,000 to $25,000.

The price on a Honda Valkyrie like Cox's ranges from $13,000 to $16,000, according to Honda's Internet site. After owning two Harleys, Cox bought the Honda and is still getting grief from his "Harley friends" - including Johnson - for "leaving the family."

Head Out on the Highway

Highway 10 is a popular strip of pavement for many of the local motorcycle riders. Johnson said it's not unusual to see several bikers out on a Saturday afternoon on the winding rural highway if the weather is nice.

Riding on the open road is a release, Pitts said. No matter how stressful a day at work gets, he said, it's all washed away by the engine's roar and the concentration motorcycle riding requires. An armadillo on the highway, for example, might as well be a brick wall to a motorcyclist who isn't paying attention.

Pitts said he coaxed his hesitant wife onto the back of his bike with promises that he wouldn't drive fast. But he just had to speed past those cars on the highway, he tried to explain to her later after she angrily hit him on the back with her helmet when they stopped.

Pitts' memories tend to run more on the mischievous side, so maybe that's why he rides sport bikes rather than the touring bikes.

For Woods, there is nothing that compares to longer rides across the countryside. He and some of his motorcycling friends - some are old college buddies - try to take a couple of longer rides each year.

His journeys have taken him on the highway that follows the California coastline, through Colorado, to the famous Sturgis Motorcycle Rally and Races in South Dakota and into Mexico.

His favorite trips, however, may be in Arkansas, he said.



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