The Ozark Mountain Scramble 2012


When I was asked to go on the Ozark Mountain Scramble I had a few questions, the first one being, "Where the hell is Ozark Mountain?" One Google search later and I learned that the Ozark Mountains take up a good piece of Arkansas. Why would someone ever need to go to Arkansas? Well, if you really like to ride motorcycles, the better question might be, "When are we leaving?"

I sat down with rider founder Derrick Harrison for some answers about his run, its origins, and its future. 


Ozark Mountain Scramble 55


Derrick, I see only one tattoo, no beard, no flannel or Vans, and a felt mustache glued on your helmet. How can I be sure you know anything about motorcycles?

I'm just a motorcycle enthusiast. I've been tinkering with bikes since 2002 when I bought my first one. I like all kinds but the cheapest ones are the ones I can afford so I like them best. There's a lot of bikes around here so I guess that spawned my interest in them.  


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Where are you from? What's your age? Are you graduating from high school any time soon?

I'm 28, but I look like I'm 12. I'm originally from Kansas but got transplanted in high school when my family moved to my current home for work. I now work for a company that prints and reproduces blueprints.


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So let's get on to the run itself. Where did the rules come from, and what are they?

I got the idea for the rules from another event. They went cross-country on cheap bikes but it took weeks. Decent old iron—even Japanese—is getting really hard to find. Good 500-dollar runners really don't exist anymore. I felt I could change it up and keep the ride fairly local so I came up with the following rules: 

1. 1980 and earlier, any make

2. 750cc or smaller to keep the speeds down and the pack closer together

3. $1000 or less all-in to keep costs fair and cheap

4. "Don't be a dick" was added this year when we heard you guys were coming. But I think everyone's broken that rule already, so there's really only three rules

The cost is the one that really mattered as I was broke but I figured even at $10-20-per-week over a year someone could get in the breeze if they put in the time. The deadline of an actual ride makes sure everyone's bike is finished.


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How many OMS's have there been? What's the attendance for each one?

This was #2. On #1 we had five riders. We planned a decent route and got through it pretty well so I decided to do it again. This year 13 riders started and 12 finished. The one dropout was due to an accident. He was OK but a bit lumped up, so he decided to go home. I like that it grew some. I don't mind more riders but I'd be just as happy with five again. We have a good tim


Do you think people see the location and say there's no way they'll come to Arkansas?

Hell yeah they do. It's not the cool place. Not the Mecca of motorcycling. Even the local people know it's good riding here but I expect lots of people think otherwise.


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Tell us how the event goes off.

Simple. 3 days of riding: 150-220 miles each day. Two-lane blacktop roads. Lots of twisty turns, not much straightline riding here. It's all very scenic. We stop a lot to check out the sights and enjoy being there. It is not a race but some guys ride faster than others so we wait up every 15-20 miles to re-group. We're spoiled so we stay in hotels at night. The riders pay their own way.    

Where did you find the motiviation to start this event?

The guys on ChopCult pushed everyone to put up or shut up, so I put up. They said if your scene sucks then get off your ass and start an event at home. So I did. I kept it simple and did all the work myself. I started a blog and Chopcult fed it to their BlogDump. I asked anyone that was going to build a bike and do the ride to send me updates and I just posted them on my blog. The route wasn't hard, I just rode my bike all day on weekends and planned it with input from friends. I looked and found nothing cool in my area so I started something that I thought was cool. If someone really wants to ride they will find the cool stuff or ride anyway. The guys that can't find cool stuff aren't looking hard enough.      


Are there trophies or anything?

No trophies, no sponsors. No advertising except events posts on message boards. Last year we made five shirts after the ride. The riders all split the costs. This year we'll do the same. No shirts for sale to anyone else. I don't need to make money to pay for anything, as it didn't cost me anything. The event is for the sake of riding and nothing else except maybe learning how to fix stuff on the side of the road with rocks and duct tape. The real trophy is that you built a piece of shit motorcycle with spare change and rode it hard through the Ozarks with a bunch of strangers, and you got it back to the finish line under its own power after flogging it for three days. All without a chase truck. You win!    


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Anything else you want to tell us all about the ride? Anyone you want to publicly humiliate?

I'd mention James' belly but I have a feeling he's not embarrassed by it. 

I'll just say you either get it or you don't. I was asked to bend and break the simple rules by a few people to allow them to enter. I wouldn't do it. The rules are there and simple enough to follow. If you didn't understand why then I can't help you. One day you might get it. And go start a ride or a run or whatever you want to call it and stop complaining there's nothing to do.

You have just under a year to get a bike together… GO!   


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I'm really glad I went on this ride. I met some of the best riders I have ever shared the road with and they were all super rad people. I hope to see all of you again next year. I'm off to the scrap yard to find a bike…


Find more info on the Mulligan Machine Blog

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Commented on 9-10-2012 At 07:42 am

These pictures prove that the west coast doesn't hold all the lands beauty. Those mountains are stunning. And what a great idea for a ride.

Commented on 9-10-2012 At 07:55 am

Thanks Mike for writing this up, and also to Chop Cult for putting it up. More importantly thanks to those that made it out these past couple years. It's been a blast putting this thing together, and more importantly the cheapest fun I've ever had. Ever. Do the math, and make it happen. You won't regret it.

Commented on 9-10-2012 At 08:39 am

Great write up.

Commented on 9-10-2012 At 09:11 am

Good Idea. Looks super fun!

Commented on 9-10-2012 At 09:26 am

I have firsthand experience on this run. I have ridden in Canada, Mexico and all around the USA. I will tell you this is in the top 5 riding areas in North America. All my friends and family would ask me about this trip with is rules and location and the questions were 1) What? 2) Where? 3) Why? I figured I would never get an invitation to have a personal tour guide show me the best roads that Western Arkansas has to offer so I went. I purchased a yard sale XS650 that had been sitting in a barn since 1986. I went through it and made it road worthy 65 dollars under budget. I flogged this poor thing through the mountain roads, burned the brakes off and made the front end chatter so bad that I was changing lanes in the curves. I planned on selling off this toilet after the run but I ended up keeping it and running up another 2000 miles on it at home after the OMS. I plan on being back for the 2013 edition. Thanks again Captain Awesome! Tim

Commented on 9-10-2012 At 10:07 am

i made my first ride up to arkansas last year with 3 friends and it was awesome! If you just search motorcycle riding in arkansas, you'll see. Plenty of great roads up there. Next month we're heading up there again for our second trip, 7 of us this time for a 5 day trip, no plans just hitting the roads we've mapped out and finding a place to camp.

Commented on 9-10-2012 At 10:22 am

Gone two years and it gets better each time. I fully intend to ride this ride till I cant ride any more. Thanks Mike. Excellent write up!

Commented on 9-10-2012 At 10:48 am

It is the best run. Just a great time. my belly is out there for all to enjoy.

Commented on 9-10-2012 At 12:30 pm

Good story, and close to me and fits my funding fore trips... defiantly gonna consider this one!

Commented on 9-10-2012 At 02:55 pm

This ride is a BLAST. Like Roach10, I intend to ride it till I can't. Great roads, great people, crappy bikes. Ha ha!

Commented on 9-10-2012 At 06:28 pm

i'm a kansas boy myself and there is no other place i love to ride more than the ozarks.

Commented on 9-10-2012 At 06:48 pm

I so want to do this run. Arkansas is awesome. Doing it on little this would be awesome. For reason keeping the bike under a grand is going to be a trick for me. I have terrible luck buying bikes a nice $500 runner will probably cost be 2 grand in parts when it hand grenades on my ride home with it.

Commented on 9-10-2012 At 09:27 pm

Rode through Arkansas years ago. Beautiful state. great job on the event!

Commented on 9-11-2012 At 03:11 pm

The scenery is beautifull, alot better then this desert i live in. This run is genuinely cool, build a inexpensive bike and have a blast on it.

Commented on 9-11-2012 At 05:13 pm

Very cool, I'd like to ride the Ozarks if I could get the time off to travel out there.
We did the 1st Blistered Bottom Ride here last year and had a great time.

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