|July 2005||Louisiana HSTA Newsletter||Page 1|
The summer HEAT and HUMIDITY has set in and only Mad Dogs and Englishmen dare to ride in the midday sun. I am French/German so I guess that makes me the former! Four of us got together for lunch at the Magnolia Grill in Natchez, MS and a short ride afterwards on one of Louisiana's best roads, Hwy 126. Drew Newcomer of West Monroe hooked up with new Louisiana member Vick Thomas who has recently relocated from New Mexico where he had been an HSTA member since the early 90's. They road down to Natchez together and met myself and Tony Crowell. Tony rode up from Baton Rouge on his V-Strom 650 while I rode my VFR 800 from Marksville where Stacie and I were spending the weekend at the Paragon Casino & Resort. Drew was on his BMW 1150 and Vick was on his 1985 VF1100S Sabre. We enjoyed a nice lunch and had a great time getting to know Vick and discussing upcoming bike trip plans
After lunch we crossed the river and all rode a section of 126 together before splitting up and heading seperate ways, Drew and Vick back to Monroe, Tony to Baton Rouge and me back to Marksville. Sunday morning I took the long route home in favor of straight and bumpy hwy 1 and the hot St. Francisville ferry. Instead I returned to Natchez and then home via Liberty and Macedonia roads. Below is Drew's ride report in more detail.
by Drew Newcomer
It is always nice to meet some fellow HSTA folks for lunch. July 23 was especially nice for me since I would have a traveling companion for the first time since I can't remember when. Bob Chappuis had given me Vic Thomas' email address. Vic is new to the Monroe area having moved here from northwest New Mexico - just a small change in climate! So, having caught up with Vic, we decided to meet at a local bookstore on our way to Natchez to meet Bob and Tony Crowell.
What a surprise. After a minute of conversation Vic and I learned that we actually grew up within a couple of miles of each other, graduated from the same high school, and I actually graduated with his younger sister. Walt Disney said it was a small world after all.
The first thing I noticed about Vic was his 20 year old Honda looked like it had just come out of the showroom. Though it was hot and humid we both were ready to ride so we headed out from Monroe to the Magnolia Grill in Natchez. Heading east on I-20, I turned south on little used Highway 133. It isn't but about 11 miles through there but a lot better than riding on the interstate. Once we intersected Highway 15 we turned southeast and rode 15 to Ferriday where it intersects with Highway 84 that takes you across the Mississippi River Bridge at Vidalia. Cross the river and turn left towards downtown Natchez (a much, of late, talked about speed trap!) and on down the hill to the Magnolia Grill. Bob and Tony had gotten there right before Vic and myself and had found some shade in which to park their bikes. It was the first time I had seen Tony's new V-Strom and he raved about how much fun it was at STAR 05 in Kentucky.
After a satisfying meal, everyone crossed the river, gassed up then stayed on Highway 84 to Jonesville. Tony, Vic, and I turned up 124 to the intersection of 126. Bob had to head back to Marksville where Stacie was heavily involved at the blackjack table! We rode 126 (one of our collective favorite roads in the state) until we came to Highway 503. Tony and Vic rode a more spirited pace as I am still a little tentative after having dropped a bike while on vacation in Alaska in June. Tony had enough drinks for everyone and we talked a little while before Tony turned back south to return to Baton Rouge where some "honey-dos" were awaiting him back home. Vic and I stayed on 126 until we got to the large community of Grayson where we turned north on Highway 165 and headed home. Even though it was hot it didn't really seem to bother us. Since we didn't have to ride that long, or go that far, we didn't fatigue as we might have otherwise. And, as I mentioned I think we were both simply ready to ride somewhere.
Vic is a very competent rider that can tweak his Sabre up when he wants to (almost sounds dirty, doesn't it?) For me, it is nice to have someone close by that enjoys riding and I have promised Vic some trips up into Arkansas in the not-too-distant future. My next formal ride will be the Bull Shoals Rally in September. I hope Vic's schedule will allow him to go.
Vic, welcome to Monroe, welcome to your Louisiana HSTA chapter, and finally, welcome home!!
Louisiana HSTA members Tony Crowell, Paul Lefort and myself participated in a track day at No Problem Raceway Park in Belle Rose, Louisiana. Our friend from previous track days and 2004 Cajun Christmas attendee, Ted Torres of Houma was also there with his Suzuki TL 1000 track bike. Paul rode his Yamaha FZ1 while Tony and I shared my SVS650. Tony's wife Jenny and two year old daughter Olivia were there to cheer us on.
Despite scorching temperatures and a threat of thunderstorms the turnout for track day was as high as any of us have seen. There were about 35 riders at the riders meeting and about 25 were experienced track riders with only about 5 racers and 5 first timers. Shane Lyles, Track Day organizer, later reported that this was a record NPR Track Day turnout!
Paul was there ahead of the rest of us and had set up a small canopy for shade for himslef and little Paul. Tony, Ted and I staked out an area at the end of the open air garage where we could plug in our two electric fans for some much needed heat relief. We deployed our ice chests and folding chairs and then headed over to register. We took advantage of a $40 discount Shane gives when a previous rider signs up a new guy so our fees came to $105.00 each. Next was tech inspection, easy: only one bike to inspect and the rules are pretty lenient. Tape over head, tail and signal light lenses, working brakes and throttle freeplay/returns spring. The SV got stickers for Groups C (first time track riders) and B (Intermediate) A group is for racers. The only difference for C group is the passing rule: passing is allowed only on the straights. Also, an experienced rider leads the C group around for their first lap. Other than that, everyone is on their own, just check in at pit out with the flag guy before entering the track. There are additional flag guys at 3 or 4 of the corners. Yellow means go slow red means slow and exit the track.
A group takes the track first for a 20 minute session. Then it's my turn. One drawback to our pit spot at the far end of the garage: can't hear the PA announcements. So I suit up and ride out to the track entrance and get in line behind about 15 other bikes but too early and have to wait in the heat! Finally the last A group rider exits the track and we are green flagged. The line of bikes slowly stretches out ahead of me on the 1900 ft front straight toward the high speed kink they call turn 1. The line is moving slowy, seems the big bikes don't like turn 1 much, I hardly have to slow for it on the SV! Once through 1 the other bikes start to pull away as I take it easy, getting the feel for all the changes on the SV since last track day way back in September 04. Since then I have modified the front and rear suspension and put on a different rear tire. additionally I have a repaired left shoulder to test. All feels good and I pick up the pace a little. I do about 5 laps at a moderate pace before the yellow flag comes out, a rider has gone down. I see two bikes parked on the outside of 7, no-one looks hurt but I later hear something about a broken collar bone. I make another lap and then the red flag comes out. Paul says there was antifreeze on the track. That's it for my first session. I ride in and hand the SV off to Tony.
I remind Tony about the SV's touchy rear break and he Tony rides off to track entrance as I shout "have fun!" I down some Gator Aid then grab my camera and walk back to the track with Jenny and Livvy to watch and take some pictures. Tony has to wait also while thetrack is cleared. Finally, his group of 8 or 10 bikes takes to the track. After a minute or two the bikes start to appear on the back section. Tony is in the middle of a tight pack, unmistakeable, a large black leather clad dude on a little silver motorcycle. I get some shots while Livvy is excited to pick out her dad out as he comes through turn 14. After several labs I head back to the pit to wait for Tony to come back and hear his reaction to his first track experience. As expected, he is loving it! Despite being cramped up by the SV's tight ergonomics resulting in hip discomfort he is bubbling over with enthusiasm. He exclaims he is instantly addicted! I wait for the We sit down to wait for the A Group to go again - Rehydrate, Cool down, Rest, Repeat.
Ted's parent have driven up from Houma to visit and watch, a very nice couple, and I enjoy chatting with them with them over. Lunch Break and Repeat Again! For the afternnon session Tony and I swap Groups to give hime a chance to ride with some faster riders and me a chance to ride with some slower bikes. I actually get to pass 4 or 5 and only 2 pass me this time. I am getting more familar with the difficult back half of the track and enjoying it immensly but it is oppressively hot now, my knees are aching and start to shake after about five laps. My concentration is evaporating in the heat, time to call it a day. Paul, Tony and Ted have all reached the same decision; we have gotten our money's worth, best to quit while we are ahead! We pack up and head for home, tired but very happy and satisfied, our appetite for speed satiated for now.
Track Days ROCK! Next one at NPR is August 28. We will probably be there! Come check it out!
Bill, Tony and I are riding to Copper Mtn, CO, departing 8/16 and returning 8/24. I am also keeping the following weekend open for NPR track day so I am not scheduling a lunch ride for August. If anyone would like to do a club ride you need only pick either a start point and/or lunch destination and a route (more or less) and get the details to me ASAP and I will spread the word to all members and guests via email and our website
The TIME HAS COME TO MAKE RESERVATIONS for our Annual Cajun Christmas Event. Several of the cabins have already been reserved and we are expecting a big turn out from out of state. DON'T MISS OUT ON THE FUN! Info HERE http://www.barrowcreek.com/hsta/CajChris/cajunchristmas.htm
Bob Chappuis, Editor
7060 Barrow Creek Dr.
St. Francisville, LA 70775