|Sept & Oct 2003||Louisiana HSTA Newsletter||Bob Chappuis, Editor|
Nine Louisiana HSTA members made the trip to Birmingham, AL and the new Barber Motorsports Park for the inaugural AMA SuperBike racing weekend. Bill Ellis first suggested the trip several months ago and Drew Newcomer found a great deal on a convenient Birmingham motel and we spread the word. On the weekend of September 19 everyone converged on the Baymont Inn Birmingham from various locations to have a get a look at the superb new racing facility, watch some good racing and generally have a fantastic time.Louisiana members staying at the Baymont included Charlie Adams of New Orleans; Bob and Stacie Chappuis, Bill and Sheri Ellis, and Tony Crowell all of baton Rouge; Drew Newcomer of West Monroe; and Paul Lefort of Thibidaux. We also ran into member J.C. Ledbetter of Slidell and past State Director Bob Henessey at the racetrack. For Bill and Sheri and Tony the Birmingham stop was just the beginning of an extended to trip to the Smoky Mountains. The Louisiana crew was joined at the Baymont by six (at least) Texas members, Brad and Cinda Mobley, Bob Burditt, Steve West, Hank Meyers and Dave Moss. Steve and Bob brought a couple of vintage bikes along in Bob's pickup bed: a '70s era Kawasaki two-stroke Triple 500 H2 and a Yamaha 650 in-line twin. Drew rode in on his new BMW1150 and Tony arrived Saturday on his new ST1300 Honda. Although everyone arrived from different directions in LA and TX and were on different schedules and itineraries Stacie and I did get a chance to gather with everyone for dinner or race watching or just plain hanging out at some point during the trip and we thoroughly enjoyed the excellent company and companionship! Read more about the trip below.
Stacie and I left St. Francisville on the Interceptor at 20 til eight Friday morning with a 100% non-interstate route loaded into my Garmin GPS. This route took us through Norwood, La and Centerville and Liberty Ms and then Laurel, where we plan to cross I-59 and navigate some MS and AL back roads all the way to Birmingham. One of the roads included in my route was out of date, replaced by a nice newly paved version that I quickly located and followed. unfortunately it did not lead to where the original did and I found myself off course. Every attempt to plot a new course looked to add an hour to the trip and being unsure if the extra time would pay off in quality riding, I decided to just jump on I-59 and get to Birmingham without further delay. We stopped for gas and lunch in Meridian and by 3:00 pm we were checking into our motel. There were no bikes in side but at check-in we were informed that Charlie Adams had asked about us. Turns out Charlie arrived in his mini-van. By the time we had unpacked the VFR and made a beer run (just across a couple parking lots) other folks began arriving. Drew, Bill and Sheri and Bob and Steve. Paul and his friend from Thibodaux and Brad and Cinda completed the Friday arrivals. Dave, Hank and Tony arrived on Saturday.
The weather was fine and the motel parking lot became our gathering place. Introductions were made all around and talk soon focused on FOOD. Everyone had had a full day of riding and a walkable dinner destination sounded good to everyone. Most of the group decided to head next door to the Hogans Irish Pub and Grill. We were a bit alarmed when they asked for a cover charge at the door, seems they were having a band. This joint was clearly much more pub than grill. But after getting assurances that their food was top notch and explaining that we were hungry bikers only interested in a wholesome meal, the cover charge was waived! Once inside we occupied the two tables with the best view of the stage and proceeded to enjoy ourselves. The food was quite good and so was the band. Although they seemed to be some old guys just having fun they played well and had a great song list of classic rock mixed with some 70s era rock. We listened and danced until we could no longer take the thick cigarette smoke. We retreated to the motel parking lot where we hung out for a while catching up with old friends and getting to know new ones.
Saturday morning Brad and Cinda took off for the track early to stake out a good spot with their pop-up awning, the rest of us gradually found our way to the complimentary breakfast room and made our plans for our day at the track. We heard much talk about the bumper to bumper traffic on the main roads to the track but Charlie Adams had been to the track on Friday and had found a back way on his way back that he promised was a great motorcycle route. With his help I was able to plot the route on my GPS and around 10:00 am Stacie and I led a group of bikes on what proved to be a fun route with some nice hills and some decent twists and very little traffic. Once inside the facility Bob and Steve quickly led us to the bike parking area just below the ridge where Brad and Cinda had erected their canopy, directly above turn 5. The concession and "restrooms" were right there and the Mobleys had chairs waiting for us. What could be better? We enjoyed watching the Superstock and 250 GP races as well as the Bar B Q pork sandwiches and beer (including Heineken!) available at the concession stand and generally had a splendid time lounging on the scenic hillside.
Before leaving the track for the day we stopped by the HSTA group on the other side of the track to say hello to Moose, Trey Hall, Eric Larsen and others. Then it was back to the motel to clean up and make plans for the evening meal Tony Crowell had arrived during the afternoon and had arranged for a taxi ride to dinner.The dinner group included Stacie and I, Tony, Dave Moss, Hank Meyer, Steve West and Bob Burditt. We could all not fit in the taxi so Bob and Steve rode in Bob's pickup. Riding back from the track we spotted Ralph and Kacoo's just down the road from the motel and everyone agreed to make that our dinner destination. In the dark however, our driver had trouble finding the place and we eventually discovered it was out of business. We settled on a Copelands instead and had a fine meal. For the trip back to the motel we decided to all pile into or onto Burditt's truck instead of calling for another taxi. With Tony and Steve "riding" the two vintage cycles strapped into the truck bed we no doubt made for an interesting sight cruising down the boulevard.
As I recall, the rain started Saturday night around ten P.M., chasing us inside from our parking lot hangout. It was still raining when we came down for breakfast Sunday morning. Tony elected to head out early trying to escape the weather front, heading East to the Smokies. The rest of us hung around waiting to see what the weather would do. After a couple hours there was no sign of the rain letting up so around 11:00 am we donned our rain gear and once again attacked our back road route to the track, this time in a steady rain. We arrived without any drama and found a spot on the hill above turn two. Again, parking, concessions and port-0-potties were convenient. By the time we got settled the rain had stopped and the track being dried. Despite the rain delays were able to watch all the scheduled races. No doubt you have heard by now that Duhamel and Bostrom managed to take each other out in the closing laps spoiling a 1,2,3 Honda finish. Kurtis Roberts however did manage to hold off the Suzukis of Mladin and Yates to take the win. Mladin was obviously cruising, preserving his all but locked in championship while Yates was clearly having tire issues, demonstrated by the massive black stripes he was laying down exiting turn one.
Both our days at the track were very enjoyable, Barber is a great place to watch a race and the museum is worth a trip in itself. I look forward to going back soon. Back at the motel Sunday evening the HSTA was down to Stacie and I and Dave and Hank. We ordered a couple of pizzas and enjoyed them in the motel dining area and had some good conversation. The next morning the rain was back and we four, as well as a few other bikers also making their departures, gloomily packed up the bikes under the shelter of the motel drive up and once again donned our wet weather riding gear. From studying the weather reports it looked like there was nothing for it but to ride West as the rain was still moving our way. Stacie and I headed out in a light but steady rain, riding South on some local roads to get to highway 25. The going was slow as we navigated through some busy rush our traffic but we soon made it to 25 which was a nice, lightly trafficked highway though some scenic and hilly country. About 40 miles out of Birmingham the sky really let loose. The rain was so heavy that visibility was seriously limited and safety dictated we pull off to wait out the worst of the downpour. We were back on our way before long and made our way to Meridian, MS without mishap. However, the heavy cloud cover apparently interfered with my GPS reception as the crazy device had us riding around in circles in downtown Meridian! Once again we had to take to the Interstate. As we crossed into Louisiana however we were greeted with blue skies and sunshine and we were able to navigate a back road route back home to St. Francisville.
This was a really fun trip. Stacie and I learned that 400 mile days that were a bit of a challenge on the Blackbird are easy on the VFR and we were once again reminded that YOU MEET THE NICEST PEOPLE on a Honda, or Yamaha, or BMW or whatever our old and new HSTA friends happen to ride!
Several riders showed up to have coffee with us at the Starbuck's meeting place Sunday, October 5 but only myself and Bill Ellis had the day free to ride. As I pulled into the parking lot no one recognized me at first since I was on Stacie's SV650S. Deb Reid and her friend were there on their Yamaha V-Star and Suzuki Intruder, respectively and Bobby Graham was there on his newly acquired Harley 883 Sportster with Flame paint job, lowered suspension and Screaming Eagle engine mods. They all had chores to tend to but Bill and I twisted Bobby's arm until he agreed to at least ride part way with us. So I led Bill (VFR) and Bobby on the little SV down River Road to Convent and up twisty highway 22 St.to French Settlement, where Bobby peeled off for his home and Springfield and Taste of Bavaria for lunch. On the heavily nodded Sportster Bobby struggled to maintain the pace he usually loafs along at on his 1989 Ninja 500 rat bike. Bill and I had some great Ruben Sandwiches and then headed for home.
Meet at Bob and Stacie's place in St. Francisville at 9:00 ride at 9:30 Destination Magnolia Grill in Natchez, MS. Watch the web site and your email for updates. Go to the Members only area for directions or call 225-281-0799
Caney Creek Lake State Park near Chatham, LA about 45 minutes Southwest of Monroe. Located on a peninsula in the middle of this trophy bass lake, the park has brand new cabins with fireplaces and a large screened porch. The kitchens are supplied with microwaves and coffee makers and the cabins are quite spacious and comfortable. One bedroom has a double bed while the other room has two bunk beds. They go for $65.00 per night.
There are 17 cabins arranged in pairs. The cabins are all in a row along the
lake with #1 on the South end of the park and # 17 closest to the park entrance. Each pair of cabins is a 30 second walk away from its own fishing pier on the lake. We will hold our festivities in the area between cabins 12 and 13.
For those interested in some riding on Saturday we will have some route maps prepared. As always, we will have a cookout Saturday night followed by the (0ptional) Crazy Gift Exchange and the usual holiday foolishness. Hot dogs and Hamburgers will be provided along with all the fixings. Bring a side dish, dessert or appetizer if it's convenient( i.e. you're traveling on four wheels), otherwise just bring your appetite. You are on your own for your beverage of choice. Please let us know when you make your plans to attend so that we can be sure to have enough chow.
Make your reservation now before the cabins are gone The number to call for reservations is 1-877-226-7652
KEEP IN TOUCH!
email@example.com and my telephone number is (225)635-3171.
and Ride Safe,