|Sept 2004||Louisiana HSTA Newsletter||Bob Chappuis, Editor|
DAY 1 by Bob Chappuis
Nine Louisiana HSTA members made the trip to Heber Springs, AR on Friday, September 24 for the Arkansas Byway Boogie Rally. Bill and Sheri Ellis road up to Monroe the day before to visit Bills's parents. Sheri rode her Kawasaki Ninja 500r and Bill was on his brand new Yamaha FJR1300. Tony Crowell, on his Honda ST1300 met Stacie and I on the VFR at 6:30 am in St. Francisville and rode up to Ruston via Highways 61 and 15 to meet the Ellises, Drew Newcomer of West Monroe on his BMW and Tony's Uncle Billy Jones. Uncle Billy rode over from Homer on his Honda CBR1000. Aunt Betty came along in her van to see us off. Members Fletch Moon and Paul Lefort traveled to Heber Spring separately, Paul on his Yamaha FZ1 and Fletch in his auto.
After breakfast at Shoney's in Ruston we headed up Hwy 167 and into Arkansas through Bernice, Junction City and El Dorado. The ride was pleasant and uneventful through the pretty and hilly North Louisiana/South Arkansas countryside until we ran into a road block at Fordyce. What appeared to be a logging truck wreck had 167 closed. A detour onto AR 229 proved to be a nice bonus as it was a nice, twisty road much more fun the US 167 and only added 10 miles to our ride. Back on 167 we continue North to Interstate 530 and into Little Rock.
We exited in North Little Rock and rode scenic and twisty AR 107 the rest of the way to the vicinity of Heber Springs. We arrived at the Colonial Inn rally headquarters about 3:30. It took us no time to check in, unpack, register and begin meeting new friends. I was a little surprised that I did not see as many familiar faces as I expected but this was made up for by the many new friends we met, including Mark and Chad from Nashville, our AR counterparts Bill and Becky Wing, AR HSTA C0-Directors and many others. Kathy and Arild Mellenbakker were gracious rally hosts and made us feel welcome and made sure we were not thirsty despite the DRY COUNTY location.
6:30 dinner time arrived just in time and we hungrily dove into some delicious grilled hot dogs and Chili plus Cole Slaw and Salad until our appetites were fully sated. We then gathered for a riders meeting in which Kathy told us everything we needed to know about good roads and local riding conditions. Tony, our LA chapter routemaster, listened intently and asked many questions. This was followed by an entertaining contest to challenge our motorcycling knowledge. This involved identifying pictures of motorcycles as well as motorcycle tools. The prize was a T-Shirt and the winner would be announced after the banquet Saturday night with the other awards which included long distance riders and favorite sport and sport touring bikes. The awards would prove to be a Louisiana triumph!
DAY 2 by Tony Crowell
Day two of the Boogie started with over cast skies and threatening rain. Something the local weather guesser said would not happen.† There were several routes laid out by the organizers of events, all with good, curvy roads for everyone to enjoy. Our group of Louisiana riders decided on a route for Saturdayís ride that incorporated the best of several suggested routes.
Every time I ride Arkansas I try to incorporate a new road into the mix. Since Iíve been riding up there for about thirty years, new roads are getting harder to find. However, we found a jewel in AR263, the first really challenging road from our hotel. Everybody enjoyed the ups and downs and all around. A little tight in places for my ST13 but it must have been a real hoot on Paulís FZ-1 or Sheriís EX-500.†
As 263 curved north toward its intersection with AR14, the skies turned a beautiful, yet ominous shade of dark blue. We found a closed gas station and stopped to weatherize ourselves. We only encountered a light rain as we approached AR341.
One of the must-ride routes is AR341, the so-called Arkansas Gap. †I believe it should have its own nickname because for the most part, it is more enjoyable (to me) than itís eastern counterpart. After about a mile on 341 the road surface was dry and the fun quotient was once again realized. Bill Ellis wanted to test his new FJR13 on AR14 south of Yellville so we turned west at Mountain Home and headed for more curves.† Just short of the intersection of US62/AR14 is the Front Porch Restaurant. I had stopped here several times before and suggested it as good place to fill our bellies. I believe everyone was satisfied with the fare.
After lunch we turned south on 14 to enjoy more curves and scenery. This would be my favorite Arkansas road if not for the tourist traffic near the Buffalo River. I had to pass safely over the double-yellow several times on 14. Itís not something I like to do but, its like going to Disneyland and not being able to enjoy the rides once you get there. I am not going to ride all the way from the flatlands of Louisiana just be stuck behind a truck or tractor traveling 35mph.
After being strung-out by traffic we re-grouped at Harriet and headed west on AR27 toward Marshall. Another great road. Just before Marshall we turned back east and headed to the Hotel via AR74/66. More great roads and scenery marred only by a small rain shower.
In total, our group of five riders and one passenger rode a little over 250 miles though some of prettiest country and nicest roads around.
Byway Boogie Banquet and Awards by Bob Chappuis
The banquet was held at the restaurant next door to the inn and consisted of a seafood buffet with some chicken thrown in, plus numerous side dishes and desserts. Although perhaps not as spicy as the Cajun food we enjoy in Louisiana the food was nevertheless excellent, especially for an all-you-can eat buffet! The menu included gumbo, two kinds of fried fish, stuffed crab, fried and boiled shrimp, fried clams and a variety of vegetables. Dessert included cakes and blackberry and peach cobbler topped off with delicious homemade ice cream!
After the meal we all returned to the meeting room for the awards presentation. Winner of the motorcycle and tool identification contest was none other than our own Bill Ellis! Bill and Sheri also won long distance couple and Billís beautiful dark blue FJR1300 was voted favorite Sport Tourer! After the awards a sizable group eventually gravitated to the porch area in front of Tony and Uncle Billyís corner room, where we told lies and old war stories until the beer ran out and weariness set in. Everyone returned to their rooms to pack and get some rest for the ride home
Sunday morning Drew got an early morning start ahead of the rest of us. Paul headed home to Thibodaux via the fast Interstate route and as usual, Tony had an interesting route planned for the rest of us. We started out on some nice fast mountain sweepers on a highway with frequent passing lanes, which really let the sport tourers shine. We worked our way to AR 9 and then county road 298, a narrow and twisty roller-coaster of a road! There was some traffic but we were on a roll and dispatched most of the rolling obstacles quickly! What a hoot! The direction changes seemed equally balanced between horizontal and verticle and it was easy to maintain a fast and exhilarating rhythm. When we arrived in the town of Benton we were ready for a break not to stretch our legs but to catch our breath! The rest of the ride home was uneventful compared to 298. Uncle Billy split off after we crossed the State line and the rest of us retraced our route on 15 and 61 with a meal stop in Natchez.. Total mileage for Stacie and I was almost 1100 miles for the three day weekend.
Tony, Mike Myers, his brother-in-law Ken Stewart and prospective member Kevin Yeats met me at McDonalds on Hwy 61 in St. Francisville early Sunday morning. Kevin rides an Ď04 ST1300 non-abs model but he has installed the ABS modelís electric windshield hardware. After introductions we mounted up and made our way to the St. Francisville ferry and crossed the Mississippi River. We then headed up 420 and 1 and turned onto lonely, wide open highway 15 which runs along the West bank of the river and on top of the levee for some distance†up to Vidalia. The weather was a bit warm and the bugs were plentiful but the ride was fast paced and very enjoyable. In Vidalia we had lunch at Lorrainesí on the River Walk. We had the place to ourselves and the food was a little slow in coming but tasty. After lunch we re-crossed the river to Natchez and headed towards home via Liberty road. As I have mentioned before this is really a great road with a good surface and lots of medium to high speed curves; it is becoming one of my favorite local roads. From Liberty Rd we turned South onto 33 and then West onto 563 another twisty road. After a few mile of 563 Ken led us down Macedonia Road to Centerville and Wilson and then on 68 to Jackson where we detoured onto twisty Jones-Vaughn Creek and Sage Hill Rds. We then stopped at my place for a break before everyone headed for their homes.
Member Paul Lefort, a veteran of many track days at No Problem Raceway at Bell Rose, LA forwarded an email invitation to participate in a trackday organized by a local rider.† Since I had recently acquired a set of leathers and had a suitable track bike available in Stacie's SV650 I jumped at the chance. The cost was $125 for 5 20 minute sessions. Despite a minor snafu involving an upside down shift lever I had a great time on the track with the SV. Although the 650 was out horsepowered by all but one of the 30 or so other bikes I could not complain about its handling. Although I was passed many times on the straights it seemed capable of staying with many of the faster, more exotic sportbikes in the turns. Although I was pretty tentative in the first session I got more and more comfortable and faster with each successive session as I became familiar with the track and observed the lines used by the experienced riders. It was a terrific and fun experience and I am looking forward to my next opportunity to get out on the track.
MEET AT STARBUCKS 9:00 am Corporate Blvd & Energy Plaza We will hop on I-10 and go West to Gros Tete and ride 77, 1, 69 and 996 to No Problem Raceway near Belle Rose, La. Single Day Pass is $15 (any day) Saturday & Sunday - $25, camping is free. Check out the web page, could be fun. If the weather is promising and there is interest we could turn this into an over nighter!
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.
We will be making group reservations for dinner Friday night in Monroe. On Saturday we will have some route maps prepared for a 200-300 mile lunch ride loop covering some of the best roads Louisiana has to offer. As always, we will have a cookout Saturday night followed by the Infamous Cajun Gift Exchange and the usual holiday merriment and foolishness. Grilled Hot Dogs and Hamburgers and Cajun Sausage 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 or a Gold Wing), 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,