|April/May 2004||Louisiana HSTA Newsletter||Page 1|
NOTE: The March issue was late so this issue will cover April and May as I am heading for Birmingham Friday and will not have time to do another issue until after my return from STAR04. Look for a full report on the Barber AMA races and STAR 04 in the next issue.
The club ride scheduled for April 25 was effectivley rained out. The forecast was for 70% chance of rain and the morning dawned very overcast where I live in St. Francisville so I stayed home. Member Mike Myers later reported that he did show up at the designated meeting place but was the only one. He had a cup of coffee and got caught by the rain on his 3 mile ride home. The prior weekend Tony Crowell and I made a scouting run up highway 15 on the west bank of the Mississippi to Vidalia where we had a fine lunch at Lorraine's on the Levee. The food was good, the price was right and the view of the river and the Natchez bluffs from the outside deck was terrific. On the return we crossed the river and rode Liberty Rd and MS 563 to Woodville. Great ride! WE will do this one agian soon
Members Bill and Sherri Ellis will host a CRAWFISH BOIL for all Louisiana HSTA members at their home in Baton Rouge on Saturday May 29, 2004. Directions and a map to Bill and Sherri's place can be found in the Members Only Area of the Louisiana HSTA Web Site. If you have forgotten the login info email me (address at bottom of this page).
I believe it was Van Morrison who sang, "I'm so wired up don't need no coffee in my cup." This is the feeling I have before every motorcycle trip. If I travel anywhere that requires an overnight stay I can barely sleep. Even if I've been there 100 times, I hope I never lose that feeling.
This trip started out as many do for me. A short 255 mile ride to my Uncle's house near Homer, LA. I spend the night, then he and I leave early the next morning for a ride to some interesting place. This time however, medical problems have sidelined my partner so I'll have to go solo. My original plan was to ride north to the Ozarks of AR/MO. When I awoke Friday morning and turned on The Weather Channel I saw nothing but a solid line of storms stretched across the good riding areas of both states. In fact, a stationary front had stalled and stormy weather was predicted for three days. Plan "B."
So, on Friday instead of heading north, I turned right and decided to head to eastern Tennessee. I thought if I stayed far enough east and south I could avoid most of the bad weather. I planned to cross the Mississippi River at Greenville and angle northeast though Mississippi and lodge somewhere in south central Tennessee for the night. It was a gamble but what the heck.
My first bit of nice scenery was one of my favorite places in the Delta, Lake Chicot Arkansas. Lake Chicot is one of the many oxbow lakes along the Mississippi. I crossed the river near Greenville and noticed that it looks like they're finally going to replace the old US 82 bridge.
I could see the beginnings of construction just to the south. The old bridge was opened in 1940 and the new should be open for traffic in 2006. When completed it will be the longest cable-stayed bridge on the river.
After crossing the Big Muddy, it was a diagonal run through the Delta on US 49W/MS3 and onto US 278 east. By the time I reached Oxford, dark clouds had surrounded me. I thought I had miscalculated the weather but not to worry. Just clouds. As I traveled northeast from Oxford however, the clouds got even darker. By the time I reached Corinth, the roads were wet but still no rain. Could this hold out until motel time?
At Savannah, Tennessee, I turned on US 64 and headed east with storm clouds in my mirrors. The further east I went the better the day looked. By the time I reached Pulaski, I thought I was far enough away from the bad stuff to call it a night. I found an older motel with drive up, ground floor rooms and a steak place next door. What more could you ask for?
The next morning about 6:30, I turned on the motorcyclists' favorite channel to check the storm fronts progress. Holy %$#*! Big red storms just 20 miles north! Time to head east. US 64 goes past lots of nice farms and fields but isn't that challenging in this part of TN. The best part is just before Montegle where "old 64" meets I-24. You travel to the top of a large plateau and once on I-24 it's all downhill to Chattanooga. Great scenery especially when you get to Nickajack Lake.
It was here that I encountered a van load of Japanese tourist who all wanted to take photos of my bike. It was if they had never seen a Japanese motorcycle weird!
By now, it was time to open the vents in the Arai and on the "Stich", as I would be traveling through the always under construction city of Chattanooga. I'm glad to see that they're making good progress, not too much left to do. I traveled north on I-75 and took the US 64/11 exit to Cleveland, TN. I thought about taking 64 along the Ocoee River, but since it was a Saturday, I knew traffic would be thick with all the rafters heading for white water. So, I went north on US 411 and found a few delightfully curvy roads to my destination of Tellico Plains, the gateway to the Cherohala Skyway. If you're in the area try TN 310 and 39. They are good alternatives to the US64/TN68 route.
As I entered in the small town of Tellico Plains, I immediately noticed about 40-50 motorcycles of all descriptions parked at the local Hardee's and BP station. It looked a little crowded so I turned east onto TN165 and found a new business since my last trip this way.
It's called the Cherohala Market and it is run by people who really seem to like motorcyclists. They have 12 gas pumps, good food and a special bike shed on the side if you want to get out of the rain or sun. Plenty of benches from which to sit and tell lies about your exploits on the Skyway.
After a brief rest at the market it was time hit the Skyway. If you have never ridden this road, you are in for a treat. Very smooth pavement, and a million constant radius curves. It is not extremely tight like the Dragon. To me it is much more fun, especially on a large bike...like mine. When I ride the Dragon, I feel like I just went 20 rounds with Hulk Hogan.
I rode the Skyway well into North Carolina and had a blast. Hundreds of other bikes on the road and a beautiful day to boot. Before I reached the end in NC, I turned around and headed back to Tellico Plains. I refueled at the market and headed across the hills for I-75. I would take 75 toward Atlanta and find a place to stay before getting into town and traffic. Luckily for me I found a Best Western about 30 miles north that had drive up rooms and lo and behold, another steak place nearby.
I was tired after a long day of great riding so I fell asleep about 9:00PM. By 1:30 AM I was wide awake. I tuned in the Weather Channel and saw that my luck was going to come to an end somewhere in Mississippi. A line of green, yellow and RED showers and storms ran from south Texas to Michigan and there was no way around it. They did say however that the further south you were, the less severe the storms would be. So, armed with this knowledge I set off at 2:30AM for home. I took the I-285 loop around Atlanta and set sail for I-85. The temperature was in the mid-60's according to my bike's thermometer. As got further away from Atlanta it got colder. The temps dropped to 55 degrees but I resisted the urge to go electric. I did put on the winter gloves though.
A very boring ride ensued from Atlanta to Monkey-Town (Montgomery,AL). I did observe that Alabama deer hunters are much more proficient than their Georgia counter parts. I must have seen 40 of the creatures in GA and NONE in Alabama. Another observation SMOOTH ROADS! For the most part, TN, GA and AL had roads that felt like velvet. Unlike the rubble we call roads here.
The ride from Montgomery to Mobile was uneventful except for the fact I had to pull into a rest area and sleep for about ten minutes. Just before daylight, I hit the wall and couldn't go on. After the power nap I felt refreshed and continued onto Mobile. Instead of taking I-65 directly to I-10, I detoured through Bay Minette and Spanish Fort so I could cross the bay on the causeway and go through the tunnels. It adds a few miles but so what, I love bridges and tunnels...what can I say!
The temps were well into the 70's as I entered the George C. Wallace, twin tunnels on I-10. These replaced the two-lane Bankhead tunnel that was opened in 1940.
After Mobile, my next stop was the Mississippi Welcome Center to stretch my legs and open some vents. The temps were now in the high 70's. When I looked to the west, I could see the clouds forming the front that was causing so many weather problems. It had been hours since I had seen any weather radar so I didn't know how severe the weather was across I-10 into Louisiana. Oh well, it's not going to get any better sitting here. Off I go toward home with darkening skies. By the time I reached the Pearl River it looked like my luck had run out.
As I reached Covington the first raindrops hit. Ok, here it comes I thought. But wait, now it's stopped. Could my luck hold out? As it turns out I made it home to Baton Rouge with nothing more than a dirty motorcycle. Enduring only a couple of very brief, light showers. You know, I really don't mind riding in the rain, but I had heard so much about the BIG storm I had mentally prepared myself for a hurricane and only ended up with a spritz.
1800 s(miles) later, I declared the trip a smashing success. See ya on the Skyway!
Member Paul Lefort, Thibodaux, recently took third place honors for Semi-automatic category in a pistol marksmanship competition sponsored by the Louisiana Association of Reserve Peace Officers at their 20th anniversary Conference hosted by the Lafourche Parish Sheriff’s Office. Way to go, Paul!
This is a STAR 2004 update.
First, there are almost 200 people pre-registered for STAR 2004.
There is still room at the Sierra Nevada Rodeway Inn, but they are getting snapped up quickly, so if you have registered and not reserved a room, you need to do so very soon. (05/10/04 UPDATE: Sierra Nevada Rodeway Inn now full. There is room at the Shilo Inn) If you have NOT yet registered for STAR 2004, you need to do so TODAY. Find your latest STAReview and pull out the registration form or go to one of these web site and print out the form:
Please make a note if you pull it off the web site, the address may not be the updated address (we are waiting for the two web masters to post the updated versions), the address for Trell Dohm has changed. Any registration sent in WILL be forwarded to her at the correct address. Here is the new address, since they moved from Vacaville, CA to Pueblo West, CO:
Trell Dohm, 160 W. Mangrum Court, Pueblo West, CO 81007
As you will remember, our guest speaker for the banquet is Clement Salvadori. Clement is a internationally known writer on all matters related to motorcycles. He has ridden all over the world and on many different types of motorcycles.
He has a regular column in Rider magazine that most of you have probably read and many probably read on a regular basis. Last year, when he was looking around for a personal motorcycle (meaning one he actually purchases) to replace his older ST1100, he looked at many bikes, and settled on a new 2002 ST1100. He does the kind of riding we enjoy: Sport Touring. After enjoying time with Clement at one of our events in San Luis Obsipo near his home, we can tell you the stories he relates are a joy to hear. We are in for a real treat having him as a speaker.
Please pass this email along to anyone you know that has not taken action on getting their registration in. Need to get those plans firmed up NOW.
See you all in Mammoth Lakes, CA in June.
Jim Alexander & Leonard Lloyd STAR 2004 Coordinators
and all of the MANY STAR 2004 volunteers
Well, that's all for now. Keep riding & smiling.
Bob Chappuis, Editor
7060 Barrow Creek Dr.
St. Francisville, LA 70775