|June and July, 2002||Louisiana HSTA Newsletter||Bob Chappuis, Editor|
By Bob Chappuis
The 20th Anniversary Sport Touring Association Rendezvous is over and was a great success! The event, held in Hot Springs, Arkansas was attended by 7 Louisiana Chapter members on 7 Bikes, 3 couples and one solo rider! That's right, no passengers all four females attendees rode their own bikes. Bob and Stacie Chappuis and Bill and Sherrie Ellis rode in from Baton Rouge on two Honda VFR/Kawasaki Ninja combos. New members Rick and Karen Moore rode in from Metairie via a side trip to the Honda Hoot in NC on a Suzuki Intruder Volusia 800 and a Honda Shadow 1100. Cindy Earle trailered her big BMW K bike, avoiding the considerable Louisiana and Arkansas heat.
Stacie and I departed St. Francisville on Saturday, June 22. We plotted a backroad route crossing the Mississippi at Natchez and following highways 15 and 135 up to Monroe and Farmerville. We had a greasy lunch in Farmerville and then crossed into Arkansas and picked up Arkansas Scenic Byway 7, which took us all the way to Downtown Hot Springs and STAR Headquarters. 7 has some great twisty sections both North and South of Hot Springs so "getting there" was definitely part of the fun!
The HSTA had the entire Majestic Hotel and our accommodations were very nice. The hotel lobby and the front porch was the site of friendly biker congregations throughout the event. The lobby entrance area and drive through was the staging area for groups of riders continuously heading out on self-guided tours. All manner of sport and sport touring machines showed up here including a pre-release ST1300 ridden to the event by an American Honda employee. There were a good number a cruisers and luxo tourers as well. There was a large contingent of lady riders and the three Ninja 500s that were there were constantly getting the scrutiny of prospective female riders due to the low seat height.
Saturday night we met up with old friend from STARS '99 and 2000, Phil Ridgdill, Florida State Co-Director and made a new friends with the other Florida State Co-Director Bill Royal and his SO, Eve. Bill, who is also FL newsletter editor, takes GPS navigation seriously. He mounts a laptop PC on his tankbag which is connected to his GPS. THe laptop runs a software program that processes data from the GPS unit and sends synthesized voice directions to his helmet speakers! We hooked up with Bill and Sherrie Ellis and we all had dinner at the Faded Rose, an excellent restaurant just a block from the Majestic. A bunch of us then hit the neighborhood liquor store to stock up on beer and then ended up telling lies and drinking beer in our room.
Sunday we registered and picked up our event packets (after lots of coffee to nurse my aching head back to its normal size) and then strolled across the street to check out the bikes and accessories set up by the Honda dealer which the club had made arrangements with to provide service to the attendees. I then went on a ride with Phil and two other Floridians up to Petit Jean
State Park while Stacie did some souvenir shopping. Phil is a great ride leader as long as you know where your going and stop when he makes a wrong turn. Really, Phil is great to ride with and a real asset to the club. He led a nice, modestly brisk pace and the ride was very enjoyable. Afterwards, Stacie and I cooled off and relaxed at the Majestics nice pool.
Sunday night was the welcoming meeting with free hors d'oeuvres and then Tom Treishman and his band entertained the crowd in the hotel lounge with more free hors d'oeuvres. We decided to skip dinner that night since we were stuffed on hors d'oeuvres!
Monday Stacie and I rode to Mena, AR near the Oklahoma State line. Bill and Sherrie as well as Phil and his group were headed that way too but we never did see either as we did not manage to get our departure times synchronised. We followed a modified version of one of the routes included in our event packet and found some delightful roads with little traffic making our way West. At Mena we took the Talimena Parkway up to Queen Wilhelmina State Park and Lodge. Here we encountered our first traffic including some slow moving Harley riders. The Parkway was narrow and we bided our time before attempting a pass and at one point I noticed a small chrome colored cylindar appearing to fall from the big Harley Tourer. It looked like a butane lighter to me and I thought nothing of it. A few moments later another, larger, chrome colored object fell into the road. I could not tell what it was but Stacie's voice came through on my headset: "A trailer hitch just fell off of that Harley!". I immediately started flashing my brights and continued for 30 or 40 seconds to no avail. So I passed and zoomed ahead far enough to stop and signal the couple to stop so I could tell them what had happened.
The couple turned back to look for their hitch and Stacie and I headed up to the top of the mountain and the Lodge, chuckling as I recalled an old tale about Harley's leaving a trail of parts along the road. Up at the lodge snapped some photos and had lunch, enjoying the view of the cloud covered valley below. Before we left, the Harley couple came up and thanked us, they had found their hitch (but not the mounting bolt). We saddled up and continued on the Parkway into Oklahoma and then made our way back to Hot Springs via Hwy 270, passing through Oden, AR where we had Honeymooned last August. Monday night we ate at the Faded Rose again which seemed to be completely filled with HSTA members!Tuesday was a busy day, since we had signed up for both the Lunch Ride to Fort Smith (280 mile round trip) and the HSTA dinner cruise on Lake Hamilton. Again, Stacie and I headed out on our own for the lunch ride, wanting to get an early start since it seemed like a long ride. It was fairly uneventful but we ran into a little heavy traffic on US 71. Lunch was pizza and only average but it was neat to join such a massive gathering of sportbike riders. We took the winding route home and soon ran into some rain, just enough to cool us off, really. We found out later that one of the Floridians in Phil Ridgdil's group went down on the ride back, cracking some ribs and probably totalling his 1991 ST1100. If ya read this Terry, hope you are healing and back in the saddle soon!
That evening about 200 HSTAers loaded up and were bussed out to Lake Hamilton on the South side of town where we boarded a paddle wheeler for a two hour dinner cruise. This was a bit of a disappointment as it was a bit crowded and we ended up on the bottom deck where we could not see much at all. Folk from the upper decks reported a similar experience apparently due to the darkness. One big plus however was that Stacie and I finally got to meet and get to know new members Rick and Karen Moore. The Moores are a fun and interesting couple and we realy enjoyed spending time with them. On Wednesday, the four of us plus an old friend Jimmy Girton from Kansas City (ST1100), made a short ride up to Nimrod Dam, North of Hot Springs. Karen, who amazingly just started riding about 9 weeks ago, led the way and did very well on her Volusia cruiser.
On the way back we stopped for lunch at a little delicatessin in Hot Spring Village before returning to the Majestic and more relaxation by the pool for about an hour until it was time to get ready for the banquet and the eagerly awaited drawing for the two new motorcycles. Everyone gathered at the church lawn across the street for the group picture and then ambled down the street to the Velda Rose Hotel where the banquet was held and which also served as the overflow hotel. The Louisiana contingent had its own table with the addition of Jimmy Girton and his son Jeff and minus Cindy Earle who sat with a North Carolina group. The meal was delicious and the service excellent. Now for the best part, DOOR PRIZES!. Although neither Stacie nor I nor anyone I know won either of the two bike give aways I did win, along with two other lucky members, a free four night stay at the Majestic Hotel! That was really sweet when it came to checkout time!
After the banquet Stacie and I returned to our room and packed up our luggage in order to make an early departure the next morning and then relaxed on our balcony enjoying the evening air and a few cool ones. We were amazed the next morning to find the parking area half empty; this club is full of early risers! Of course, most of the attendees this year had a lot farther to travel than we did so I am sure many made a pre-dawn escape to avoid the heat. Our ride home through Arkansas was pleasant but uneventful. Once Stacie gets going in the mornings she goes into TRAVEL MODE and I was the one ready to stop first after 180 miles. We had lunch and gassed up in West Monroe and then started our home stretch. Of course the traditional Welcome Home To Louisiana Rain started just South of Alto where we turned off of Hwy 15 onto 135 and caught us on a shoulderless back road where we could not safely stop to put on our rain gear. It was a solid drencher with some very high wind gusts. Fortunately, the severe stuff only lasted a few minutes and then settled into a steady drizzle util we reached Natchez. We were pretty damp and stopped somewhere to change some wet clothes but before too long we were home safe and sound.
It was a wonderful trip for several reasons. As usual with a STAR event we spent some great times with old friends and met some new ones. Stacie and I both really enjoyed hanging out with the HSTA. We had some great rides on some great roads and enjoyed some good meals. I finally won a door prize! And I greatly enjoyed the special pleasure of having a Significant Other share a STAR with me not just as a social companion/passenger but as a riding buddy. I am sure that Bill and Rick both understand how I feel. Next years's STAR will be held in Charleston, West Virginia, the Mountain State and we are definetely planning to attend! I hope you will too.
The July New Orleans area ride will be a Couples Ride on Saturday, July 13th LEAVING at 8:30 AM. We will get an earlier start during the summer months so we can be back before the heat of the day. We will ride through the French Settlement area to Montpelier, stopping at Taste Of Bavaria for lunch. In the event of rain that morning there will be no ride that day and I will not be at the ride start. In the event of questionable rain that day, call me the night before. I will be at the ride start just in case someone shows up. Bud Logan
A Baton Rouge Area ride will meet at Starbuck's at Corporate and Energy Plaza at 8:30, Sunday, July 28. No destination our route yet, look for updates on the web site and in your email box. RAIN CONTINGENCY: I will show up at the meeting location unless it is raining at 8:00 AM AND the forecast is for 50% or greater chance of rain in Baton Rouge.
These are open to all members. Check and see if there is one within your riding range.
Well, I had intended to finish this in time for the July 13th ride but it just did not happen, my apologies to anyone who missed the ride due to this. It is not getting any easier to find time to work on the newsletter and it takes a lot of time to do a decnt job. Anybody want to help? Stacie and I are going to attend SE-STAR in Dillard, GA September 13 and 14. I have mapped out a two day route that is almost all non-interstate, stopping for the night in Tupelo, MS, birthplcae of Elvis, Thursday the 12th. If anyone else is interested in going with us all or part way let me know.
KEEP IN TOUCH!
email@example.com and my telephone number is (225)635-3171.
and Ride Safe,