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June & July 2006 Louisiana HSTA Newsletter Bob Chappuis, Editor

NEW MEMBERS WELCOME!

A big welcome to new member of household Julie Yeats. Julie attended STAR 06 with husband Kevin and was great addition to our group of fun loving Louisiana STAR attendees!

CLUB RIDES

STAR 2006 AVON, COLORADO.

by Bob Chappuis

Stacie and I, Tony, Bill and Kevin met in Weatherford, TX on Thursday, 6/15 for our first night on the road to STAR 06 in Avon, CO. 446 miles for Stacie and I via the St Francisville ferry, LA 1 to Marksville, LA 107 to Alexandria, I-49 to Mansfield. Had planned to ride I-49 all the way to I-20 but due to some aggressive riding required to negotiate the dozens of rolling roadblocks on 107 I was low on fuel and doubtful of reaching the next gas stop on I-49. Highway 171 was in good shape however and lightly traveled and it at least had some semblance of a curve now and then and proved much more pleasant riding than deadly-dull I-49. At Shreveport we got on I-20 for the ride to and through Dallas/Fort Worth. Our TX HSTA buddy Pat Coleman had advised that I-20 was fine through DFW as long as you got through before 4:00 PM. The VFR and I made sure that we did and we had smooth sailing to Weatherford. It was great to meet up with the rest of the gang and we enjoyed a swim and some cold beers by the pool before supper. There was an authentic Mexican eatery next door and we had some Margaritas and large helpings of tasty Meixican fare.

We left early Friday morning to beat the West Texas heat and had a nice ride to the Big Texan Motel & Steak Ranch in Amarillo, just a 379 mile day. Our route included US 180 and US 380 with a brunch stop in Stamford. Then TX 70 Turkey, TX childhood home of Bob Wills, the “King of Western Swing”. We stopped for some photos at an overlook on highway 207. On 207 we had our first taste of what would be many great roads throughout most of the trip.

tnTheBigTexanMotel.jpg 200x200 We checked into our nice second floor rooms at the Big Texan and kicked back with a few brews before heading over to the restaurant to eat some great steaks and watch some guys try to eat the 72 ounce steak. If you are not familar, this is the place where you get the 72 OZ steak and meal free if you can eat it all in 60 minutes. They sit you up in the middle of the large dining room on an elevated table with a big digital countdown clock behind you. This place is lots of fun and the steaks are GREAT!

A thunderstorm swept through the area just as we finished our meal. I later heard that some Texas HSTA members got caught in the some serious hail just south of Amarillo from this same storm.

Our destination for Day Three was Pagosa Springs, CO (439 miles) which has become a big tourist spot since my first visit there way back in the sixties. We had used my laptop and the restaurants wifi the night before to scope out accommodations. Rooms were pricey but Tony wrangled some reservations at a very nice motel. Another member, Paul from Thibodaux, met up with us here. Just next door was a small shopping center with a liquor store with an awesome beer selection and a southern cuisine café owned by a Georgia native that had some great food. Needless to say our stay in Pagosa Springs was enjoyed!

Sunday, our final leg to Avon was just 328 miles but included some great motorcycle roads. From Pagosa Springs we took US 160 West to Durango then US 550 North. On 550 we climbed from about 6500 feet to 11000 and encountered some awesome twisties. We stopped for brunch in Silverton at a beautiful old restaurant on the main drag that looked like it was in a very fine old restored building.

tnCanyonOverLookWestTX01.jpg 200x200 tnKevinsWelcome.jpg 200x200 tnBillOnTheBrink02.jpg 200x200 tnWeLoveTheMoubtains!.JPG 200x200

We continued North on US550, AKA the Million Dollar Highway; which derives its name from the low grade gold ore present in its road bed (an alternative story is that it cost a million dollars per mile to build); over Red Mountain Pass (11,042 ft per my GPS) to Ouray and Montrose. Stacie and I had some great fun following Tony and Paul through the twisties but the steep climb and the high RPMs needed to stay close to the more powerful FZ1 and more nimble DL-650 would later takes its toll on the venerable Interceptor. From Montrose it was US 50 to Delta and then CO 92, CO 133 and CO 82 on up to Glenwood Springs. These roads also offered some great riding. Traffic was stop and go in Glenwood Springs and we had to wait through a couple light cycles as we worked our way to the on-ramp for I-70 East. As the VFR’s coolant temperature climbed above 225 the engine would not idle and died a couple time waiting at the light. I was forced to use a lot of revs and clutch slipping to navigate the stop and go traffic, all the time cursing the crawling cagers and thinking why are these drivers so slow? As the VFR finally hit the on-ramp it began to surge crazily like bucking bronco having seizures. I hoped desperately that the open road and some speed would cool the engine off and it would run normally but we were soon approaching the No Name Tunnel and no let up in the wild surging yet.

Nowhere to hide in there if we stalled! I pulled off onto a fortunately slightly wider than usual, although gravel, shoulder area a few yards before the mouth of the tunnel and shut her down. I put in call to our buddies ahead to let them know we were ok, would try to continue after the engine cooled down and to give us 20 minutes before they came looking for us. After 10 minutes I told Stacie to suit back up and get on before I cranked, I wasn’t going to give it any time to heat up again. Just as I hoped, after the 10 minute wait the engine fired up and was 20 degrees cooler and we blasted into the tunnel and were on our way.

At this point I just have to mention that Stacie was an absolute trooper through this trail, never once complained or showed a bit of fear. Her only comment was that she was glad I had had the good since to pull over rather than attempt the tunnel with the Viffer running so badly. We both tend to have a “Press On Regardless” approach to adversity but on this occasion good sense prevailed. Our good buddies were waiting for us at the next exit and we all rode on to Avon together.

tnChistieLodgeLobby.jpg 200x200 Check-in and event registration were hassle-free (thanks to Mike Morris and his many helpers) and our room was ideally located on the first floor close to parking as well as the lobby and the main atrium – the general hanging-out area. Our awesome host for this event, a long time HSTA member who just happens to be the managing partner of the Christie Lodge had a cold six pack of Bud waiting in the fridge in each and every members condo! Woot! Not only that but the Christie had a big welcoming bash happening with 2 kegs and plentiful hot hors’de oeuvres and other finger food. Our usual road trip evening chore, locating tasty grub was done for us! We chatted with many old aquaintances and met some new ones. We also found Louisiana member Cindy Earle who had trailered her VFR to Avon.

On Monday we rode to the trop of Mt. Evans, which is the highest paved road in the country. The pavement was not in great condition and there were some huge frost heaves that took down one of our riding buddies on his ST1300, Jimmy from Kansas. He lost control and went down, sliding into an oncoming minivan full of Asian tourists. He had some cracked ribs but was otherwise OK and the ST1300 was rideable.

Tuesday at STARS are traditionally Lunch Ride day. A group lunch is organized at some location that involves some great roads to reach.tnCindyAtGrandLake.jpg 200x200 This year the location was the town of Grand Lake on the Southern edge of Rocky Mountain National Park. Our plan was to do an early lunch and then ride over to Central City for some BlackJack since Tony and Stacie love to gamble.Our route involved a short run West on I-70 to CO 131 then North to Tonopas. 131 is another great road through some beautiful canyon type terrain. Tony and Paul took turns leading at a torrid pace but Stacie & I were cooking on the VFR and had great fun keeping up.

From Tonopas we turned East on CO 134 which had some good twisties but was pretty rough in places and we encountered traffic and some construction. We turned onto US 40 near Kremmling and continued East to Granby then US 34 North to Grand Lake. Lunch was some great pulled pork sandwiches and fixins in the town park under perfect skies and cool temps. Grand Lake is a nice town and we did some shopping before heading out. We backtracked to US 40 and continued South through Winter Park and over Berthoud Pass and another great session of twisties. 40 brought us back to I-70 about 40 miles West of Denver. We headeed East to Exit 243 and the entrance to the recently built Central City Parkway. This is a four lane limited access road built by the gaming industry to facilitate access to the Central City casinos and it turned out to be one of the most fun roads I have ever ridden. Although only 7 miles long it climbs about 1500 feet in those 7 miles and there is hardly a straight more than a hundred yards long. I don't gamble but the trip to the casino was well worth it for this road alone!

Wednesday we rode to Independance Pass. To get there you take US 24 from Minturn to Leadville. I think Leadville is the highest incorporated town in CO if not the USA. US 24 may be my all time favorite road! It has it all, smooth pavement, huge elevation changes, tight switchbacks and broad highspeed sweepers. I love it. A few miles past Leadville you hook a right on 82 and head for Aspen which is on the other side of Inependance Pass. Some really beautiful countryside around here so there is some traffic. We could see the rain up ahead as we got to Twin lakes and stopped at a park type place to put on rain gear. We hit a good rain immediately and rode a cautious pace for about 10 miles but fortunately it was dry as we started the climb up Independance Pass. We stopped for pictures at the top and saw many of our HSTA friends.

Paul and I got ahead of Tony, Bill and Kevin on the ride down into Aspen. Paul was really flying in this super tight, flowing section of twisties and I could barely keep up. Tony was behing Bill and kevin taking pictures when paul and I got by some slow traffic. We never did see them again. We stopped in Aspen to wait but they apparently strayed off of the main road and missed us. After a 20 minute wait Paul and I decided we just had to ride back up to the pass to look for them. I then got seperated from Paul and decided I would go look for everybody back on US24.

I did not find anyone but had fun trying!

Wednesday night was our big banquet. The food was good, and service was great. None of us won any awards or the bike raffle or even any door prizes. Oh well, we had fun anyway. I am proud to say that among the many states represented at STAR, Louisiana again had a prominent presence.

Our ride home was mostly uneventful, however there was one incident that bears telling. Our Thursday route would take us to Garden City, Kansas. Having had enough of I-70 we exited at Frisco, CO and took CO 9 South and US 24 East to Colorado Springs. Somewhere on 9 in Summit County I crossed the Double Yellow (for what was not the first time during our stay in Colorado) to get around an absurdly slow moving Minivan. Just as I completed the pass I spotted the County SUV with no light bars. He immediately turned on his dash mounted lights and I immediately pulled onto the shoulder and shut down. The LEO and I exchanged some pleasantries and then he explained why he had stopped me. I resignedly acknowledged my transgression and offered no excuses. What he said next truly amazed me. He said something to the effect of: “I realize that the acceleration capabilities of a machine like that make the no passing zones inappropriate at times; I am therefore issuing you a warning citation. You will not need to appear in court and there is no penalty”. Damn! I should have played the Black Jack tables at Central City. With this kind of luck I’d be rich! Wouldn’t it be nice if all LEOs were so enlightened? Our stay in Garden City was so exciting I can't remember a thing about it except that although we were not in a dry county, the grocery and convenience stores were not allowed to sell alcohol and the liquor stores were not allowed to sell anything without alcohol.

Well, of course compared to New Mexico and Colorado, Kansas was pretty dull and Oklahoma was not much better. We stopped for the second night in Grove, OK, just barely beating a major thunderstorm and high winds. On our final leg home we did hit some more good twisties on our way through Arkansas including Magazine Mountain and the Pig Trail. Just South of Lake City we hit a severe downpour that limited visibility so bad I nearly pulled off. But we rode on through to blue skies and continued on. Our final day on the road was 610 miles, our longest. We all made it home tired but safe and sound. A fabulous trip!

STAR 07 will be in Ashville, NC. BE THERE!!

UPCOMING RIDES and EVENTS

Lunch Ride: Saturday July 15, 2006.

We will meet at our Baton Rouge meeting spot - Starbucks on Corborate Blvd just off College Drive at 8:30. Lunch destination Taste of Bavaria
STAR 06 PHOTO GALLERY
ENJOY

Well, out of time. MAKE YOUR RESERVATIONS FOR CAJUN CHRISTMAS! See you at STARBUCKS


Y'ALL KEEP IN TOUCH! chappuis@demco.net (225)635-3171 home (225)281-0799 Cell. and Ride Safe,
Bob Chappuis