|March 2008||Louisiana HSTA Newsletter||Page 1|
I am filling in this spot for Tim for this month only as he is temporarily disconnected. Since last issue Tim has relocated and changed Internet Providers. When I last spoke to him he was still in the process of setting up his Internet connection.
Last year at this time I wrote "Great riding weather has arrived, I rode to work every day last week!" Well this year I am working on a streak of 4 weeks in a row!STAR comes early this year and I am way behind in getting ready with it following so soon after the Easter holiday. Not only that but my Concours 14 suffered a mishap and is currently unrideable. I am on pins and needles waiting for Mother Kawasaki to send me a part so I can ride my new baby to STAR! Speaking of Tim, he rode is first track day at NPR on March 9. I expect him to submit a full report for an upcomimg issue! For now, check out this video. In this months issue we have a Fools On A Hill ride report by Drew Newcomer and my March Lunch Ride report plus Part 2 of my Personal Sport Touring History. Enjoy!
FOOLS ON A HILL IX
Signs of Spring had shown themselves only modestly and I had been thinking it was time to look at something different. I had been watching weather reports wondering if there would be decent riding conditions to venture up to Arkansas for weekend of March 14. Well, my work schedule was busy so it didn't seem like it would matter - so, the plan was to maybe ride up on Saturday. Dardanelle, Arkansas is less than 300 miles from West Monroe so it would be a nice diversion - maybe. So, I figured I would just see what the weekend would hold.
The motorcycle gods must have aligned themselves because when I arrived at work on Friday morning my schedule had changed significantly and I would be able to leave at 9 a.m. It was sunny and 65 degrees outside. I didn't need anymore coaxing. I left work and threw some things together and by 10:20 I was headed up LA 15 to Farmerville. Once I got to El Dorado I headed north on US 167 which for the most part is a long straight away. Once I got to Sheridan, AR I turned northwest on AR 35 which is a nice little run that took me to Benton. Benton is no small town anymore and I quickly went the wrong way on Highway 5 (another reason for a GPS investment!) I finally figured it out and headed south on 5 until Highway 9 intersects at Crows, AR. Now I am headed in the right direction and the roads are made for motorcycles! 9 north to 154 west until 155 north where I reached Dardanelle around 4:30.
Fools on a Hill is a camping rally and I had not put my camping gear together because I didn't know I was actually going be able to make it. I did have a room in the Economy Inn. I rode up to Mt. Nebo State Park and met Mario Caruso, the event organizer, and some of the other riders there. We talked for awhile then headed back down the mountain to town where we had a fairly decent meal of Mexican fare. The plan was to meet for lunch on Saturday in Kingston, AR. Mario had provided state maps and riders could choose a variety of paths to take to Kingston.I got back to my hotel room and turned on the Weather Channel. There was a possibility of rain with hail that night - surprising since I had not seen a cloud in the sky all day long. There was an overhang by my motel room door so I thought it couldn't hurt to move the bike under it and I watched a little television and went to sleep. About 3 a.m. I was awakened by what sounded like World War III! The thunder could have wakened the dead and rain was coming down in buckets!! I was wondering how the guys on the hill were doing in this torrential downpour. I was glad I had moved the Beemer as it was being very well protected. There was nothing else I could do but try and go back to sleep and see what the morning would bring.
It was a little foggy on Saturday morning so I walked to MacDonald's across the street and ate. I didn't get on the bike till 9 a.m. and started north on Highway 7 through Russellville. Now, Highway 7 is a scenic thoroughfare and very well known. I continued north on 7 until it was met by Highway 16 near Deer, Arkansas. In this part of Arkansas, just about all the roads are great motorcycle rides and the sun had begun to burn the fog away. The roads were drying up nicely. I turned north on Highway 21 and got to Kingston, AR, the lunch spot, at about 11:15.
Well, wouldn't you know it? I was the first one there. I sat down in the combination diner/bed & breakfast and talked to a guy that had owned R90 years ago. I ate and never did see any other riders so I headed back south on 21 to Clarksville. Eight miles south of the restaurant my low fuel indicator light came on. Now, I have figured in the past that I am still good for about 40 miles when this happens. Only problem was, Clarksville, the next gasoline stop, was 52 miles away. So, I thought it might be prudent to slow down a little as I decided I wasn't going to turn back and go to Marble (about 10 miles north of Kingston) to get gas. With 40 miles on the odometer since the warning light came on, I was starting to work on my sales pitch figuring I was going to have to walk up to a house somewhere and see if I could beg/scrounge/buy enough gasoline to get to Clarksville. At this point I had also begun to engage the clutch and let the bike coast whenever possible. Good thing I was going downhill for the most part! At 48 miles on the odometer I rode past a convenience store in Hillcrest, AR that had 91 octane. I was very relieved to pull up to the pump and finally put some gas in what must have been a very nearly empty tank. I don't know how much farther I would have made it, and I hope I don't ever have to find out. Having ridden in this part of the country before, I should have realized that gasoline can be hard to find. The owner's manual says I have five liters when the light comes on. I certainly used up four of them! The ride home was worry free (now that I was no longer worried about running out of fuel!) and I rode 292 east to 164 east which took me back to Highway 7.
Back on the hill at Mt. Nebo State Park I visited with the campers that had gotten through the night okay. Everyone had really battened down their tents and the pavilion was opened for those that felt better being indoors. A good number of Guzzis were present along with some other interesting motorcycles as well. The day had faired off nicely and though cooler, rain would no longer be an issue.
Northwest Arkansas is one of my favorite places to ride. There are great motorcycle roads in all directions. The day was not perfect but it was certainly close enough. I will definitely come back, though I think I'll top my tank off first thing in the morning!!!
Saturday March 1
New State Director Tim Smith had a very successful first lunch ride with a nice turnout from all over the state. The lunch destination was the Pigout Inn, Natchez MS, a more or less central location for our members spread around the Boot State. Attending members and their rides included Kevin Yeats, ST13 of Hahnville; Tony Crowell, VFR 800 and Bill Ellis, FJR 1300 both of Baton Rouge, Bob Chappuis, Concours 14 of St. Francisville; Wayne Andrus, Gold Wing ; Dennis Hedrick, BMW; David Dickson, BMW; all from the New Orleans area. Representing North Louisiana were Tim & Caleb Smith, VFR 800 and ZX650R, of Ruston; Drew Newcomer, BMW of West Monroe, and new Member Glyn Best of Bossier City on an ST1100. Guests David Webster, Concours Owners Group (COG) Assistant Area Director and COG member Joel Parrott joined us on their Concours 14s.
David and Joel met Tony, Bill and I at the McDonalds in St. Francisville and enjoyed a spirited back road ride to Natchez. Our route included Angola Rd., Pinkneyville Rd., MS 563, MS 33, and Liberty Rd. Members from all areas managed to converge on the Pig Out Inn in time to stake out three primo tables in the outdoor dining area just before a large crowd of hungry tourists and Harley riders arrived. Great food and conversations ran rampant under a beautiful sky and perfect weather.
After lunch, Tony, Tim, Caleb and Dennis apparently felt the weather was just too nice to go home so they decided to extend the lunch ride into a weekend trip to Arkansas! The rest of us wimpy, hp (that's not High Performance)riders just headed home to complete our domestic chores. We heard later that the "Wild Bunch"got as far as Tallulah before they came to their senses and turned around...
|March Lunch Ride|
by Bob Chappuis
In last month's episode I mentioned that my ill-prepared but totally great first bike trip to Colorado on a windshield-less cruiser led me to look for the best "Sport-Tourer" which led me to the Honda V-45 Sabre which led me to the HSTA. The next event in this procession was meeting HSTA founder Dana Sawyer.
The first overnight trip on my new sport tourer was to Daytona Beach for 1983 Bike Week and the Daytona 200. I bought a used set of soft saddlebags, a big old Eclipse tank bag and I was all set. I set out on a Wednesday morning from Baton Rouge. It was 35 degrees. If Electric apparel was available in those days I was not aware of it! I had put on as many layers as I could under my leather Jacket but it wasn't enough. I had a pair of bulky, Hondaline insulated gloves but still my hands were numb within 20 miles. My feet were not much better in my Bates Fastline boots. I would stop at every rest area to thaw out my digits under the hot air hand dryers. (The bank of dryers were always full at every stop with fellow bikers) Due to the frequent stops my planned first day ride to Daytona Beach got only as far a Lake City, FL. It was only about 3:45 in the afternoon but I could go no further. I stopped at a mom & pop motel and spent about an hour soaking in the warmth of a hot bathtub. The hours of shivering inflamed my appetite and I ate a hearty meal of hamburger steak and mashed potatoes at the restauarant next to the motel and felt much better! I was able to park the Sabre safely under the stairwell just a few yards from my room and got a good night's sleep. (It is really weird the things that you remember after 25 years!… and the things you forget)
The next morning I let the sun get well up in the sky before I headed out and the ride was not as cold. I arrived at Daytona Beach around 10 and stopped for lunch at the Denny's on Volusia Blvd. after a fruitless 2 hours looking for a place to stay. The largest motorcycling event in the country and I had no reservations. I finally found a fleabag motel about 20 miles away in Deland at an outrageous price. It was a cockroach infested dump and my night was less than restful. The next morning I planned to ride back to Daytona Beach, see some sights and then start back home. My meager trip budget would not cover any more high cost motel nights. But about midpoint along the 20 mile stretch of Hwy 92 between Deland and Daytona Beach my luck would change. As I overtook a bike the same shape and color red as my own but with hard bags and a sport fairing I realized it was a Sabre with the optional Hondaline accessories and of course I gave it a long hard look as I passed. To my surprise the rider began gesturing wildly for me to pull over. The shoulder was wide and it was safe to do so and I did. Back then, the Tolkien Trilogy was only in written format, so the figure that confronted me had no precedent, not quite like anyone I had ever met or seen before. Now that I have seen Lord of the Rings I think Dana may actually be a Hobbitt. Somewhat short and slightly pudgy, a bit dishelved looking, fast talking and hyper but extremely friendly and outgoing. Bilbo Baggins of the motorcycling world...
As I dismounted my V45 Sabre Dana Sawyer introduced himself and proceeded at a rapid and non-stop pace to tell me all about his club, the Honda V-Four Sport Touring Association, the upcoming STAR, and why I needed to join the club. When he finally slowed down I was able to explain to him that I was ALREADY a member!
After getting aquainted we rode to Daytona Beach and I there I think we met up with Harry Trafford, the first HSTA South Florida State director and a couple other members. We spent the day checking out a couple of huge Daytona Beach Honda dealerships. During the course of the day Dana asked where I was staying and I explained my lack of acceptable accommodations. Without hesitation he came to my rescue! He was staying in Deland with some friends, a retired preacher and hi wife from New Hampshire, who had a winter home in Deland. Dana assured me they had extras space and would be happy to have me. Mr & Mrs. Files were wonderful hosts and I enjoyed a cozy bedroom with a comfortable bed for the remainder of my stay.
For the rest of the weekend I enjoyed being led around Daytona Beach by two Bike Week veterans, checking out all the hot spots such as the Boot Hill Saloon and Main Street, the International Motorcycle and Custom Bike shows and accessory shops (interupted by constant recruiting stops whenever Dana spotted a potential HSTA member). We also attended the races on both Saturday and Sunday. During the course of the weekend I got to know both Dana and Harry. This was just the first two of many, many great friendships that would grow out of my membership in HSTA.
I would see both Dana and Harry again a few months later at the first STAR in Rogers Arkansas. I stayed in touch with Harry for several years, sharing a room with him a couple of years in New Smyrna Beach, FL for Bike Week and making the trip to Apen, CO together for STAR number 2. We finally lost touch when he was displaced from his home in Homestead, FL by Hurricane Andrew. I was eventually able to track him down years later but by then he had given up motorcycles and was into restoring classic sports cars, Lotuses to be specific.
As for Dana Sawyer, he would soon talk me into the job of Louisiana State Director and I would remain friends with he and his wife Lynn and daughter Laura through out his involvement in HSTA. In the early days Dana was as enthusiastic about motorcycle sport touring and Honda as anybody I have ever met and his endless energy for recruiting new members probably had as much to do with the growth and success of HSTA than any other factor.
During the middle years of HSTA, Dana began referring to himself as "The Fossil". I could be totally wrong about this but it is my personal feeling that during these years Dana began to became unhappy with the high speeds that became more and more common at HSTA events. Dana's founding motto was "Safety and Excellence" but the excellence part had begun to overshadow the safety part and that excellence was most clearly manifested by amazing speeds demonstrated at HSTA events by a lot of very highly skilled riders. I think perhaps this led, at least in part, to Dana's passing on of the leadership reins and his gradual withdrawal from close, day to day involvement with the club.
Several years back Dana and Lynn Sawyer attended their last STAR. I am not exactly sure what year that was but the last year I remember seeing them at STAR was Ohio in 1999. That was my wife Stacie's first STAR and I am glad she got to meet the Sawyers. I kept in touch with Dana for a few more years via email and the VFR listserver but sometime around 2003 Dana decided to give up riding at about age 70 and our paths have not crossed again. I miss him and never forget that this long and wonderful journey that is HSTA all started with him.
That's all for now. My thanks go to contributor Drew Newcomer. Keep riding and smiling....
Bob Chappuis, LA State Newsletter Editor