|March 2006||Louisiana HSTA Newsletter||Page 1|
Tony Crowell and I left Friday morning, March 10 and met on I-75 just north of Gainesville FL. Tony was en route to a three week stint in Brunswick, GA for some specialized training. I had been planning for months to ride over on the VFR to watch the season opener superbike races but the Viffer was disabled with electrical problems so I was forced to take the Chevrolet Express. (I am no longer foolish enough to ride 600 mile days on a sportbike so the SV650 was not an option!) Early Saturday morning we drove the 105 miles to Daytona International Speedway for the International Motorcycle Show and races. I had hoped to demo ride the new Kawasaki ZX14. The 14s were there in numbers and ready to ride but inexplicable Kawasaki had shut down the demo rides Friday afternoon. Once again my luck with demo rides was lousy! I did get to sit on a 14 and examine them up close. The bike actually felt lighter than my VFR and visually appears slighter lower and more compact. The ergonomics felt the same. We checked out most of the interesting new bikes as well as some of the vendor tents then headed up into the stands. The only other HSTA member we spotted was veteran member Gordon Klemmerer of Virginia and we invited him to join us. He and Tony talked at length about their ST1300s and we enjoyed the nice weather and some good racing. In Superbike Matt Mladin was challenged for a change by team-mate Ben Speiss. These two Suzuki riders had the rest of the field outclassed. The race came down to some last lap trickery by Mladin to induce Speiss to take the lead only to be drafted and passed at the finish line by the slightest of margins. In Formula Extreme the racing was was closer for the top 8 positions but Honda rider Miguel Duhamel built a comfortable lead with steady riding and good pit work until he highsided exiting turn 1. Honda Factory team-mate Jake Zemke thus inherited the lead and rode home for the win, Erion Racing's Josh Hayes on another Honda began to close in the final laps but Zemke was able to respond and maintain his comfortable lead. Third was Jason Disalvo on a Yamaha. Duhamel was able to hang on for 5th, riding the last third of the race without a wind screen!
It is always good to start the new racing season each year with a trip to Daytona International Speedway. The racing has not always been exciting but I always enjoy the sights and seeing old friends and have only missed 3 or 4 years since I started going in 1983
Three members and one child met for this Sunday lunch ride at Starbucks on Corporate Blvd. in Baton Rouge. Although the once trusty VFR was out of commission with electrical problems I easily converted my SV650S track bike to Sport Touring trim by putting the mirrors, turns signals and top case back on. For once I was ready early and got to Starbucks first but that was probably only because perpetual early bird Tony Crowell was stranded in Brunswick, GA. Bill and Sherri Ellis arrived right on time however on their Yamaha FJR1300 and FZ-6 with daughter Nikki on the back of Bill's FJR. We all had coffee and had a pleasant chat while we waited for other arrivals. No one else showed up, perhaps scared off by the predicted 60% chance of rain that never materialized. So at 10:00 am sharp we were off on a variation of our usual route to Ponchatoula, to include previously gravel but now paved Alligator Bayou/Manchac Road.
We hit the I-10 West Interstate ramp and crossed the river. Exiting at Hwy 415 we rode North a mile or so then turned left onto Rosedale Rd. (Hwy 76) This is a straight road but it beats the Interstate! At Rosedale it intersects with Hwy 77 which was our objective. 77 follows Bayou Grosse Tete and and the Intracoastal Waterway all the way to Plaquemine and the twists and turns of these waterways make for some great twisties. We actually rode Hwy 411 on the East side of the Bayou since the bridge I had planned to cross was closed. This turned out well as 411 has much better pavement now than 77 along that stretch and is just as twisty.
We had to stop and wait for the bridge at the Waterway to let a tug go by but not for long. The morning temperature was perfect for riding and the skies, although cloudy, showed no threat of rain. After crossing, we encounterd a 60's era Chevelle muscle car with a driver who was willing to show us it's muscle. Impressive straight line performance but when the road got twisty we quickly left him behind. The final stretch of 77 before Plaquemine is a great section of road and we thoroughly enjoyed it. To look at this section on the map does not do it justice, it is truly a great motorcycle road. At Plaquemine we boarded the ferry for the ride across the Big Muddy. Again, we had to wait, having just missed the boat as we pulled up to the landing but we were in no hurry!. Once across we rode the River Road to Sunshine, LA turning left onto Bayou Paul Ln. After crossing Hwy 30 the road hits Bayou Manchac and becomes Bayou Manchac Rd. Many Baton Rougeans know this road since it is the access road to the Alligator Bayou Bar and the Spanish Lake swamp, a favorite of fisherman and canoers, but until recently it has always been gravel. Not any more! This freshly paved section of tight curves is great fun on a nimble sportbike! (Nikki commented that she still prefers a good theme park roller coaster, however.The last mile before Bluff Rd/928 (the way most people will be reaching it) is gravel, so be forewarned.
After running Manchac Rd we turned back to the Mississippi and continued downriver on River Road to Burnside and Hwy 22. At this point everyone was ready for lunch since our water crossing delays had us behind schedule. Accordingly we made a change of plans and located the Cabin Restaurant, right there in Sorrento rather than continuing on to the Taste Of Bavaria another 40 miles down the road. The Cabin is a great choice for lunch, great food and historic: a 150 year old plantation building. Everyone enjoyed their meal.
After lunch the Ellises headed home via I-10 and I continued North on 22 to Springfield and then home to St. Francisville via highways 43, 16, 63 and 10. My total miles for the day was just over 250. A great day on the road. My advice to anyone who missed this ride for fear of rain: "DON"T TRUST THE WEATHER MAN!"
June 18-21, 2006
STAR 06 WEBSITE
MEET: at McDonalds St. Francisville 9:00 am
T-18 MENA, AR
There will also be members attending the races April 22 and 23 in Birmingham. I have reserved a room at Homestead Studio Suites Birmingham. The Belmont where we have stayed in the past was booked.
Contact me for details if you would like to join us for either of these trips. (See my contact info bottom.)
CONTEST! In one of the pictures in this newsletter something is wrong. What? Be the first to email me the answer and win a prize.
NEW LA HSTA WEBSITE FEATURE:ONLINE BLUEBOOK!
The 2006 Blue Books are on there way to all members, yours should arrive soon. I have added an Online version to our Members Only area. http://www.barrowcreek.com/hsta/membership/login.asp I will be sending out an explanatory email soon,including the password in case you forgot it or have not requested it before.
Well, that's all for now. Keep riding & smiling.
Bob Chappuis, Editor