May 2007 Louisiana HSTA Newsletter Page 1

Turn One

A lot of news and activity to report. Our state membership is small but very active! Two members (Kevin Yeats & Bill Ellis) each completed their first track day and two (Kevin & new member Dennis Hedrick) went down hard suffering injuries requiring hospitalizations, both are fine now. Four members, myself, Tony Crowell and Bill and Sherri Ellis attended the 4th Annual Natchez Trace Picnic Ride and Drew Newcomer and new member John Thoms both made rides to the Texas Hill Country. Details on all of the above below PLUS reports on Barber, Cherohala MC Resort and the HSTA North Georgia Classic of last month.



Fourth Annual Natchez Trace Picnic Ride

The weather turned out to be about as close to perfect as one could hope for. Why more folks did not show up is a mystery to me! (except of course for the above mentioned injured members and John Thoms who was exploring the Texas Hill Country on his FZ1) Four of us, Tony Crowell, Bill & Sherri Ellis and myself, met at the McDonalds on Highway 61 in St. Francisville and traveled some nice country roads to Natchez, MS where we gassed up and bought some fried chicken and drinks. Then on to Rocky Spring Picnic Area via the Natchez Trace Parkway. The trace was as beautiful as ever and there was virtually no traffic nor park rangers to interrupt our progress. We enjoyed a pleasant lunch at a picnic table under some shade trees at Rocky Springs before exploring some more Mississippi back roads on the way home. About 350 delightful miles!



Tony Crowell, Drew Newcomer, Bill Ellis and I try not to miss the annual AMA races at beautiful Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, AL. We made the inaugural event in 03, were back in 04, missed in 05 (I did at least) but were back for 06 and 07. We stay at a motel in the Cahaba Heights area and know a "secret" 20 mile twisty, back road route to the track that avoids the traffic jam of the Interstate route used by most of the 75 or 100 thousand weekend visitors. This year we talked Kevin Yeats into joining us and he and Tony met me at 8:00 am Friday morning at the Exxon in Kentwood for the start of the adventure. From there we took MS & AL back roads up to I-20 near Homewood, AL. We made good time in great weather, stopping in Meridian for lunch at Applebees. One more gas stop and we were soon in Birmingham, checking into our rooms at the LaQuinta.

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That's my faithful 99 VFR (turned 82,000 this trip) Kevin's ST1300 and Tino's brand new 05 VFR.

There were quite a few other bikers there already and more arriving, including Drew Newcomer, who had ridden over from North Louisiana with some BMW club friends.

WE socialized for an hour or two then for dinner we stepped inside the Irish Pub next door which has a grill. However, they apparently have no ventilation and the stench of stale tobacco smoke had us making and about face without even sitting down. We spied what appeared to be a Mexican place next door and went inside. It was a restaurant but according to Agent Crowell the staff was Dominican. They seemed surprised to see "gringos" but were friendly. Especially a cute one about 20 years old who seemed a bit too friendly! You will need to ask Kevin about her, my lips are sealed! They had an extensive menu but of the 60 or so items I recognized only two I was accustomed to ordering in a typical Tex Mex joint: tacos and quesadillas. There were about 10 varieties of Taco, sold individually at a buck fifty. I ordered the beef and cheese quesadillas expecting some beef & cheese quesadillas but got 3 of each. Quite tasty 'though!

Next morning we rode out to the track early to stake out a shady spot on our favorite hill with a good view. We park in the museum lot for quick and easy exit and use the track trolleys to get around.
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We grabbed a nice spot with a good view not far from the concessions and port-o-lets. The racing was good, especially Super Sport and Formula Extreme.
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In case you have never been to Barber, the place is beautifully landscaped and is full of statues such as these at the museum.
Saturday and Sunday evenings we ate at the Carabas across Hwy 280. More good food, this time Italian made by Mexicans! Monday morning Kevin and Tony were scheduled to return to Louisiana and their jobs but Tino could not stand for me to go to the MOUNTAINS without him and called in to negotiate an extra day off. Thus the two red VFRs headed for Tellico Plains, TN and Kevin steered the ST for home.

Tony and I had an uneventful ride to the Mountains, slabbing up I-59 to Fort Payne, AL. where we exited and took state routes passing through Summerville, La Fayette, Dalton, then crossing into Georgia and on to East Ellijay and Blue Ridge, where the good stuff began.
We had a rollicking time on GA 5/TN68 up to Tellico Plains. The Cherohala Motorcycle Resort and Campground is just a few miles West of Tellico Plains (The western terminus of the Cherohala Skyway) on TN 39.
We were met by Renee, manager and one of the owners, her husband Mark still holds down a regular job. Both are riders and very friendly and accommodating. Renee will make sure you have everything you need for an enjoyable stay and Mark will talk bikes and give you twisty road suggestions/directions all day and late into the night! Renee ride a Honda 919 and Mark rides an Aprilia Falco, planning to trade for a Tuono.
Tony and I shared a cabin for Monday night since he had no camping gear. The cabins are small but sturdy and dry and are air conditioned.
Tuesday and Wednesday nights I camped out. I had the place to myself since the season was just beginning and business is still slow mid-week. Renee kindly offered to let me stay in the cabin again but one of my goals for this trip was to test out my new motorcycle sized camping gear. All worked well except my tent is a few inches short for me. A awoke Wednesday moring with the foot of my sleeping bag wet with dew from touching the wall of the tent. I was able to solve that problem by stowing some gear under the tent's vestibules to make room to lay out the bad diagonally. Workable, but two more inches of tent would be better!
The camping area is really nice, although lacking in shade trees. A creek runs along the edge of camping area. There is a large fire pit between the camping area and the cabins with a little utility hut where you can borrow an ice chest and ice is sold for a 1$ a bag. >

Tuesday morning I set out alone after seeing Tino off for home. My route was North out of Tellico Plains on TN 360 to Vonore then East on US 411 and South on TN 74 to the Tail of the Dragon. I took a wrong turn on the way to Vonore due to an absence of highway signs and the usual Garmin map error and had to pull off to get my bearings. I too hurriedly flipped up my flip-up chin bar and broke the pivot mechanism! I could either close my visor or my chin bar but not both! This would prove later that day to be a non-issue however.

I had a great time on the Dragon, I saw only a handful of bikes and little other traffic. I was never overtaken but passed a dozen or so Harleys and Wings and a trio of young You-yu on Suzukis. (Educational Bonus: You-yu is Chinese for "SQUID" according to the fortune cookie I ate at lunch today.) Two Gixxer 600s were being led at a snails pace by a Katana! I followed for a few turns and then continued on my way. At Robbinsville I entered the Skyway to head back to camp. The first couple miles were dry but as the elevation rose it began to rain steadily and above 3000 feet it was like riding in a rain cloud, visibility was no better than 50 feet, at times less. I slowed to a crawl. It was impossible to see through my face shield so up it went, the rain stung my cheeks for a bout 15 miles. It was nearly too scary to go on but I figured it would be just as dangerous to stop. I was at least able to maintain enough pace that nothing was catching up. Or maybe I was the only fool crazy enough to ride in those conditions! Needless to say, I have no photos of this leg of the ride!

Once I got back down below 3000 feet all was good! No rain or fog. I stopped for a pulled pork samich at Cherohala Crossing and also bought a rib plate to take back to camp for supper. Very good Bar-B-Que! As I paid my bill, the owner of the Crossing told me about a nice waterfall a few miles from the restaurant so I backtracked a bit before returning to camp to check it out. I was not disappointed!
I was again alone at the campground Wednesday afternoon as REnee was visiting her kids and Mark was working but I intertained myslf watching TV and surfing the web, mainly studing the weather reports and radar. Mark arrived around 9 PM and we had a nice chat until about 11:00. The next morning it took me a good while to dry and pack my gear due to it being wet from the dew. I was in no hurry as I really was hoping the sun would burn off any fog on the Skyway before I traveresed it again. I left the campground at 10:00 and stopped at the Cherohala Market for gas. An(other) old phart rding aSuzuki Bergman was doing the same and introduced himslf to me. He asked me if I was, like himslef, a cycle bum. He was 74 years old and had ridden the Bergman up from somewhere in Florida to join his son who was attending a Hayabusa club gathering at Robbinsville. I left the market a bit before him but he passed me on the Skyway when I stopped at an overlook to shoot some pictures. Although I resumed my ride less than a minute or so later and maintained a brisk pace on the now dry and fog free Skyway, I never saw hime again. I hope I am still kicking A on the Skyway when I'm 74!

I was really happy to ride the Cherohala Skyway under good conditions after such misery on Tuesday. From Robbinsville I contuned on NC 143 and 28 past the towns of Cheoah and Stecoah, passing by the Kickstand MC Campground. It looked like a pretty nice place to camp but my destination was the Blue Ridge Motorcycle Campground at Cruso, NC, a couple hundred miles ahead on the Blue Ridge Parkway. This was the site of one of the 5th STARS and the 3rd that I attended and I wanted to re-visit. I would not make it there, however. Thunderstorms and rain were predicted for the whole area on Thursday and I was concerned about getting safely from Cruso to Helen Georgia via mountain roads in bad weather. I got of track due to another GPS error and stopped to get my bearings. My cell phone had a voice message from my old friend Chuck Headrick, FL HSTA member. He and his wife Frances were camped at Unicoi State park in Helen in their newtravel trailer and I decided to make track for Unicoi. I turned South onto 23 at Dillsboro, riding through Dillard, GA home of SE-STAR and to Clayton, GA then 197 and 356 (great roads) to Helen.

Unicoi SP is actually right next to Helen and it is a nice park. I found Chuck & Francis' camp site but they were not home so I found a really nice tent site nearby and set up camp. A little brook ( it was actaully named "Little Brook") burbled right along the edge of my site. It proved to be great for lulling me to a peacefull sleep for the next two nights.

I strolled down the road to Chuck & Frances' site and they were back from wherever. It was great to see them both and we relaxed in there super nice travel trailer and caught up with old times. They had some steaks to grill that night so I rode into town and bought some beer and brats. Make a note" " Betty's in Heln has GREAT Brats!" Betty's also has a great selection of imported and microbrew beer.

We sat outside at the picnic table and enjoyed a great meal under the stars. The next morning Chuck and I planned a half day ride hoping to get in some good twisties before the rian set in. We did not get far however before the rain set in and ended up riding some terriffic roads in lousy weather. We rode up to Dillard via 356 and 197 and some other local roads then 106 to Highlands then 28 to Pine Mountaine and returned to Clayton via War Woman Road to Pine Ridge. Most of these roads really rocked and we came to some Friday and Saturday while they were dry. War Woman and a couple others are more challenging and exhilarating in terms of series of esses, switchbacks and elevation changes than the "Tail of the Dragon". They were quite a workout! On Friday we madee a Westerly loop (348, 180, 60, 129 and 7f-Alt, more great roads) over to Suches and visited TWO. (Two Wheels Only) This place has a great store full of memorabilia and history but from waht I could see the campground did not look nearly as inviting as Cherhala and others I have seen. WE planned to have lunch at Turners Corner but it was closed so ate some Bar-B-Q back in Helen, instead.

I had broken camp and packed up prior to the days ride so on our return to Helen we went straight to the Motel 6, event motel for the North Georgia Classic, admirably hosted by Georgia State Rep Eric Lawson (VFR owner)and some able helpers. We registered and I unpacked and secured a beer supply and commenced some tire kicking and comradery with several old friend and some new. President Brick, Editor-in-Chief Tosh Konya, VP Trey Hall, FL SD Sam Ulbing, KS SD Will England, Ken & JoAnna Murray, Owners/Instructors of Atlanta Motorcycle Schools and many others. Friday night was a free burger and brat cookout and was great fun. The Motel 6 was a great spot for an event, up on a hill overlooking some of the town, with several restaurants and a liquor store and other reailers within walking distance (and ONLY great roads in every direction!)

Saturday Chuck and I again road together, re-riding soome of the better roads from Thursdays wet ride in the dry and and in the opposite direction and adding 64 up to Franklin and Hayesville, a stop for lunch at the marina in Hiawassee then 69 and 17 back to town.

Saturday night we ate at a Mexican Restaurant across the street and returned to the motel parking lot for awards and prizes at 8:00. Some great stuff was gievn away and just about everybody got something. I turned in early since I had a long trip home. I left Sunday morning at about 7:00 am Eastern in good weather,75 and 129 to Gainseville, GA, then 400 some odd Interstate miles to Pachuta, MS. From there it was MS back roads, 18 to Raleigh, 540 to Mendenhall, 43 to Silver Creek and finally 27, 438, 38 and 10 to home. About 630 miles in about 11 hours. My total trip mileage was just over 2000 miles. What a great trip!

and now, Our Regular Monthly Feature..........

Why I ride…

by Tim Smith

...or musings from a V-TEC virgin.

Well, it had to happen sooner or later, and no, I am not going to talk about what may or may not have been burst. I knew someday I would find a new home for the Gold Wing, and the day finally came. With proceeds in hand, the shopping for a new ride began in earnest. Even with many candidates, my good fortune in bargaining got me the deal I needed, on the one I really wanted. I decided on the 2007 Interceptor, and yes I know that after STAR I will have two bikes just alike, but I will sell one and get something else. ( I looked pretty hard at the Repsol Replica) It had been quite a while since I had ridden anything but the Wing, and I must tell you that when I rode out on the VFR the first time it felt really strange. It felt really small, for one thing, and my 48 year old legs had just a bit of trouble adjusting to the footpegs ( The CBR might have been really funny) and just to add fun, it started to rain just as I left the lot. Not just a little rain but a cloudburst ( you just knew something had to burst) which had me trying to tiptoe on an unfamiliar machine. I thought the engine seemed very "truckish" and not smooth like I remembered from the 97 bike. I also had trouble finding a gear that it liked, or that I liked. I made it home, but my first ride was not the joyful one I had dreamed of.

But Saturday dawned clear and the roads were dry, and I was soon out for my "real" first ride. After a few miles on country roads I began to feel more comfortable and familiar with the feel of the bike. As I accelerated on to a very smooth Hwy 2 in Claiborne Parish, I felt a hesitation in the engine followed by a bit of a surge. "What the Firetruck was that" (I didn't say firetruck) and in about 3 seconds It hit me. I repeated the acceleration and got a similar result, not so unnerving when I expected it. Honda says that the V-TEC system kicks in all the valves at 6400rpms, but I am pretty certain that mine spits at exactly 6278. ( Give or take 0.7 %)

My next thoughts were something like "who was the sadistic SOB that decided to saddle, what is arguably the best motorcycle in the world, with this intentional "abnormality"? This is going to be really bothersome when I am really sport riding in the mountains. But the more that I've ridden, I have come to realize my fear was unwarranted. I still don't like it, it seems unnecessary, but the dozens of fantastic attributes of the VFR more than make up for this feature.

Last weekend I went on a two day ride, alone, in the mountains of Arkansas, (I plan to write more about it later) and I can't remember ever having more fun riding. It is definitely the second most exciting thing I have ever done in leather. (I digress)

I love the VFR. After this ride, I am certain that it is the best motorcycle I have ever owned or ridden. (it is #17 for me, but who's counting?) I am very excited about going back to NC in June for STAR, and riding the VFR makes it almost perfect.

Last Sunday, as I flicked the VFR side to side on Arkansas Hwy 14, I forever answered any question as to...

Why I ride.

Tim ( Fastimmy) Smith


Five HSTA members participated in the Tiger Track Day at No Problem Raceway on Sunday, May 6. Kevin Yeats rode his first track day on Tony Crowell's Yamaha FZ1; new member Dennis Headrick was riding his third track day on his Honda 919; TTD regulars, Tony Crowel and Bob Chappuis and Ryan Babin were there as well. There was a big turnout with several new riders in attendance. For some reason or another the day was marred by several crashes. Unfortunately Kevin and Dennis were included in that number, going down hard and requiring medical attention. Kevin crashed in session 4 if I recall, the first session after the lunch brake. He failed to negotiate turn 1, the fastest turn of the track and went down. He receieved attention from the EMS at the track and an ambulance ride back to the HSTA pits. He was in considerable pain and had an obviously badly fractured collarbone. Final diagnoses after X-Rays would add three broken ribs.

Tiger Track Days management efficiently retrieved and deliverd the damage FZ1 to us and helped Tony and I load it into Kevin's truck. We packed up the rest of his stuff and while Jenny Crowell drove Kevin to the hospital we drove to Tony's house. It would not be until Monday or Tuesday that we would learn that Dennis crashed exiting turn 6 during the next session! He received road rash and a cut on his arm that would require stitches. However, staff at the track observed some episodes of loss of conciousness following the crash and fearing head trauma it was decided to life-flight him to a Baton Rouge Hospital. Evaluation at the hospital however indicated no head or brain injury.


And last but not least our Bill Ellis also participated in his first track day on Monday, May 21.


HSTA Events

* * * * * * * *
June 24 - 27 STAR 2007
Crowne Plaza Resort Asheville, NC
(800) 733-3211 Harry & Beth Hemstreet (970) 667-0460
* * * * * * * *
August 3 - 5 Nolichucky Valley Rally
Holiday Inn Express Erwin, TN
(800) 304-7958
Rick Giddish (423) 245-5558
August 24 - 26 Mail Pouch Fly-By
Best Value Inn
506 Pike Street Marietta, Ohio
(800) 526 5947 Jon Campbell (513) 932-3341

Local Events

Mark your calendars and look for details soon in your in-box and on our website.

June 10 Tiger Track Day TIGER TRACK DAYS
Belle Rose, LA
Tuesday June 26 Wheels Through Time "The Museum that Runs"
Maggie Valley, NC
Free entry every day with your STAR wristband
Lunch served: 11:00AM~1:00PM

That's all for now. Heep riding and smiling....

Bob Chappuis, State Co-Director and Editor chappuis@demco.net

Just Kidding!