|November 2009||Louisiana MSTA Newsletter||Page 1|
Happy Thanksgiving! We have been blessed with some Prime Riding Weather! Unfortunately not a lot of membership activity to report. We had a slim turnout for our overnight ride to Vicksburg, which, by the way, could not have been better. A shame there were not more riders enjoying the perfect weather and great roads and food. Member Tim Cundiff, friend Robin Sills and myself enjoyed every mile and mouthful. Read my report below and check out the super ride report track map widget I found on the www! We also have a fine report from ever faithful newsletter contributor Drew Newcomer on the Texas Hill Country Ride. Thanks Drew!
As for the November lunch ride, we only had one attendee! Although I had a great Best of the Felicianas route planned with a great Mexican restaurant destination; distracted by job issues, Cajun Christmas planning and some medical stuff I managed; to get my weekends mixed up and missed my own ride! Tim Cundiff did not miss it and for being such a good sport about my goof-up, as well as his loyal attendence at MSTA events Tim deserves the Member of the Month Award! THANKS TIM!
The Motorcycle Sport Touring Association has been meeting in the Texas Hill Country for a fall ride nearly 20 years. The last time I made this event I was riding a Honda (and that has been some time ago!) So, when fellow BMW rider and club member Bob Mizner extended an invitation to enjoy some hospitality and join him for the Hill Country event, I had no good excuse not to go.
Heading out to Bob and his wife Barbara's place on November 5, I rode I-20 to Texas Highway 14 where I turned north toward Hawkins, Texas. Bob lives just north of Hawkins and I cleaned up the R1150R in his garage and turned in for the night.
With Bob in the lead we headed out about 8:00 am on Friday morning. Bob chose a variety of farm roads to wind us southwest where we finally intersected Highway 31. We rode 31 to Corsicana where we grabbed highway 22 west after a good hot cup of coffee and a cinnamon roll. There was not a cloud in the sky as we rode on to Meridian, Texas on through Cranfills Gap to Hamilton where Bob left 22 to join FM 2005 which took us to Goldthwaite, Texas. In Goldthwaite we jumped on Texas Highway 16 which would take us all the way to our destination of Kerrville and the Y. O. Ranch Resort.
Bob had a treat in store for me when we arrived in Llano. A quick left on Highway 29 and one block lead us to Cooper's Bar-b-que where large pits were manned by several chefs cooking everything from chicken to sausage to rib eyes to tenderloin. Now, Bob neglected to tell me that it is very easy to overeat when at Cooper's. I selected some sausage, some tenderloin, and some pork ribs. Boy was I surprised when my bill totaled in the neighborhood of $21.00! The meat seemed to have enlarged from the time I picked it on the grill till the time I sat down at the table to chow down. Good thing Bob was willing to help me with this feast. Although we didn't arrive till 2:00 pm, Cooper's was still plenty busy and after talking to a few locals, I discovered that Cooper's is famous in these parts and people drive long distances to sample the great fare they offer.
On very full stomachs we finished the last hour of the ride from Llano to Kerrville. We arrived at the Y. O. and checked in after "blue sky only" ride of 380 miles. Many riders had already arrived and it was nice to visit with folks that I hadn't seen in a long time. Many attendees went out to eat Friday night, but I pleasantly declined as I was still stuffed to the gills with bar-b-que! Needless to say, I slept very well that night.
I headed west from Bandera on FM 470 to Tarpley and on to Utopia where I headed north for a few miles on FM 187 to Vanderpool. One of the most popular roads in Texas for motorcycles is FM 337 between Vanderpool and Leakey. I rode it west, liked it so much that I turned around and headed back east when I approached Leakey. I even had my photo made by a local entrepreneur who takes photos, posts them on the internet, and lets you select and purchase them if you like (yea, I bought a couple !!) After arriving in Vanderpool for the second time I turned north for a final time on 187. There is a small, but very interesting motorcycle museum on 187 just a few miles north of Vanderpool. This was another place I had not visited in a number of years so I stopped and looked at the fifty or so motorcycles and had a burger as my breakfast was now gone.
Interestingly enough, 187 is where I had my deer encounters. I had a couple run across the road in front of me, but they were far enough ahead of me that there was no cause for alarm - deer are rampant in this part of the world and I have come closer to a few than I would like at all times of the year. 187 took me to Texas 39 where I turned east to Hunt, Ingram, and finally back to Kerrville. The weather was ideal and it would be difficult to imagine a better venue. I will not let so much time pass before I get back to the Hill Country at this time of the year.
Good news and bad news. The good: we had perfect weather with optimal riding temperatures and crystal clear blue skies, a great 500 mile route which included the best roads of both La and Ms, and great food! The bad? Only two members and one guest attended! Oh well, the three of us had a fantastic weekend. The lucky 3 included yours truly, trip planner and route master on my Kawasaki Concours 14, Tim Cundiff on his Suzuki Bandit and Robin Sills on his Suzuki V-Strom 1000. Robin is an old riding buddy of both Tim and myself and it was great to ride with him again.
The three of us met at the McDonalds in St. Francisville and headed up Hwy 61 to Woodville where we left the four lane highway and hit our first excellent twisty road: MS 563, the best motorcycle road in Mississippi, in my opinion, that I know of. A nice series of medium tight curves in the first half opening up to broad, high speed sweepers featuring near perfect road surface, mild elevation changes and often zero traffic. From 563 it is a short run on mostly straight MS 33 to the next good road, Liberty Road. Longer but not as twisty as 563 but definitely entertaining, Liberty takes you through the woods and farmland right into Downtown Natchez where we snagged our first great meal at Fat Mama's Tamales. FM has been famous for tamales and Gringo Pies and "Knock You Naked" MARGARITAS for some years but their tiny hole in side of the hill* facility was very biker unfriendly and way to small for comfortable dining. That is all fixed now with their brand new building across the street. Concrete parking lot! The food is still great.
Departing Mama's we head due north on MLK drive instead of backtracking to the Natchez Trace via Liberty road as I wanted check out a new route to Port Gibson via MS 555 and Churchill Rd. that looked promising on Mapsource, Garmin's mapping software. This did not work out. MLK Rd/MS555 was a nice, secluded little road running through bottomland along the east bank of the Mississippi and we were treated to a couple does bounding across our path and up an embankment at close range but after about 5 miles it turned to dirt. We veered left onto Anna's Bottom Rd. but it also soon turned to dirt. We continued for a couple miles until we met a pickup truck coming the opposite direction whose driver advised there was deep water ahead. Anna's Bottom was soggy. Robin was enjoying the dirt on the Strom but Tim and I were struggling on our street tires and we opted to backtrack 7 miles to MS 554 which put us on the Natchez Trace and on to Port Gibson. You can see our little stub on the track map below
We gassed up in Port Gibson and then turned onto MS 462/Old Port Gibson Rd which is a local motorcycling favorite with some nice curves. WE rode this for 18 miles and then turned northwest onto Fisher's Ferry Rd for the final 21-mile leg to Vicksburg and the Battlefield Inn.
The Battlefield in is an old independent motel just outside the gates of the Vicksburg National Military Park, "site of the American Civil War Battle of Vicksburg, waged from May 18 to July 4, 1863. The park, in Vicksburg, Mississippi, and Delta, Louisiana, also commemorates the greater Vicksburg Campaign, which preceded the battle. Reconstructed forts and trenches evoke memories of the 47-day siege that ended in the surrender of the city. Victory here and at Port Hudson gave the United States control of the Mississippi River.
A little known fact about the Vicksburg National Military Park is that, because it was paid for by the Federal Government, all of the Union Monuments were paid for by the US Government. The Confederate states however, were not Federally funded and their representation in the park is the direct result of years of fund raising and multiple benefits. Though the park is located in the South, the Federal Government did not give equal monetary donations to the Union and Confederacy, thus leaving the South to their own devices as far as money was concerned." Source: Wikipedia.org
The park is a great place to visit for Civil War history buffs but each of us had toured it at least once. We had an excellence dinner at Jacques Café in the motel and then Tim and I had a few dinks in the lounge while Robin went skating at the local skating rink. Roller skating is Robin's other sporting interest. The motel lounge has Karaoke on weekends and seems to be popular with the locals. This being All Hallow's Eve they were also having a costune contest so we had some free entertainment.
Sunday morning we took advantage of the free hot breakfast and then packed the bikes and set out on our quest for the best Bar B Que and best twisty in Louisiana. We headed across the Mississippi on I-20 and quickly covered 40 miles to Delhi and exited to LA 17. 17 to Winnsboro then LA 4 to Ft. Neccesity and Columbia.
At Columbia we hit the western part of LA 126 and stayed on it for 36 miles to Dodson where we turned south on US 167. Somewhere around Dodson we stopped and discovered that Tim's right Givi side case lid had come open, spilling its contents contents, mainly Tim's heated vest. The lid had also dragged the pavement in right handers and was rashed up a bit. Seasoned Sport-Tourer that he is, Tim immediately put the loss behind him and did not let it spoil the excellent day!
12 miles south on 167 and 24 west on 84 and we were in Clarence. Just in time, too as the crowd started to gather just after we found a table. Grayson's has been around forever, well since 1959 anyway and the current building might be the original. Grayson's is located in the middle of Clarence which is a tiny town (population 499) at the intersection of US highways 71 and 84. I first heard about it in 1980 when I was traveling the state for my state job. The scuttlebutt was that when then Governor Edwin Edward's helicopter would take off around lunch time it was headed for Clarence. I tried it and it was indeed superb and I would enjoy their rib plate whenever I was working in the area.
Since those long ago days I have become more and more an [alleged] connoisseur of fine BBQ but had not had a chance to get back to Grayson's since about 1989. In April this year Kevin Yeats and I passed through Clarence on our way home from the MSTA T rally in Arkansas and
Our quest for superb smoked meat fullfilled, we saddled up and set out in search of our second goal, the best twisty road in Louisiana: LA 126.
From Clarence we headed East on US 84 to Winnfield and Joyce, then contued east on LA 124 which brought us to Olla where we veered northeast on US 165 to LA 506 and LA 849 to Holum where we finally connected with the good section of LA 126.
Actually the first part of this section was not that great. The paving of 126 changes for each parish that it meanders through. The pavement in LaSalle Parish is course and uneven, making for a bumpy ride. The twistiest part is in Catahoula Parish and fortunately this section is smoothe and clean and we thoroughly enjoyed the leg between Aimwell and Hwy 8! There is nothing but woods in this area and our pace was spirited....(for three old farts, anyway).
After the fun we connected with UD 84 once again at Jonesville and motored on to Vidalia to re-cross the big river and then on home.What a great weekend!
No pictures of this trip due to problems with my camera but thanks to my Garmin GPS and a cool little online flash widget, those who missed this great ride can follow along. If the map image below does not fill the screen click your refesh button. Then mouseover the bottom of the map and click the play button.
DATE: FRIDAY & SATURDAY DECEMBER 4 & 5
WHERE: JIMMY DAVIS STATE PARK, CHATHAM, LA
The last time I checked with reservations the cabins were sold out but there could be cancellations. DETAILS
CABIN OR CAMPING RESERVATIONS 1 877-226-7652 or
DATE: tentative, 2nd or 3rd weekend. Email me if you are interested in riding
That's all for now.
Have a Safe and Happy Thanksgiving holiday
Bob Chappuis, State Director and Editor