|Oct. 2009||Newsletter of the Louisiana Chapter of the Motorcycle Sport Touring Association||P.1|
Boy I have been very frustrated about all the wet weather cutting into my riding time! Last week was the first week I have not ridden my bike to work at least three days in as long as I can remember, probably since September 2005! Reports from the field indicate Louisiana is not the only State getting lots of rain, Tony and Kevin battled with it on their recent trip to SE Star in North Georgia, read all about it below. Rain also spoiled Drew's plan to attend the Arkansas Byway Boogie. The cool weather finally arrived last weekend and Sunday the 18th was a perfect day for riding. I spent it at No Problem Raceway Park with my track day buddies. We rode under a cystal blue sky in temperatures that ranged from 50 to 65 degrees. It just doesn't get any better than that.
Well with this cool front and blue skies hopefully the monsoon season is over. For October we have an overnighter plannned instead of usual lunch ride. We did this way back in November 2001 and it was a lot of fun, I hope you will join us this year. Details in the upcoming rides section below. Don't hesitate to shoot me an Email me if you are interested in joining us.
Our annual (since 1990) Louisiana Chapter weekend event, Cajun Christmas, is just around the corner. Registrations are trickling in from other states, including two from California! Every year we get more out-of-staters than Louisiana members at this event and that can mean only one thing: A bunch of y'all are missing out on some big fun! Still plenty of cabins available, reserve yours now!See full details below.
By Tony Crowell
In years past, before a motorcycle trip I would start planning at least two weeks before, if not sooner. In the case of the annual STAR, I usually start the week after I get home from the last one attended. I am finding as I get older that I tend to plan trips more and more at the last minute.
And so, it was on this particular trip that I didn't even look at the long range forecast. Not that it would have made any difference. We had reservations at SE STAR in Dillard, GA and that is where we would end up come Hell or high water. Little did I know the high water part would be so prophetic?
I left my house in Baton Rouge under mostly cloudless skies for the short trip to New Orleans where I was to meet Kevin Yeats and his ST1300. We immediately took off for the east and in less than 5 minutes my once semi-clouded skies had turned dark and a light rain started, what was a long weekend filled with moisture laden air. Luckily for us, this didn't last long and by the time we reached the eastern side of New Orleans we were back in the dry.
We decided to take US 90 along the coast all the way to the Alabama line where we would jump onto I-10. It was still early in the morning so the temps along the coast were pleasant, but a tad humid.
After tunneling under the Mobile River we headed northeast to I-65. This was where we saw our first truly black skies. Luckily, we only had to ride un-rainsuited for about 15 minutes until our next gas /rainwear combo stop.
On the way to our first nights destination of Oxford, Alabama, we decided to ride up Mount Cheaha, (2,407 ft.) the highest point in Alabama. Now, I am one of the few GPS holdouts, so I have come to rely on Rand McNally over the years to guide me in the right direction. Rarely has RM failed me, however this trip an unintentional error, (or maybe it was intentional) had me stymied. If you gaze at the RM map of Alabama you will notice that State Highway 281 runs from I-20 south, and then turns west where it meets up with AL 21. Great! We would simply take 281, go across the mountain then meet up with 21, head north, and a few short miles later we would find our Baymont Inn.
However, as we neared 281's intersection with 21 the road came to an abrupt stop and all that was left was a barely discernable cow trail though the woods where the rest of 281 SHOULD be. This couldn't even be construed as a dirt road. It was truly a path. Kevin had noticed a small paved road a few miles back that appeared to head north, our intended direction, so we decided to take that. There were no signs on this road whatsoever but we took the plunge anyway. Turned out to be a nice twisty road, albeit paved like most our home state's roads which is to say"badly". Miraculously, even though the skies looked like something out of the Wizard of Oz for most of the day, we made it to out destination in Oxford only running through brief, light showers.
The next morning I decided it would be wise to check the weather before blast off, (zero hour, 6am) "Bleak" was the forecast for the next week in north GA, eastern TN, and western NC. Flash flood warnings filled the screen. Oh well, onward and upward.
After leaving Oxford we cut though north GA and up to Tellico Plains, TN. Dodging light showers along the way. We saw a little sunshine at the beginning of the Cherohala Skyway that lasted to the NC line where we ran into another brief shower, however for the most part, a great time was had on the Skyway.
Now it was onto the Dragon. As we neared Deals Gap the skies got darker and darker until we entered the parking lot and it started to rain. DAMN! Rain on the Dragon. That, my friends is just not fair. Oh well, we rode the Dragon anyway and even had our photos taken by Killboy and others. Eventhough the roads were wet they were not slick. There had been so much rain all the previous Road-snot had been washed away. There was actually a surprising amount of traction available.
After a fine meal at the Gap we headed for Dillard, GA. The rain let up a bit until we got to one of my favorite roads, NC 28 between Lauada and Franklin, NC. That was bad enough, but was nothing compared to the mega-drops that would pelt us from Franklin to Dillard. That's about a 16 mile ride that I made in about 10 minutes in a frog-strangling down pour. I think the local LEO's felt sorry for me and looked the other way as I sped past warm and comfy car drivers at 90 on straight 4-lane road.
The first thing we noticed upon arrival at the Holiday Inn was the lack of bikes in the parking lot. Bob Chappuis and I had attended SE star in '02 and there was a pretty big crowd. Apparently many would-be attendees had actually looked at the forecast before the weekend and had made a wiser choice.
Saturday's forecast was more of the same. Rain. When Kevin and I suited up, we checked the radar which showed a line of storms heading our way but were about 40 miles south of us. We thought we might be able to choose a route which, although not dry, was at least rain-free for a few hours. This worked pretty well. We even got to ride the last few miles of NC/GA 106 to the hotel in the dry. Just after we parked the bikes however, the rain came and it decided to stay.
With fewer attendees, we correctly deduced that we might have a chance at actually winning something at the banquet. We were right. I rode away with a T-shirt. For a guy who never wins this was pretty sweet.
That night, Kevin tried to plan our escape from the tropical-storm type weather. Kevin, of-course wanted to leave at the crack of midnight. I suggested looking at the radar in the morning and seeing if there some way to avoid most of the nastiness. Our hopes were dashed as every TV station in Atlanta squawked with warnings of flash floods and rumors of floods. It appeared to me that if we waited until about 9 am the worst and reddest parts of the storms might pass though Dillard leaving some window of opportunity for a less soggy route to the south. Kevin merely laughed at my suggestions, suited up and rode off into the rain in the dark.
I was right about one thing. The line did pass through by nine. The only problem was; there were more that popped up afterwards. So, I rode from Dillard to Atlanta in a sometimes torrential downpour.
I normally ride in the summer months in an Olympia mesh jacket. On this trip I decided to try use a Joe Rocket jacket liner underneath to fend off the rain. Big mistake. After about an hour in driving rain I was soaked. The water seeped in near the belly and ran down into my waterproof boots. By the time I reached Baton Rouge 658 miles later my feet and other appendages were as shriveled as 90 year old man's.
It wasn't our best trip…but, if you arrive safely at home unscathed with a still functional motorbike, is there any such thing as a bad motorcycle trip…really?
UPCOMING EVENTS & RIDES
MSTA CAJUN CHRISTMAS 2009
FRIDAY & SATURDAY DECEMBER 4 & 5
Check out previoust years Photo Galleries/Slide Shows
That's all for now. Keep riding and smiling....
Bob Chappuis, Editor [email: bob@this here domain]