|First Quarter 2012||Louisiana MSTA Newsletter||Page 1|
Almost April, time is flying by! Some of us have already put some great miles behind us despite some challenging weather conditions. The winter has been amazingly mild with some unusual riding opportunities but also a good deal of rain. We have managed to meet our goal of a lunch ride every month, although attendence level has varied.
In this issue we have my 3 lunch ride reports as well as an East Texas solo ride report by Drew Newcomer and my report on a March Big Bend adventure.
Those of you who participate on the MSTA web forum are aware of the recent forum crash. Although the forum has been rebuilt, one of the remaining casaulties is the mileage log. Which of course is a real shame, since I was leading at the time of the crash. Seriously, I enjoyed the mileage log a lot, so much so in fact that I have coded my own on our Louisiana Chapter website. Everyone is envited to participate!
by Bob Chappuis
Tony Crowell suggested a lunch destination and planned a route for a lunch ride Saturday January 21. Myself, Paul Thibodeax, David Webster Dennis Hedrick, Eric Babcock, Tim Cundiff, Tony Crowell, Kevin Yeats and Robin Sills met at the Waffle House on Highland Road near Interstate 10. Tony's route took us via Perkins Rd. to Alligator Bayou Rd/Manchac Rd., known locally as the "Gator Gap" due to its many curves. It was twisty and smooth and a great way to start out the ride. The road feeds into Bayou Paul Rd and then onto the River Road (Mississippi). Robin Sills rode with us to this point then peeled off to attend some prior commitment. The rest of us continued south on River Road to LA 22, except for the old Cargill leper colony loop. As far as I know most of the loop is still gravel but perhaps we shoulod return soon, since the leprosarium is now a museum. We headed northeast on LA 22, looping on LA 936 for some warmup twists before hitting the popular curves of 22 along the waterways from St. Amant to Maurepas. Then through Killian and Springfield before 22 turns eastward for Ponchatoula and the HiHo#2, our lunch destination. Member Frank Lamothe was waiting for us there and commended us on our amazingly prompt arrival - I had told him to meet us at 12:45 and we arrived at 12:46! Mostly just luck of course. I think HiHo makes some great burgers, unfortunately I ordered the BBQ. It was not the kind of BBQ I like but it was not a bad pork sandwich and plenty of it. After lunch everone split up and went seperate ways. I continued East to Mandevile to visit Mom at the old folks home. The old ladies love to play BINGO and a game was being organized so I joined in since I was short on gas money to get home. I didn't have much luck however. Those ladies may need a little assistance with living but they have BINGO down pat!
by Bob Chappuis
On our way to Cajun Christmas in December Stacie and I noticed a new restuarant under construction on US 61 just south of Natchez. It opened in January so we decided to give Roux 61 a try. We found the food to be outstanding and the atmosphere and service were also great so I decided to make the Roux our next Lunch Ride destination. I put together a back road rouxt that would include a few scenic roads that most have probably never ridden; just for a change of scenery.
Saturday, February 25 David Webster, Eric Babcock, Dennis Hedrick and Kevin Yeats met me at the McDonalds in Zachary, LA. After half an hour of "tire kicking" we rolled out east on Main Street to McHost Rd. We took McHost, Jaycocks and Lemon roads north to Slaughter then east on 412 and north again on 956 to Ethel Then 955 to Clinton and LA 10. East on 10 just a few miles then north on 961, west on 432 then LA 67 north to the state line where the highway number changes to MS 569. That and 48 had us in Liberty, MS. From Liberty we took 567 north through Busy Corner and Okhissa Lake on up to Meadville. A short hop west on US 84 and we turned onto Bunkly Rd for several miles of high speed sweepers. Crossing MS 33 we continued for more of the same on Liberty Rd. WE turned off of Liberty about 4 miles south of Natchez onto Lagrange Rd. Then Greenfield and Kingston Rds put us on US 61 just a bit south of Roux 61.
I had the softshell crab poboy and it was delicious. Eric, Dennis and David had shrimp poboys and Keven had a blackend fish sandwhich. By all reports everything was excellent!
Do you find that sometimes you prefer the company of motorcycle friends over that of other folks? Of course you do! So, I jumped at the chance when friends Paula Cizik and Bill Wade invited me to Brenham, TX to spend a night in their "future retirement home." I met Paula and her husband Bill ten years ago while on an Edelweiss Motorcycle Tour in France (ten years! - has it been that long already?) The only thing that would hold me back, I told Paula, was the weather. When the clouds cleared on Friday, February 27, I was ready to crank up the K and hit the road.
I headed west on I-20 about 730 am and rode to Highway 79 in Greenwood and turned south heading into Texas. I stopped in Carthage for gas and did something I have never done before. I turned on the GPS and decided I would let this device take me to Brenham. Following the suggested route through Carthage I continued south on 315 to Mount Enterprise where I headed west for a few miles on the well-traveled 84. After a short distance, this is where things got interesting. The GPS had me turn south on Texas 225, a road I had never traveled. What a nice surprise! This small road meandered the pine trees of east Texas in a very motorcycle friendly way. 225 intersected Highway 21 west of Nacogdoches and I headed southwest on 21 to Crockett and on to Madisonville where new friend GPS told me to turn almost due south on Highway 90 (another east Texas road new to this rider!) In Navasota, 90 met 105 which eased me into my final destination of Brenham.
I have been the beneficiary of Paula and Bill's hospitality before and it is always 5-star!!! Bill is a grill king, among other things, and Paula's vegetables/salads/desserts always compliment Bill's entrée! Of course, the bar is always open! So a great meal and conversation was the compliment to Saturday's ride. The weather was a little cool upon leaving West Monroe, but temps warmed up nicely and blue skies and cold beer were waiting in Brenham upon arrival.
As you can imagine, I slept like a spanked baby on Saturday night. After a great breakfast, it was time to think about heading back home. The weather had changed during the night - it had gotten better!! Where I did deal with cool temperatures on Saturday morning, Sunday required the Gerbing's not at all! With a sky that was cloudless, I turned on the GPS and headed back up 105 to Navasota. Since I turned the GPS on at the beginning of the morning instead of riding for a couple of hours, I was in for another surprise. When I arrived in Navasota the GPS (which was programmed for "shortest distance") had me turn east on 30 at the intersection in Roans Prairie, TX. Into Huntsville I rode and connected with Highway 19 to Trinity, TX. In Trinity, Texas 94 took the K bike and I to Lufkin for gasoline and a burger! Heading east out of Lufkin (the GPS guided us through downtown) on 103 which headed to the Louisiana border. In Milam, TX 103 joins 21 which becomes Louisiana 6 as you cross Toledo Bend into the Pelican State. I continued east on 6 to Natchitoches where I picked up 84 east heading to Winnfield. I rode US 167 a few miles north to 126 which twists and turns for a few miles and intersects Highway 34 which brought me home into West Monroe. 353 miles altogether and not a single one on Interstate!! The day had been ideal to the point where it almost made going to work the next day seem worthwhile!! If the ride to Brenham was any indication as to how the rest of the riding season will go, then I should have a great year for sure!!!
by Bob Chappuis
This was supposed to be Tino's trip. He planned the destination, Big Bend Texas and the 2200 mile route in detail and invited his MSTA riding buddies to join him. Three did, including me, Paul Lefort of Thibodaux and Honorary LA Chapter member Jim Girton of Kansas. The LA chapter members have ridden Big Bend several times but I had never made it by bike. My last attempt was aborted due to electrical gremlins in my VFR and other years I basically chickened out due to cold weather. Now, fortified with a bullet proof and more cold weather compatible Concours 14 I was determined to make the trip. And a fantastic trip it was but NOT for Tony!
As departure date, March 8 approached the plans came together. Tony and I would meet in Grosse Tette, LA and spend the night in Georgetown, TX, just north of Austin. Jim Girton would meet us at the motel in Georgetown. Friday the three of us would ride mostly Interstate 10 to Alpine. Paul would go a day ahead on his Triumph Tiger 800 XC and spend a day Dual Sport riding in Big Bend National Park then meet us in Alpine Friday afternoon. Then the weather changed. Heavy rain was predicted to engulf our route to Alpine. We changed the route to try to dodge south of the storms, stopping Thursday in Seguin, south of San Antonio instead of north. This worked pretty well, we mostly avoided rain on Thursday and I enjoyed pleasant riding weather. However, Tino was not enjoying the ride at all, in fact he had the FLU!
When I met Tony in Grosse Tete at 7:45 am he had mentioned not feeling well but he was determined to push on, hoping it would pass. By the time we arrived at the motel in Seguin he was fighting off nausea and trying not to throw up in his helmet! Jim was waiting for us when we arrived and we gave him the bad news and discussed our options. Tony would try to get a good night's rest and see how he felt in the morning. Jim and I would continue to Alpine, regardless. Jim and I hiked across the highway to Bill Miller's BBQ, Tony was too sick to eat. The BBQ was pretty good. After a quick meal I suggested we get back to the motel before the rain came. Too late! We had not bothered to wear jackets and the rain was cold! We sprinted the 200 yards about as quickly as to over-the-hill bikers could but we ended up pretty damp. Friday morning we checked on Tony first thing. Bad news. He was feeling worse and was in no shape to ride. He would spend the next two days in the Motel 6 recovering.
Jim and I had some breakfast at the gas station next door and packed up. We were pleased that the rain had passed through and it was not as cold as predicted - only 47. We geared up and headed west via I-10 and the 410 loop south of San Antonio, then US 90 west. We ran into light to moderate rain just 20 miles out of Seguin and the temperature steadily dropped as we gained elevation. We'd have 175 miles of rain with an average temp of 35, dipping just below freezing on occasion. The last 200 miles were mostly dry however and with our heated gear and the Concours' big windshields we kept pretty warm. Despite the rain, the ride was pleasant with little traffic on the Old Spanish Trail, cruising through towns such as Hondo, Sabinal and Uvalde. Our biggest concern was the long distances between fuel as we crossed desolate southwest Texas. With windshields up for protection against the cold and rain our miles per gallon dropped drastically, mine to 31 mpg (from 42) with my big aftermarket shield and Jim's to 34. About 15 miles west of Del Rio I began to get concerned about fuel. In addition to my 2012 version Garmin City Navigator being a year out of date (a little marketing lie) they had apparently left out much of southwest Texas altogether. A fuel search indicated the closest gas was either 60 miles north or 200 miles across the Mexican border! The closest on our route was Sanderson 66 miles away. The C14's range calculation was 45 miles. I was regretting not refueling in Del Rio as I pulled to the shoulder to consult with Jim. He had just gone on low fuel! He thought we could get fuel in Comstock just ahead. As we neared tiny Comstock it did not look promising, practically a ghost town with a half dozen dilapidated shacks but there in front of one of the shacks was a single shiny new gas pump. We gassed-up and were on our way. The US Border Patrol was busy in this area. There were patrol vehicles everywhere and just west of Comstock was a big installation with a checkpoint. A pretty, shivering female officer asked if we were US citizens and motioned us ahead with a smile and "have a nice day". Seeing her and the other officers standing by the side of the road shivering really made me appreciate the wonder of electric clothing. It was somewhere around here that we noticed what at first appeared to be white dirt on the road ahead. It did not immediately register on my surprised brain exactly what it was but as it splashed from my front tire onto my boots I recognized the sound and feel of snow! Thankfully the weird patch lasted only about a ¼ mile.
The elevation climbed slowly but steadily as we rode the last 170 miles to Alpine, topping out at about 5100 ft. As we pulled into the Holiday Inn parking lot a figure in a high-vis yellow riding jacket appeared from the motel next door. Paul had finished a short day of riding and was there to greet us. We made plans to meet for dinner and then checked into the brand new Holiday Inn. Great motel and a great room. We got unpacked and kicked back for a while then met Paul for supper at the Buffalo Rose Steak House next to Paul's motel. We enjoyed some good steaks and planned the next days ride. Due to the predicted overnight low of 30 degrees we decided on a relatively shortened day with a 9:30 am departure, hoping it would be reasonably warm by then. The 100 mile ride south into Big Bend National Park would get us to a lower elevation and warmth but we did not like the thought of starting out in sub-freezing weather.
7:00 am Saturday morning Jim and I were up and eating breakfast. We then methodically geared up for maximum warmth. By 9:00 am it was 35 but not seeming to get any warmer so we decided to head out. Paul led us south on TX 118. Outside of town the temperature dropped briefly to 29 but our electric gear had that pretty well covered. At least mine did: jacket liner, gloves and heated grips. My feet were chilly but not uncomfortable. We soon found ourselves in the midst of some beautiful landscape with the highway winding between amazing rock formations. We continued on 118 to Study Butte then turned onto Maverick Road entering the park at Panther Junction. We rode into the Chisos Basin and to the Lodge, where we stopped for lunch and to gift shop.
By noon the air was warm and we shed our cold weather gear. We backtracked to Study Butte, and stopped for fuel in Terlingua, TX. We rode about 60 miles west on 170, which follows the Rio Grande, to Presidio. There we turned north on US 67 for another 60 miles to Marfa, then back east to Alpine about 286 miles for the day. It was a great day of riding in some awesome scenery.
We ended the day with some pizza at the Pizza Hut next door to the Motel and planned our return. Jim was continuing west to Arizona to visit his aunt and uncle and then on to California so that left just Paul and I to plan a route back to Louisiana. Paul wanted to get the majority of his mileage behind him on Sunday and arrive home early Monday. I preferred to break the ride up into two more equal legs so I planned to break off somewhere around San Antonio. But then I got a call from Tony. He was still in the Motel 6 in Seguin but feeling much better and wanting to salvage the rest of his vacation. He would wait for the weather to clear Sunday morning and then ride the Hill Country and stop for the night in Kerrville. I agreed to meet him at the Super 8 there.
Jim and I were up at 5:30 to pack and eat breakfast. The Holiday Inn Express served some good French roast Coffee and had some decent omelets and breakfast meat. Sunday's bacon was thin and greasy but today the sausage patties were much better. Jim had an easy day and was in no hurry to depart as the temperature was only 35F. I had agreed to meet Paul outside his room at 8:00 but when I got to my bike at 7:58 he was already there and ready to ride. Paul led the way east on US 90. Once again we dialed up the electric heat as the temperature dipped. About 30 miles east of Alpine we entered a sudden patch of low lying fog. My onboard thermometer readout quickly dropped from 34 to 27! Our windshields, mirrors and visor all fogged up. The temps continued to drop; I saw a brief low of 21.3 degrees! The temp hovered around 25 for about 15 miles. I just cranked up the heat and my windshield all the way and was comfortable. For visibility I had to crack my visor to clear the fog and as I did I swear I saw an icicle dangling in front of my eyes.
We stopped for fuel and another breakfast in Del Rio. We had a tail wind now and my MPG had climbed back to 43. We had been holding speeds down to about 65 due to the chill. Paul and I parted paths at Bracketville with me turning north on Ranch Road 334. Paul would later stop for the night in Baytown, just east of Houston. I was in the familiar Texas Hill Country now. I turned north again on TX 55 following the Neuces River. At Camp Wood I stopped and texted Tony my whereabouts and that I was headed for Leakey, a favorite Hill Country rider destination at the junction of 337, one of the "twisted Sisters" and US 83. As I rolled into Leakey I spotted the Tiger 1050 and Tony sitting at a table outside the Hog Pen restaurant. I stopped and we had a coke and discussed the days events including our chance meeting in the middle if the Hill Country. We then rode the 337 east through Vanderpool, turning north on 16 at Medina, two of the Hill Country's best roads. 16 put us in Kerrville where we checked into the Super 8. We relaxed for a while and later walked a block to the Big Texan motel, which allegedly included a steakhouse. The "steakhouse" looked to be more of a honky tonk and our waiter looked more like a cow hand. During the entire past 5 days I had spent in Texas I had yet to enjoy a decent Tex-Mex meal so I opted for the $4.99 enchilada special, with beans and rice. This proved to be a bust as well, with the strangest and blandest tasting enchilada I have ever tasted and flavorless red beans on white rice not the expected refried beans and Spanish rice!
Monday we set out for home in decent weather but we knew we would be catching up with robust thunderstorms eventually. Just as we had first hit rain near Beaumont on Thursday, we again caught it there Monday. It was moderate and fairly persistent but we did ride through some drier patches. It had been a fairly rainy trip so far and our bikes and gear had handled it well. We would soon learn that "we hain't seen nuthin yet". We rode into it at the Atchafalaya Basin I-10 bridge. We were committed and no turning back. The thought had crossed my mind a few times looking ahead into the nearly black horizon punctuated by frequent flashes of brilliant light that the sensible thing was to get a room for the night and hope for better weather the next day. Being retired I had that option, Tony did not. After what he'd been through on this trip, I was not going to bail on my buddy.
The rain was not so bad. At speed it was mostly going up and over my head. But the car traffic would often slow to about 45 when the rain was really pounding and eventually the moisture began to puddle up and soak through a few spots. But the scary part was the wind. Vicious gusts of 30 to 40 miles per hour from the south. The Atchafalaya cypress trees, below the level of the elevated highway, did nothing to shield us from these blasts. I was actually afraid of being blown over the rail! Usually in rain, motorcyclists will avoid an 18 wheeler like the plague as the spray thrown up by those 18 monster wheels is much more drenching than the rain. Today I was instead staying along side seeking shelter from the wind!
After what seemed an eternity we finally reached the east end of the 17 mile bridge. Soon we were at the Grosse Tete exit where I waved Tony goodbye and gave a "what the hell, just a little rain" shrug. I glanced around. In my direction, the dark clouds were parting and the skies brightening; in Tony's direction they were blacker than ever. I silently wished him luck.
All in all it I thought it was a great trip, despite the weather. A get together with three of my favorite riding buddies. I never got to ride with all three at once but nevertheless shared good times and conquered various challenges with each.
March Lunch Ride
The March lunch ride was a last moment deal. With a late notice we ended up with only five planning to ride and two of those dropped out. So it was just myself, Eric Babcock and Rod Fors who met on Saturady the 21st at the McDonalds in Zachary. The day turned out great however. The weather was idea and I had selected a route including some of my favorite local twisties and lunch at my fvaorite BBQ spot.
From Zachary we went north on Old Scenic which has been recently repaved. Onto US 61 to cross Thompson Creek then right on Folks Rd., right on Freeland Rd. the twisty and hilly path through The Bluffs, then right on 965, right on LA 10 and left on Jones Vaugn Creek Rd. (66 curves in 6 miles). Next the sweepers of Spillman Rd, then Peterson and Thompson Creek to Norwood, where we stopped for a break. Then on to Independence via various byways to the Bar B Que Station. I have written about the Station recently so won't expound here but suffice to say it was great as usual. The owner, Jimmy Gregory came out to sit and chat with us for a while.
That's all for now. Stacie and I are planning a trip to New England and possibly New Brunswick, in the near future. After that is STAR in Avon, Co. Don't miss that one!
Bob Chappuis, State Director and Editor