|First Quarter 2013||Louisiana MSTA Newsletter||Page 1|
April is here and we have already had some good riding weather but the weather remains rather unpredictable. Stacie and I are just back from a weekend ride to Vicksburg with great riding weather throughout but we arrived home on Easter Sunday just in time to miss a massive severe thunderstorm by 20 minutes! Our February lunch ride enjoyed a surprisingly good turnout thanks to some sweet weather for February. In March, Tony and the NOLA boys put together another good Big Bend and Hill Country Run which was also blessed with great weather. See Tino's story below.
Registration is open for STAR 2013 in Lexington, Kentucky and several LA members are already signed up. The host hotel is filling up quickly, don't miss out!
by Bob Chappuis
|The opinions and comments contained in this ride report do not necessarily reflect the opinions or policies of FOX News or the MSTA.|
Unfinished because in April of 2012 I started this trip but was side lined in Seguin, Texas, well short of my destination of Fort Davis because of Illness. I spent two, fever-filled nights in a cheap motel by the side of an Interstate off ramp. I vowed to re-try this year with better results. The players for this year's version were Me( Tiger 1050),Dennis(1200RT)Eric(1200RT),Guy(GSA), Bob(Concours 14) and Paul(FZ-1). Bob and Paul had made and finished last year's trip without getting sick and were keen to try it again. Dennis, Guy and Eric all hail from New Orleans and planned to meet me at a local truck stop off I-10 just west of Baton Rouge. Beautiful, sunny skies with 38 degree temps as the boys arrived for breakfast. Paul left from Thibodaux and was to meet us in Marble Falls, Texas, our first destination. Bob, from St. Francisville, met us at our first gas stop in Rayne, LA.
With all the bikes topped off, we hopped onto Interstate 10 and headed toward Houston. For anyone who has ridden this stretch of road you know how un-appealing it is. So boring that you wish to see a comet hurling past and maybe strike something like …oh let's say Lake Charles, which would only improve the looks of the place. The only thing to look forward to was Houston and its nice skyline.
Houston is the fifth largest city in the country and on most days the traffic is easier to negotiate than Baton Rouge. Note to self: When I'm King of the world I will fire ALL Louisiana traffic engineers and hire a random third grader to design all new LA highways.
Needless to say we made quick work of the Big "H" and were now cruising with a strong southerly wind toward Columbus, where we turn northwest onto TX 71. At times we had the wind at our backs which made for a very nice ride. After gas in Garfield, one of Bob's Techno-devices warned of traffic congestion along our route near Austin. Well Duh! What else would you expect at rush hour in Austin? The amazing thing is; the device was correct about where the traffic was and the delay!
Once, through the slight delay and it was pretty much smooth sailing all the way to Marble Falls. Upon arrival, we found Paul had just beaten us to the hotel. He said he had seen us pass by on I-10 at Winnie while he was re fueling but was unable to catch up to us. Paul and I shared a room and a bed that night. I mean we literally shared a bed. I was only able to reserve a room with King size bed, so I reserved the King plus a roll-a- way bed. Well… upon arrival, the roll-a-way was little more than a cot with bad springs. So… Paul and I, (who are very comfy with our sexuality BTW), shared the king. In reality, we had plenty of room so it was not a big deal. Which was good because there were no other rooms around as Spring Break was in full swing.
After some good Mexican food from across the street, we retired to the rooms for the festival of snores. The next morning, we dined for free at our Quality Inn. Another, ho-hum, free breakfast. You get what you pay for I guess. On the bright-side… the sun was up by now and very bright indeed. We headed north to a small road called Texas Park Road 4. Add this to my list of nice Texas roads. Both curvy and scenic, plus we got to see a giant castle of a house perched upon a hill. It looks as if it were large enough to hold the 300 motorcycles which; I would buy if I could own a place that size.
Unfortunately, PR 4 was that last curvy road we would see for a while. We were on TX 29 now headed west. It would be a day of almost arrow straight roads until we were just north of Ft Davis. Time to engage the throttle lock! Another consideration on this leg of the trip was fuel capacity and range. Stations were not that plentiful on this leg and Paul on the FZ-1 was a bit concerned. The BMW boys on the other hand could have cared less, as their bikes collectively hold as much as a tanker truck.
The fact that motorcycle gas gauges are ridiculously inaccurate doesn't help the situation. I had lights on, no bars left, and 'O" miles showing for an hour before I stopped for fuel and when I did fill up, I found that I had almost a full gallon left. If they can put a man on the moon….
After stopping in Menard, it was all the way to Iraan on US190. About as straight a road as you will find and pretty much devoid of any nice scenery at least until you reach Iraan, and even then it's not exactly Monument Valley,… if you know what I mean. I had lived in Iraan in 1971 when I was a wee lad of 11. The town has hardly changed at all, with possible exception of a new gas station. We decided to lunch there and then head for Fort Stockton for a last top-off before Fort Davis.
As we entered I-10 at Ft. Stockton I noticed the 80 MPH speed limit signs which brought a smile to my face. You gotta love Texas. They still love freedom and could probably survive very well without the rest of the states holding them back; in fact, they may be better off. It seems as if every house was flying the Texas flag; something you rarely see in other states save South Carolina where I think they run a close second in state pride. We hadn't eaten since the mediocre breakfast and I was beginning to hear rumbling from the troops about food and the lack thereof, but, as wagon master of this expedition I knew something that they did not…and that was… that a great meal awaited us at the Fort Davis Inn and Drugstore where we were staying the next two nights. I had stayed here before and fell in love with the place. We arrived in Fort Davis in the early afternoon and there were quite a few bikes and other tourist in town. We parked right out in front of the hotel/drug store /restaurant. The cool thing about this place is; you stay up stairs and can just walk down in your jammies for breakfast in the morning. The staff was very friendly and the food and desserts were great. In fact, it seemed that the whole town had stopped by on that sunny day for ice cream.
We unpacked the bikes and went back downstairs to join the throngs for ice cream. We sat around out front on the benches and answered questions from other tourist about the bikes, trip, etc… A very pleasant and relaxing time was had by all.
After a great meal and a good night's sleep we re-convened downstairs the next morning for breakfast and pre-ride briefing for the mountain-strafing mission that lay ahead. The plan was to ride to Study Butte near Big Bend then west to Presidio, back up to Marfa, through Ft. Davis and up to the McDonald Observatory in the Davis Mountains. The temps were in the low 40's at this elevation so I think we all started out with some form of electric garment in the ON position. As soon as we arrived in Alpine, 24 miles away it became apparent that we could turn off the electric and even shed a few things. Climbing south out of Alpine on TX118 the temps fell again but only for about 20 miles. As we descended to the straight and flat road that leads to the Study Butte area, the temps rose and stayed comfy for the rest of the day.
118 is a very straight road where one can see for miles and miles, so naturally it is the perfect place to twist the right- side, rubber thing that makes the bikes go zoom. And zoom we did. At Study Butte, the one gas station was filled with Chromo-sexuals, refilling their 1.2 gallon tanks. I think I saw more ape-hanger handle bars at this gas stop than I have seen in the last 2 years. Even though, the handle bars seemed ridiculously dangerous it was comforting to see that almost all the their riders were wearing some sort of protective do- rag on their heads just in case they were unable to negotiate some of the treacherous turns on the curvy TX 170. It was also nice to see that their passengers were wearing both protective boots …and Tank tops. Unlike some squids who carry their girl friends around with shorts and flip flops, at least these guys demanded that their "old ladies" wear boots.
After the parade of agricultural machinery was far enough down the road, we headed west on 170 to our favorite overlook on the cliffs above the Rio Grande. On the way we came across two small sedans traveling in tandem at about 30 mph. Of course, as soon as we were able to pass safely we did. We arrived at the overlook and stopped for photos. As we were about to leave the folks in the two sedans that we had passed arrived. One of the drivers approached members of our group and started a conversation about safety on local roads. I was too far away to hear the entire conversation so I walked over to better hear what was going on. He was lecturing one of our group on how dangerous 170 was. As it turns out the guy on the receiving end of the lecture(Paul) has ridden that road many, many times, as have I. When the fellow was made aware of this he shouted, "Well then you should KNOW better!!"It was at this point that I grew tired of the lecture and told him to mind his own business and to move along. Which, at the urging of his Birkenstock-wearing, hippie-looking wife… did. The guy was probably a big fan of Joan Claybrook. Google this bitch … she HATED motorcyclist and held a position of authority in the Gubment in the late 70's. Something tells me that this guy probably didn't try to lecture the chopper crowd on the importance of proper riding attire. At least if I would have crashed, my one-piece Stich would have softened the blow a little.
Ok, enough about the Berkley-loving-zealot. We were not going to let him ruin our day. We continued onto Presidio for gas and food. Mexican food, who'd a thought? Someone once told me there were Camels on US67 north of Presidio. I look for them every trip but have never seen them. Damn it! I want to see some Camels. Maybe someone was just pulling my leg. 67 is not to bad a road, once you leave the Presidio area, and get up onto the grasslands. Kinda pretty actually. We stopped at the Border Patrol checkpoint south of Marfa and chatted with a nice female Agent about our trip for a few minutes, then onto to Marfa and Ft. Davis. We rolled north past our hotel and onto TX118 into the Davis Mountains. This is actually my favorite Texas road, big sweepers, decent pavement, not much traffic and nice scenery. I followed Paul on the FZ-1 up the mountain at a very fun pace. The only fly in the ointment was my worn out rear shock on my Tiger, just doesn't like mid-curve bumps anymore. Does Ohlin's ever have a sale? We stopped at the top by the observatory for a break and then back down to the hotel. A VERY nice ride!
Back at the hotel it was repeat of the day before with a mix of tourist and local residents and ranchers all enjoying a beautiful day and good food and ice cream. I would like to see the statistics on how much ice cream they sell, must be some sort of record.
Another fine meal that night and it was beddy-by time before we knew it. The next morning, after a delicious breakfast, Paul split from the group and headed up TX17 to I-10 for the long, boring trip home. Luckily for the rest of us, we could take a more scenic and leisurely route. We departed about 8 am and headed to Marathon for gas. The weather was perfect, the wind at our backs all the way to Del Rio.
We cruised along US90 at a very nice pace for miles and miles seeing nothing but the occasional BP Agents dragging the dirt roads near the Border and looking for sign of recent crossings in the freshly dragged dirt. A man and woman passed us on a loaded BMW1600LT. Both dressed in matching riding gear and obviously in a hurry. The road stretched for miles but within just a few minutes they were out of my sight. They appeared to be swaddled in luxury as they passed me. Made me wish I had one to carry my girl friend on these trips. If you can't be comfy on that thing, I don't know what you would feel comfy on. When you are out in the wide open spaces like this your mind tends to drift and imagine the oddest things. I imagined these two unknown BMW riders to look like movie stars. He, with the rugged good looks of a young Clint Eastwood and her with the sweet, beauty and elegance of a Grace Kelly. I imagined them to have permanent smiles on their faces as they rode east and that when they stopped, would break open the trunk of the LT and produce a bottle of wine and some very good cheese and bread…and that upon stopping for the night in a luxurious 1930's bungalow alongside a scenic stretch of road they would have wild, mind-bending sex…. (Cue record scratching sound here)! Okay, back to reality.
We stopped at the Pecos River Bridge near Comstock for photos. Always one of my favorite spots to stop. Across Amistad Reservoir for gas and then east through Del Rio. Between Del Rio and Brackettville there is nothing but ugly scrub land. Amongst this backdrop I saw two very beautiful horses standing near the road on the north side of the fence. I thought to myself, "What on earth did these two beautiful animals do to deserve this?" They have cousins eating lush bluegrass and carrots and apples in Kentucky and they are stuck out here in this hideous looking land. Maybe they were being punished by the Horse gods for some previous horse felony. We were soon in Brackettville and headed northeast on farm roads to Camp Wood. Then, east to Leakey, where we stopped for some BBQ. Then back to the twisties. Bob led the way on his Concours. We made good time on great roads toward our destination of Kerrville. Near Medina we turned north on TX16 which is a fabulous road except for one thing. Bees! Right in the middle of the curviest parts I was stung on the side twice when bees flew down the front of my Stich; Bob later told me the he was stung in the same set of curves but on his back. Ouch!
Upon arrival in Kerrville we split up because we were in two different hotels. The boys were down the street about two blocks. We were planning to split up here anyway as they we all headed back to the Bayou State the next day and I was going to meander north and east for one more day just going wherever the wind blew me… and it did blow BTW. I got up early and walked down to their hotel to see them off. It was a little cool but very humid. I suited up about an hour later and headed north. The weather guesser said that the wind would shift form south, to west to northwest as I rode north and that is exactly what happened. By The time I got to Llano, the wind was out of the northwest and the temps dropped from the high 60's to the high 40's. I fought the wind all day until my stop in Mt. Vernon, (east of Dallas) for the night. Since I was headed back to Baton Rouge the next day I was actually looking forward to the northwest tail-wind. It was blowing so hard I thought I might actually get 60 MPG. But.. as luck would have it, the wind shifted again, this time from the east. Damn! My dream of high mileage dashed! On my final day of riding I stopped in the beautiful city of Natchitoches, LA and sat on a park bench overlooking the Cane River. Most people think that New Orleans is the oldest city in Louisiana but actually Natchitoches is the oldest city in the entire LA purchase. I left there and rode along the Cane River for about 30 minutes. The ride is pretty and the road is curvy but in typical Louisiana fashion the pavement is not very good. It's a shame because I saw lots of tourist on the road.
Time to make time now so onto I-49 south. After a few minutes I see a white car parked in the grass and realize that I'm leading the Pack…uh-oh! One millisecond after that thought, my escort, that had saved me twenty times on this trip went off to tell me the obvious. "Pay attention and let someone else lead!" When I saw the car leave the cover of the tall grass I knew, that it was only a matter of minutes before I would see the familiar red and blue lights that turn good days to bad. Actually, my biggest fear upon pulling over on the shoulder was getting flat tire," Can a brother get a street sweeper up in here?) Don't slow down to look at the shoulder of an Interstate highway, it is absolutely littered with all kinds of things that will slice though rubber.
The Deputy said I was going a tad fast and asked if I could slow down a bit which I did. He was satisfied with my reply to his request and no further action was taken. Nice fellow. I continued onto Lecompte, which is pronounced "Lecount". There, I stopped at world famous Lea's Pies for a cold glass of milk and a slice of Chocolate. What a way to end a trip! (I thought) 100 miles later I was sitting in stopped traffic on I-10 in Baton Rouge cursing the same traffic engineers that I and EVERY other resident curse every day. It took me almost as long to get home from the Mississippi River Bridge as it did from Lecompte. That, my friends is just sad. HOWEVER! As sad as the traffic situation is in good Old BR, It did not dampen the joy I had during the previous few days riding with my best buddy's through some great scenery. All of whom I hope will join me this summer at STAR!
by Bob, Tony and Guy
Meet at the bike exhibit between 10 and 11 and we can plan a group lunch
That's all for now. Stacie and I hope to see everyone at STAR!
Keep riding & smiling
Bob Chappuis, State Director and Editor