|Spring 2011||Louisiana MSTA Newsletter||Bob Chappuis, Editor|
I hope it is true that "absence makes the heart grow fonder" and I hope you all have missed our little newsletter since I last published in November. The national encourages regular monthly newsletters but that is not easy to achieve when club riding activity dwindles during winter and especially when the editor is pre-occupied with other events. Most of you might have heard, I retired at the end of 2010 and this has been quite an adjustment. Additionally, Stacie and I took this opportunity to realize a dream trip many years in planning. But enough about that, I previously posted a link to a picture gallery of our Costa Rica trip and will include a link to a narrative here for those interested in our adventure as well as a link to Dave Dickson's report of his business trip to Qatar.
Cajun Christmas 2010 was a great success again this year although the attendance numbers were down a little. We had plenty of bodies however to make for a great time and it is not the quantity but the quality that counts. We again had riders from as far away as California and Washington State. I believe we had 32 in attendance compared to our record of 40+. The weather was great this year and everyone had a great time. See the writeup and pictors below.
What have I been doing with my new free time? A lot of riding! I have ridden almost every day since retiring and am just back from a 1700 mile trip to Daytona Beach for Bike Week. In December 2009 newsletter I wrote the following: "One of my goals the last few years has been to attend more events each year and to rack up more total miles as well. Due to the recession I did not meet the "more events" goal for 2009 but mileage-wise I am right at my 2008 22,000 milestone...". I am happy to report I met my 2010 goal with miles to spare with a total of 25242. That ranked 9th among participating members. I enjoy keeping track of my annual mileage using the MSTA website Mileage Log. For 2011 I am off to a great start with 6000+ and a 3rd place rank. I don't expect to win any mileage contests or even stay in the top 10 but I enjoy keeping track of my miles this way.
Local club riding finally got off to a good start with our second attempt at a March lunch ride, see the story below. During this ride someone suggested we use a web forum to plan our rides. We already have this set up - we have a Louisiana sub forum within the South Central Region forum: http://www.sporttouring.us/forums/89-South-Central-RegionBut so far we have not had many posts except mine! The forum will can be a great tool but only if everyone participates. If you are not already registered at http://www.sporttouring.us/forum.php check it out. And be sure to set your profile to receive email notices when new posts are added.
This years STAR event is looking to be an attendance record breaker and I believe it may be one of our best STARS yet. In additional to our usual vendor support from firms such as Aerostitch, NoMar and Held this year we have outstanding offerings from Garmin, RoadRunner mag and many others giving away awesome door prizes and activities. If you have not already seen these check out forum post:
The 2010 edition of Cajun Christmas had member attending from IA, LA,WA,OK,CA,KS,GA,MO and TX. Keith Lazz and Don Laderer came all the way from California and Dan Thomas got the long distance honors from Washington State. We about 32 members in attendance. A couple of last years attendees brought their wives this year. It was great to meet the "better halves" and truly gratifying
This year we again reserved one of the 4 bedroom lodges to use as event headquarters and for both FRiday and Saturday night meals/party. This greatly simplified logistics and saved us the cost of pavilion rental as well. The spacious lodge with large kitchen and living areas easily accommodated our crowd.The Friday evening dinner was again fried catfish by J&H Cooking, a restaurant in nearby Chatham. The catfish was delicious and plentiful.After the meal route sheets for the lunch ride were passed around and ride plans began to come together. By 11:00 pm most folks had returned to his and her own cabin although a few lingered longer.
Saturday morning greeted us with great riding weather. Riders assembled into various sized groups and headed out randomly. Moose left early to deploy along the route for some photography and got some good shots. Despite no real coordination, just about everyone arrived at the lunch destination around the same time. The bar b que was delicious as always. Dining does not get any more down home and basic than Grayson's with a roll of toweling paper on each table for napkins and drink options limited ti canned drinks but they know how to smoke meat. After lunch most of us took the long route home which included the best twisties. LA 126 did not disappoint! There were no incidents reported that I recall other than an unfortunate small dog/large bike encounter - (unfortunate for the dog.)
I originally scheduled a lunch ride for Saturday, March 5 in the Feliciana Parishes area but this was spoiled by rain. We switched to Sunday which was cool but dry. I had only two riders join me and one wussed out due to the cold. Paul Thibodeaux and I meandered around north West Baton Rouge and the Feliciana Parishes on our Concours 14s for about 170 miles before stopping for lunch in St. Francisville at the Magnolia Cafe. Tony Crowell met us in Clinton and road with us a while before heading home. Tony had been caught unprepared for the colder than predicted weather and had not brought his electric gear. With the scant wind protection provided by his VFR it was not long before he got chilled. For Paul and I the big Concours 14 adjustable wind screen is good for at least 10 degrees more warmth plus I had the luxury of being able to just turn up the heat. Paul and I enjoyed a great ride and a fine lunch before heading home.
Since that first Bike Week I believe I had missed only one in the years since up until 2007. (I had skipped Daytona in 1990 in order to make an epic solo bike trip to Monterey, CA to attend the USGP at Laguna Seca instead.) But in 2006 or 7 the AMA had drastically altered the Bike Week roadracing schedule and format reducing the Daytona 200 to support class status and screwing up the racing schedule so the taking 2 or 3 days off from work was just not justifiable to see a few paltry support class races by club level riders.But by 2011 AMA (actually run by DMG, Daytona Motorsports Group) had largely come to their senses. Although the Daytona 200 is still run mainly with 600cc sportbikes there is now a superbike double header on Friday and Saturday. Plus a support class double header and a Harley race in addition to the Daytona 200. This event format was worth a trip, plus I would get to see my good long term friends Chuck and Frances Headrick.
I originally planned to depart on Wednesday, stay overnight in Tallahassee and make the MSTA Bike Week Dinner at Blackwater Inn in Astor FL, an event organized by another friend, Phil Ridgdill. But ominous weather forecasts made me reconsider. The rain probability along my route ranged from 60 to 100 percent. I waited until I could view Wednesday morning's weather radar. The forecasters were not wrong, there4 were numerous strong bands of rain storms moving west to east. Later that day the entire Florida panhandle was covered on red and yellow.
Thursday on the other hand was dry and mostly sunny and a great day to start a road trip. My route took me due east from St. Francisville through Franklinton and Bogalusa, LA then Wiggins, Poplarville and Lucedale, MS. I purposely avoided the eastern segment of Interstate Louisiana, home of the worlds most discourteous and incompetent motorists...with the possible exception of the western segment. I also had a sweet bypass of Mobile which included quite a few miles of scenic Alabama backroads with some decent sweepers. Once East of Mobile and Pensacola I rode US 90, shadowing I-10 until I got close to Tallahassee. I stayed at an inexpensive Quality Inn and ate supper at the Waffle House next door. Friday morning I grabbed a free hot breakfast and at about 8:00 am headed for Daytona International Speedway to meet chuck for the first day of races. I again peeled off from I-10 at the first opportunity east of Tally taking highways 19 and 27 through the "Big Bend" or "Nature Coast" area to Ocala then 40 though horse country the way to Ormond Beach on the East coast. Then it was a very short burst on I-95 to DIS. Chuck was waiting for me at the parking area. We walked across Volusia Blvd to the track and bought tickets, had some lunch and found some seat in our favorite spot above turn 1.
The racing was good and fairly close. Although rookie Columbian rider Tomas Puerta built a comfortable lead in Supersport the next 7 places were in a tight pack with constant passing. Included in this group was 2nd year competitor, 17 year old Elena Myers, the first "girl" to ever win a pro AMA race and the only female to finish consistently in the top ten. Next was the HD XR1200 spec race, which included a bunch of older racers, including 5 time Daytona 200 winner Scott Russell. He managed to stay in the top 5 for a few laps before gradually fading out of the top 10. The last event of the day was race one of AMA Superbike, the top level class - the fastest bikes and the fastest riders. This class used to run in the Daytona 200 main event but has been relegated to 15 lap (about 60 miles) sprint race status because the bikes are now considered too powerful and fast to be safe on the high banks for 200 miles. Last years Superbike champion Josh Hayes led for most of the race from pole position on his Yamaha R1 only to be relegated to 3rd on the final lap by Suzuki riders Blake Young and Tommy Hayden
Saturdays racing started out fast and exciting with close racing in race 2 of both Supersport and Superbike. However, the Daytona 200 was pretty much a disaster. Scheduled for 57 laps to complete the 200 miles, the race was shortened to 42 after Danny Eslick's 160 mph crash on the tri-oval on about lap 20. The cause of the crash was determined to be an inadequate front tire provided by Dunlop (race series tire supplier), not able to hold up to the higher than expected track temperatures. The race was red flagged until replacement tires could be installed on all machines which took nearly two hours. Additionally it was decided to shorten the rest of the race to a 15 lap sprint. The final laps were quite exciting with about 7 riders competing for the win and three riders colliding in the final turn at 160+ mph with two crashing. The winner was Jason Disalvo who had actually blown his motor just prior to the two hour red flag but was able to use the extended period to install a new motor!
My rode home was uneventful. I broke the 780 miles into two easy days, riding the back roads of the Nature Coast and taking time to see some sights and ride new roads. I visited Ochlockonee Bay and Bald Point State Park on the Gulf looking for possible future camping spot. Really nice secluded beach but no campground. I stopped for the night in Marrianna, FL and returned home Monday the way I had come. If you dislike Interstates like I do US 90 is a good FL panhandle alternative.
It was really great to return to Bike week after a 5 year hiatus. Although the big race has lost much of its luster, I enjoy watching roadracing at any level and it was great to visit with good friends Chuck and Frances. As always, their friendship and hospitality are the best!
Our 2nd try at a March lunch ride was much more successful. Clear blue skies and warmer temperatures (75 to 80) surely had a lot to do with it but much credit has to go to member Tim Cundiff who suggested the destination and lunch spot. New Triumph and Ducati motorcycles being introduced in the USA were scheduled to arrive at the Ducati, Triumph and Vespa dealership in New Orleans, Transportation Revolution. Tim, who seems to be constantly in search of his Perfect Motorcycle wanted to take a look at he new Triumph Tiger 800 and thought the dealership would be a great ride destination. And he was right, the idea was a hit and resulted in our best member turnout in quite some time. Also, being located in downtown New Orleans the shop was only minutes from some of the best restaurants on the planet. Tim had seen an episode of Diners, Drive-In and Dives featuring Katie's Mid-City just a short ride from the shop.
Tim, I and Kevin collaborated via E-mail on a route that would include the best roads between Baton Rouge and New Orleans - River Road on both sides of the Mississippi. The Baton Rouge are riders met at 8:00 am at Starbucks in BR, myself, David Webster and Paul Thibodaux - two 2008s and a 2010 Concours 14, Tim Cundiff BMW F650, Gene, a friend of Tim's on a Triumph cruiser. After coffee and a chat this group rode out on schedule turning onto River Road just south of LSU and headed down river through Plaquemine Point, St. Gabriel and Geismer to the Sunshine Bridge (named after the hit song recorded by Jimmy Davis, the ex-Louisiana Governor who built it).
We rendezvoused on the West Bank of the river with the South Louisiana cadre which included long time members Kevin Yeats, ST1300 and Paul Lefort on his new Ninja 1000 plus Paul's friend Leonard on his Can Am Spyder. Also meeting us there were avid members Eric Babcock, Kawasaki ZZR1200 and Dennis Hedrick, BMW R1150RT from New Orleans. With a report of road construction on the west side we re-crossed the Sunshine bridge and rode the East bank through Burnside and Convent to Gramercy, and there crossed once again to the west bank. We now continued along the river though Edgard and Hahnville, Kevin's home town, finally leaving the river for US 90 at Westwego. US 90 took us one more time across the Mighty Mississippi on the Huey P. Long Bridge (another famous Louisiana Governor) but at a crawl due to bridge maintenance work. Once across we then navigated the city streets to the dealership where we found ample parking and three more members waiting, Frank Lamothe, Rod Fors and John Thompson. Frank was on his Suzuki V-Strom 1000, Rod his Triumph Bonneville 650 and John his Ducati Hypermotard 1100. Our once Honda brand club is now truly multi-denominational - out of 12 machines only one Honda!
The shop had many sweet bikes on display, numerous Triumphs including the new Triumph 800 Tiger as well as Ducatis, including the 1200 Multistrada and the new Diavel. After hanging out at the shop for about an hour everybody was ready for some lunch so we all saddled up and rode to Katie's a couple miles away on Iberville St. The restaurant was located in an old residential area without any real parking lot but we managed to all find suitable spots. Katie's is not a large place at all and it look packed. The busy lunch hour was just about over however and the management quickly accommodated our group of 12 by clearing three tables and putting them together. The service was excellent and the food even better. Several of us had the Cajun Cuban sandwich, delicious and almost more than I could eat!
After lunch we split up, with some heading home and some riding to NOLA Motorsports Park to have a look at the new roadracing facility. I did not go but the word is that the heavy construction underway precluded any real viewing: "About a million dump trucks spewing dust and mud everywhere. We only turned into the entrance and had to leave because of the truck traffic, so we didn't really see anything."
I have read that NOLA Motorsports construction is a little behind schedule due to recent rains but plans are still on to open in August.
Since my parents live on the Northshore (of Lake Ponchartrain) I took advantage of the opportunity to pay them a visit on my way home hitting some nice back roads along the way. I arrived home a little before 8:00 pm. A 12 hour day and a little over 300 miles. Great bikes, great friends and a great time!
from the national website
Non motorcyle trip reports by club membersCOSTA RICA Part 1.