|Summer 2018||Louisiana MSTA Newsletter||Page 1|
STAR 2018 is history. Survey results show it was very popular with attendees and I have to concur. Read more about my STAR experience below with lots of photos. Kevin Yeats has also shared his photos.
I also review the HUB -Heads Up Braking system I purchased at STAR.
Three of our south Louisiana members attended the Big Lynn Lodge MSTA event this month. Hopefully I can get a ride report and/or pictures for the next newsletter.
On a somber note, I am saddened to report that long time Indiana member John Romine was killed on I-75 in Kentucky while riding home from the BLL. Reports are that he re-ended an eighteen wheeler. Rest in peace John.
|Join me in welcoming a new member to the family, Paul Lefort's new Multistrada 1200!|
STAR 2018 in La Crosse, Wisconsin would be my 25th STAR. There was never any question that I would go. I attended the first STAR in 1983 and it was a milestone in my life. Again in 84 in Aspen and off and on for the next 10 years. Eventually STAR became my annual big vacation trip and not much would keep me away. I would end up attending this STAR solo although my wife and wonderful traveling companion Stacie was registered and attempted to go. Stacie attended her first STAR at Marietta, Ohio in 1999 on the back of my 1986 Kawasaki Concours and has not missed many since then, riding passenger on my Blackbird, VFR and Concours 14, even riding to one STAR on her Ninja 500. This year her schedule dictated a flight to La Crosse with stops in Dallas and Chicago. Unfortunately the weather would refuse to cooperate.
Day 1 Thursday
I have lived in Mississippi River towns all my life, New Orleans, Baton Rouge and now St. Francisville, LA. I've always felt like the river flows in my blood. So I looked forward to spending time in another river town up near the head waters and wanted to see some more river towns so I planned a route that followed the river when feasible. I started out for my first day destination of Jonesboro, AR shortly after daybreak. I rode the Blues Highway, US 61 all the way from St. Francisville to just north of Clarksdale, MS. Clarksdale is actually the name of the town that inspired the Monkees hit "Last Train To Clarksville" but the name was changed because they (song writers Boyce & Hart) thought Clarksville sounded better. Anyway, a bit north of Clarksdale I hung a left on US 49 and crossed the Mississippi River at Helena, AR; the first of many crossings during the trip. Soon after crossing I turned north onto AR 1. I rode 1 north to Jonesboro, arriving about 2:30 after 407 miles. I checked into a nice Super 8. I walked around checking out the neighborhood, scouting a place to eat. However, I had an upset stomach that wouldn't settle down and ended up eating a waffle for dinner at the IHOP across the road.
Day 2 Friday
In the morning I rode north out of Jonesboro on US 49 and then AR 135 at Paragould. Crossing into Missouri I veered a bit west, steering clear of St. Louis. Without really planning to I found myself on some of the great roads that were routes for the HSTA Friends of Freddie events headquartered in Park City and Farmington which I had attended in the 2000s. At one particular intersection I found myself at the site my only crash during an HSTA/MSTA rally. After 10 years the intersection had not changed a bit since the day I foolishly passed an eighteen wheeler on a double yellow at about 80 only to discover the road came to an end sooner than I could stop. I guess that scene is permanently burned into my brain as is the lesson learned.
Without any actual planning several other STAR attendees ended up joining me in Hannibal MO for Friday night, most staying at the same Super 8. Louisiana has a small core group of habitual STAR attendees who hang out together at STAR and other MSTA events as well as several self organized trips each year. Over the years we have collected friends from other states: Jim Girton of Kansas, Don Laderer, CA, his son Chris from Texas, Scott and Eileen Stewart of Arkansas. Also converging on Hannibal this day were and Bill and Gayla O'Brien, Arkansas Co- Directors, Denny Drury, MO and and Denise Dickenson OK State Director. Missing from the group were Louisiana regulars Tony Crowell and Kevin Yeats who for reasons unexplained were on the wrong side of the river.
The Stewarts did not arrive until late but the rest of us gathered at the Super 8 and then hiked across the highway to Drakes Steak and Ale for a nice meal and great comradery.
Day 3 Saturday LaCrosse
Saturday morning Chris, Don, Jim and I headed north out of Hannibal with myself in the lead. Not far out of town I started getting alerts from the American Airlines app on my smart phone notifying me of cancellation of Stacie's flight from DFW to O'Hare. Soon after I got a distress text from Stacie. I pulled off the road and when Jim Girton pulled up I told him to take the lead, I'd catch up later. I called Stacie to discuss travel plans. Understandably she was very upset but decided to take a flight scheduled for Sunday.
About 10 miles up the road I caught up with the group. The next challenge was a large thunderstorm converging on our path, apparently part of a huge and widespread weather system wreaking havoc on the midwest and I expect the reason for the flight cancellation!
Somewhere near Iowa City my route and the Laderer's diverged and it was just me and Jim Girton. I had my radar app on my phone displayed and made an early gas stop to put on rain gear as I could see wetness was imminent. The rain started before we could quite get geared up and we rode out into a fairly heavy rain. After about 5 miles it slacked off to a drizzle, for the next 50 miles.
We crossed the river and into Wisconsin at Prairie Du Chein and I think we got some lunch there. The rest of the ride to La Crosse was along the bluff overlooking the river and we stopped at one of the overlooks to take some pictures. We arrived at the Radisson La Crosse a little after 2:00 pm after 328 miles.
The Radisson La Crosse proved to be a superb STAR venue. The front of the building faced the Mississippi River and opened to a nice riverside park. In the back was a spacious parking lot and the main entrance to the lobby. Plenty of space for parking, vendors and a bike wash and for hanging out. The parking lot had access control for autos but easy in and out for motorcycles. And just across the street was downtown La Crosse with many great bars, restaurants and the immensely popular Pearl Street Ice cream parlor! An ideal STAR venue! But it was to be bittersweet without Stacie to enJoy it with me!
The rest of the gang was either already there or soon rolled in and we quickly checked into our extremely nice accommodations. We stayed busy all afternoon registering and greeting friends from all over in the lobby and parking lot and lounge. One old friend I had not seen in many years was Mike Dupuis from Tennessee. I had originally met Mike at an HSTA event in Townsend, TN in the 80's. Mike was sharing a room with honorary LA member Keith Danielson of MI. It was great to see Mike again. The thirsty among us wasted little time making friends with the bartender and enjoyed some drinks in the Three Rivers Lodge bar and restaurant before having a meal there. I had the hand breaded Walleye. Walleye is apparently a popular fish in Wisconsin but one I had never eaten. It was delicious! Before turning in for the evening we agreed to meet for breakfast at 7 to plan Sunday's ride.
Day 4 Sunday
I was late for breakfast and missed out on the planning. Then I got confused about which route they had decided on. Everybody, including Mike and Keith gathered in the lot for 8:30 stands up. I forget who was supposed to be leading and I initially followed the wrong group out of the parking lot with Jim behind me. I immediately recognized my error and pulled over to signal to Jim but he rolled on by. I managed to reconnect with our group but Jim made new friends this day!
Our route meandered northwesterly and crossed the river at Wabasha, MN then south before crossing back, just under 200 miles. The roads were pleasant, with lovely scenery and the weather comfortable. A great Sunday ride.
Sunday night for dinner we walked downtown and found the Twisted Moose. A cute bar and grill with moose heads mounted on the wall with motorized antlers that would periodically twist back and forth! After dinner I learned that some in our group were not able to get back to the hotel without a stop at the Pearl St. Ice cream Parlor. I gave in and joined them. This would become a nightly stop!
The sad news for Sunday was Stacie's continuing bad luck with flights presumably due to continuing thunderstorm activity in the midwest. She had made it do DFW but her flight to O'Hare was delayed and she missed her 5:00 pm connection to La Crosse. A later flight was scheduled for 6:00 but this flight kept getting delayed. By 10:00 Stacie gave up and got a room. Fed up with lousy customer service at O'Hare and American Airlines she booked a flight home the next day.
Day 5 Monday
This was my day to pick a route. The one that interested me the most was the one that looped east to the Forevertron in Sumpter, WI. " Dr. Evermor's Forevertron, built in the 1980s, is the largest scrap metal sculpture in the world, standing 50 ft. (15,2 m.) high and 120 ft. (36,5 m.) wide, and weighing 300 tons. It is housed in Dr. Evermor's Art Park on Highway 12, in the town of Sumpter, in Sauk County, Wisconsin, United States." -wikipedia-The loop was a bit long so I shortened it to about 250 miles. And since it was my route I got to lead. That did not last more than about 60 miles as my route brought us to a road closure and our detour soon brought us to a dirt road. Most of the group took it but me and Jim back tracked and found our way to Sumpter on some nicely paved roads. The Forevertron proved to be amazing. I'll let the pictures speak for themselves.
It was a great ride and lots of fun but I was sad that my partner was not there to share it. Back at the Radisson I had
fun chatting in the bar with Dan & Richard form Washington State and Scott and Eileen. Eileen had spent the day
exploring and had found a great spot for dinner.
Day 6 Tuesday Lunch Ride
The lunch venue was only about 40 miles from La Crosse so the ride planners had three different length routes to choose from. We debated for some time on which routes to take coming and going, but eventually settled on the medium ride there and the long back. Rain settling in after lunch made that moot as we chose to return direct rather than ride in the rain. But the lunch venue, Pedretti’s Party Barn was great. A spacious dining room and nice outdoor visiting spaces. The sandwiches were good but best yet drink of your choice was included in the price and among the choices was a local craft beer. We hung around outside for a good while after eating bs'ing When we finally saddle up for the ride back a light rain started and we headed back to the Radisson by the most direct route. Just 141 miles for the day.
Dinner Tuesday night was at the Freight House rated one of the best restaurants in the county. Built in 1880 by the railroad it is one of the few remaining 19th Century railroad depots. It was used for various purposes after the freight service was terminated in 1955 and was renovated and converted to a restaurant 1978. The building has received the Heritage Award by the La Crosse Historical Preservation Society and is a National Historic Site. Great atmosphere and delicious food, I had grilled swordfish. Also a great selection of craft and imported beers. Another fine meal, topped off with a visit to the Pearl St. Ice cream Parlor.
Day 7 Wednesday
Wednesday's route was a 270 mile loop entirely in Minnesota. Keith and Mike were no longer with us but we picked up Ron from Fort Worth who had joined us for a past Big Bend trip. About 10:30 we stopped for a nature break in Dover at a cool but odd combination hair salon and beach bar called the Shack Bar in downtown Dover. It had the shell of a VW Microbus mounted on it's front wall and had an outdoor patio deck with a beach motif.
On the way back we hit some rough road construction that did damage to two bikes. Kevin's wheel took a dent and the aero winglet on my windshield ripped off and went flying over my head. I stopped to retrieve it. It was intact but the top of my windshield was cracked and broken. I bandaged it with electrical tape. We limped on back, stopping for lunch in Winona at a nice Mexican place called Mango's with a nice outdoor patio.
A good 5 hour ride despite the damaged bikes, 170 miles of good weather and nice scenery. We arrived back at the Radisson with plenty of time to get the bikes prepped for the ride home on Thursday before the group picture and banquet. After some good food, there was an interesting presentation by Long Haul Paul. Paul Pelland whose "mission is to document riding one million miles with MS" in an effort to raise funds in support of research to cure Multiple Sclerosis. His presentation was inspirational. The finally was the raffle bike drawing which was won by a female member from Minnesota
Day 8 Thursday
Thursday morning just a few of us gathered for breakfast as everyone was heading out on there own and some had left early, like the break of dawn early. I had 386 miles to go so I left early, for me, around 7:00 am, destination Quincy, IL. I headed east on US 14, to Viroqua, familiar territory from our earlier rides. Then southward on US 61 once again. Just like the ride into La Crosse, the ride out of La Crosse was threatened by a massive thunderstorm drifting in collision course with my route. I had the radar app running on my phone and it looked like if I made good time I could get south of the storm before we intersected, maybe... Eventually I could see the actual storm on my right. It was such an impressive sight I stopped to take a photo. (see below)
I crossed the river at Dubuque and continued south trying to navigate past the lower edge of the storm using my radar app and my GPS. But I was not familiar with the geography and if I zoomed out far enough to get a big enough picture, the roads disappeared from the GPS screen. So I mostly stuck to my planned route. Eventually I caught up with the lower edge of the storm just as I stopped for fuel in Taylor Missouri, just a few miles across the river from my destination.
I checked into a fabulous Quality Inn in downtown Quincy right on the river at 2:00 pm. In reserving this lodging I had no idea it had huge rooms and a massive atrium with indoor pool; only that it was reasonably priced and had a bar and restaurant (Drakes Steak and Ale). The rain soon stopped and I took a long walk along the waterfront and the downtown area. There were several crowded touristy bars and restaurants on the river front but I stopped at the On The Rail Bar & Grill for a beer a block from the motel. This was a locals place and I sat at the bar and chatted with the bartender and was entertained by some locals. I enjoyed the place so much I decide to come back later for dinner. That was a good decision. One item on the menu got my attention. Shark Bite fish tacos. I like tacos but had never tried a fish taco before. This one was allegedly made with fried shark. Growing up in coastal Louisiana I have enjoyed shark a few times but had my doubts about what would be passed off as "shark" in Illinois! Who knows, but one thing is sure: the Shark Bite tacos were awesome!
Friday morning I headed downriver on Il 57 then crossed into Missouri at Hannibal and headed back to Jonesboro, covering the same general area I had ridden on the way up but mostly on different roads just to see new scenery. Again through southeastern Missouri I enjoyed some nice twisty roads some of the best of the whole trip, especially highway 19 between Salem and Winona. I arrived in Jonesboro at 3:30 after 391 miles in just over 8 hours. I was feeling a lot better than the last time I was in town and found a neat Sports Bar about 3/4 of a mile from the motel. I enjoyed a couple of margaritas and some good pub food. Fridays are karaoke night at Sully's so I also enjoyed some hilarious entertainment.
Saturday's final leg home was the longest of the trip, 429 miles in 8 hours. For the most part I was covering familiar ground on roads I have ridden many times and the ride was uneventful.
It was a great trip and a great STAR except for the absence of my favorite traveling partner. A great venue, many good friends, great food and beverages and mostly good weather. All that and the fact that I know Stacie would have very much enjoyed La Crosse and many of the places visited along the way really makes the experience BITTERSWEET. A "make up" trip is in the works!
MORE PHOTOS FROM STAR 2018 and a few from the ride home
HUB, Heads Up Braking was one of the inside vendors at STAR 2018 and was offering a $50 dollar discount during the event off the normal $249.00 price. John Henry, owner, was set up in the lobby near the route maps and on the way to the breakfast dining room so I passed by frequently. Once with some free time I stopped to talk with him. I was interested in his product because just a year prior my first 2008 Concours 14 had been rear-ended and totaled by an inattentive driver in a Toyota Corolla. The Corolla was also totaled and I am still amazed that I was unharmed. Since that accident I have installed Hyperlites on my replacement Concours 14 and a Givi LED brake light kit on my top case on my Ducati Multistrada. That was a start but I figured more is always better when the goal is conspicuity.
I chatted with John at length, he answered several questions and I was impressed. I explained to him that I had four bikes and wanted to be able to use the system on each. Also that I ride solo at times and with a passenger so I'd need to be able to move the light component easily between two helmets. John assured me all this was possible.
So I bought the kit plus an extra helmet bracket. Here is my review of the product and my installation experience.
THe HUB consists of two components, a red led light fixture that mounts on the back of your helmet (RX) that communicates wirelessly with a black box (TX) that mounts on your motorcycle. The black box is packed with technology, including "Kelatronic™ (KEL™) System: Highly engineered & sophisticated system that senses deceleration" It has other sensors that I will discuss later. The main function is that the black box senses deceleration, whether or not you have applied the brakes and actuates a series of flashes of the bright red LEDs on the back of your or your passenger's helmet . The TX can be hard wired to your bike battery and brake circuit and run off vehicle power or run on two AA batteries. The RX runs on two AAA batteries. If hardwired it is intended to be integrated with the bikes brake circuit and actuate the bikes brake light on deceleration even if you have not applied the brakes. I like this feature because I often modulate speed as needed using engine braking when riding in a line of cagers or group riding with other riders.
The RX has a proximity sensor that causes the LEDs to flash and the beeper to beep if the unit is not in range of the TX or the TX is turned off. The RX can also be toggled to give an audible beep whenever the LEDs flash. This is useful on initial use to give you an understanding on how and when the unit is functioning. It can be turned off but I leave it on as a reminder to stay alert of activity on my six. The beep is barely audible over the music I am usually listening to and not annoying.
Installation: The transmitter must be mounted parallel with the ground and this for me was a bit of a hassle. Wiring would be simplified if the transmitter could be mounted under the seat but on both my Concours 14 and Ducati Multistrada there was no level area available under the seat. The transmitter has pivoting mounts and leveling adjusters that could be used to permanently mount the transmitter level but that would prevent swapping from bike to bike. The solution for me was installing mounting studs in my top cases. I bought longer mounting screws and wing nuts, drilled holes in the bottom of my top case and secured the studs in the holes. Using the wing nuts I can swap the transmitter from box to box without tools in a minute. If you do have a level surface to mount to a velcro mount would be even quicker.
I initially ran the transmitter on batteries but soon decided to hook it up to vehicle power. Withen the first two weeks using the system I went through two sets of transmitter batteries due to forgetting to turn it off. Additionally I would occasionally forget to turn it on when starting on a ride and it was a hassle moving gear around in my case to reach the switch. The kit comes with a wiring harness with colored wires labeled for brake positive, brake ground, battery and ignition on positive. I left the brake positive unconnected as I had already installed Hyperlites which flash when the brakes are on. I had no idea if the two led systems would be compatible and at any rate I did not want a full blown light show every time I slowed down or shifted gears.
That brings me to my one complaint about the system. It flashes a couple times with a normal gear shift. the decelerometer is sensitive enough to detect the momentary decel when you actuate the clutch for an up shift. With the beeper on I get two beeps with normal up shifts through 2nd 3rd and 4th. This is described as normal in the troubleshooting section of the installation instructions. I contacted John Henry about this and he suggested low rpm shifts to avoid this. I had already learned how to avoid it with power shifts. However, I have no intention of changing my riding habits. This is not a deal breaker for me as I do not have my vehicle brake integrated. Having your brake lights flash when shifting is not a good thing, in my opinion. When you are shifting up through the gears you are accelerating, the brake like should not come on. I know it annoys me when I am behind a motorist who constantly taps his brake for no apparent reason. Having the helmet light flash is not a big deal, since it is not technically a brake light, more of an attention getter.
Other than the shifting issue I like the way the system works. I can't observe the light in action under actual riding conditions but it seems quite bright when testing it on a table. On a recent ride with a friend following he commented that it was very noticeable. I feel the HUB is a an important addition to my safety equipment. I plan to eventually add a second transmitter to eliminate the need to swap from bike to bike.
|August 3-5||River City Ride||Holiday Inn Express||Don Paynefirstname.lastname@example.org||AMA|
|2449 Federal Drive||6825 East Watson Road|
|Corydon, Indiana||Mooresville, Ind.|
|August 20-26||Mail Pouch Flyby WEEK||Best Western Marietta||Norm Kernemail@example.com||MSTA|
|701 Pike Street||417 Grants Tr|
|Marietta, Ohio||Dayton, Ohio|
|September 7-9||Ozarks Bull Shoals Rally||Theodosia Marina and Resort||Jim Williamsfirstname.lastname@example.org||AMA|
|Highway 160||1710 Remington Street|
|Theodosia, Missouri||Pleasant Hill, Missouri|
|September 14-16||TWO of Suchess JFF||TWO of Suches Motorcycle Resort and Campground||Steve Rodmonemail@example.com||JFF|
|1915 Highway 60||www.twowheelsofsuches.com|
|September 27-30||Fall Colors||Quality Inn||Syd Mayesfirstname.lastname@example.org||JFF|
|540 N Jefferson St||3408 Oxford Drive|
|Lewisburg, WV||Sutherland, Va|
|October 12-14||Byway Boogie||Best Western||"Gayla O""Brien"||email@example.com||JFF|
|1207 South Rogers Street||12108 Brush Creek Road|
|Clarksville, Arkansas||Springdale, Arkansas|
|October 26-28||Texas Hill Country Rally||YO Ranch Resort||Judi Malcomfirstname.lastname@example.org||AMA|
|2033 Sidney Baker||616 Liska Roademail@example.com|
|Kerrville, Tx||Ennis, Texas|
Plenty of good events to choose from on the calendar! We have members planning to attend Bull Shoals and Byway Boogie and Hill Country is a possibilty for some as well that I know of. Pick an evnet and go. You won't be disappointed!
That's all for now. Thanks to Kevin Yeats for his photo contributions!
Ride safe and STAY ALERT OUT THERE!,
Bob Chappuis, Editor