|Fall 2018||Louisiana MSTA Newsletter||Page 1|
Not a lot of group riding in recent weeks to report, with hot and humid weather mixed with frequent heavy thunderstorms
dominating the weather picture, scheduling a group ride has been difficult. However there has been a lot of individual riding activity. Our feature article is by Kevin Yeats, a report on his trip
to the MSTA Suches Motorcycle Resort event. Stacie and I managed trips to the Smokies and Ozarks in August and September and enjoyed some good riding although we
got rained on several times and had to cut one trip short due to Tropical Storm George. Later in September, I rode to Birmingham for the final MotoAmerica race of the year and also rode to Nola Motorsports Park to hang out with some old track day buddies. Just watching my buddies have all the fun was too much
to take so last week I loaded up the van and did a WOW (Wide Open Wednesday) at Nola. A brief writeup concludes this issue.
|Welcome to new members Becky and Jeffrey Abner of Bossier City and Frank Cormier of Youngsville|
By Kevin Yeats
Thursday Sept 13
Click the below link for a 5 minute youtube video of clips I took on my trip. https://youtu.be/UVRqj0atDIU
The morning of August 4th we headed up US 61 to Natchez and got on the Natchez Trace. All but the most northern part of the trace is mostly gentle sweepers with mild elevation changes. For summertime travel it is nice because the pastures and forest that it winds through keeps it a few degrees cooler than 4 lane US 61 that gets several more hours of direct sunlight. We exited the trace at Lorman and pulled into Mr. D's Country Store on US 61, home of a great country cooking buffet, boasting the best fried chicken in Mississippi. It was a bit before 11:00 am but we were welcomed inside and told the buffet would be ready soon. The food as always was delicious.
Back on the trace after lunch just north of Port Gibson we came to a construction zone and some very rough pavement. I had my eyes glued to the road surface trying to avoid the harshest bumps but many were unavoidable. I glanced down and to the left to see what the slow pace was doing to Zumo's eta and saw just an empty cradle. I made a U turn and began backtracking, looking for Zumo. I was looking at the left lane and shoulder and missed it but Stacie spotted it and alerted me. I stopped for Stacie to hop off but before she could retrieve poor Zumo an automobile rolled over it! ARRRGGGG! It was intact except for a crack in the screen. It would power on but the screen was blank.
No, I did not bring any paper maps, but for the first time ever I had brought a backup GPS, my old Nuvi 500. I had done so after reading reports of Zumos locking up while navigating long routes. I had loaded my routes on both units. I only had to stop and swap mounts and I was good to go. Back on the Trace we rode through Jackson and along the Ross Barnett Resorvoir and on to Kosciusco, MS for the night. But not before receiving a performance award from a friendly state trooper. It was an expensive first day on the road!.
Sunday monring we were back on the Trace and rode it to its northern terminus in Nashville, our destination for Sunday night. Our Comfort Inn was just a few blocks from the heart of the downtown honk tonk district. We had supper at Jacks BBQ and then enjoyed some live music and comic entertainmnebt by Buck McCoy at Legends Corner.
For Monday we had an Air B&B loft apartment in downtown Bardstown, Kentucky. The plan was to ride back roads to Bardstown and check in in time to visit the Heaven Hill Bourbon Heritage Center and catch the last tour of the day. However I failed to take into consideration the time zone change and we arrive just a bit too late. Riding direct to the tour was not an option since it was a tasting tour. So instead we had a nice walk and tasting tour of historic downtown Bardstown. We settled in the Old Talbott Tavern, also known as the Old Stone Tavern, built in 1779 just a few blocks from our apartment. The building is on the National Register of Historic Places. It had what is probably the best selection of Bourbon I have ever seen and friendly and knowledgable bartenders. They also have excellent food and we returned later for our evening meal.
On Tuesday we rode southeast on backroads through Kentucky and Tennessee to the Skyline Village Inn in Spruce Pine, North Carolina just off the Blue Ridge Parkway. Spruce Pine is just a few miles north of Little Switzerland, home of the MSTA Big Lynne Lodge event organized by our friend "Brick" Brickner. We had stayed at the Big Lynn a few years ago and enjoed it verry much but decided to give the Skyline Village Inn a try. We were not disappointed. We had a room with a balcony with a great view and the Inn has a well stocked beer and wine store as well as bar and restauarant. The Inn is motorcycle friendly with covered parking for bikes only and even a small fleet of rental bikes.The owners, Mike and Lynn are motorcyclists themselves and very friendly and accomodating. The restaurant is open for dinner only on Thursday through Monday and we had therfore expected to eat at the highly rated Mountain View Restaurant a short walk away but this was closed due to the owner's illness. Mike and Lynn however opened their restuarant just for us. Mike grilled some great ribeye steaks and Lynn made her homemade crab cakes. It was a meal to remember!
Wednesday morning we jumped on the BRP headed for Helen, GA another long time HSTA/MSTA event town. But first we had a date for brunch at the Pisgah Inn on the Parkway with a highscool classmate of mine. Alice, who I had not seen in about 30 years lives in Henderson, NC about an hours drive from the Pisgah Inn. We agreed to meet for brunch at 9:45. The speed limit is only 45 on the Parkway but I had thought I could easily make the 76 miles with and 8:00 am departure. However, not too far down the BRP I started seeing ominous signs: "Loose Gravel - Two Wheeled Travel Not Recommended." YIKES! I recalled reading that stretches of the BRP had been badly damaged by recent bad weather. The BRP wa being repaved! But despite 4 or 5 such signs still on the road there was no gravel, the road had been freshly paved all the way to the Pisgah Inn. We arrived right on schedule. It was great to catch up with an old friend after so many years. We took a selfie for Facebook in the parking lot, hugged and said goodbye.
After about 30 miles back on the Parkway we reached the section that was still being repaved - deep loose gravel. I had to slow to about 30 mph. We pulled into the first scenic pull out and stopped to regroup. I asked a fellow tourist and he confirmed my fears - loose gravel all the way to the end. He was local and suggested an alternate route at the next exit. We got off the BRP at US 19 and then took US 441and US 23 to Franklin. From there it was US 64 to the Georgia line and then 155 and 17 to Helen. The alternate route was about the same 250 miles as our original route. All good roads and the weather was great. We checked in with plenty of time to walk around and have a brew or two before a fine meal at the Troll Tavern restaurant with an outdoor table on the river.
Thursday's 300 miles took us to to Tuscaloosa via Rome, GA, staying clear of Atlanta, and Anniston, AL where we got on I-20 and rode it and I-459 the rest of the way.
The last leg of our trip was uneventful with a long stretch on Interstates 20 and 59 to Laurel, MS and then back roads to home. All in all it was a great trip. The weather was not too bad for August, with the exception of the hot night in Bardstown. We rode in light to moderate rain several days but never for long and we never really got wet.
On Friday, August 31 we began Part 2 armed with a replacement Zumo 390 loaded with routes headed to Branson, MO. We left late in the afternoon stopping in Natchez, MS at the Grand Hotel on the bluffs above the Mississippi. We walked a couple of blocks to the Cotton Alley Cafe for a fine meal. Afterwards we grabbed a seat at Bowie's Tavern, on the river next to our Hotel and enjoyed a talented local band called Scratch.
On Saturday we crossed the river into Louisiana and rode back roads, including 126 and 4, two of my favorite LA roads, to Ruston where we took US 167 to Eldorado, Arkansas. There we got on twisty and scenic AR 7 which we rode to Hot Springs and our motel on Lake Hamilton. We had a room with a balcony with a view of the Lake, which was busy with boaters of all kinds. The motel had a bar/restauarant with good beer and friendly bartendars. And good food.
On Sunday we continued up Scenic 7 to Pelsor then went west on 16 through Ozark National Forest then north on the Pig Trail to Eureka Springs and finally northeast to Branson. It was a nice ride until we got to Branson. Stories I had heard of heavy traffic proved true. To make matters worse the location of our motel, the Clarion Branson, was off by about 7 miles in Garmins latest City Navigatior map! We arrived at the checkered flag to find nothing but a private residence. Navigating a heavy fully loaded bike in stop and go traffic on hilly streets is no fun. I parked and called the hotel for directions. The desk clerk was good at giving directions and we found it without further trouble other than the stop and go traffic. Unfortunately the same desk clerk was not very good at her real job. After 40 minutes or so we had our keys and checked into a very nice room. The hotel was huge and multi-leveled as it was built on a steep hill and the floor numbering was bizarre but we eventually found our room. After the stressful day we were ready for a cold beer. A sign in the lobby beckoned to the lounge upstairs on the third floor. Since our room was on the second it was hard to find the lounge since it was next to the pool on what appeared to be the ground floor. The lounge was absolutly beautiful with a huge hand carved wooden bar and African Safari decor with numerous stuffed exotic animals. But it was empty! We "hellooo'ed and an old guy emerged from a room behind the bar and greeted us. He assured us the lounge was open for business. As he got us some beers he explained that the hotel had changed ownership and a lot of changes were under way. The lounge had been closed for several months and he was now in the process of starting it back up, single handedly. We drank a couple of beers as he proceeded to give us the property's history as well as his own. He was an interesting character and quite entertaining.
Later that evening we enjoyed a great meal at the Buckingham Prime Steakhouse. However, by now the news all over TVs was the approach of Tropical Storm George. The predicted track showed it making landfall at New Orleans with potential heavy rain over Louisiana on Wednesday, our scheduled day to return home. We had planned to stay two nights in Branson and have a full day to enjoy it's many attractions but we decided it best to cut the stay short. We had already had our fill of riding in the rain for the year and the prospect of spending a day riding in a tropical storm was not at all appealing! We checked out Monday morning and rode to Texarkana. We found a cool sport bar called Fat Jacks not far from the motel and had some good pub food. We rode home on Tuesday ahead of the approaching storm, our only day with no rain.
Hurricanes and tropical storms have really impacted our travel plans recently stretching back to our escape from Key West and Hurricane Maria. However when I see and read about the total devastation sufferred by so many in many locations around the country I am truly thankful that only our travel plans have been disrupted! I think I will make a donation to the recovery efforts for Hurricane Michael. Karma...
Nola Motorsports Park is a state of the art motorsports venue with various two and four wheel activities. I have done a few track days on their 16 turn 2+ mile road course. They also have a go cart track with a busy carting schedule. But on many Wednesdays from about 2:00 pm until dark they open the cart track to small displacement motorcycles, up to 450 cc. I decided to give it a try on my Yamaha R3.
Open track days hosted by NOLA are well regulated events with required technical inspections of motorcycles and safety gear, mandatory riders meetings, close monitoring of and instriction for novices and control riders for all groups. Rotaing sessions run for twenty minutes each for novice, intermediate and advanced groups. An ambulance and EMS crew is present as are corner workers with safety flags. I expected something similar for the go cart track. Well, I was wrong. Wide Open Wednesdays are wide open.
I arrived at the track a half hour early expecting to get unloaded and through tech inspection. 40 minutes later I was still alone except for a maintence crew working on the track and I wondered if the event had been canceled. But soon two other riders showed up and unloaded a beet up Ninja 300 and a Honda 450 motocrosser with slicks. I asked one of the riders about tech inspection and was told: "We're on our own". Sessions? "Nope, open track"
Around 3:00 pm the maintenance supervisor came by and unlocked the gate and said to me: "watch out in turn 8, still some dirt out there and slippery". The three of us proceeded to ride as long as we could stand, then rest (or fix crash damage) then ride some more. Sometimes I rode alone other times with the other guys. Tony M who is a WOW regular invited me to follow him and learn the lines and also pointed out some tricky corners. The three of us rode from about 3:00 to 5:30 when the motor on the 450 blew and was dripping oil. I took that as my signal to call it a day. My leathers were soaked with sweat and my legs were wobbling with exhaustion.
The course used for WOW is 14 turns with the longest of three straights only about 50 yards so you are almost constantly turning. What a blast! I will be back!
WOW Online Registration
My thanks to Kevin Yeats for his Suches event writeup! Hope you enjoyed this issue!
Keep riding & smiling
Bob Chappuis, Editor
|Whisky Tango Foxtrot Department|