The Red River Riders are losing a member to a colder, but what has proven to be a more economically welcoming, clime. Jerry Sagona is moving to St. Louis, Mo., to take a job as the Human Resources Business Partner for ABB Reliability Services. The plant, with about 400 employees, manufactures medium voltage electrical transformers that are sold to power companies, sub-stations and industrial plants. Jerry will be transitioning over the next few months, so will be in town on-and-off for a while until his house sells. In the meantime, he has already checked out the St. Louis BMW dealership, Gateway, and reports back that membership in their club should be a lot of fun. There will be at least one familiar face in St. Louis. BMW area representative Mark Jamroz is also over the Gateway store so will be able to update Jerry on Shreveport happenings. Though we hate to lose Jerry, we wish him the best on his move and new job!
By Drew T. Newcomer
The Motorcycle Sport Touring Association has been meeting in the Texas Hill Country for a fall ride nearly 20 years. The last time I made this event I was riding a Honda (and that has been some time ago!) So, when fellow BMW rider and club member Bob Mizner extended an invitation to enjoy some hospitality and join him for the Hill Country event, I had no good excuse not to go.
Heading out to Bob and his wife Barbara’s place on November 5, I rode I-20 to Texas Highway 14 where I turned north toward Hawkins, Texas. Bob lives just north of Hawkins and I cleaned up the R1150R in his garage and turned in for the night. With Bob in the lead we headed out about 8:00 am on Friday morning. Bob chose a variety of farm roads to wind us southwest where we finally intersected Highway 31. We rode 31 to Corsicana where we grabbed highway 22 west after a good hot cup of coffee and a cinnamon roll. There was not a cloud in the sky as we rode on to Meridian, Texas, on through Cranfills Gap to Hamilton where Bob left 22 to join FM 2005 which took us to Goldthwaite, Texas. In Goldthwaite we jumped on Texas Highway 16 which would take us all the way to our destination of Kerrville and the Y. O. Ranch Resort.
On very full stomachs we finished the last hour of the ride from Llano to Kerrville. We arrived at the Y. O. and checked in after “blue sky only” ride of 380 miles. Many riders had already arrived and it was nice to visit with folks that I hadn’t seen in a long time. Many attendees went out to eat Friday night, but I pleasantly declined as I was still stuffed to the gills with bar-b-que! Needless to say, I slept very well that night. Saturday morning arrived with a brilliant sun and many riders headed to Destination Cycle, a local dealer in Kerrville.
What it really means is the mediagenic prophets of doom have managed to so scare people that even if their retirement/homes/jobs are safe they are too terrified to buy something as nonessential to their continued existence on earth as a motorcycle. So, gentle readers, that giant sucking sound you heard was the manufacturers' third quarter and year-to-date earnings.
As would be expected when facing less demand for product, motorcycle production at the plant in Berlin has been reduced selectively by about 22%. BMW's woes are not their burden alone, they are industry-wide.
In Japan, damage wreaked by a Godzilla-type movie monster might be preferred to skittish buyers. (At least monster damage might be covered by insurance.) Since January of 2009, Japanese manufacturers have produced 67.2% fewer over 250cc bikes for markets worldwide. U.S. sales of the over-250cc Japanese bikes are off by 79.8%. Yes, you read that correctly, down nearly 80%.
The pain is deep and universal. The following is the manufacturer, the units produced so far this year and the percentage of the previous year. In other words, Honda's 10,364 bikes manufactured in 2009 is only 48% of what they produced last year.
Meanwhile, Harley Davidson reports a Q3 loss of about 22%, which was about 8% BETTER than its Q2 numbers. Harley-Davidson Financial Services took a HUGE hit, which helped send net income tumbling by 84% in the third quarter.
Polaris says Victory cycles are off by 56% in Q3 and 53% year-to-date. Indian Motorcycles, which post sales figures to an Etch-A-Sketch, are offering to pay your first SIX payments if you will just take one of their motobeasts off the dealer floor.
With dismal sales and dealers dying to make deals, now is the time to buy, buy, buy.
The good news for Buell afficianados is that the line won't go away entirely...word is that it will continue as Buell Racing. Teams will use the 1125R and will be supported by Harley-Davidson.
The first is called the Chief Dark Horse and is available in matte Thunder Black, Indian Red and Deep Water Blue. The dark components on the bike including the blacked out headlight, tappet blocks, suspension, engine components, exhaust system, and hand controls make the remaining chrome components stand out. MSRP is $27,999.
The second newbie is the Chief Bomber, a one-year-limited edition model inspired by the aircraft of WWII. The Bomber is available in Military Green and Silver Smoke finishes and sports pin-up girl tank artwork. The leather used on the seat and saddlebags are reminiscent of the feel and color of an old bomber jacket. MSRP is $30,999.
I had not ridden in southern Missouri in quite sometime so when the opportunity arose to attend the Motorcycle Sport Touring Association’s Bull Shoals Rally, I knew I wanted to attend. On a clear Friday morning I was headed up LA 15 to Farmerville and eventually to El Dorado, AR before the sun came up.
The road to Arkansas is pretty uneventful and is one I have traveled a number of times. Heading up 167 into Sheridan, I turned northwest on AR 35 heading toward Benton. I like this road that eventually takes me to AR 9 while circumventing Little Rock. I had a milestone on this trip as this was the first time I successfully found AR 5 in Benton without getting all turned around and having to backtrack to find where I was supposed to be. I headed west on AR 5 (though the signs will tell you that you are heading south to Hot Springs) until I intersected AR 9 where I turned north. 9 is a pretty ride through some rolling hills and it is a road I have enjoyed several times before. 9 intersects US 65 at Choctaw and I turned north on this major thoroughfare to Marshall where a very motorcycle highway 27 takes one to Harriet, AR where an even more motorcycle highway 14 awaits. I headed up 14 to Yellville, and continued north until I turned toward Missouri and Bull Shoals Reservoir on US 125. While this may not have been the shortest route to my final destination of Isabella, MO it was the route where one crosses the reservoir via a free ferry. I was the only passenger going north but there were several cars and a couple of motorcycles waiting to come south as the ferry approached the northern landing.
The rolling hills of the Ozarks do not stop as you cross into Missouri. 125 continues north but on this day I turned east on US 160 to find the rally site at the Theodosia Marina Resort and my cabin which was a mile further down the road.
Bull Shoals Reservoir was completed in 1952, the same year as the cabin I stayed in and I think the mattress in my cabin was the original as well. While not the fanciest of accommodations it certainly wasn’t the worst I had ever stayed in and after Friday night’s weenie roast, sleep was not a long time coming after a very enjoyable 400 mile trip.
The Bull Shoals Rally organizers, Ed and Linda Young of the MSTA provided very nice packets to the 100 attendees. Routes were highlighted with suggestions for various rides. Not wanting to spend the entire Saturday in the saddle (I figured I was due a nap at some point!) I chose a route that would provide me with about 200 miles worth of Missouri countryside. I started west on 160 until I met MO 76 at Kissee Mills. I turned north to Ava, MO where I turned west on MO 14 to Sparta. At Sparta, I turned south on 125 (yes, the same 125 that I crossed the ferry on) and let me tell you this is a ride any motorcyclist would enjoy. It has plenty of ups and downs lefts and rights and very little traffic. There are no problems with road conditions except where some new asphalting is being done. 125 crosses 76 on the way back to 160 where I turned east heading back to my home base of Isabella.
On Sunday morning, there were still plenty of good roads to be ridden, so I headed east on 160 until I turned south on US 5 heading toward Mountain Home. In Mountain Home, I had a very enjoyable large breakfast (this would benefit me later) then headed south out of town on 201 to AR 341 – known to many local riders as the “Arkansas Gap.” 341 is 25 miles of twisties and many motorcyclists have been bitten here by either the road (on the day before a rider was air lifted out via helicopter) or the local authorities that lay in wait for unsuspecting sport bike fanatics. I didn’t have to worry about either. Two miles into 341 I had to stop and put the rain gear on. As I headed south I dealt with the curves and the rain but couldn’t complain. I had the road to myself at 7:30 on Sunday morning. 341 comes to an end intersecting our old friend 14 where I turned west until intersecting AR 263 near Big Flat. Now, as soon as you turn on 263 you are met by a “Steep and Dangerous Curves” sign. I had never been on 263 before and road the 30 or so miles in the rain until I turned south on 9 which took me to highway 16 at Shirley, AR. From Shirley to Clinton was nine miles where I hooked back up with US 65 on into Conway and eventually I-40 and Little Rock.
I had originally planned to ride a different route home but because of the weather I thought it best to ride the route I was most familiar with. I eventually pulled into my drive about 2:15 that afternoon after riding in rain for all but about 45 miles of the 390 mile ride. Still, there were no complaints about the trip (well, maybe – I seem to have some flea bites on my ankles that I can’t help but wonder if I picked up in my 57 year old cabin!) I rode some roads I had been on before and some that were new, and all that I hope I will ride again in the not-too-distant future. Arkansas/Missouri are not that far away and lend themselves easily to a great three-day weekend trip.
The story really starts about 2 weeks before the trip. Friends we have met over the last 3 years over the internet and have ridden with to unrallies and Bib (g) Bend events keep impressing upon us to come to Torrey, Utah. A group of friends gather together twice a year in Torrey to ride the streets and the dirt and to just fellowship. We had decided that it was too far and we just didn’t have enough time and David had just gotten a new Yamaha WR250R that he wanted to spend some time on, so we pushed the trip off until next year.
On September 18th our friends from San Antonio called and asked what it would take to get us to Torrey?For every reason we had not to go they had a better one convincing us to come. On September 19th we started a search for a trailer of our own knowing full well this may not be our only trip to Torrey, we found a good deal on an enclosed trailer and Saturday was spent rigging it for the upcoming trip. On September 22nd, we, our bikes and our trailer headed off to Gallup, New Mexico, finally arriving at about 10 p.m. Before we shut it down for the night I made note of what the GPS was doing. This is important for the next morning departure.
If you've been thinking of purchasing a new Beemer for your Halloween treat to yourself, BMW might be willing to sweeten the deal. In October, BMW is offering $2,000 discounts on the 2009 R1200GS, the
R1200GS Adventure, the K1300GT and K1300S. Check out the 0.9% to 4.9% financing or free accessories/apparel on the G450X , G650Xcountry, G650 GS, F800ST, R1200GS, R1200GS Adventure, K1300S, and K1300GT. Truly, something for everyone.
To get more details on the goodies being used to entice buyers to make the move, go to: http://www.bmwmotorcycles.com/us/en/index.html
The trails take you through carnivorous areas with picturesque names: Engineer Pass, Cinnamon Pass, Poughkeepsie Gulch, Animas Forks and Capitol City. It was somewhere in these mountains that Alferd Packer, a prospector and guide, decided that the five men traveling with him in the winter of 1874 would taste mighty good in a stew. Though "emergency cannibalism" was all the rage in the West at the time, Packer was eventually arrested and convicted. The sentencing judge allegedly pronounced Packer a "voracious, man-eating sonafabitch" that he would "sentence to hell" if the law allowed it. As it was, Packer served only 18 years for his crimes.
Alferd Packer, who bears a striking resemblance to Charles Manson
The story of Alferd Packer seems incongruous in such an area of beauty. The mountains are filled with creeks, waterfalls, ghost towns and long, sweeping vistas. But it is an appropriate reminder that the mountains...or your prospector guide...may kill you.
Though the 'official' Alpine Loop is 65 miles long, hundreds of miles of forest roads, jeep and 4x4 trails intersect and are poorly marked, taking you down deadends to places difficult to depart. Steve and I decided to join the Loop in Lake City, Colo., a town of 325 souls just north of the frighteningly steep Slumgullion Pass. Lake City has a long history but it seems to exist now to service the many intent on an Alpine Loop excursion. On a summer weekend (the Alpine Loop season is short, sometimes just over two months), parts of the Loop start to look like Main Street, with people lined up single-file in jeeps, ATVs and 4-wheel drive trucks. Because vehicles with 4-wheels can cruise at 1-mph over craggy, boulder-strewn patches, it is best for bikers not to be behind them. However, getting around an obstacle on a 7-foot-wide trail where one side is a rock face and the other is a 1,000 foot plunge to the mountainside below can be entertaining, in a bad sort of way.
Different curves on Engineer Pass
Like many life adventures, the Alpine Loop starts out deceptively easy. The first nine miles out of Lake City is on County Road 20, a beautiful dirt road with easy grades, no rocks and plentiful public bathrooms.
At the remnants of the old mining town called Capitol City is the directional sign that sealed our fate for the day.
From this point on, the lovely County Road 20 begins a rather rapid deterioration to areas of both small and large loose rock along narrow trails and switchbacks, some with intimidating dropoffs. I was very happy at this point to be on a 300-lb BMW G450X instead of the much heavier R1200GS. Though the GS could have easily handled these trails, the extra weight would have been extremely challenging and I cringe to think about righting the bike if I went down. After getting an obligatory picture at the Engineer Pass crossing and watching Steve's bike BLOW OVER because of 50-mph winds (the jeepster boys just stood and watched while Steve struggled to right his bike. I guess they didn't want to interrupt his "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Cursing.")
From there we took random trails to Animas Forks, a fabulous century-old mining ghost town. I don't know how we ended up there as I COULD NOT TEAR MY EYES OFF THE TRAIL and had long stopped looking at maps for fear of plunging off the mountain and dying. The GPS Steve had borrowed kept showing him where we were which didn't matter in the least because we just needed to know where we were going.
Animas Forks is a particularly impressive place. Because of the low humidity and lack of rot, all the old wooden structures still stand, including a 3-story Victorian home with a large bay window built in 1875 by Tom Walsh, then-owner of the Hope Diamond and founder of the local Camp Bird mine. At Animas Forks, we got our bearings and finished our days' trailriding adventure in Silverton, Colo., home of the famous Durango-Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad. If you ever have the chance, take the train. It will allow you to sit back and enjoy the scenery instead of constantly worrying about faceplanting into it. It was in Silverton we met the three 30-ish dirt bike guys who told us about their friend careening off the side of the mountain and having to scramble for dear life earlier that morning. Nothing like a side order of cold reality with your burger.
The Durango-Silverton Narrow Gauge. Great fun and no falling.
After our late lunch in Silverton, we decided to take pavement back to Lake City, yet ANOTHER mistake. Argh. Is it possible that the highways that run through Ouray (aka: "Little Switzerland of Colorado") and Gunnison could be even scarier that the trails? Yes, it is, people, yes it is.
Several hours later, we were back in Lake City, determined to search for trails that would offer the beauty and the fun without so much physical danger. It was the decision that would lead us to Creede, our next mistake.
Creede is a gritty, working-class sort of a town, all snugged up in some big craggy rocks. It sits at 8852 feet and has been called the 'silver mining town that would not die.' In fact, there's still a lot of silver in them thar hills, but the price is too low to make extracting it worthwhile. The last mine shut in 1985 leaving the area to eke out a living on government jobs and tourism. Creede is one of those towns where people go to dance to their own drummer or to flat be left alone.
One of the locals, fired up about somethin'
I figured the folks at the local ranger station would surely be able to fill us in on easier local trails and they were quite informative. Their information was WRONG, but they gave quite a lot of it, cheerfully. After purchasing close to $50 worth of maps, the nice retired couple at the desk proceeded to draw highlights all over the map showing the lovely scenic local trails.
It was not until the trip home I saw what they had actually drawn, and then it all made sense.
They told us to take Bachelor Loop, a truly enjoyable forest service road to the trailhead for Rat Creek and from there, they sketched out a series of 'we did them in a jeep last week' roads they promised would be JUST FINE on a motorcycle. These people had quite obviously never been on a bike of any kind. I tend to believe they had never been on these trails, either. There are worse things I could say about them but I already have. Repeatedly.
There are two types of rock you encounter in this part of Colorado, scree and talus. Though the words are used interchangeably, scree is usually the loose rock and gravel smaller than the size of your fist. Talus is usually the larger loose stuff. Boulders are still boulders and all was mixed in with ruts, ravines, pitch, slope and rapidly narrowing options.
The easy section of the trail.
The first part of the trail was rocky single-track that was actually quite fun. I tumbled once while trying to negotiate a creek, boulders and switchback thrown into one 10-foot area, but occasional dirtbike plants are to be expected. It was just past here that we encountered our first "Are you KIDDING?!" moment. It was a narrow path up a steep, long grade covered with boulders and fist-and-larger-sized scree. We considered getting up this patch intact an accomplishment, and assumed this must be the worst of the trail. We proceeded upward, past the tree line and toward the clouds. The only problem with going up is coming down again, which we would soon experience first hand.
Liz, before the serious falling started.
It was here I made several discoveries that will serve me well. Never depend on non-riders to know what is and isn't difficult on a motorcycle. Never assume the trails will be so easy you won't need armor and leave it at the hotel where it will do you no good. Never assume trails will be marked correctly or at all, for that matter. Never assume your GPS has any more idea of where you are than you do. (We did a lot of looking at the sun. That never lies.) Never turn down a second scoop of ice cream at Freemon's General Store outside Creede, because if you take the advice of the couple at the local ranger station, that scoop could be your last. Savor it.
More Interesting Colorado Scenery
This is a section of a trail on the Loop called "Poughkeepsie Gulch." Poughkeepsie is mean, as is a trail called Black Bear, where the switchbacks are so tight, tires dangle over thin air and jeeps have to back up to get around them.
Colorado is an open range state, which means in many places, livestock has no fencing. We ran into a cattle drive on one of our trails. The cattle won.
The Creede Volunteer Fire Department is built into the side of the mountain right outside downtown. Believe it or not!