Members of the California MSTA group

Around the MSTA – 3308

North Central Region

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Michigan

Bob Komjathy shared his ride of the Michigan Upper Peninsula with the rest of the Michigan squadron. He wanted to get most of the Upper Peninsula 14 corners checkpoints ticked off on his checklist. It was a long weekend ride, 53 hours total with 26 hours in the seat and 1524 planned miles. Weather looked good and Bob planned on riding during the daylight hours. Bob shared his trip on the Michigan Facebook page and fellow member Steve Saunders joined in. Steve met Bob at his home in Brighton, MI and they were off at 5:30pm on a Friday.

Map of Bob and Steve’s route
Map of Bob and Steve’s route

First stop for fuel was Pinconning, MI. After a quick fill up, it was on towards the Mackinac Bridge. They reached the bridge just as the sun was setting on Lake Michigan, a postcard image for sure. After the bridge it was time for the next fuel stop. They also took the opportunity to don some heated gear as the temps were dropping. They hit the road again and reached their stop for the night, Taquamenon Falls, about 10:30pm. They set up camp in the state park. Bob decided to stay up late and take advantage of the night skies (minus the light pollution of the big cities) in order to get some good photos of the night time sky and the Milky Way.

Up early the next day, they packed up and headed for the next destination, Whitefish Point. Stopped for a photo break and then it was on to Marquette with a stop for breakfast and gas in Paradise, MI. In Marquette there was a stop for more fuel and lunch at Lowry’s Pasties. Both Steve and Bob had one of the meat pies plus Steve bought an extra one for later. After Marquette the next stop was Copper Harbor and the start of US 41, one more checkpoint down. Headed west on 41 are 18 miles of some of the best roads in Michigan for turns and twists. Coming back from Copper Harbor was just as much fun on US 41. Then on towards the Porcupine Mountains where they took a break (and Steve had his second Pastie), then towards Ironwood. From Ironwood they headed into Wisconsin to Superior Falls and another checkpoint. From there they headed back into Michigan to Bewabic State Park along US 2 near Crystal Falls, WI for their night stop.

Falls along the road
Falls along the road

Sunday they were up bright and early again, hitting the road at 7 am, with the next destination being Menominee, MI. Their route took them in and out of Wisconsin, one of the highlights being the hydro-electric plant in Niagara, WI and the still water reflecting the granite walls of the river. They made it to Menominee for breakfast and another checkpoint. From there it was on to state road 35 and Garden, MI. They stopped at Fayette State Park to check out the mining ghost town. From there it was on to Mackinaw City, MI for the last checkpoint and then home to Brighton. They both made it home before dark with almost 1600 miles under them. A nice weekend’s ride!

Vince Ursini shared his experience of being a flagman for the first time at the MotoGP event in Indianapolis in August. He is a former racer and also a pit crew member for his son’s WERA racing team, but now has an appreciation for the administrative side of racing and the professionalism and dedication they have for getting it right for the racers.

The turn 16 crew
The turn 16 crew

He was assigned to turn 16 with a couple of veterans. One guy was a Formula V racer from Denver and the other a local Corvette enthusiast who volunteers a lot at the speedway. They took Vince  under their wing and showed him the ropes, going through all the flag meanings. One interesting thing was being part of the communications ring for the AMA HD XR1200 race. Listening to all the chatter on what is going on around the track, how each corner informs the tower of status, reporting incidents and track conditions, it was a lot to take in.

The first time Vince waved the yellow flag for a downed rider, he understood the importance as the rider was trying to shake the cobwebs out after his tumble. The weather for the weekend was cool and overcast, keeping things cool for the corner workers.

The day for a corner worker starts early and runs long. There is some down time between the races but once things get going you get pumped up. Even though there are long stretches between incidents, you stay on your toes with flag in hand watching the corner entries and exits for any mishaps. By Sunday, the turn 16 corner team was gelling well with non-verbal signals the norm. There were some significant crashes in turn 16 (turn 4 on the oval track). One secret, FIM regulations requires a certain number of track marshals and emergency crew. If there are not enough, the track has to hire people from local manpower agencies.

Vince reflected that at the end of the day, there was a huge feeling of accomplishment in knowing you were part of the safety for the competitors. Many handshakes and hugs among the various flagmen teams were shared, and then a fond farewell.

Indiana

News from Indiana is that Don Payne is the new state director for Indiana. Congrats Don!

Moose Parish shared the 25th edition of the River City Ride. The RCR rally is like the old HSTA rallies, low key and fun for everyone. The attendance was good, with 45 people showing up for the weekend. Southern Indiana/Northern Kentucky aren’t usually a destination for sport riders, but they have some of the best roads between the Smokies and the Mississippi. Chris and Diane Hancock laid out the route, covering Kentucky roads in the morning and Indiana roads after lunch. The lunch stop was in Tell City, IN at the “Patio”. They have a great buffet and the group was given a private room for dining. The Brat Burn on Friday night was handled by Paul Forbes, Mike Mance and Kevin Conley. Saturday night’s food was Margy Parish’s famous red sauce and spaghetti, with Helen Villemure handling the garlic bread.

South East Region

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Florida

Bob Shields shared an article on how to link up roads in various parts of central Florida to make up a nice twisty ride. Bob learned a long time ago that there are some pretty nice places to sport-tour in Florida; you just have to learn how to link up the roads. It’s not like the riding in the Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains where just about every road has a twist, sweep, drop or climb, but where’s the challenge in that? It just takes a little planning and navigation. Bob likes to divide up the Central riding area into four sections, South Central, West Central, Central-Central and North Central. All four areas have great places to chow down and some sweet roads to serve up for dessert. The difficulty is finding the right restaurant near the right roads that can accommodate the sophisticated MSTA palate along with the shallow wallets and unpredictable group size.

Map of the central Florida regions
Map of the central Florida regions

The South Central Riding Area is home for Bob as he lives in Polk (pronounced Poke) County, along with several other members. They are fortunate enough to be minutes from some of the squiggly stuff like the Mine Loop, the 60 Shuffle and the very fast sweepers of Sweet Baby Jesus. The South Central Area is home to some great RTE (Ride-to-Eat) locations like the Chop Shop in Lakeland, Jay Bee’s in Lake Wales, Main Street in Lake Placid and Solomon’s Castle in Ona. They are central enough for most of the Central riders and south enough for a strong showing from our South Florida groups as well.

Moving a little North is The Central-Central Riding Area. This area covers northern Polk County on up to the Tavares/Eustis/Mt. Dora area of Lake County. Some notable routes are the challenging twisties (really!) of Mama Cass to the Fussel Hussle, the swift sweepers of the Redwing a Ding Ding and the climbs and falls of the Central Mount Tom Range (Montverde to Sugarloaf Mountain to Mount Dora). MSTA’ers are often spotted dining among the cypress trees at the Lake Harris Hideaway in Tavares, kicking off their boots (no spurs allowed – it says so right at the door) at the Redwing in Groveland or soaking up the syrup (pancakes as big as your front wheel) at Pappy’s Grille in Winter Haven.

The West Central Riding Area doesn’t get visited as much as it should. It is a well-known area to the Tampa and Brooksville riders. It is a little closer to the coast than the other riding areas, a little further from our core central membership and a very long haul for anyone in the south or eastern parts of the state. But the West Central offers some of the best riding in the state with one route and one run that is deserving of your rubber. The route is Hwy 52 to Floral City and offers 51 miles of scenery, country roads, hills, sweepers, twisties and even a big sport bike hang out at the Hess station at Hwy-98 (Cortez Blvd and Spring Lake Hwy). At the end of this run is your choice of the world famous and bike friendly Shamrock Inn or the biker (emphasis on the “er”) friendly Sleepy Hollow on Gobbler Road. The other notable stretch of road is a nine-mile run just west of the West Central Riding Area that has been a tradition in the past as Bill Royal’s New Year’s Day MSTA ride location. It is the run up Ozello Trail to Pecks Old Port Cove Restaurant. This road has some beautiful salt water marsh scenery and enough twist and turns to keep the best rider entertained. The nice thing is that it is actually one way in and one way out, so it adds up to a little over 18 miles of smiles.

So consider this just a taste of the sport touring offerings in the Central riding area.

Bob also wanted to share the lessons learned in selecting a ride to eat location, useful for anyone planning a ride to eat.

Lesson 1: Restaurants need to be in, around, or near some sport-riding roads. The best places have rural roads, nice scenery, less traffic, curves, landmarks, or something of interest. People travel to lunches from many different directions, so you can’t always please everyone, but you can try.

Lesson 2: The restaurant needs to be big enough to handle anywhere from 10-20 riders all coming in at about the same time and it is preferred that it would have space where people can sit as a group or at least in the same vicinity. Big enough is more about space available then physical size.

Lesson 3: You really need to scout out the location. A place may sound great on the Internet, but all too often you find out that it just won’t work for one reason or another. If you can’t get there, you can send out an email and ask if anyone has been there, or if they would like to scout it for you.

West Region

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California

From California is a report on the Southern Sierra Rally by Jeff Smith. It’s the rall’s 6th year of riding the Southern Sierra’s and Kings Canyon National Park. Attendees were Glenn and Caroline, John Button, Les Katz, Bill Deviny, Tim Shevlin, Flip Morton and Jeff Smith.

Members of the California MSTA group
Members of the California MSTA group

Things kicked off in Porterville, CA on Friday Sept. 5th. It was a little warm at 104 degrees but the Best Western Porterville is always accommodating and more importantly, a good shower and good air conditioning.

Saturday morning things started out on a road called Yokohl Valley that had lots of elevation change and no signs of civilization for miles. Shortly after arriving at Kings Canyon National Park the group stopped for lunch and enjoyed the cool temperatures. In this area the temps are generally 20 degrees cooler at the higher elevations than down in the valley. The ride into the park was great, with smooth pavement, scenic and lots of turns. It’s a box canyon, so only one way in and one way out. Everyone tends to go their own way but meet back up at the end.

After riding the canyon, the group headed back down the hill. A stop at the Mountain Top Café was in order for a sip of Iced Tea and then preparing for the long, hot ride back to the hotel.

Scenic views from Kings Canyon NP
Scenic views from Kings Canyon NP

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