If you like twists, turns and sweeping curves you generally have to head for the mountains. But if the mountains are a little out of reach may I suggest a ride along a river road.
Some of the earliest highways in America started out as simply footpaths along a river or stream. As time progressed many were widened, paved and perhaps even straightened somewhat; but for the most part they continued to follow the meandering path of the original body of water.
Here in Louisiana there are lots of rivers, streams and bayous with great companion roads. These roads are usually lightly traveled and therefore are in pretty good shape; and since they have been abandoned by those in a hurry to get some place they make for a perfect motorcycle excursion. Another bonus is they have some great “out of the way” places along their route just waiting to be explored by the back roads traveler.
If you are looking for a journey, with no particular destination in mind, do what I like to do and take a ride along the Mississippi.

When it comes to the lower portion of the big muddy between Baton Rouge and New Orleans, there are actually more than a half dozen or so “river roads” to choose from on either side of the river.
Actually, staying as close to the river as possible can sometimes be a challenge and for the novice, may require a good map; but it can be done and it will reward you with some great vistas, wonderful twists and turns and dozens of incredible stops too.
A ride along the eastern side of the Mississippi will take you past farms, antebellum home, industry and some pretty good restaurants as well. Now you know how much I like to eat, so let’s talk about the food first.
Roberto’s River Road Restaurant near Sunshine is one of my favorites.


There is also the legendary Hymels near Convent, famous for their “Fish Bowl” size draft beers and fresh Louisiana seafood.
Houmas House – often referred to as the crown jewel of Louisiana’s river road – has a couple of great restaurants as well, plus touring the wonderfully preserved antebellum home and grounds is a great way to spend a couple of hours off the bike.
Another place you will want to pull off and visit when riding along the eastern side of the river is St. Michael the Archangel Catholic Church in Convent. This church is reminiscent of some of the older churches in Europe and features an incredible grotto behind the altar that you must see. Made of bagasse, a fibrous byproduct of sugar refining and oyster shells, the grotto is an incredible work of art. St. Michael Church also houses one of the oldest pipe organs in Louisiana.


If you like old churches, especially unusual ones, you may also want to journey south on the western side of the Mississippi River, near the community of Bayou Goula, where you will find what is billed as the world’s smallest church.
The eight foot by eight foot Madonna Chapel was built in the early 1900’s by a sugar farmer who successfully prayed to the Virgin Mary for the recovery of a son from a terrible illness.
Here is a link to a video I did a few years back for LA Rider:

There are a number of great old plantation homes on this side of the river as well. Just down from the Madonna Chapel is one of the largest in the south, Nottoway in White Castle.
Nottoway features a first class restaurant, a bed and breakfast with more than 40 overnight rooms. Plus there are tennis courts, a pool and cabana and a lot more. It is a perfect place to spend a few days relaxing and hanging out along “Old Man River.”
Yes, riding along the lower Mississippi River between Baton Rouge and New Orleans is a great place for a brief motorcycle ride or an extended journey.

Sometimes when I have an hour or so to kill I just jump on the bike and head for the river road. That is exactly what Bob did last Sunday. Check it out:

In the meantime, see you on the highway


T.W. Robinson

~ by larider on May 14, 2014.

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