Rides

Just A 228 Mile Sunday Ride

That’s right we went on a 228 mile ride today.  No it wasn’t a trip, it was a Sunday ride.  It all started the other day when I asked Donna if she wanted to go have lunch at Turner’s Corner Café at the corner of US 129 and Georgia Highway 9 today.  So we got a late morning start and headed up.  Here it is July in Georgia and the forecast was for a high temperature of 85°F, low humidity (rare) and mostly sunny skies.  I played with the GPS software, Basecamp and created a route that would take us up using some local roads we hadn’t been on before and then transferred it to the GPS.  We headed up through Canton, Ballground and Dawsonville before using Georgia Highway 400 for a short time until it ended.  After we made our turn onto Georgia Highway 115 we were only supposed to be on it for a short time before making a left turn and cutting back diagonally on some nice crooked local roads.  But the GPS showed it was 12 miles until our next turn.  I saw what I thought was our turn go past.  For some reason the GPS decided that it wanted to route us up Highway 115 to US 129 which would take us straight to Turner’s Corner Café.  No big deal, we just wanted to have lunch on the river and watch the motorcycles.  Once we got to lunch I brought the GPS in with us and reloaded the route and previewed it.  Sure enough it showed the original route.  I don’t know why the GPS didn’t use the route as planned but this is the second time this has happened.  Both Basecamp and the GPS have the same maps installed.

This was also my first day riding with a new pair of Do-It-Yourself custom molded earplugs.  I got mine from Ear Plug Superstore.  I’ve tried them before but didn’t quite get them right.  This time however I took my time and didn’t second guess the instructions and they worked.  They are harder to get in your ear but have quite a good seal.  This may sound weird but they’re both quieter and noisier.  They’re quieter in that they “muffle” sound well and I needed to turn my intercom up a bit to hear the GPS and Donna.  But they’re noisier in that I think there’s more wind noise than my ETY plugs.  But then that may be a good thing.  I suffer from tinnitus (a ringing in your ears) and if it’s too quiet, the ringing can seem louder, will be irritating and could just make you uncomfortable.  But the new self moldable plugs gave me the “white noise” effect that my hearing aids also supply and my night-time sound machine.

I figured that after lunch we’d head back home as it was just over an hour and a half ride.  But while eating Donna asked “Where are we riding after this?”  So after lunch we backtracked down US 129 a few miles to Georgia Highway 75 Alt until we made our left (northerly) turn onto Georgia Highway 348, the Richard B. Russell Scenic Highway.  This curvy stretch of mountain road only runs between Highway 75 Alt and Georgia Highway 180 and isn’t very long.  There are numerous pull-offs to view the Appalachian Mountains.  It’s a very fun and curvy road but there weren’t many motorcycles on it today.  At the RBR’s end we made the turn on to Highway 180 for a very short distance before heading up and over Blood Mountain on US 129 and then headed for Dahlonega and home.

So we had a great Sunday ride of 228 miles.  Oh, and along the way today the Magic Carpet’s odometer reached and passed 82,000 miles.

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Pancakes On The Porch

Sean & Randy return with the jumper cables.  Don't they make a cute couple?

Sean & Randy return with the jumper cables. Don’t they make a cute couple?

Yesterday, members of my Blue Knights Chapter were going to meet for what’s called “Pancakes on the porch” at Rider’s Hill in Dahlonega, GA.  A group of us were scheduled to meet in Woodstock and ride up there.  We prepared to leave and one of the motorcycles, a 2002 Harley Davidson Electra Glide Ultra Classic wouldn’t start.  Randy was quick to begin getting the seat off and trying to diagnose his issue.  Sean and I decided a push start might be in order.  Let me tell you, pushing a full dresser touring bike and its driver is a chore!  The bike almost started but we ran out of hill.  So more tinkering was in order.  The lights would light but it seemed there just wasn’t enough juice to turn the starter.  Someone spied an auto parts store just down the street and Randy got on the back of Sean’s Victory Cross Country Tour and they returned from the store with a set of motorcycle jumper cables!  Now it got even more interesting.  Sean started getting tools out to access the battery on the Victory which was down low, in front of the engine, behind some body work.  The other motorcycle, a Harley Davidson Road King also required tools to remove the seat and then get to the battery.  Now on Randy’s Ultra Classic I had just watched him remove his seat and get to his battery without using a single tool.  So I moved the K1200LT, raised the seat (by releasing it with a knob in the side case) and there was my battery!  Just like the Ultra Classic.  Well no joy, it wouldn’t jump-start.  Then the jokes started.  “Hey Chris, use your smartphone and Google “Harley won’t start”.  There shouldn’t be too many hits!”  But Sean had Randy try to start the bike while he hit the starter with a pair of pliers.  It cranked right up!  A stuck solenoid on the starter seemed to be the issue.  So it was off to Rider’s Hill.

We got to the Hill and enjoyed the dinner plate sized pancakes with friends.  Randy’s Ultra Classic started up and he headed for home, not wanting to push his luck and to do some diagnostic work about his starter.  For many of us the ride to Rider’s Hill was the ride for the day.  Donna and I along with Sean and Christine on their Victory had already made plans to head to Camping World in Oakwood, GA to look at motorhomes and to have the hot dog and hamburger lunch they were offering.  It was a nice ride down there.  We had lunch and then looked in some really nasty used motorhomes!  I’m not kidding.  They could’ve at least cleaned them before offering them for sale.  But that aside, we then headed for home.  I heard from Donna, “You’re not going to put that jacket on are you?”  It was hot and I gave into her suggestion.  But now hindsight showed I was probably warmer WITHOUT the cloth, vented motorcycle jacket!  I pretty much expected that.  But the four of us did stop for ice cream on the way home so that made it a little better.

We pulled into the garage at the end of the day and noticed a few drops of liquid under my right foot peg.  Closer inspection showed it to brake fluid that was leaking.  So it looks like I’ve got a repair in my very near future.

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It’s Getting Close To Iron Butt Time

A while back I wrote that I was thinking of doing an Iron Butt ride with some friends, particularly the SaddleSore 1,000 which is 1,000 miles in 24 hours.  Life got in the way and some other plans had fallen through.  It may now be myself and one other friend who has done SaddleSore and Bunburner rides.

Following the advice of friends and the Iron Butt web site, I’ll be using the interstate highways.  The interstates afford the best option for miles travelled over time. So far I’ve pretty much got it narrowed down to two different routes that would qualify.

  • Home to Titusville, FL (round trip):  Much of this ride will be over the very familiar roads of Interstates 75, 475, 10, 295 and 95.  It’s a route I take regularly by both motorcycle and car to visit my Dad in the Daytona Beach area.  The stretch from Daytona Beach to Titusville would be the part less travelled.  Once in Titusville we may stop in at the American Police Hall of Fame & Museum to stretch our legs.  This route also has the advantage that we can stop and rest at my Dad’s house if we choose too.
  • Home to New Orleans, LA (round trip): This would be a route that I haven’t been on in many years.  Again, like Titusville it would be an all interstate route.  Taking this route would mean riding in two states that I haven’t ridden a motorcycle in yet; Mississippi and Louisiana.  I’d get to fill in those states on the map in the “About Us” page.  I know, big excitement.

As plans firm up and the date get’s closer, I’ll be posting it here.

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Riding “The Gauntlet”

My Blue Knights Chapter had scheduled one of its weekday “Hooky Rides” for today and had planned to ride “The Gauntlet” in northern Georgia.  Well, we had only three of us show up for breakfast and to ride.  The Gauntlet is a 133 mile loop showcasing some of north Georgia’s great motorcycling roads.  We began the loop at the intersection of US HWY 19 and US HWY 129 at Turner’s Corner (the bottom of the attached image below, above Dahlonega, and rode it counter-clockwise).  If you’re skilled enough, you can get some wear on the sides of your tires too on this ride.  Two of us today are former motor officers from the Atlanta Police Department and the third is just a flat-out good rider.  Part of this ride literally has North Carolina on one side of the road and Georgia on the other!  For some reason this ride takes all day to complete.  We could’ve easily ridden up to Deal’s Gap and ridden The Tail of the Dragon and come back in the time it took to ride this 133 mile loop.  We had a cloudless blue sky and started with temperatures in the mid 60’s F and reaching 88° F in Dahlonega when we finished.  It really is a fun route to ride.  I wore my new Tourmaster Air Tracker mesh pants and they were great on this warm day.  I also wore my River Road Laughlin jacket, from Motorcycle House, all day, opening the vents in the jacket as it warmed.  The jacket got warm sitting in some traffic in Dahlonega and again in Woodstock on the way home but cooled off as expected once I got moving again.  At the end of the day the Magic Carpet got parked in the garage with 81,473 miles on her odometer.

The Gauntlet is marked in red.

The Gauntlet is marked in red.

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We Rode To Myrtle Beach…..Sort Of

Today was the first Saturday this season for “Pancakes On The Porch” at Rider’s Hill in Dahlonega, GA.  These are not just pancakes, these are HUGE pancakes.  These pancakes are the size of a dinner plate!  Don’t ask me how they cook them without burning them and flip them without breaking them.  Whatever you do, don’t order two.

My Blue Knights Chapter rode up to Rider’s Hill from various locations to enjoy some of those pancakes with our friends as well as some members of Blue Knights Georgia IX who showed up too.  We had planned on a ride somewhere in the area after our hearty pancake breakfast.  As it turned out many of our members had “honey do lists” waiting for them back home or just wanted to head home.  Maybe they wanted to head home for a nap but I would’ve preferred napping in the rocking chairs on the porch to the symphony of motorcycle engines.  One member on his Gold Wing joined Donna and me for a short ride.  As Steve put it, “It’s too beautiful a day to not go for a ride.”

We headed north from Rider’s Hill and took Georgia HWY 60 past the “rock pile” and Two Wheels of Suches.  We made the right onto the stretch of Georgia HWY 180 which is named Wolf Pen Gap RD on the stretch between GA HWY 60 and US HWY 129 (the map image below DOES NOT do this road justice).  Once at HWY 129 we made the right and then headed up and over Blood Mountain and back for Rider’s Hill.  After a short break we headed for home.  Down in Dawsonville, they were having “Spring Fling Days” and we wanted to avoid any traffic from that (we got caught in road closures for a foot race on the way up), so after we left Dahlonega we took Georgia HWY 52.  While on HWY 52 we saw a sign for a street named Myrtle Beach so in a way, sort of, we rode to Myrtle Beach today.  We branched off on Georgia HWY 183 before making the turn on Georgia HWY 53 towards Jasper and then on for home.

There were a lot of BMW Motorcycle out on the road today as the BMW Motorcycle Club of Georgia was holding its annual Georgia Mountain Rally up in Hiawassee, Georgia.

The odometer on the Magic Carpet passed through 81,000 miles today and now sits in the garage plugged into the battery tender with an odometer that reads 81,163 miles.

Part of the parking lot at Rider's Hill this morning for "Pancakes on the Porch".

Part of the parking lot at Rider’s Hill this morning for “Pancakes on the Porch”.

 

Wolf Pen Gap RD between Georgia HWY 60 and US HWY 129.

Wolf Pen Gap RD between Georgia HWY 60 and US HWY 129.

 

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The Dogwoods Are Blooming So Let’s Ride

Yes we took a vacation 2 weeks ago on the motorcycle.  But Donna said she hadn’t been on a 100 mile or more day-ride in a long time.  The dogwood trees are in full bloom here so we decided to ride.  No, the two are not related in any way other than the dogwood trees are in bloom and we rode.  I was also trying out my new Tourmaster Tracker Air Pants (you can read the review on this link; wink, wink, nudge, nudge).

Donna had a store meeting this morning but was off the rest of the day.  I dropped her off in the car and headed back home.  Then when her meeting was over I headed back.  There she was on the curb so I pulled up and asked “Hey lady do you want to go for a motorcycle ride?”  She said she wanted the Italian hoagie sandwich for lunch at Turner’s Corner near Cleveland, GA and I wasn’t going to argue, nor did I want to.  We went and met Sean & Christine (and their Victory Cross Country Tour) and we were off.  It’s a destination and route we’ve taken numerous time before but it’s always fun.  We headed up towards Jasper, GA and then on to Marble Hill.  Before we reached Dawsonville we headed north on Steve Tate Highway (it’s really just a two lane road) until it dead ended at Georgia HWY 136 to HWY 183.  It was then literally just down the hill to HWY 52 which would take us to Dahlonega.  While on HWY 52 we came up behind a motor home towing a car.  They had South Dakota plates so they weren’t local.  Now normally we hate being behind a motor home on mountain roads but this guy could drive.  He was moving along well enough that we had no desire to pass him.  He seemed to not like when an SUV got in front of him on HWY 9.  We headed for Turner’s Corner.  Along the way approaching motorcyclists were patting their helmet warning of the police ahead.  It wasn’t long before we found the Sheriff’s car on the side of the road.  There was a motorcycle in front of us and the female passenger waved at him as they passed.  He stuck his arm out the window and waved back.  We know he was out there looking for scofflaws on the curvy road but he was also waving at passing motorcycles too.  After lunch we rode up US129 on Blood Mountain and it’s combination of sweeping and sharp curves.  After Blood Mountain it was a short trip over to The Richard B Russell Scenic Highway (GA HWY 348) and its nice curves going up and down the mountain.  On the way back down, heading south we noticed we were on fresh asphalt.  Sometimes motorcyclists are so easy to please!  The new asphalt was nice and smooth.  The tires gripped the curves like glue and we took those curves at a higher speed and even left some scrape marks in the new pavement.  Once we reached the bottom at HWY 75 Alt. Sean took the lead and took us on Adair Mill RD eventually bringing us out on US 19 where we headed up to Rider’s Hill for ice cream.  While sitting in the rocking chairs not one but two of the new BMW R Nine-T motorcycles pulled up.  The tall, bald-headed guy looked familiar but at the moment I couldn’t place him.  I went inside and noticed the owner of BMW Motorcycles of Atlanta in the shop.  He was with the bald-headed guy who I now recognized to be BMW factory rider Nate Kern.  The owner, Bob recognized me and we chatted for a moment.  They headed out and Nate got on one the new R Nine-Ts and Bob the owner got on his R 100 Dakar.  From there it was time to head for home.  The only bad part of the day was the yellow pollen that coats everything, including us, this time of year.

INSTAVENUE_1

The Magic Carpet amongst the dogwoods at Rider’s Hill in Dahlonega, GA.

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Three States And One State Three Times

We took a short vacation on the motorcycle that took us through three states and through one of the states three times.  We left Georgia for our first destination in South Carolina where we stayed for two days.  Then we left South Carolina going through Georgia to head for our next destination in Florida for a few days.  Then we finally left Florida to head back into Georgia.  This time the Magic Carpet was our transportation to our destinations.  Once we arrived there were no plans to ride anywhere.  The bike got us from to each point on the leg.  At least it’s more fun than a car!

On the first day we left home in Georgia for our first stop in Beaufort, SC in the Low Country.  About half our ride was along Interstate 20 East heading from the Atlanta, GA area to the Augusta, GA area.  The forecast called for a distinct chance of rain showers for that part of the route but we were very lucky to get just a few drops of rain on the windshield a couple of times.  It did look ominous for a while when the sky ahead turned dark and cars approaching on the other side of the highway all had their headlights on but somehow we dodged the rain.  The temperature stayed in the mid 50’s° (F) the entire day, forcing us to keep the liners in our jackets.  After lunch in Augusta it was just a short hop over the border into South Carolina to get off the highway in North Augusta, South Carolina.  We were now ready to head south-east on SC HWY 125 which is also known as Atomic RD.  You see, SC125 goes through part of the Savannah River Plant.  The Savannah River Plant is a nuclear plant but it’s purpose is not power generation but making things that go BOOM.  The stretch of SC 125 that meanders through part of the plant is a two lane stretch of about 25-30 miles through forest and has no intersections.  There are a few plant entrances but no intersections.  While we didn’t see any 8 foot tall grasshoppers we did see a few streams with warning signs that said “Caution: Stream Temperature May Change Rapidly”.  The fence lining the highway had the nice government “No Trespassing” signs.  There were plenty of signs telling us not to stop except for an emergency.  I found it amusing to see a sign about a historical marker a half mile ahead and sign under it commanding “No Stopping”.  After the plant it was time to head for US HWY 278 and some of the small rural towns of South Carolina.  It wasn’t long before Interstate 95 came into view but we were going to go under it and keep going.  As we got deeper in the Low Country we could notice small fields of water and marshes along the road.  Even while still a good distance inland, these marshes were controlled by the tides.  It was also starting to get very windy while the sky was clearing.  Live oaks with Spanish Moss began to form a canopy over the road.  It wasn’t long before we were in Beaufort and checking in at the Best Western Sea Island Inn on Bay ST.  Beaufort is a low country town very near the coast and is situated nearly equally from Charleston, SC as it is from Savannah, GA.  It is also the county seat for Beaufort County.  The town is loaded with ante-bellum homes built in the mid 1800’s.  If you want to buy one, a small one could start at $750,000.  We’ve learned that Beaufort was also an area were freed slaves were allowed to settle before the Civil War.  The freed slaves could own businesses, buy property and had their own bank and churches.  If you consider that this was South Carolina before the Civil War it was actually pretty amazing.  The Magic Carpet stayed parked and resting during our two-day stay.  Everything we wanted to do or see was right along Bay ST and a short walking distance.  The hotel has 5 of its rooms overlooking Bay ST.  Our door opened to a view through the trees of the Beaufort River and the downtown city marina.

After two days in Beaufort it was time to pack the motorcycle and head for our next destination in Port Orange, FL near Daytona Beach where we’d be visiting my Dad.  I had planned a route that would take us in a south-west direction on state highways before we reached Interstate 95 which we would be using this time.  Although we did get some nice scenery on the two lane highway in the low country and crossed the Broad River.  It was still quite windy too.  There were quite a few times that our heads got tossed around by wind and even began activating the VOX on the intercom.  We stopped for gas just north of Brunswick, GA and were also able to take the liners out of our jackets.  From there is was all interstate on I-95 into Florida, through Jacksonville and on into Daytona Beach and Port Orange.  On both our ride to Beaufort and to Florida it was nice that we could get a late start in the morning and be at our destinations in the mid afternoon.  It’s a good thing we didn’t plan on any sight-seeing or riding or riding while in Florida as one day was high winds and rain.  But we spent time with my Dad and helped him out with a few things.

After a few days in Florida it was time to head back north and in the direction of home.  Donna had once again decided that since we would be on the boring highway that she wanted to stop for the night somewhere in south Georgia and then finish the journey home the next day.  It also gave me the chance to take her on different route home that she hadn’t ridden on before.  I took us up to Ormond Beach where we then used FL HWY 40 to head west to the middle of the state and got on Interstate 75 near Ocala, FL.  FL HWY 40 is nice mostly 2 lane highway going through the Osceola National Forest.  Our normal trip home would be I-95 to I-295 to I-10 and then I-75 into Georgia and all the way home.  The trip on FL HWY 40 takes us up I-95 a very short distance and FL 40 to Ocala and then I-75 all the way home.  The mileage of the two routes are nearly identical and the route on FL 40 is about 15 minutes longer but worth every minute of it.  Somewhere north of Ocala the odometer on the Magic Carpet rolled over to 80,000 miles too!  Again we were dealing with wind strong enough to toss our heads and loud enough to activate the VOX on the intercom.  We headed up to our stop in Tifton, Georgia for the night.  Although we picked the hotel for its close proximity to being able to walk to any number of restaurants we decided to stay in the room and order pizza to be delivered!

Tifton is nearly the half way point for us.  So we could once again get a late start in the morning.  It also gave us a chance to let the sun warm the day up.  Another advantage of Donna’s idea is that it guarantees that we should miss rush hour traffic while going through or around Atlanta.  Her way also got us home at just after 1:30 in the afternoon.

The Magic Carpet now sits in the garage with more than 80,000 miles on her odometer and she’s ready to go out again!

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A Warm Ride In February

Today, a Sunday in February was forecast to be sunny and 70 degrees (F).  My friend Sean and I took advantage of it and went out to burn some gas in our motorcycles.  We each rode solo today, but normally have our wives sitting right behind us.  Since we didn’t meet until 12:30 pm my only request was that we stop somewhere along the way for lunch!  We met in Woodstock, GA and headed up through Canton, to US Highway 411 to Chatsworth which was our lunch stop.  After lunch we took Georgia HWY 2 & 52 (actually the same road) up and over Fort Mountain and past Fort Mountain State Park.  HWY 2/52 is a VERY curvy and nice road!  I can’t believe the portions of it that are posted with speed limits of 55 mph.  I didn’t notice any gravel on the road from the recent snows and that made the ride even more enjoyable.  But on the way back down, headed for Ellijay, there were a number of trees down right along the road and some even in part of the right side of the road. How would you like to be on a motorcycle or in a car and smack into one of those trees as you come out of a curve or are in the middle of the curve?  I noticed that parts of them had been cut and had fluorescent plastic ribbons tied to the protruding ends in an effort to make them more visible.  For the life of me I can’t figure out why GDOT just didn’t cut the trees up and clear the whole road.  I don’t know if the trees were downed by the recent snows or the severe thunderstorms we had earlier this week.  Because of changes in altitude on this ride our temperatures ranged from the low 70’s to the low 60’s and back to the 70’s.  I was quite content in a mesh jacket with the wind/rain liner in it (and a long-sleeved shirt underneath).  Once reaching Ellijay it was out to GA HWY 515 until it became I-575 to head for home.  It was a fun day to get out and ride on a warm winter’s day.  From driveway to driveway I put just over 160 on the odometer today.

The weather conditions as Sean & I prepared to leave from lunch.

The weather conditions as Sean & I prepared to leave from lunch.

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Let’s Ride To Hillbilly Drive!

We finally got out for a ride of about 125 miles today.  It may have been cloudy and about 60 degrees (F) but it was well worth it.  We even rode through a few very light rain showers.  We headed up to Dawsonville, Georgia on Georgia HWY 53 and took a local road right before getting to the town square.  That nice road was going to take us back out to GA HWY 183 but first we were going to go past a street named “Hillbilly Drive”!  That’s right a real street in Dawsonville named Hillbilly DR.  If you think I’m joking take a look at the map image below on the right and in the circled area.  I meant to stop and take a picture of the sign but forgot to do that.  From HWY 183 we took GA HWY 136 up and over Burnt Mountain and on into Talking Rock, GA.  It’s always a few degrees cooler up on Burnt Mountain and today was no different with a temperature difference of about 8 degrees as we reached the top.  We also noticed that there was quite a bit of last week’s snow still along the side of he road.  There was no snow on the roadway, just along the side.  However, in the road at times there was still a bit of the gravel that had been spread during the snow, but we were expecting that.  It was getting foggier as we approached the top of the mountain.  As we rode along we noticed the fog was actually forming on top of the snow!  The temperature rose and the snow disappeared as we approached Talking Rock for lunch at Bigun’s BBQ before heading back home.  A few more good rain showers should get rid of the gravel left on the mountain roads.

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First Day Of The Year, First Ride Of The Year

My Blue Knights Chapter usually holds out first meeting of the year on January 1st and members try to also ride to the meeting.  It’s just a cool tradition to ride on the first day of the year, if you can do so safely.  Although it was a short ride to lunch and a meeting (I had bangers and mash), it was still a ride nonetheless.  So today, on the first day of the new year we also got in our first ride of the new year!

First ride of the new year to the Olde Blind Dog Irish Pub.

First ride of the new year to the Olde Blind Dog Irish Pub.

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