Rides

We Didn’t Want To Waste Today’s Weather

Never pass up a great day to ride!

Today was forecast to be in the mid 60’s° F for temperatures with clear skies today.  Late in the morning we decided to go for a ride.  Then we were getting a later start than planned but I came up with an alternate plan.  We were going to head up to Talking Rock, GA using the quick route and then have lunch at Biguns BBQ.  After lunch was going to be a short ride and then head for home.  There wasn’t a cloud in the sky as we headed for Talking Rock.  But the weather wasn’t warming like we expected.  Sure we wore jackets but even after getting to Talking Rock just after 12:00 pm it was still 54° F not having warmed much since the overnight low of 48°.  Now here’s the rub.  We didn’t put the insulated liners in our jackets, counting on the sunshine to warm things up a bit better than it did.  That didn’t happen.  We really weren’t cold, it’s just that the liners would’ve made it quite comfortable.  After lunch though we headed across Burnt Mountain and towards Amicolola Falls State Park.  When we got to the turn though we didn’t head for the park because there’s also a big pumpkin patch that way and we figured it with this being the first brisk fall day the traffic near there would be horrible.  We made the right turn onto GA HWY 183 heading towards Dawsonville, towards it though and not to it.  We made the turn onto GA HWY 53 and it’s nice curves heading towards places like Marble Hill, Tate and Nelson, all in the general direction of Jasper, GA.  The road never even really warmed up enough to make the “tar snakes” and issue today where they almost feel like ice sometimes.  Today they were just small bumps in the road.  It was a great ride!  Even this far south the leaves are really starting change color and the windy day was blowing them out of the trees and onto the road.  This is what fall riding is all about in north Georgia.  The home weather station showed we got all the way up to 65° F today.  It wasn’t a long day in the saddle but at least we didn’t waste a real good riding day!

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A Cool Picture From This Week’s Ride

A few days ago I had posted that my friend Sean and I had ridden up on the Cherohala Skyway, had lunch in Robbinsville, NC and then rode The Tail Of The Dragon after lunch.  While we didn’t ride up to ride The Tail Of The Dragon, it was a spur of the moment decision; we literally decided to do it just because we were in the area.  The Tail Of The Dragon now has roadside photographers from at least FOUR different businesses out there and it was a weekday!  The one that is probably the most well known and has been there the longest is Killboy.  A few days after the ride I looked on the websites and found a photo I wanted to download from Killboy’s site.  So I was wondering if anyone wanted to see the underbelly of the Magic Carpet.  I mean everyone posts pictures of the side of their motorcycle but no one posts pictures of the bottom, especially as it’s going down the road.

Yes, that big German lady may be 12 years old now but she still likes to go out and dance.

Would you like to see the underbelly of my motorcycle?

Would you like to see the underbelly of my motorcycle?

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2 Men, 2 Motorcycles and 360 Miles

Yesterday was my friend Sean’s birthday.  His wife and my wife, Donna had dropped a hint this past weekend about him taking a birthday ride and me going along with him.  Well as Sean joked, on Monday night, “I got my hall pass.”  Since it was his birthday I told him it was up to him where to ride to and that I was just following along.  So we met Tuesday morning and headed out, me on the BMW K1200LT and Sean on his Victory Cross Country Tour.  First off this was unusual as the both of us nearly always ride with our wives.  It turns out that our main destination was to be the Cherohala Skyway that stretches from Tennessee into North Carolina.  We headed up from Holly Springs, GA until we got to Blue Ridge, GA where we then took GA Highway 5 into McCaysville, GA and Copper Hill, TN.  We enjoyed the twisting and winding roads through places like Ducktown and Turtletown before we took a short rest in Tellico Plains, TN at the Tennessee end of the Skyway.  The Cherohala Skyway is just an amazing road.  It’s a stretch of road over 40  miles long going from Tellico Plains, TN to Robbinsville, NC.  The road twists through the mountains and has altitudes ranging from 900 feet to 5,400 feet above see level.  On a clear day like it was yesterday it seems you can see forever through the openings in the trees and from the scenic overlooks.  Here it was the last day of September and there was already plenty of fall color in the trees and leaves blowing through the air.  We had already planned on having lunch at El Pacifico, a Mexican restaurant and quite possibly the only Mexican restaurant in Robbinsville.

Over lunch we discussed where to ride next.  One idea was to take U.S. Highway 129 back down to Murphy and Andrews, NC and then head back into Georgia through Brasstown before heading home.  Then Sean decided that since we were so close, literally minutes away, that we’d head up to Deal’s Gap and ride The Tail Of The Dragon.  Yes, the infamous Tail Of The Dragon and its 318 curves in 11 miles.  It’s a stretch of road that we’ve both ridden a number of times.  It can be a fun stretch of road to ride too.  We’re lucky enough that we live in an area where a trip to The Tail Of The Dragon and back home can easily be accomplished in a day.  But to be honest, the only reason we rode it on Tuesday was because we were right there.  Before we mounted back up in the parking lot of El Pacifico we experienced the only sad moment of the day.  Sean and Christine are selling their home and have a contract on it and will be moving at the end of October before settling for a while in Florida.  Sean looked up the road and said, “I guess it’ll be a while before I get to ride roads like these again.”  Now granted that we’ll both be up in the area the first weekend in November while leading a group trip to the Iron Horse Motorcycle Lodge and Campground but being in a group, while can be fun, is not as fun as just two men and two motorcycles.  We rode onto Deal’s Gap, passing up the store and its nearly empty parking lot and rode The Tail Of The Dragon.  We rode it only once through and headed for US HWY 411 which would take us back south and home to Georgia.  Along the way we commented at a traffic light that it would’ve been more fun to head back on The Dragon and head home on a more scenic route that would take just a little longer.

I’ve ridden both the Cherohala Skyway and The Tail Of The Dragon a few times.  But this is the first time that I have ridden the two of them back to back in the same day.  While The Tail Of The Dragon gets all the hype I can tell you that the Cherohala Skyway is definitely the better of the two rides.

When I got home that afternoon I had 360 more miles on my odometer from the location I had met Sean in the morning.  So, hence the title of “2 Men, 2 Motorcycles and 360 Miles”  You can’t have much more fun on a tank and half of gas!

Along the ride we had our picture taken by a roadside photographer on the Cherohala Skyway and by a number of them on The Tail Of The Dragon.  Once they all finish uploading their pictures I’ll write a post with some proofs and links to their sites and maybe even purchase a picture or two.  So look out for that post.

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A Ride To Eat (RTE)

The couple we’ll ride with, Sean & Christine were out-of-town and came back yesterday.  What’s the first thing Donna wanted to get together and do?  Well it was to go riding of course!  Sean & Christine are now in the home stretch of being full-time RV’ers with a contract on their house and had already planned to look at campers and motorhomes today.  We’re leaning in that direction ourselves so Donna came up with the idea for a short ride to lunch for some BBQ and then back towards home to look at campers.  We met later in the morning than normal since it was a lunch ride and we headed for Dawsonville and over Burnt Mountain for lunch in Talking Rock, GA at Biguns BBQ.  This is the same short lunch ride I had led some members of my Blue Knights Chapter on earlier in the week.  But it does amaze me of how much cooler it is on the top of that mountain and it’s not very high.  Today it was sunny and it was 8 degrees (F) cooler on the top of the mountain.  We headed on to Biguns before it got too crowded and it sure did get crowded today.  After lunch it was time to head down to Camping World to do some window shopping.  Donna and I even found a real nice Class C motorhome that we really liked.  It was to the point that we were looking at each other and scheming.  We were at the point that we decided that if we could right now, we’d buy it then buy a trailer for the Magic Carpet and just hit the road.  Maybe in another year or so though.

Today was also the first day that I finally got Donna to wear earplugs while riding too.  She finally gave in!  She had tried foam earplugs in the past but didn’t like them and admittedly they did loosen up and fall look like they were going to fall out.  It was time for me to replace my ETY plugs so I just ordered 2 pair this time.  She really liked them when she tried them on when they got here and then she wore them all day today and found them comfortable.

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A Hooky Ride With Friends

I’m in the Blue Knights Law Enforcement Motorcycle Club.  Today was a “Hooky Ride” that I had planned.  We started “Hooky Rides” a few years ago and they are weekday rides and the idea is to get back home before the school bus does.  The rides were also requested by members who don’t always have weekends off to ride.  I know this may come as a shock but law enforcement is not a Monday through Friday job where you work only during the day.  It was actually a good idea and sometimes we have quite a number of members show up.  It had been a while since we had a “Hooky Ride” so I scheduled one for today.  Other than myself, two other members showed up, B.C. and Steve.  We weren’t going to let that deter us and off we went for a short ride that I had planned out.  I took us on the Hillbilly Drive ride.  This ride was intentionally not long and took us on some local roads from Dawsonville, GA over to Talking Rock, GA to have lunch at Biguns Barbeque.  It was a simple route too, taking us out to GA HWY 183 before taking GA HWY 136 over Burnt Mountain and into Talking Rock.  What a great day to ride too!  When we left Dawsonville it was right at 70°F and a clear, cloudless sky.  Heading over the mountain it dropped to as low as 64ºF and B.C. later said that maybe he should’ve worn a jacket.  Once at lunch, two of B.C.’s friends came by, both retired police officers who had at one time ridden motorcycles for the Atlanta Police Department in their careers.  That meant that counting B.C. and me there were four retired Atlanta Officers who had been motor officers.  While it wasn’t an all day ride it was great day to ride and have lunch with friends!

The weather was great for riding today!

The weather was great for riding today!

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Finally, A Nice Long Ride Together

It seems like forever since Donna and I rode together.  Between her job, a stretch of either hot weather or rain and just life in general it seemed like ages since we rode.  In fact the last time we rode was when we went to Maggie Valley, NC back in July.  The other day Donna asked “What’s the weather like for Sunday?  I need a ride and I want to go to Turner’s Corner for lunch.”  We decided that there would be no errands, no chores and if anyone wanted us for anything that wasn’t a bona-fide emergency they’d just have to wait.  With an approaching cold front the forecast kept going back and forth with the forecast for rain.  It’s no fun riding in the rain and this ride was supposed to be fun. On Friday the forecast was improving and then on Saturday it was improving more (although we had already made our decision to ride).  I knew we would ride, no matter what the weather brought when Donna told me to pack her rain pants.

When we left in the morning I did just as requested and headed up to Turner’s Corner Café that sits on the corner of US HWY 19 and US HWY 129.  The Cafe’s true address is even 10 Turner’s Corner RD!  On the way up one of the first things we noticed was that there weren’t many motorcycles on the road with us as we got closer to the north Georgia mountains.  It must have been the gray clouds and temperatures in the upper 60’s in the morning!  Granted the clouds did look like they could rain on us and in fact they did, quite a few times, but never more than enough to just wet the windshield.  Some of the hill and mountain tops were shrouded in fog and clouds.  We took a pretty standard route for us to get to lunch, heading up I-575 until it became GA HWY 515 (to make up time) then GA HWY 53 to Dawsonville, GA HWY 9 on up to Dahlonega and then US HWY 19 to the restaurant.  Along the way near Marble Hill, Donna saw a baptism going on in a creek.  It is a nice curvy ride up there.  Now when I say a US Highway don’t think a multi-lane highway.  These are 2 lane roads in the mountains (Appalachian version of mountains) that are US Highways.  We had a great lunch out on the deck overlooking the river.  We nearly had the deck to ourselves!  Again, it must’ve been those gray skies that looked like rain.  There weren’t even many motorcycles heading up and down Blood Mountain.  I had planned us two rides for after lunch and both started and ended at Turner’s Corner.  I was in luck because Donna picked the long ride!

We headed south for a short distance towards Cleveland, GA but made the turn onto GA HWY 75 ALT (NOT interstate 75) and took it to its other end at GA HWY 17 just north of Helen.  We headed north on GA HWY 17 towards Hiawassee taking the nice twisting and curving part along the way.  We like to use more than just the center portion of the tires!  Once HWY 17 dead ended at GA HWY 76 in Hiawassee we made the right turn towards Clayton.  Before getting to Clayton though we turned right on GA HWY 197 for its twists and curves along Lake Burton before making our next right turn in Batesville onto GA HWY 356 passing through Unicoi State Park.  We ended back at GA HWY 17 just outside of Helen again before heading back past Turner’s Corner and heading back for home.  This whole ride today was all in Georgia but there’s a stretch along GA HWY 76 where you look into North Carolina.

We filled up with gas when we started in the morning and we put 248 miles on that tank of gas today with gas to spare!  Just before we got home the Magic Carpet’s odometer passed 84,000 miles.  But those aren’t the best things about today.  The best part was doing them with Donna sitting behind me on the motorcycle.

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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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