Rides

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.

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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!

Categories: Daytona, Rides, Trips | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

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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Let’s Help Santa Deliver Some Toys!

Today was the BMW Motorcycle Club of Georgia’s annual Toy Ride to the Towns County Georgia Sheriff’s Office.  The club holds its Georgia Mountain Rally every spring in Hiawassee, GA which is located in Towns County.  The county and the area are extremely hospitable to the visiting motorcyclists and this one of the club’s ways of thanking the community.  The Sheriff’s Office is the dropping off location and distribution center  for toys that will be distributed throughout the county from several sources or from deputies who have found children or families in need of some help during Christmas.  Toys can be picked up at the sheriff’s office or even delivered.  In some cases toys are even left secretly by deputies.  The club asks motorcyclists to drop off unwrapped toys at the two Atlanta area BMW Motorcycle dealers.  Then on the day before the ride Blue Moon Cycle’s toys are brought to BMW Motorcycles of Atlanta, where the ride to deliver the toys leaves the next morning.  Any motorcycle is welcome to ride and help spread some holiday cheer.  This year we filled the sprinter van up!  There were even 5 bicycles loaded into the van.

This year, my friend Sean joined me on the ride on his Victory Cross Country Tour.  As I was riding to meet Sean for the ride to the dealer it was 40 degrees (F) and there were a few snow flurries floating around.  Perfect weather to help out Santa Claus!  We got to the dealer where the riders were treated to hot drinks and breakfast before we all helped load the van.  There were about 30 -35 motorcycles riding up this year.  As we headed up north the temperature was dropping and the sky was still overcast.  The heated grips and heated seat were put to use.  Every year we have a scheduled stop in Blue Ridge, GA.  In Blue Ridge we were greeted with snowflakes falling from the sky and a temperature of 34 degrees (F).  Again, perfect for Christmas!  I looked at my phone and was greeted with a weather advisory for freezing mist and freezing fog for the Blue Ridge area.  After our pit stop we were back on our way to Hiawassee to deliver the toys.  As we rode on, we could see snow at the higher elevations.  The sheriff and his staff were there to greet us with coffee, hot chocolate and Christmas cookies while we unloaded our toys to be added to what had already been collected.  I don’t know how anyone was able to get any work done at the Sheriff’s Office as the offices were all filled with donated toys.  Their goal is that no child in the county should not go without a Christmas toy.

After dropping off the toys our group started splitting up to head for lunch and home.  Sean and I took a ride up and over Blood Mountain on US HWY 129, looking at some snow-covered mountain tops.  On most of our ride to lunch the temperature had dropped to 31 degrees (F) and we could even see some of the freezing fog at the higher elevations above us and at Brasstown Bald, the highest point in Georgia.  We stopped in for a leisurely lunch at Turner’s Corner Café before continuing on for home.  Sean had made an observation today too.  As most motorcycles were BMWs (there was Sean’s Victory, a Triumph Tiger and Suzuki V-Strom also) he noticed that most riders were wearing armored, fabric riding gear and full faced helmets, including him, instead of jeans and leather jackets.  He also noted there wasn’t a “beanie” helmet in the bunch.

It was fun to help out Santa Claus.  I also tried out a feature on my phone that’s called “BlackBerry Storymaker” that can make a “story” from pictures or video and that attempt is right below here.

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Sean’s Tour Of North Georgia Chicken Farms

Today was a good day to get out to ride and see the fall colors one more time before the rest of the leaves fall of the trees.  Our friend Sean had planned today’s route so we’d be following him and his wife Christine on their Victory Cross Country Tour.  Today we’d be riding on the west side of I-575 and its farm lands before crossing over to the east side and the mountain roads.  Georgia HWY 108 (Fincher RD) south of Waleska, GA should really be renamed “Tar Snake Highway”.  The black caulking used to fill cracks, referred to as “tar snakes” were all over the place.  It almost seemed in some spots that there was more caulk than asphalt!  It was a good day to ride as there were few if any clouds and the temperatures warmed in the upper 60′s (F) along the way.  Sean planned a good route that did take us along some nice roads, through some nice farmland and then on some curvy mountain roads before we had lunch and headed for home.  But I swear that on one small road I heard banjo music playing!

Now about the title of this post.  It seems we rode past way more chicken ranches or farms than usual.  If you’re not familiar with chicken farms there’s only two words to describe them: THEY STINK.  No make that three words: THEY REALLY STINK.  They are putrid smelling places, even driving past them.  When people ask you to eat strange foods and tell you “It tastes like chicken.” it’s a whole lot better than telling you “It smells like chicken.”  Now in fairness to Sean, he probably had no idea we’d be riding past those kinds of farms.

But it was still a great day to ride!

The chicken farm route!

The chicken farm route!

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A Very Chilly Ride To The Iron Horse

This past weekend we rode with my Blue Knights Chapter up to the Iron Horse Motorcycle Lodge & Campground in Stecoah, NC.  It’s turned into an annual overnight ride up there on the last operating weekend of the lodge for the season.  Donna and I led our group up there again on a route that got us up there about 2:00 in the afternoon, right at check in time.

We met our group in Jasper on Saturday morning where it was a crisp 30 degrees (F) under a cloudless blue sky.  The group had opted for a combination of scenic roads and faster major roads.  In the past we took our time and arrived later in the afternoon.  Our route took us up Georgia HWY 515 to Young Harris where we took GA HWY 66 into North Carolina and eventually came out on US129 in Murphy, NC before heading for our lunch stop in Robbinsville, NC.  After lunch it was just a quick 20 minute ride to the Iron Horse.  Along the way I had built in a “pit stop” in Blairsville, GA and it was a good thing I did.  One of our members was having problems with her heated gloves and needed a quick repair.  The problem was a blown fuse, which she had extras of and one member even had a multi tester in his motorcycle!  The leaves on the way up are just about peaking in their colors.  When we arrived at the Iron Horse it had warmed into the mid 50′s for temperatures and actually felt nice.  It’s always fun to gather on the porch, have a few drinks and talk about the ride.  We also noticed that there were a few hearty souls who were tent camping!  We say hearty as the temperature had gone down to 25 degrees (F) the night before.  We were glad we were staying in cabin rooms with heat!  On Saturday’s the dinner choices at the lodge are either prime rib or salmon, so this is no rustic campground!  After dinner the group outside had formed a tight circle around the campfire so we opted to stay in the lodge to chat and have drinks.

Although the forecast was for 35 degrees (F) overnight it only got down to 40 but there had been an overnight shower.  We never noticed it as we were tucked in our bed in the cabin with the heat on.  It was time to head down for our “Biker’s Breakfast” before packing up and heading for home.  For the trip back I had planned for us to ride through the Nantahala Gorge along the Nantahala River, one of the venues for the 1996 Sumer Olympics.  From there it was down US 64 through western North Carolina and into Tennessee.  We rode through such exotic places as Copperhill and rode past McCaysville Drug and Gun Store in McCaysville, Georgia before coming back out on GA HWY 515 in Blue Ridge and heading south for home.

Even thought it was cold in the beginning of the first day, it was still a great weekend to ride and spend time with friends.  And after all, that’s what’s all about.

Categories: Rides, Trips | Tags: , , , , , | 4 Comments

Donna Wanted To Try Out The New Tire

That’s right, last week we got a new front tire on the Magic Carpet and Donna wanted to try it out today.  What a great day to do it!  There wasn’t a cloud in the sky!  We went on a short ride for lunch, riding though Canton, Ball Ground, Nelson, Tate, Marble Hill and stopping for lunch in Talking Rock.  The barbeque restaurant we stopped in was celebrating their 5th anniversary and was serving pink pig cupcakes!  The leaves are definitely getting their fall colors too.  On the way home after lunch we even stopped to look at campers.

 

A cloudless blue sky in north Georgia. That’s Jasper in front of the mountains on the horizon.

 

The pink pig cupcakes at the barbeque restaurant.

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Is It Hump Day Or Ride Day?

A while back, I helped a friend do the 12,000 mile service on his BMW K1200LT.  When I got home I found that I had his 14mm allen socket in with my tools.  I needed to get it to him.  What a great excuse to meet him and go for a ride!  And since it was Wednesday why not call it a Hump Day ride?

Mike and I met this morning at the Dunkin Donuts in Woodstock, GA to have a ride to lunch.  We rode under a cloudless, blue sky with temperatures in the mid sixties (F).  It did cool to the upper fifties (F) as we rode over Burnt Mountain on GA HWY 136 but it’s always cooler up there.  Here in northern Georgia we’re seeing the leaves beginning to change to brown and red and even yellow in some areas.  At times leaves were falling like they were snowflakes.  For lunch we stopped in at Bigun’s Barbeque in Talking Rock, GA before we headed for home.

Categories: Rides | Tags: , , | 3 Comments

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