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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I Managed To Get A Short Ride

Winter finally loosened its grip a little bit today.  I had a Blue Knights meeting up in Canton, GA this afternoon.  Since it’s a motorcycle club I figured I should ride my motorcycle.  It wasn’t a long ride but it was enough to shake the cobwebs out a bit and to tease me a little.  Four of us met in Woodstock and rode up in a group.  After lunch and the meeting I took a solo ride back home on a little longer route going past Lake Allatoona, a bit curvier than I-575, the way we had ridden up.  On of our members is a retired U.S. Marshal and now has an actual saddle as his motorcycle seat!  Yes, he has a child’s pony saddle on his motorcycle as the seat!

Tomorrow is forecast to be 60 degrees (F) and partly cloudy (or is that mostly sunny?).  Maybe I can talk Donna into an afternoon ride.

"Doc", a retired U.S. Marshal, now has a saddle on his motorcycle.

“Doc”, a retired U.S. Marshal, now has a saddle on his motorcycle.

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This Winter Sucks

Welcome to winter in the south.  Yesterday it was 57 and sunny.

Welcome to winter in the south. Yesterday it was 57 and sunny.

Here in north Georgia we’re usually pretty lucky and can ride year round.  This winter the operative word is “usually”.  Is it warm and sunny all year?  No it sure isn’t.  But we sure have more than our fair share of sunny day in the 60′s for temperatures.  Even the 50′s isn’t bad at all.  This year has been different.  We’ve ridden the Magic Carpet only once so far in 2014 and that was a short ride to lunch on New Year’s Day.  On January 7th we reached a temperature of 4 degrees (F) which is very unusual for us.  Then just the other night we had our first overnight low temperature in about 10 nights that was above freezing.  Now the odd part is that a week ago it was 65 degrees (F) and just yesterday it was 57 degrees (F) and sunny.  But we were under a winter storm watch for today.  What?  Then for us the watch was downgraded to a winter weather advisory with a forecast of a possible dusting of snow or up to one half-inch of snow.  As I sit here it is 21 degrees (F) and snowing.  In fact it’s been snowing since about 10:45 am,it’s now 5:30 pm and should continue snowing for several more hours.  Our possible dusting of snow is up to two and a half inches in the street and more in yards and on decks.  The pendulum can swing wildly for winter weather in the south.  I just want it to be warm enough to ride, even if I need to use the heated grips and seat.

Now I know that a lot of people who live up north will say “We get that all the time.  Why don’t you have snow plows?”  Well that’s fine, you live up north where cold and snow are the norm.  I know, I’ve been to Chicago in winter.  But the truth is that we haven’t had any measurable snow here since 2011.  Is it really wise to spend all that money on snow plows to use it once every few years?  When you have a heat wave in the summer of say 85 degrees (F) do we make fun of you because we routinely approach 90 or better with 70% humidity?  Besides, have you ever heard anyone say “When I retire I’m going to move up north.”?

All I want is a few days where we can ride.

In the south this is called "a possible dusting of snow".  It's actually two and half inches of snow.

In the south this is called “a possible dusting of snow”. It’s actually two and half inches of snow.

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First Farkle Of The New Year?

Well maybe it’s not so much a farkle but more of a sticker. The local BMW Motorcycle dealer has begun selling some stickers after a few years absence. I could resist getting one. After all, the Magic Carpet is not a trailer queen!  I actually meant to put this in the New Years Day ride post but forgot.

If I have to explain, you wouldn't understand.

If I have to explain, you wouldn’t understand.

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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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Hey What’s The Weather Like?

The weather.  It’s an age old question.  Is it going to rain?  Is it going to be hot?  Is it going to be cold?

I’ve had an Acu-Rite Pro weather station since the summer.  It’s pretty good along with being fun.  For Christmas, Donna gave me something I’ve really been wanting; the internet bridge accessory for the weather station that allows us to remotely check conditions here at the house, receive alerts from the weather station and even share the weather station data on Weather Underground.

The little “weather widget” over on the right now displays the weather being reported by our home weather station and clicking on it will take you to the forecast page and current conditions for our weather station.  While many of the current conditions are from our station, some of the forecasting is from other sources.  You can also view our station on Weather Underground’s “beta” of their new dashboard.  The new dashboard doesn’t have all the details of the full page at current, but shows only the details being provided by our weather station.  And, since it’s a “beta”, not all of the features are working yet.  I may be playing around with the weather widget and changing it a bit since I’m now a Weather Underground “member” and have a few more options.  I’ll be able to have the temperature display in both F and C as well as the wind speed in both mph and kph.

I guess this is motorcycle related since the weather dictates how you’ll dress for a ride or weather or not you should ride.

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What Do Choosy Santas Ride?

Why a red BMW S1000RR of course!

It’s either been way too cold to ride or raining (nearly 4.5 inches of rain yesterday) or both to get much riding in.  But I thought we’d all enjoy this Christmas motorcycle video.

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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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Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!

We couldn’t order enough Christmas cards for everyone on the internet so some of you will have to settle for the electronic version of this year’s Christmas card.  Donna and I want to wish all of you a Merry Christmas and a Happy and Safe New Year.  May your rides in the coming year take you to new and fun places and even familiar ones, safely.  Enjoy the holiday season and the coming year!

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