Best of Both Worlds
And then there were two. Mother’s Day weekend plans conflicted with all but two lucky riders. Since Dave and Larry both ride bikes suitable for Forest Service roads, they modified the “Short Loop Ride” (full of mountain twisties around the Chattahoochee Natl Forest) to take advantage of as much FS as possible – hence the two “worlds”.
The two left Ball Ground at 8:30 in glorious summer weather - perfect temps and dry enough to ensure a rain-free day. To get to the Dial area near Blue Ridge, they enjoyed backroad favorites like Burnt Mountain, Sunrise, Roy Rd and Doublehead Gap. But instead of breaking at Van Zandt’s and continuing around the forest, they dove right in and headed up beautiful Noontootla Creek (FS 58) – voted the “prettiest FS in the land” by the only two that count! While resting on the bridge at Three Forks, Dave realized he’d crossed here once before on a backpacking trip on the AT. Next stop was the elusive Hickory Flatts Cemetery (yep, two ts) deep in the forest where they met a few hikers resting at the wonderful church shelter open to AT hikers. From there it was up to the top of the mountain (3200’), then E on FS 42, then N down Rock Creek (FS 33) and by the Fish Hatchery – another beautiful creekside ride. They popped out of the forest at Hwy 60 S of Blairsville to enjoy Twisty 60 down to Suches. In the northern stretches, the ride is beautiful fast sweepers, then as you head south, they gradually tighten up to 20 MPH curves outside of Suches.
Here are a few video clips from the ride
Lunch with fellow bikers at TWO was pleasant and filling, as always. It’s great to see the new owner is doing very well and should be here for years. After a relaxing break on the porch rockers, the two decided to take FS 42 from Suches west to Doublehead Gap (a 24 mile stretch) and visit the Springer Mtn trailhead – official start of the AT. From there it was a beautiful trip down Doublehead Gap (turns into Roy, turns into Big Creek) to Hwy 52 and Ellijay. Since they spent so much time in the forest, a fast trip home down 515 was the ticket.
It was a great day of riding and we wished you were there. Total mileage was 175 (with about 50 off road) and home at 4:45. As it so often works with the best rides, we had too much fun to stop and take pictures!
After three months of weather-canceled rides we finally got lucky. Eight of us took off this Saturday morning, in spite of threatening skies, to The Pocket, a park on the far side of Johns Mountain in Floyd County.
The main route west would be Ga 136 but we took a diagonal route, cross country, to see how Henderson Mountain and the Jerusalem Church area made it though the winter. All was well except for the clear cutting here and there, to make room for more subdivisions I suppose.
We picked up Ga 136 in Blaine and soon passed Carters Lake, Petersburg and Nickelsville hoping to stop in Resaca for a break. The truck stop in Resaca filled the bill, once we learned how to get in (and out).
Soon after our Resaca rest stop we made our way over to Sugar Valley to head up Pocket Road to cross Johns Mountain. We soon learned what the squiggles on the map foretold: a series of left and right up hill and downhill turns, a motorcyclist's delight, except when things go wrong. Al's bike got a little to close to the pavement on a downhill ninety degree right hand turn and some metal parts hit, taking him down. Happily, the damage to both bike and rider was not great and Al saddled up and finished the ride with the rest of us, albeit minus a windshield.
Art Al Dave Larry
Once down the western side of Johns Mountain it was only a short distance to The Pocket. Surprisingly, with the exception of a couple campers and two dogs swimming in the creek, we had the place to ourselves. I guess the storm warnings for late Saturday and Sunday kept folks away.
Soon a few of the riders started thinking of lunch so we started out for Adairsville where we hoped to have lunch at the Adairsville Inn. Once we finally passed a couple of cruisers that insisted, for miles, to ride 20-30 mph in the mostly no-passing Everett Springs Road, we got on Ga 140 and were soon in Adairsville having lunch. The Inn's food and service were fine, the only drawback was the noise level that made conversation with anyone, other than the person next to you, near impossible. This was not something inherent to the Inn but rather came from a very large group celebrating something at the other end of the dinning room.
After lunch our group split with some heading for Cartersville, others Waleska and four turning north at Pine Log, to ride over Johnson's Mountain and take Salocoa road back to Ball Ground.
Here's some VIDEO from the ride: https://youtu.be/iTwqAjuy58Q
It was a good ride, and it was great to have the group together on the road again.
The meeting opened by viewing a five minute lesson from "What They Didn't Teach You In Sunday School" that gave us interesting background knowledge about Pentecost. We'll be tapping this resource more often at future meetings.
The first order of business was setting a plan for a ride on April 14th. A possible route to The Pocket was discussed and we settled on a route that includes a ride over the mountain on Lake Marvin Road https://www.plotaroute.com/route/586752
After The Pocket the route heads south then east to Adairsville where we'll have lunch at the Adairsville Inn. After lunch we'll continue east picking up some favorite backroads back to the starting point in Ball Ground (around 150 miles r/t)
The remainder of the meeting included discussion about riding in rain, and a look at a videoed accident that resulted from the rider being distracted.
After the meeting five of us rode up to Jasper following a round-about scenic route, for lunch at 61 Main.
Mellish promised chilly temps and lots of sun. We got the chilly but the sun, not so much.
Four of us (Dave, Al, Richard and Bob s.) left Hickory Flat promptly at 9 am on our way to meet Mel in Cleveland at 10:30. We arrived within minutes of each other and after a pit stop and warm up at the local Chick-Fil-A we were soon passing through Clarkesville, and Hollywood on our way to Tallulah Gorge State Park where we hoped to witness the gorge and falls as it used to be before Georgia Power dammed the river in 1913.
On selected weekends in the Spring and Fall Georgia power releases a very large quantity of water from behind the dam into the gorge and the rush of water at 700 cfs gives viewers a chance to see why Tallulah Falls was a major tourist attraction in the 1800's.
When we turned on to Jane Hurt Yarn Drive (park entrance) it was immediately apparent that we were not the only folks interested in the day's release. Cars were parked on the shoulders well before the entrance and the parking lot was full and then some. Four of our bikes crammed into one spot while another put the side stand down between a rock and a bush.
Crowded yes, but worth the effort to get around to the numerous overlooks and the 300 plus stairs down to the suspension bridge that crosses the gorge at Hurricane Falls. Rather than trying to describe what we saw at these points, take a look at this video; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OdSKunrofDQ
After taking it all in we worked our way out of the park heading for the town of Tallulah Falls for lunch. Our first choice was a grill less than a mile away but on entering we were told the couldn't accommodate us as they were overextended serving the group they already had seated. Richard consulted his trusty smart phone and we headed on south on 441 again but never found the restaurant. A quick huddle and we decided we'd go to one we knew of, the Chick-Fil-A we visited in the morning. Luckily we found it, ate and relaxed for a good while reliving the day and solving the world's problems.
Leaving Cleveland we split up, with Mel heading toward Athens and the rest of us off to Dahlonega, then home before dark.
A good day riding, hiking and playing tourist. Round trip to/from Hickory Flat was around 190 miles.
Larry and Bob S. took advantage of some free time and a promising day to explore some less frequently used Forest Service roads in the Chattahoochee National Forest
They entered the forest off of Nimblewill Church Road on FS 28-1, went up past Camp Wahsega, then up the hill on FS 80 to its junction with FS-42 (aka Cooper Gap Rd.), north of Camp Merrill. It was an enjoyable ride but nothing new so far. Going west on 42, a ways past the cliffs, they got on FS-69 (Rock Creek Rd) to see what they could see.
FS 69's surface was on par with most better FS roads and allowed a quick ride all the way to the fish hatchery. They stopped there and inspected the many ponds full of different size and color trout (Brook, Brown, Rainbow??) Larry figured this open- to- the-sky area must attract eagles or other raptors. On their way back to the KLR and Ural a few "ranger" vehicles appeared. The two motorcyclists thought they were in for it, as they were in a "Do Not Enter" "Official Vehicles Only" area. Not so, the "rangers" were friendly, telling them them that not only raptors but bears and other hungry ones made it over or through the fences to feast on the fish. They also gave a verbal description of how to get to the swinging bridge over the Toccoa without running out to Ga 60. It sounded doable (if you could remember all the twist and turns).
Most sane people get to the bridge on the short ride off of Ga 60. Not them. They took an unmarked road (FS 248) over a small bridge then turned right onto another unmarked "road"(FS 333), forded a stream, and continued on to what they figured was likely near the south side of the bridge (they never saw the gate the rangers promised). They took a chance and hiked down the steep Benton McKay trail to the river and there was the bridge.
After lounging on the bridge for a while, enjoying the sun, they thought about lunch at VanZandts. Again the boring way to get there was to back track to FS 69 and head for Ga 60 and Dial road. But on a map they saw what they thought might be an extension of FS 333 that seamed to reach Doublehead Gap Road. Then an adventure began.
As they headed west the "road" looked less and less traveled, eventually leading to a washed out, down hill cut barely wide enough for the Ural.The narrow KLR made it down on the more-or-less stable right side of the cut, but the three wheel Ural had to ride part of the way down with the sidecar wheel on the higher right side and the bike wheels in the washed out left side ditch, not a good posture for a hack. Well about half way down the Ural tipped too far and tried to climb the cut's bank, stripping off, as Urals do, the low left muffler. Larry, seeing the situation, walked back up the hill and put his body weight on the side car step and the two made their way down, took out the tools, and re-attached the muffler.
Still not to Doublehead Gap they pushed along not knowing what to expect, but not wanting to turn back up that hill. Glory be, they eventually came to a graveled road that led eventually to Doublehead Gap Road and an easy ride to VanZandts
After a late lunch Bob talked Larry into one more exploration, a road the is temptingly named Old Dial Road. The lightly used road was paved in Dial but eventually turned to gravel as it skirted the Toccoa and made its swisty way north toward Morganton. About two thirds the way to Morganton it again was paved and soon was stop signed at Ga 60. As it was getting late in the day the two then took Ga 60 back to Dial Road and headed off to home.
It was a fine fine day in the outdoors with just enough adventure to keep one coming back again and again.