Camp-n-Ride ’18 – Awesome (and Surprising)
Friday afternoon the 15th, Mel, Dave and Larry played hooky and set off for an overnight adventure in the N Ga mountains. Though recent weather had been very wet, our forecast looked hopeful for a great trip. We enjoyed old favorites like Burnt Mountain, Sunrise Ridge and Doublehead Gap as we wound our way northward. After a well-earned break at the always-enjoyable Van Zandt’s in Dial, Mel decided to forego the “off-road” trip through the forest to our campsite in Suches. His brand new knees were beginning to feel the strain (and that turned out to be a good call).
Mel headed down twisty 60 to Suches and warmed up a porch rocker at our night’s destination, Two Wheels of Suches – the Southeast’s original motorcycle campground and lodge. Larry and Dave began their trek thru the forest and were quickly surprised. Immediately upon turning right onto FS 58 (Noontootla Creek), they encountered freshly-dumped, foot-thick, baseball-sized gravel – a real handful on their loaded bikes. Thankfully there weren’t too many rocky sections to negotiate, but… the road grader had been in heavy use and, combined with all the recent rain, created long stretches of soft, rutted mud to negotiate. By the time they made it to the top of the mountain they were pooped! Fortunately, the remaining trip across FS 42 and down Gaddistown Road and Hwy 60 were superb - and quick, since the afternoon popups were starting to pop.
As we (quickly) set up our tents at TWO, Richard surprised us and camped as well. Richard just barely got his tent up before the skies opened up! Oh well, porch-rocker-time for all! Dinner at the lodge was great (mmm, ribeyes). Our next surprise was some unusually noisy camp neighbors, but that was solved with the foam earplugs we all carry.
Saturday’s breakfast was hot and hearty, as always. With no other riders joining us, we were soon packed and on the road for our next surprise… zero traffic! We enjoyed Wolf Pen Gap (Ga’s Dragon’s Tail) all the way to 75 with nary a car in sight. Our trip down 75 to Helen was almost as clear. Since it was too early for lunch in Helen, we continued up the Richard Russell Scenic Hwy like we owned it, then down through Blood Mtn likewise. We couldn’t have asked for a better day in the mountains!
During lunch at Turner’s Corner General Store… surprise, the afternoon pop ups were ahead of schedule. Mel was able to skirt around them as he headed home in Athens, staying mostly dry. Larry and Dave, not so much. Their pop up exploded in size, causing them to stop and take cover, then play dodge ‘em the rest of the way home. They decided it was a worthwhile price to pay for such a great day’s riding some of the best motorcycling roads E of the Mississippi.
Total mileage was 250. Hope to see you on the next one.
Six of us got together this holiday weekend to discuss the activity calendar for June.
First on the agenda was a short listen to Dolly Parton's "Coat Of Many Colors" followed by a lesson from "What They Didn't Teach You in Sunday School" about Joseph's coat and his interaction with his eleven brothers.
We then reviewed the video from the May 10th ride and answered the two questions noted therein. This led to discussion about the camp/ride for June. The date was set at June 15-16. Those camping will leave Friday afternoon and those skipping camping but wanting to ride Saturday will meet the campers Saturday morning at TWO in Suches for a group ride on "local favorite roads". Larry is coordinating the trip and will send out additional details shortly. In the meantime mark the dates on your calendars.
The remainder of the meeting included discussion about riding "heavy motorcycles" on gravel roads. The discussion was supported by these two videos:
Remember, mark 6/15 and/or 6/16
Our next meeting will be on June 30, 2018
Five of us got together on Saturday to discus plans for future rides and discussion of some new techniques for familiar maintenance and riding situations.
The meeting kicked-off with a selection from LHM Men's Network, that depicted some of the ways the gospel spread in the early church, even to the Samaritans, a then despised people that accepted the Pentateuch but held alien beliefs as well.
On moving to a discussion of possible routes for a May 12th ride it soon became apparent that most of those present felt there would be very few riders interested in riding on Mother's Day weekend. However, since there may be riders not at the meeting that would see the 12th okay, a ride was scheduled (called the Short Loop) that includes stops at VanZandts and TWO (aka TWoS). Addition details will be posted as the ride date nears.
Toward the end of the meeting Larry joined the five and spoke of a plan he has for an overnight camp/ride to TWO on the 18th-19th (or 19th-20th) of May. He will post additional details soon to see if there is interest and which days would be preferable.
MC Garage supplied a few maintenance videos (brake bleeding, hydraulic vs cable clutch actuation, cable lubrication) but the greatest interest centered on How To Mount A Loaded Bike and Three Great Ways To Pick Up A Dropped Bike. Don't miss these as they both have new approaches.
The meeting ended a little late (11:15) but there was still time on the beautiful day for three of us to ride up to Silvia's for hamburgers under the trees. Hard to beat!
Our next meeting will be on May 26th. Attend and let your experiences be heard.
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.