On a gray and misty Saturday morning, three riders (BobK, Larry and Mike) met in Ball Ground for a trip across the incomparable Cherohala Skyway connecting Tellico Plains (far SE TN) with Robbinsville (far W NC).
The Cherohala was built to promote tourism in the area and the name combines the two national forests it passes through – the Cherokee and the Nantahala. The term “Skyway” applies because the road traverses the upper ridge lines of the southern Appalachians (elevation 3000’ – 5400’) and offers gorgeous vistas on both sides. Different than the Blue Ridge Parkway, the Skyway curves aren’t as tight and the road is paved wider and with numerous scenic turnouts, resulting in a better flowing, spectacular roadway perfect for motorcycles.
We left Ball Ground and took the fast lane to Blue Ridge, in rain gear mostly for the extra warmth it provided against the cooler-than-forecasted start of the day. After a coffee stop in Blue Ridge, we shed the rain pants, but still needed something over our summer mesh jackets. From there it was beautiful TN 68 to Tellico. We thoroughly enjoyed our trip across the Skyway and at the eastern end had a decision to make… backtrack the Skyway, then lunch in Tellico and home… or a quicker lunch in Robbinsville, then loop SW toward home. Food wins!
We found a lunch spot perfect for Bikers – The Hub – with BBQ and upscale American diner menu served on their large and casual covered patio. We’ll be back.
After lunch we finally felt the forecasted warmth and shed the extra gear. From Robbinsville, we traveled S to Topton (where the Nantahala Gorge begins), then took the fast lane down thru Andrews and Murphy to Blue Ridge, then 515 / 575 home to Cherokee. A 300 mile day of good riding and good company. What more can you ask for? Join us next time.
Is there a better time than fall for riding and camping in the north Georgia mountains? - No! Friday afternoon 5 riders (BobK, Dave, Larry, Mel, and Scott) sneaked away from work and met for an overnight ride to Suches. Beautiful sunny weather and a forecasted cool down awaited us. We traveled old favorite backroads like Grandview and 136 though the Burnt Mountain area and then Sunrise and Doublehead Gap around the west side of the forest to a well-deserved break at Van Zandt’s in Dial. Although we were seeing more clouds than sun, surely it wouldn’t rain on our camping parade?
At Dial, Dave, Larry and Mel split off to take forest service roads to Suches while BobK and Scott traveled “twisty 60” to our overnight destination, Two Wheels Only of Suches, or TWO. Since Bob and Scott made better time, they arrived first, picked a nice grassy area next to the creek and set up their tents – just before the skies opened up! Oh well, typical for Suches in the summer (elevation 3000’ – there’s a reason everything is so green). Dave/Larry/Mel were just exiting the forest when it started raining and made a mad dash to TWO’s porch and rockers to wait out the shower before setting up tents, staying (mostly) dry.
TWO had a nice crowd of riders from all surrounding states as well as a good contingent of locals. Steaks were great and the fellowship even better. The cool evening was perfect for a hot fire and cold beverages.
In the morning we enjoyed TWO’s hot breakfast, then broke camp. With no Saturday day-trippers joining us, we headed out early for an entirely traffic-free trip (!!) across Wolf Pen Gap toward Brasstown Bald. We rode the twisty spur up and back, but didn’t take in the overlook since prime leaf-peeping was still several weeks out. We also enjoyed light traffic to 75, then S to Helen where we “touristed it up” at King Ludgwig’s Biergarten for lunch and people watching – we weren’t disappointed, with either.
Here's are video clips from the ride
After lunch, Mel departed toward home in Athens while the rest of us partook the Richard Russell Scenic Highway northward, then 19 southward to a break at Neel’s Gap (on the AT) then on to Dahlonega. From there it was backroads to Dawson, then East Cherokee and home. Mileage was 235 for the two days and home by 3 PM. It was a great time and I doubt I can wait another year for another camp-n-ride opportunity. Join us next time.
Five of us took advantage of the first sunny day in a while to ride up to Two Wheels of Suches (aka TWO) for a day of their 2-Stroke and Vintage Weekend. Dan, Dave, Larry and Bob S. rode up from Hickory Flat via Clay Creek and Black Mountain while Mel rode in from Athens.
TWO's parking area was loaded with motorcycles of every description, many that were true classics of the seventies and eighties, others rare pristine models many of us have read about but never saw up close. Rather than try to describe bikes the turbocharged six cylinder Honda or the three cylinder 2-stroke Yamaha I'll let the videos tell the story.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w_gIT4SvG0w
Three of us (Dave, Richard and yours truly) met for this rescheduled September meeting. Many others sent their regrets as they had prior commitments
While we discussed many topics, asked and answered many questions of each other, the question of what to do with the canceled Cherohala Skyway Ride.dominated. Our conclusion was that the Skyway ride should be slotted for mid-October when the leaf colors are often at their height, in place of the Cloudland Ride currently scheduled. Take a look at this clip from a previous Cherohala ride: https://youtu.be/SwjMKlRRCqw?t=125
We adjourned the meeting a little early to get to other activities, including Dave's officiating at races up at Fort Mountain State Park.
Eight of us took advantage of a fine day to come over to Timothy for our monthly meeting, seven on bikes and one, Dan, in a classic Mustang convertible.
After a look at a vintage Baloney Shop video from LHM we moved on to see what Dave and Larry had going for them on Eclipse Day. The two of them narrated a video Dave had taken of their ride up to Buck Bald in southern Tennessee, a spot of anticipated "totality". It looked as if they had an enjoyable, and memorable experience and are probably looking forward to a repeat, in Texas, in seven years ;-)
September's ride to the Cherohala Skyway and the plotted route was discussed. https://www.plotaroute.com/route/484045 It was agreed that the 253 mile loop route as shown may need to be modified during the ride as conditions in the mountains dictate. Additional details will be available as the ride date, September 16th approaches.
As mentioned at our meeting last month, TWO is planning a "Vintage and 2-Stroke" weekend September 1-4. http://twowheelsofsuches.com/ A few riders indicated interest in going there on Saturday, September 2nd, to see what it is all about. An e-mail will go out in a few days to see who'd like to join in.
The group viewed a video of a newscast the featured "Harley Davidson's Death Wobble",a supposed defect in the larger Harleys that can result in total loss of control on the highway. To the group it looked more like a "tank slapper" that we've seen in race bikes and discussed before. As a result we took a look at various steering dampers that have been shown to mitigate "slappers" on sport bikes and some large dual sports. These are rarely seen on cruisers.
A handful of short videos were viewed in the meeting time left, some motorcycle related others not. One non motorcycle video that all in the room could relate to can be found at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IpBExGIiO2M
After the meeting Dennis, Larry, Mel and Bob S. rode over to Sylvia's at the top of Sugar Pike for hamburgers in the shade of an old, old tree. A pleasant spot.
Our next meeting will be on September 30th, same time, same place