All week long we watched the weather forecast for the Cloudland Canyon area for signs that the prediction for dawn-to-dusk thunder storms on Saturday would improve. It didn't. So the Friday before Saturday's ride out there, we decided to call in off and instead stick closer to home and manage around the afternoon storms called for here.
Thus the Consolation Ride (as in second place)
Our plan was to ride up to Dial in the early morning, assess the weather and if okay take the twisty sixty up to Suches and T.W.O and when there see the whereto next.
The ride up to Dial was enjoyable, as it usually is. We planned to take a rest stop at Van Zandt's Store, a remote, peaceful place where you could get a cup of coffee, sit on the porch on the rocker, and look over the fields and hills across the road. No more! When we arrived the parking area was filled with cars, trucks and raft carrying trailers. We shoe horned our bikes in to any available space and went inside: wall-to-wall folks waiting for breakfast or the restroom. Definitely not like it used to be. On the positive side the new owners may be able to keep the place open, Prior operators never seemed to last too long and the place was often locked up for extended periods.
Well the threatened thunderstorms never materialized. We had sunshine all day, and added a run over Wolf Pen Gap and down the Richard Russell to the route. Not a drop of rain fell on us.
Speaking of dropping, on the way home Bob's V-Strom,that has a family history of narcolepsy, succumbed to the heat and humidity and decided to lay down and rest under the Adair's Mill stop sign. Not unusual or a big deal, but it did manage to snap off the right peg. With a helping hand from the other riders (Dave, Mark, Garrett and Larry) a make-do peg was fashioned from a pillion peg and attached via bent wires and numerous zip ties. It did the trick and got us home.
While it was disappointing that we had to cancel the Cloudland Canyon ride the Consolation Ride turned out pretty good.
Dave, Steve, Dan and I (Bob S.)were about ready to take off to the north country when, much to our surprise two scooters pulled up next to us at the Chevron station in Ball Ground. Once their helmets were off we were delighted to see that Al and Richard had decided, at the last minute, to join us at least part way on the ride.
The first leg of the ride took us by back roads over to Jerusalem, Ludville and Hinton before heading to Blaine and an almost straight shot north on Round Top Road to Ellijay. We stopped at the Dairy Queen in south Ellijay for refreshments and a chance to discuss what stops we'd make in the mountains. We briefly discussed taking a "short cut" to Ga 52 by way of Tail Creek Church Road but decided against it as the surface of a few of the connecting back roads are gravel/stone and not really suitable for scooters. We'll save that route for another day.
After the DQ stop we continued north, through the square, and on to Ga 52 heading west toward Chatsworth. Our first stop was at the National Forest Service's Cohutta Overlook, a stone circular platform on the top of a hill that affords a great view of the Cohutta Wilderness area and the distant mountains. It was also a place were Dan could launch his drone and show us what it is capable of. Amazing!
Al and Richard had to head back home at this point while the rest of us went on to Fort Mountain State Park. At the park we hiked over to the overlook platform and enjoyed the 180 degree view and the breeze (it was getting warm).
Then it was down the mountain to Chatsworth and Edna's. Edna's is a meat and three restaurant that rarely disappoints. This day was no exception, the food was top notch.
After lunch we rode over to the Old Federal Road but, as it was getting late and some folks had to get home by 4 pm, we jumped back on US 411 north of Conistan. Further south we got on Johnson Mountain Road, then Salacoa and headed home.
We had good weather and a great time. My mileage home-to-home was 163 miles.
Photos and video will be added as they become available.
Eight riders (Dave, Steve, Bob (the younger), Melinda, Garrett, Tad, Mel and Rick),and one man with a camera (Bob the Elder) met at Honda's Riding School in Alpharetta early in the morning Saturday to add to their riding skills by spending the day on dirt bikes out on the trails set up by Honda as examples of what a rider could expect out in the boondocks.
The eight were split into two groups with each group having two instructors. Each group followed a riding agenda set out by the group's instructors that allowed the two groups to be on the trails without getting in each others way. As a result the videos could not capture all of the activity and in fact did miss some interesting "happenings". Never-the-less you'll find this video gives a good idea of what went on:
Five of us (Larry, Dave, Garrett, Joann, Bob S.) took off from Hardees in Canton at 8:30 heading for Alabama's De Soto Falls and Little River Canyon. Paul and his friend Bob joined us on the way.
The ride out through Waleska, Adairsville, Summerville and Mentone provided a few sprinkles, and numerous dark clouds, but we remained dry all morning. The stop at De Soto Falls, an extension of Alabama's DeSoto State Park, is always a delight and this day it did not disappoint. The west fork of the Little River topped the dam and rushed down the cascades to the 104' drop at the falls. This is especially impressive as you can approach very near the rushing water and hear the roar and feel the mist.
After all the photos were taken we headed south through the main section of DeSoto park to have lunch at Ralph's, a smallish country store and restaurant a short distance from Little River Falls and the canyon, and still the best place around for a great hamburger.
After lunch we rode past the river to the viewing deck that the National Park Service has constructed on the cliffs overlooking the Little River Falls. The sun was now out and a few hearty souls were sunning and swimming off the rocks a bit down river from the falls.
After a while we rode back over the river to pick up 176 the well paved road that follows the canyon rim and offers a number of canyon viewing pull-outs. After the last pull-out we had a choice of continuing on 176 or taking the less traveled and poorly maintained county 275 down to the canyon's mouth, We chose 275 with it's roller coaster whoops and steep downhill sections. One downhill at Johnnies Creek bridge always gets your heart pumping a bit faster.
Once out of the canyon we headed for a fuel stop in Centre Alabama and then rode the 80 miles home.
Old Favorites! April 8, 2017
Saturday the 8th, five riders (Tad, Dave, Garrett, Steve D, and Larry) met in Ball Ground for a leisurely ride through North Ga. Although very brisk at the start, the day warmed nicely and the blustery winds of the past week were mercifully absent.
l/r Steve D.,Dave, Larry, Tad, Garrett
We headed N toward Jasper and followed “old favorites” like Grandview, 136, Sunrise Ridge, and Doublehead Gap up to Dial, Ga for a well-deserved pit stop at Van Zandt’s Riverwalk Grill. The new owners have proven to be a real asset to this “old favorite” pit stop – and their enhanced menu might make a good lunch stop on a future ride. From there, it was a great, traffic-free ride down twisty 60 to Suches for lunch at TWO (the original motorcycle campground and lodge in the SE). We enjoyed the many bikes and camaraderie with fellow riders, even meeting a German rider spending some time in our area.
l/r Steve D., Dave, Garrett, Tad
After lunch we peeled off layers as the day was warming beautifully and enjoyed a (somewhat rare) traffic-free pass over Wolf Pen Gap, then traveled down the beautiful Richard Russell Scenic Parkway (not so traffic-free). From there it was a straight shot home along 115, Bannister, Matt Hwy/369.
Total mileage was about 200 and we were home around 4.
While we’d seen these roads and stops before, they really are our favorites and we encourage you to try them as well. Or join us and we’ll take you!