As the seven of us (Garrett, Bobs K and S.,Larry, Mel, Steve D and Dave.) arrived at the Chevron, to start our ride to the Cherohala Skyway, we wondered if the gusty easterly winds in Georgia would be a problem in the mountains of North Carolina and Tennessee. They weren't.
Our route to the Skyway was the reverse of the usual, in that we rode east on US 74 and US 129 to Robbinsville and got on the Cherohala at its eastern end. The sun was bright, the sky deep blue and almost cloudless with no hint of growing thunderheads off in the distance. We couldn't have asked for better weather.
After climbing above the 4500 foot level we stopped at Hooper Bald to check out the restrooms (closed) and remember a prior visit and the search for the legendary Spanish inscriptions. From Hooper Bald we could see the road running into Santeetlah summit, our next stop. The elevation at Santeetlah is 5377 feet and is purported to be the high point on the Skyway. We took the obligatory photos and headed down to the paved Forest Road out to Bald River Falls.The falls were brilliant in the sunlight, with the water crystal clear. Kayaks were on the river and the rocks mid-stream carried a lot of fisherman, trout fishing I presume.
By this time it was well past noon and everyone was ready for lunch. We headed for Tellico Plains and Kats on the river. We occupied a table outside which was a delight with the possible exception of the window rattling "life savers" that past occasionally.
After lunch and refueling at the local Exxon we got on TN 68 headed for Georgia. This is normally an enjoyable motorcycle road with little traffic. This day too, but it also presented a "teachable moment" about traveling too close (our rule of thumb is to leave at least 2 seconds space). Luckily, the car in front of our lead motorcycle had left about that much space behind another vehicle trailering a boat. Without much warning the boat and motor flew off the trailer and covered the southbound lane. We all had time to stop and figure out a safe way around. However it didn't take much imagination to picture what could have happened if we had been following too closely.
Once in Georgia we headed down 515, stopping only in a designated road side "view point" (no view) to say adios, as we soon would take different ways home.
Here are some highlights https://youtu.be/p6Ad1SzFrkw
All agreed a great ride. Chevron to Chevron about 270 miles and eight hours, all stops included.
The weather forecast for this Saturday was all over the place during the week before we were to take off to the west. By Saturday it called for rain starting around 3 pm. As a result we moved the start time up an hour to 8:30 and were able to keep dry out and back.
Nine of us (both Steves, Dan, Dennis and his neighbor Mark, Tad, Garret, Larry and yours truly) gathered at Hardees in Canton. Once everyone arrived we got on SR 140 headed west toward Armuchee. Just short of Armuchee we turned on to what starts out as Floyd Springs Road, heading north, on the east side of Johns Mountain. This is an interesting road with many tight sections bordered by Johns Creek. The creek was flowing briskly and there were signs of recent flooding. This was very evident when we turned into the "Pocket". We often stop here to stretch our legs on the short trails and bridges in the vicinity. Not this time; the "Pocket" was zipped shut--closed. A peek through the woods showed a lot of debris scattered around and sandy mud deposits throughout. It will be a while before it can return to its pre-flood self.
From the Pocket area he again headed north and picked up SR 136 heading into Villanow, a Civil War era cross-road town, that boasts the longest continually operating General Store in the state. It was closed; go figure.
We arrived soon in LaFayette for an early lunch at Queen City Bistro, a newish restaurant that occupies what was once a Ford dealership, circa Model A days. After lunch and a visit with the Bistro's owners we headed out of town on SR 193 and picked up SR 136 to take us over to the west side of Pigeon Mountain. Once up and down the pass we turned south on SR 157 headed for the Menlo-Summerville area. For the most part this road was empty except for a few bicyclists, a barking dog and a game- playing SUV. Whomever surveyed the roadbed preferred straight lines paving over whatever ups and downs that fell in the path. The only inhibitor to reckless speeding was the wind that seemed to always be from one side or the other blowing bikes and riders around a bit.
The ride from Menlo to Summerville to Adairsville saw a pick up in traffic but nothing like the abundance of cars nearer home.
Here's a Video of the ride https://youtu.be/Ly6hB4TZi74
All in all a great ride of about 200 miles and good fellowship.
Two of us, Bob S. and Steve D. took to the backroads on this crisp (48 F) morning to take in the scenery in a four county area near home.
While in Cherokee county we rode Long Rd., lower Bethany, Soap Creek and Damascus before heading up Henderson Mountain in Pickens county. Then Jerusalem and Bryant brought us to the "old timey" village of Ludville, a short distance from the Gordon county line and Fairmount where we pit stopped for coffee plus.
By this time the sun had done its job and temperatures were well into the 50's. Off came the heated gear and heavy clothing. Heading south out of Fairmount we turned onto Irwin Mill Rd. and worked our way along the stream and up to Salacoa Rd. at the top of Johnson Mountain in Bartow county. The ride down the mountain afforded great views of the valley as the foliage was down and the area making a comeback from the tornado devastation was still very open.
Johnson Mt. road took us through the Falling Springs ranch country and out to US 411. Heading south once again we blew past the intended turn onto Knucklesville road, but we substituted an eastward jog on SR 140 to bring us to that always nice East Valley area.
Our lunch stop at Doug's Place in Emerson required us to pass through Cartersville on US 41. What a contrast to our pleasant ride in the back country. We saw more cars at one traffic light than we'd seen all day up to that point. But we were hungry and Doug's was not too far.
After lunch it felt like the temperature had dropped, clouds blocked the sun and the wind picked up. Our way home took us through Red Top Mountain State Park, and various suburban roads into Cherokee county again.
All in all a great ride, not fast or high mileage, but pleasant and interesting . The mileage on the Ural was 165 km.
This is a good time for scenic riding. If you don't have heated gear talk to Santa. It really makes a difference, and lets you enjoy riding year round.
Nine of us (Larry, both Steves, Dennis, Richard, Mel, Dave, and Bob S.) met at Timothy for a short meeting prior to riding up into the foothills on this unusually warm day (70's) in December.
At the meeting we decided to set the January ride for January 16th. Weather permitting the route will be north over Sassafras Mountain to Dial then over on SR 60 to Suches or Dahlonega for lunch, followed be a meander east to pick up some good backroads back home.
Also discussed was the possibility of a multi day camping trip in east Tennessee and western North Carolina in the May time frame.The route between campsites would mostly be dirt/gravel roads that are considered doable on most of the bikes our members ride. Larry will be laying out the details for discussion at a later meeting.
At 10 am the nine took of for points north. The first stop was at a model plane "airport" on Old Federal Highway just north of SR 369. All were amazed at the size of the WW1 biplane models that flew and simulated dog-fighting to their delight. Though it didn't fly while they were there (brake problems) they had a chance to look over a jet powered model that the owner (pilot?) said is capable of 200 mph.
On leaving the airport the nine headed up Mount Tabor road for a ride on scenic Kelly Bridge road. After a short hop on Yellow Creek they took Conn's Creek road over to SR 372 then SR 369 to the lunch stop at Amos' BBQ. After lunch the group split to take their preferred ways home.
On all accounts a great ride on a beautiful day.
Here's a somewhat shaky video of some of the highlights.
Three riders (Steve D., Steve G., and Dan) from TLCMC camped a couple nights in Alabama to attend the 2015 antique motorcycle festival at the Barber Motorsports Park, October 9-11, 2015. Here are a few photos: