It was shortly after dawn when we met at the Chevron, planning to head north at 7:15 (or so). The four riders, Bob K.,Mark, Dennis and Bob S. were surprised to see Richard (aka Edward) who rode over to meet on his Piaggio, not to ride the Cherohala with the rest of us, but to check us over and wish us safe riding. Thanks Richard.
We started out on I-575 a few minutes behind schedule under blue skies and cool temperatures. After breakfasting at Micky D's in Blue Ridge we headed north through McCaysville and Copperhill to pick up US 64 west going into the Ocoee gorge. Water was being released into the Ocoee and tubers, kayakers and canoeists were hurrying to the nearest put-in. The water at the power station dam was a sight to see as it cascaded down into the river.
Soon we were past the whitewater sections and picked up Tennessee 30 (Greasy Creek Trail) through banjo country to the little town of Reliance on the Hiwassee. Staying on a northerly course, through forest and farm land we rode into Tellico Plains from the north to check out the latest at the Visitor's Center and top up our fuel for the 100 mile gas-station-less round trip on the Cherohala Skyway. The sun was still shining in mostly blue skies but off in the distant west we could see signs of dark clouds building up.
Not to worry, we headed up the Cherohala, and soon turned down River Road to see if recent rains had added punch to the water drop at the falls on Bald River. It had. The falls were spectacular as hoped, as was the ride along the fast flowing Tellico River on our way to and from the falls.
The Skyway had less traffic than anticipated, only a few moving road blocks, but plenty cruisers and a few hooligans. The ride up to the mile high elevations is always a delight and this day was no exception. It was cool with not too much wind and the views in the high country are great.
Rather than head over to Robbinsville N.C. for lunch as most do, we followed our plan and took a return ride over the Skyway, stopping at the high point of Santeetlah to record our passing through. By the time we got back to Tellico Plains those dark clouds we had seen earlier were now upon us and as we stopped at Tellico Grains for lunch, the rain started. Not knowing how long it would last we dragged all our gear, rain gear included, into the restaurant. The folks in Tellico Grains are so used to the antics of motorcyclists they never raised an eyebrow.
At lunch Bob K. kept track of the size of the storm we were in and its direction on his handy cellphone app. It was not good news. The rain image stretched southward and promised to butt against another rain image closer to home territory. We ate slowly. Eventually got self conscious about hogging a table so we put on a floor show twisting, turning and bobbing as we put on our rain gear then headed outside. There were still a few thunder rolls off in the distance, but it looked as if the worst had past to the east.
Off we went at a greatly reduced pace down TN 68. Thankfully the traffic was light and the rain diminishing. By the time we got to Ducktown the rain had stopped, but off to the south we could see more dark clouds so the rain gear stayed on. But luck was with us and the ride down 515 and I-575 was mostly dry, as we skirted just to the west of the big rain.
I think all would agree that it was a great ride in spite of a little rain and we will probably go again in the fall when the leaves are in color.
Mileage Chevron to Chevron was about 303 miles though home to home more like 339 in my case, with home arrival about 5 p.m.
The promise of springtime temperatures brought ten TLCMC riders out for the ride up to Brasstown Bald on a route that took them up the Richard Russell Scenic Highway before going up the Bald, rather than the usual trip down, after the Bald (thus the "Reverse"). The ten riding were Melinda, Larry, Mike, Bob K., Dennis, Jack, Mark, Abby, Richard and Bob S.
The group took off from Ball Ground at 9:45 a.m., passed through Tate on SR 53 and then worked its way north to SR 52 on backroads. Rather than ride through Dahlonega they rode Clay Creek Road past the falls and up Black Mountain Road, past R-Ranch, to Stone Pile Gap. After a quick ride over to Turner's Corner they stopped at the General Store for a break and refreshments and a chance to look over (and hear) the Sport Bikes heading to Neal's Gap. In stead of following them the group turned east to pick up SR 75A and its connection to the bottom of the Richard Russell. As usual the road was a delight, hampered only by the flatlanders in cars that freaked at every turn. Unfortunately the no-passing double yellows are prevalent on this highway.
The ride up the Brasstown Bald spur road was a bit of a disappointment as again overtaking slower cars often broke the left/right cadence of the riders. The view potential was not enough to entice the majority to hike or take the shuttle to the peak observation post. Rather, they opted to ride down and over to Helen and have lunch at The Meeting Place on Helen's northside. They found a covered outdoor table that accommodated the group. Lots of banter and laughs accompanied the food (not bad) while the slow moving passing traffic, with horses, motorcycles and cars provided a constantly changing background.
The group passed through Helen (slowly) and headed down to Cleveland where they picked up SR 115 and headed west. Part of the group split off at SR 400 to get home the "fast way", to participate in activities that would start at 5 p.m. The rest worked their way through Dahlonega and over Sassafras Mountain on SR 136. From there they rode south through Jasper and back to the start point in Ball Ground (205 miles R/T).
There were a lot of "great ride" comments and this writer agrees. There's more to come next month.
It was just under 40 degrees when the four TLCMC riders (Steve, Robert L., Melinda and Bob S.) headed north-east working their way on colorful and historic backroads to Chatsworth, and the two hundred year old Vann House. They arrived just in time to join a tour of what had been the home of one of the most powerful families in the Cherokee Nation. The Vann House is original, as is its setting on a knoll just off the Old Federal Road. On the grounds are many period out-buildings, but the grounds, while picturesque, are only a fraction of the thousands of acres the plantation once contained.
After completing the tour and poking their noses into the restored outbuildings the four headed east on SR 52 to take a glance at the first of the two parks on the itinerary, (Fort Mountain), while heading to Ellijay for lunch. What is usually a first class motorcycling road over the mountain, was this day unfortunately clogged with cars whose drivers apparently were seriously intimidated by the "twisties" that most riders love. So it was follow the on again, off again brake-lights most of the way down to Ellijay. At least it gave the riders a chance to take in the vistas.
Ellijay was crowded with folks who probably came north to see the "colors" (too late) so a quick decision was made to forgo lunch at the Cantaberry Restaurant, and instead head for the second park, Amicalola , for lunch at the Lodge.. Here again there were crowds enjoying a family day outside. In spite of the throng the four were seated quickly, and soon had plates of goodies from the buffet. Over lunch the four shared "war stories" and tips/techniques for negotiating the turns prevalent on the north Georgia roads.
After lunch it was down the hill and over numerous semi-secret backroads to Cherokee county and home by 4 p.m. By all accounts a good ride and great fellowship. Fall and Winter offer some great riding if you are prepared. Heated vest/jackets and heated gloves help make cold weather riding a different, and enjoyable experience.
(Photos and video of the trip are in short supply as some knucklehead (me) left the home-made lens cover on the GoPro for much of the trip. Now I know why GoPro doesn't offer one as an option.
After two rained out rides in past months, and a week's worth of conflicting weather outlooks for Saturday, two TLCMC riders, Larry and Bob S. took a chance and headed out under overcast skies to explore the six counties that made up the Follow The Leader Ride. Their bet paid off as the skies brightened and temperatures rose throughout the day.
To start they headed west from Ball Ground on Mineral Springs Road, crossing Sharp Top Creek on the one-lane bridge onto Lyon Dairy Road aka Damascus Road. Here they were surprised by three turkeys that flew across their path at helmet height, close enough for the leader to almost feel the whoosh of their flight. This was only the first "animal encounter" of the day as riding the quiet backroads offered views of hawks, vultures, horses, cattle, pigs and dairy cows, not to mention the occasional dog that thought it owned the road.
The guys continued west to the top of Johnson Mountain where, heading down the curvy narrow little-traveled roadway, they found the abundant gravel Bartow county spread on this, and all their backroads the prior week. Steep curvy roads are normally a motorcyclist's delight, but add gravel on top of pavement and you have a call for slow careful negotiation.
After entering Gordon County they turned east on Irwin Mill Road and tested their pot-hole avoidance skills while riding up Salacoa Creek. Soon they were back in Bartow County, then Cherokee, and up Henderson Mountain in Pickens to Waleska Highway (108).
After a rest stop at the Chevron at the foot of Steve Tate Highway, they worked their way across Dawson County and up to Lumpkin County and the outskirts of Dahlonega. Rather than pass through Dahlonega, the guys took Clay Creek Road and Black Mountain Road, turning on Yahoola Road to catch GA 60 heading south to Rider's Hill.
At Rider's Hill they had lunch and looked over the collection of new and used bikes up for sale. What a variety, from exotic but heavy looking Moto Guzis, to Suzuki DR 650 dual-sports. Quite a place and a good alternative to a stop at TWO (which was closed for the winter).
After lunch they headed over to Hall County and followed Bark Camp and Price roads across to GA 400 in hopes of taking River Road, on the west side, down to the Silver City area. Didn't happen. After a roller coaster ride on River "Bend" Road they found River Road had a No Outlet sign up. The dirt/gravel section closest to the river probably washed out again.
Having few options they rode through Dawsonville to Silver City and headed east on Kelly Bridge Road to Yellow Creek Road, then down GA 372 to home.
Y'all missed a great ride on roads I know some of you would like, but have never been on. Maybe next time.
In all it was about 235 miles. The V-Stroms gas gauge was blinking on empty on entering Hickory Flat, and its rider was about out of gas too, with that "good tired" feeling one has after a full day of adventure, fun and fellowship.
Larry and Bob (the elder) took advantage of some free time to head north into the Chattahoochee National Forest hoping to see the forest sporting some Autumn color. Larry was riding his KLR; Bob his V-Strom.
They rode backroads up to Dial Georgia, then, after a cup of coffee at the VanZandts, headed for Forest Road 42 that heads up to the trail for Springer Mountain, the start of the Appalachian Trail. When they get to three forks they headed down FS 58 to look for a side "road" to a cemetery with headstones dating back to the late 1890's. They found the cemetery with its weathered headstones, most with unreadable dates. A sign posted nearby said an annual meeting is held here presumably to honor those that passed years ago. Off to one side was an out-of-place kid's ride that the two could not resist.
From the cemetery they rode back to FS 42 and headed for the town of Suches hoping to get a late lunch at Two Wheels of Suches (aka T.W.O.). On the way they found the road blocked by a wrecker crew pulling a pick-up from way down the hillside. They were told it went off the road earlier when it swerved to miss another car. In the process of hauling it up they managed to mangle the open passenger side door when they pulled it past a tree. After fifteen minutes or so the workers let the riders sneak by and be on their way. Unfortunately TWoS was not open and they had to catch a hot dog at the local gas station. After lunch they worked their way through two non functioning compressors before the one from under Bob's saddle let them air their tires up for the ride home.
Going home they headed down SR 60 through Dahlonega then picked up SR 53 in Dawsonville and headed cross country home.
The trees were not yet in color but the ride was great anyhow.