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.
A Case of Trial and Error!
At 9am on Saturday morning the trio headed off to the trials park, leaving Robert's Harley holding the parking spaces by the tents to ensure parking on return despite the anticipated record attendance by cagers.
The trials riding was excellent and, unlike the 2012 festival, the bikes were all classics. What a mixed bag they were too from vintage British singles to vintage Japanese that I remember and rode in my teen years.
Section 1 was deep in the wooded area and like all trials sections comprised two course; one for novice and one for more experienced riders. Maybe Steve and I will actually have running Ossa's for next year, so we can give the trials a crack.
Talk about dedication, on the afternoon of Thursday, October 10th Steve flew back from the West coast and rode down to the 2013 Barber Vintage Motorcycle Festival with Dan. Of course it wasn't all heroics, it was practical as well; can you imagine gettinng up early on Friday to ride over there when your body is on West coast time? Ugh, no thanks mate ;-)
They took 411 nearly all the way down, only dropping onto i759 and i59 for the last few miles to save a little time as night had drawn on. Their two powerful adventure bikes were laden with camping gear and the all important collapsable chairs, for to collapse into after the long days perusing and oohing and aaghing over the phenominal collection of classic two wheeled machines that adorn the race track perimeter at this festival.
Wonder of Wonders, they got on the road to Alabama ahead of schedule. OK it was only one minute early, but probably a record of sorts. The early-bird seven (Dennis, Steve, Robert L., Larry, Mark, Abby and Bob S.) were headed for De Soto Falls, the Little River Canyon and Cave Springs. They picked up Paul in Rydal, while Dan, on his new Triumph Tiger, rode with the group a while, then turned back at Crystal Springs to prepare for a flight north.
The route took them up through Summerville and Menlo Georgia, then turned south at Mentone, Alabama onto a narrow county road (89) that passed by the back yards of Lookout Mountain mansions that have an outstanding westward view of the valley below.