08 March 2010

Ride Report: The Extended Suches Loop

7 March 2010
The plan for the next ride began almost immediately after the last one.  We all had such a good time together (like I guessed we would) that I suppose it was inevitable.  I suggested we take Wolf Pen Gap road because how can I be theWolfTamer never having ridden that road?

I suggested a route taken from motorcycleroads.com and everybody agreed.  We weren't deterred by the nearly nine inches of snow that fell in that area the preceding Tuesday.  The weather forecast was for temperatures nearing normal for the first time all year.  Thursday, Friday, and Saturday were merely tempting previews of Sunday's weather.

On Wednesday following the snow, I went to Two Brothers Tires in Lawrenceville, GA to have new rear rubber mounted.  When I left the house around 2, the thermometer on my bike display 36 degrees, by the time I arrived at the shop the temp had risen to the low 40s and it started to get a bit more blustery.  I was sufficiently cold by the time I returned home three hours later.  It didn't take them that long to install the tire, I just took a longer way home including a stop at Lowe's to get different outer gloves.

I found myself get excited as each sunrise meant one less to ride day.  I'd taken a short ride Saturday afternoon just to get some more newness off of the tire and to test the new glove setup.  I even updated my gps skin to a new look when I added the route.  I barely slept Saturday night in anticipation.

As usual, we met at the Sugarloaf Starbucks about a half hour earlier than planned.  Tony's brother in law, Tony, was joining us for the ride and needed to be back so he could go home.  I was having one of those weeks when I saw Tony saying Tony would be joining us for the ride, I never realized he meant there would be two Tonys.  But, when I showed up--more than 2 mins before the kick stands up time this time--there were two Tonys!

This time, David made the cross town journey to join us and after a little chatting, we hit the road.  Bobby and Teresa took the lead on their FJR, then me on Baby, followed by Tony 2 (the new Tony) on his R6, my Tony (the old Tony) on his VFR, and David on Stella riding sweep.  We took one of my favorite ways to the mountain jump off point by going across Buford Dam at Lake Lanier.  The lake looked beautiful glistening in the morning light with any hints of the red banks exposed by previous years of drought gone.

Then it was through Cumming on HWY 9 with memories of the past filling my head as I tried to stick to the speed limit.  That was the first time I noticed Tony 2 was wearing loafers.  I had to do a double take to be certain, but there the were loafers and old man black socks.  We made good time getting to our first stop at Rider's Hill on Hwy 60 in Dahlonega where I learned Tony 2's socks were not old man socks but Fox riding socks.  Okay, whatever, he still had on loafers.  We volunteered to chip in to buy him some real boots once we got inside but, taking the ribbing in good nature, he politely declined mumbling something about finding a real pair on the WERA forums.

Back at Starbucks, Bobby mentioned meeting other FJR riders however by the time we got there, they were gone.  After taking time in the shop looking at bikes, gear, and information books, we decided to ride 60n pass our lunch spot at T.W.O then come back and have lunch.  Bobby and Teresa got some recon that suggested 60 past Suches would get really dirty with the gravel they used because of the ice.  I'd talked to a guy on a Honda Goldwing 1200 that had said pretty much the same thing so we all knew to be extra vigilant.

As we were leaving, I made sure the two Tonys were in front of me.  On the way to Suches, Hwy 60 was pretty clear of gravel and the traffic fairly light.  There were constant reminders in the shadows of exactly how much snow fell earlier in the week because some spots looked like we'd been transported back to mid rather than late winter.  With bare trees and dead leaves still visible, it wasn't clear that spring was only a week away.

Just as I was beginning not to see imaginary gravel on the road, the real stuff showed up.  I didn't think it was possible to go any slower, but slow down I did.  I managed to navigate through the gravelly places without incident and as the road looked to be clearing, I saw the two Tonys and Bobby and Teresa pulled over waiting for David and me so we could turn around for lunch.

We arrived ahead of a pack of sport bikes and rushed inside to get our orders in before they could get off of their bikes good.  David took a couple pictures:

Lunch was excellent as usual.  I was going to take some pictures but my camera decided to drain the fresh batteries I put in it last night.  I tried taking video, but I am not used to that little camera and got more sky shots than I did of what I was looking at.  I did manage to salvage a few pics though.

The view across the creek from TWO

The pack of bikers that arrived after us

My Tony:

Teresa, David (orange hat), Tony 2:

Tony 2's Yamaha R6 and Baby:

Tony 2 and Bobby discussing the route after lunch:
I think the conversation was something like Bobby asking if Tony 2 needed gas and him answering, "Nah I'm good for another 20 miles man."  Yea, Uh did he look at the map?  Next stop?  Gas.

David and My Tony gearing up.

The Two Tonys:

After lunch, we decided to risk Wolf Pen Gap Rd, which is very twisty.  It is less traveled than 60 and we expected the gravel to be bad.  The gravel did not disappoint.  For the first time all day it was difficult to pick a line that did not include gravel.  It was so intense, I didn't even glance around to look at the scenery and if Bobby hadn't radioed, I might have passed them entirely when we stopped to get this picture:
From Left to Right:  Bobby (Teresa is taking the pic), My Tony, Tony 2, theWolfTamer (me), and David.

From the pullout it was more careful going until we made it to 19 and stopped to top off the fuel tanks.  An example of how slow I was going (and holding David up), Bobby and the 2 Tonys were about to put their kickstands down when David and I rounded the last curve.

We guessed we'd left the gravel behind and if I wasn't certain by sight, I knew it when Bobby and Tony 2 wicked up the pace a teensy bit when left the gas station and turned onto Hwy 180 the Richard Russell part.  The screaming R6 with the Akrapovic exhaust was music echoing from some distant place far (far) ahead.  My Tony described it perfectly when he said it sounded like an angry hive of bees.

With gravel thoughts finally out of my head, I was able to settle into a comfortable pace and think more about the right line for the curve instead of the right line to avoid the gravel.  At our pace, it didn't take long to reach US 76 turning away from Hiawasee toward Hwy 197.  The only thing that slowed us down was the few cars that happened to be out.  Once on HWY 197 with no cars to hinder us, it was time to test our meddle.  Okay, more testing of meddle as meddle testing actually began somewhere on Richard Russell.

theWolf started howling somewhere past Lake Burton so we stopped for our last break at the Batesville General Store where Hwys 197 and 255 meet.  I took an Aleve and we discussed how wonderful the day had been.  It was nearing 4 o'clock and Tony 2 had to be getting back so we decided not to go back toward Dahlonega and took Hwy 255 to 105 to 441/985 homeward.

Thanks for reading,
Patrice Denise, theWolfTamer

1 comment:

  1. As always a great write up. You should have mentioned the lone Harley rider with the Honda Jacket who tried to keep ahead of us. Still trying to figure out what the heck he was doing over in the left lane going around that blind curve.


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