24 May 2010

Trip Report: wheatonFJR's Appalachian Camping Meet: Riding Day 2

15 May 2010:  about 250 miles

With a little more sleep than the night before, I was up and showered early so I could tend to my bike.  A thunderstorm, complete with hail, blew in the previous night before I could put my bike cover on.  I needed to dry the bike (like the others without covers), pick tree droppings off if him, and oil the chain.  While I was at it, I checked the tire pressures.

I worked up a pretty good sweat and wished I'd taken my shower after I messed with the bike.  There was no time for second guessing, though, Kick Stands Up time was approaching and the bikes were gathering.  It was certain this ride group would be a lot bigger than the one the day before!

Here I am, putting the final touches on Baby before gearing up while the others discuss plans for the day:

Our fearless leader for the day, The Great Pumpkin, I mean, MotorcycleEd:

Here I am, peeking out of my tent just before I gear up:

Since I was so busy fussing with my bike, I didn't get the chance to eat breakfast.  MrsTwisty was kind enough to give me some beef jerky right before we left.  I thought I was sneaking a snack, but one of the camp dawgs--Jackson--sniffed me out!  Wanted my jerky very badly!

A few minutes later, we were on the road:

There would be 11 bikes in the pack to start the day off.  MrTwisty reminded us that since managing such a large group would be impossible for any one person, each rider was responsible for the bike behind them.  If there was a problem, it would eventually get to the front.  Also, MotorcycleEd promised to wait at all turns.

It was a beautiful morning for a ride.  It wasn't too cold or too warm.

 This is my best re-creation of our route for the day since I had trouble distinguishing between stop and record on my gps tracking feature:

The first road took us through hillside farms and was lined with high grass:

I was a little leery of riding this road with so many hiding places for things to jump out and surprise you and was glad to be toward the back of the pack.  The road was dotted with hillside farm houses and cattle grazing hillside.

I don't think I was the only one leery of the populated surroundings.  The maroon FJR I was following was a lot slower than I'd grown accustomed to riding with these guys.  In fact, he rode more like a cruiser rider than a sport touring one.  He often set up for curves far outside and slowed in the middle.  The opposite to how I was trained.  There were a couple of times that I was a lot closer than I should have been because of this and due to my usual morning fog, it took a couple of curves for me to notice.

I backed off of him on the straight away hoping to get plenty of distance to avoid following him too closely.  When I saw him disappear into what the signed warned was a 10mph curve I was still coming down the hill approaching the curve.  I had time to inch as close to the double yellows as I dared to get a good view through the curve.

It was clear with no debris and looked not to be as sharp as warned.  I sited the apex and dove in, accelerating on exit.  To my surprise, there were tail lights surrounded by burgundy body work approaching really fast.  I eased off the throttle but I was still closing fast.  I got the bike stood up and applied brakes, causing the front end to dive a little, but I was still closing!  What was he doing?  Didn't he see me about to rear end him?  He appeared to be standing still when I pointed the front tire toward the white line and the mountain on our right.  My front tire came abreast with his saddle bag before he accelerated.

In my rear view, I saw FJR lights approaching rather quickly.  Apparently I wasn't the only one surprised by his presence there.  He should have been long gone by the time we got there.  I'd had enough.  My morning fog was not as dense as I expected and I needed to get in front of this guy before something bad happened.

He kept gunning it on the straights and slowing in the curves making it difficult to get by.  For a while, I was content to follow but when I saw him straighten what should have been chicanes, I knew it was time.  I eventually got by the safest way I could, on the right side as we approached a curve.  I noticed how wide he set up for the curve and knew I had time to get by and be gone before he knew what happened.

I passed him before the next curve and hustled to catch up with the other riders.  Here they are waiting for us as I pull up to join them.  You can just see the beginning of the burgundy bike to the left of the pic:

The next road was a welcome change of scenery because there was less tall grass for things to jump out of, just trees and such.

We were heading toward Hot Springs through the national forest on Hwy 209.  When we approached the first traffic aside from the main roads we'd traveled to reach that point.  A guy on a Vstrom separated the group as we worked to get by.  By the time I made it past, the group was far ahead.  I caught sight of them stuck behind a car but I never caught up to them until we reached town and gave up trying when we passed the hot springs and some restaurants.  I started my camera and waited for the guys behind me to catch up.  Two minutes later, I was up to speed again hunting for the lead pack.

Once in the national forest, I got stuck behind some slow moving red Jeep Cherokee and knew for certain any chance there was to catch them was gone.  The road was tight and curvy with very few straight aways with decent sight lines that would allow passing and it took a few minutes to get by because she refused to use the excellent pull outs provided by the forest service for that purpose.

But I got by, and not in a curve as one of the guys said.  At least I don't think it was in a curve but at the exit.  I figured they were big boys and would make their way by when it was safe to do so.  I think I was smarting from being left by the rider in front of me who should have waited to make sure we were okay but didn't.  I reached town and still hadn't seen them and was thinking of maybe having a short day.  I wasn't too keen on riding with such a big group.

Here they are, waiting for us:

They were blocking the exit to the pumps and no sooner than we pulled up, they were asked to move their bikes.  That somehow got translated to leaving so the slow group didn't get much of a break.  I am certain I was smarting on that because this was no Twisty Butt and I had no desire to rush the day.  I was considering leaving this big group behind when we didn't stop at the next store as someone had mentioned.  In all the hustle to leave, I ended up behind burgundy FJR guy again.

Fortunately, MotorcycleEd needed to consult his gps and about 30 to 45 minutes later, we took an extended break.

At the break, I decided to leave the attitude I was building behind and just enjoy the roads at my own pace.  If I got left, I got left.  If I didn't I didn't.  I would just take my time, enjoy the day, and not accept any stress that was trying to be pushed my way.

After all, it was a beautiful day and other than being separated when we shouldn't have been and the aborted stop, everything was going good.

This was the only live wild life we saw that morning:

Soon we were off again, this time going the right way:

Who said shafties can't wheelie?

We'd finally reached 19W and it was all it was said to be:

By now, my morning fog had lifted but I was mired behind the burgundy bike and he was proving difficult to pass.  But this time, I gave him plenty of room and prayed his morning fog had lifted too.  Unfortunately, his hadn't so I had to be as patient as I could before I passed him again.

I was having a blast and was only just beginning to realize we hadn't stopped (or even seen a place to stop) for lunch yet.  The roads made me forget about my earlier moodiness somewhat but comments through out the day made me second guess the source of that moodiness.

After gasing up where the restaurant should have been, we followed the clerks directions that pointed us a little farther down the road.
(The place was a lot bigger than it looked!)

It was pretty hot so I opted for a crispy chicken salad and sweet tea with lemon.

I also had the pleasure of eating with the sexiest guys on our ride, MotorcycleEd, bob-st, and the professor (who's name I can't remember).

The guys from Mississippi who's names I can't remember either.  The one in the red orange shirt swears I passed a car in a curve.

Ogre and eFnJustRide

burgundy bike guy (with the gray jacket) had to leave after lunch.  He said he had something to do, but I think my attempt on his life earlier in the morning may have scared him away.  The rest of us getting ready for dessert:  more North Carolina twisty goodness!

After lunch, I got as far front as I dared:

I also discovered that the tail light I'd just replaced wasn't working but both brake lights still function so I need to address that.

In case you didn't believe me, shafties can wheelie especially when piloted by an Ogre:

On the way back, we managed to keep the pack together easier than before lunch.

On the way back, we got caught in a thunderstorm and pulled over at a timely BP station, that seemed to have been placed by God for our shelter.

While we were under the porch of the little store, Ogre noticed my lights were still on.  Odd, since the key was in my pocket.  I went to see what was the matter with Baby, thinking perhaps the key came out without shutting the ignition.  But the slot was in the off position and re inserting the key did nothing.  I knew something was really wrong because the bike was running fine seconds before.

I took off the seat searching for a blown fuse but found none.  Then as MrTwisty pointed at each fuse, I decided to disconnect the power outlet thinking that might be the problem.  It wasn't.  Switched the bike on and off and watched MrTwisty suggest other things to take off when I realized I hadn't heard the chirp, chirp, chirp of the alarm.  Could that be it?

I hit the disarm button and was rewareded with chirp, chirp.  Then put the key in and could crank the bike.  Well, now I know what the bike looks like when you've triggered the immobilization feature!!  By now it was beginning to rain in earnest so I hurried to put the seat back on and ran for cover before I truly melted.  Brown Sugar does that when it gets wet!

After a while, we hoped the rain had stopped and suited up to get back to camp.  With the rain came a welcome drop in temps as we pressed on.

Not too far from the little store that saved us from the worst of the weather:

Riding the wet roads after the storm was treacherous as there were streams crossing the road bringing gravel and tree debris.  MotorcycleEd set the perfect pace for the dangerous conditions as we pressed on roads we'd ridden earlier in the day towards camp.

The closer we got, the roads began drying out

While we were getting gas just down the road from the camp ground, Fubar called and invited us to dinner.  We met their group at Maggies Galley and ate seafood.  I had the local rainbow trout, and it was pretty good but not as seasoned as I am accustomed to.  After dinner, I took the opportunity to re-install the power outlet while MrTwisty and Jemride got more beer for the campfire.

Baby was at such a steep angle, I had a little trouble getting him off of the side stand.  When I felt a little twinge, I called out for help and Jemride came to my rescue.  After that, it was back to camp for a little r and r and showers before the campfire.


wheaton got on a stump and gave us a lot of vital statistics for the meet and ignored references to a missing stripper pole:

It rained on the campfire so we retreated to the camp house to watch eFn's video

We watched a little video, reviewed pics, and regaled each other with tales of how great we ride before deciding to go to bed and that we would sleep in a little to avoid the mad rush to leave the next morning.

Thanks for reading,
patrice, theWolfTamer

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