31 August 2010

Ride Report: Fizzy Mountain Ride

29 August 2010: Feeling Fizzy
Total miles: 413.4

(Note: This Ride report is written by Cruzman and theWolfTamer. My part will look like this. Cruzman's part will look like this.)

Since my last ride was the aborted boot test ride with eflyguy, I was really looking forward to this ride, now more than before for another reason: Baby got jetted 8 days ago and it was time for a true test ride! Our planned ride was set even before the Jetting happened. The planning started mid-month with an email from Cruzman, "what do you think about this?" and something really offensive about trailering the bikes to Murphy, NC. I okayed the proposed route but refused the trailer offer.
Gen 1 FZ1
We planned to ride with a fairly new rider, kyfa25 from the FZ1OA forum, and eflyguy. It would be an all FZ1 (Fizzy) ride. With Stella (Cruzman's silver 02), Baby (my blue 05), and eflyguy's Blue 01 (I don't know if she has a name or not, but she's got a big ass!) representing the Gen 1s or Model years 2001 - 2005 and kyfa25's black 09 representing the Gen 2's or Model years 2006 to present.

Gen 2 FZ1
The debate over which version is better is fodder for much entertainment on the forum.  The Gen 1 has been called an Old Man's Bike and the Gen 2 is fragile and prone to breaking.  None of this is exactly true, but it doesn't stop the barbs from going back and forth.  It's almost as entertaining as the dino vs synthetic or using WD40 for chain lube threads.  The truth is, as usual, somewhere in the middle.  One thing I have learned after riding with owners of the next generation bike:  They have a shorter fuel range.

The performance differences were explored the last time I rode with the Gen 2s and I didn't expect that to happen this time since the Gen 2 owner with us was so new to riding.  I just prayed we all kept the rubber on the ground and the shiny bits in the sun!

For a new rider, I thought the length route was a little ambitious but the roads perfect to get to know the bikes and work on the right techniques.  I expected we'd be giving tips thoughout the day in an effort to enforce kyfa25's good habits and discourage the bad ones.  The route seemed even better after we jetted Baby last weekend. One of my favorite roads was on the route, NC HWY 28, and perfect for testing what jetting really means to me as a rider.

I almost didn't make it due to a malfunctioning relay harness on my new HID lights but I spent Saturday re-installing the old xenon bulbs with my mind set on this ride. With the old xenons in, I had one low beam out.  It didn't really matter since I still had one good low beam and a replacement relay coming within a week or so.  kryptonbulbs.com customer service is awesome and I'm glad I chose them over anyone else.  Sunday morning, I was out the door by 6:25 certain I'd be later than I wanted for the 7:15 rendez-vous in Cumming with Cruzman and kyfa25.

I was surprised when I pulled into the parking lot at 7:10 despite being followed or following LEOs almost all the way there.  I could've shave at least 5 minutes off of that without the escort!

Planned (and Approved) route for the day
After what seemed like an eternity it was finally here. This was the day I have been waiting for. Yes, theWolfTamer and I have adopted and Sunday was the day that the little bundles of joy would be allowed to become part of the pack! No, actually it was the day for my biggest, longest, and what I hoped would be the best ride of my life.

As I awoke that morning I was extra excited. During my bike prep I discovered the cause of a stability issue that Stella had exhibited since I got her. Turns out one of the forks was not even with the other in the triple tree. This caused her to be a little sensitive to weight changes and fight turn in to one side. Anyway I was up at 5:00am and trying to get all of those last minute details handled so I could leave promptly at 6:00 (which gave me 15 minutes of cushion) to get to the meeting point.

Unlike my last ride, morning prep and departure went smoothly. I arrived at our meeting spot 15 minutes early and was soon greeted by kyfa25 rolling up 10 minutes early. About 5 minutes after that theWolfTamer shows up to join our group.

After topping off and snagging early morning necessities we shot the shit and still managed to blow our departure time by 15 minutes. But hey what is 15 minutes when your going to ride all day long?

Our first destination was Dahlonega, Ga where we would meet up with eflyguy. I chose to take Hwy 9 over to Dahlonega since it has some nice curvy sections that would allow us to get a little warm-up, get acquainted with each others riding style, and judge each others capabilities.

For nights I had been thinking/worrying about the process of including a new rider (new to the group and new to riding) with us. theWolfTamer and I have enjoyed many riding days together. We know what each other is going to do and how we're going to react – as long as we're paying attention that is. Anyway, turns out I was making a mountain out of a mole-hill because we seemed to instantly do the mind meld thing and all was well.
After gassing up and intros, it was time to finally hit the road!

Cruzman and I were very conscious of having a new rider with us and took it as a responsibility to show him good motorcyclists' ethics.  First, we wanted to assess what he already knew, so we took Hwy 9 to meet eflyguy in Dahlonega.

Photo courtesy eflyguy:  We finally arrive.
We arrived at Dahlonega Wal-Mart where eflyguy greeted us.  He had his bike off the trailer, helmet on and probably would have preferred we not dilly dally with the pleasantries and just get on with the ride.  Admittedly a quick greeting would have worked for me too,  but all it takes is an excuse and the little ones pile out of the car and say they need to go pee.  Then a cigarette gets lit and you know your going to be there for a few…

Exchanging Greetings and getting ready to roll!
Photo courtesy eflyguy:  I didn't smoke a cigarette, I cleaned a large bug off of my shield!
With the greetings exchanged, we set out for better roads and began what I have come to think of as 2 wheel church. (Funny, I call it "moto-church!)  The pecking order is determined: I’m leading (the route is in my GPS) then kyfa25, eflyguy, and lastly theWolfTamer.  She is running in the back since she has a radio and can communicate with me if needed and if I am not listening to music.

We may have exchanged greetings, but Cruzman didn't know eflyguy has a mind of his own.  When I met him a couple of weeks ago, I got the impression he was not one to simply follow the crowd.  This was re-enforced when the day before our ride, he sent an email saying he was taking a different way back to Dahlonega and we were welcome to join him if we wished.

The ride between Dahlonega and Blairsville was the perfect warm up for our little ride.  I believe this was where the mind meld thing happened as we got our tires warmed up for the day to come.  

Photo courtesy eflyguy
Photo courtesy eflyguy:  Messing with the GPS because it kept telling me to turn around!

Photo courtesy eflyguy:  It was a perfect day to ride!

Photo courtesy eflyguy
Photo courtesy eflyguy:  kyfa25
Photo courtesy eflyguy:  Cruzman
Photo courtesy eflyguy: theWolfTamer
Blairsville came all too quickly and then we were in Murphy, NC before we knew it. We stopped in Murphy to top off the Gen1s and to make sure the Gen2 didn’t go into vapor lock. Someone needs to develop something for the Gen2s to suckle so they can make it between gas stations. Just kidding you folks! We only stopped to top the Gen2 off to spare kyfa25 the expense of buying gas in the mountains which is always more expensive.

While we were at the gas station we decided to take a snack break and to get more acquainted with each other. I don’t know how it happened, but somehow we managed to neglect eflyguy and he got out a map and started making route suggestions. This is after the route had been published and double/triple checked for issues a week ago. Turns out the suggestion looked good on paper so we went with it. I plugged it into the Tom Tom and we were soon on our way.

About 3 miles down the road the TomTom decides the new route should take us off to the left and like a total fool I believed it. The road we ended up on was a little rough but had some interesting turns and curves as the base of a big hill or small mountain. Then I hear in my ear left turn ahead. And about a mile later left turn in 600 yards. And then lastly “Turn Left. It was a gravel driveway…. So much or TomTom. I have a feeling I know where the road is going to take us so I continue on left with the TomTom continuing to tell me “Turn around when possible” being repeated every ¼ of a mile. Finally I recognize the road. Yes it is 129 the main rode that we turned off of to begin with. I really need to build and design my own GPS, because so far they are all crazy.

I thought he took that road so I could delete the original route out of my gps! Actually, eflyguy got the complimentary area map while he was in the gas station. As he was browsing it, he made a suggestion. I'd finished checking on TheMomma and was on my way to the bathroom. By the time I got back, they were gearing up. It was only a guess that the route actually changed and the turn was the proof because Cruzman didn't answer my radio calls asking if we'd changed the route. It wouldn't be the last time that day!

I was going nice and slow on the rough multi-surfaced road. Slow enough that eflyguy waited for me to catch up. Besides, the GPS can only do what we tell it to. If you put your waypoint in somebody's yard, it will diligently take you there and remind you that you didn't go there when you decide not to go in said yard. That function caused me to upgrade my pda so my software could re-route without locking up.

eflyguy's more interesting road
The first part of 143 was pretty good but soon it turned into long straights with few sweepers.  Definitely more interesting than the 4-lane 129 up to HWY 28, but not as good as what happens once you get there:

US 19 to Wyah Rd to Hwy 28!  I guess we'll save it for the next time.  I did get to see some nice scenery though,

Gentle Sweeper...

followed by long straight.

Somebody scared the horsies!
We soon found ourselves in the great little town of Robbinsville and continued on 143 east to 28. Now we choose 143 because on the map it looked to be a pretty cool winding road.  Turns out someone has turned it into merely a slow winding road that was pretty but probably not a good substitute for the section of 28 that we bypassed to ride it.

Its not just a curve it is a stop sign with a turn, kyfa25 learned this as I applied my brakes and turned on my turn signals, but not soon enough to keep him from overshooting into the gore area just before the turn. Later, A rule was discussed that went something like this: “If you know it is either a curve or a turn err on the side of caution and get on the brakes.”
Uh, which way is 28?
As I turned on to 28 I got over to the left and waved for theWolfTamer to take over the lead. She had been looking forward to straightening out this road and I wanted to make sure she got the opportunity.

I have to admit I did get a little excited when we turned on HWY 28. I wanted to get some video of everyone before I took the lead but I couldn't wait. I already had an inkling of what the real world application of jetting on the bike, but here I really tested it a little. Not as much as I wanted to because kyfa25 was keeping up and I didn't want to be the reason he ended up in the trees!

What the jetting did was reduce the RPMs I used to ride in the twisties. I've gone from 7 to 9k range downward to 5 to 7k. Power is now on demand instead of way up there where the exhaust screams scaring horses and cruiser riders. I can't wait to find out what happens above 9k now!

She lead us to a boat launch just the other side of Fontana Dam where we all pulled in had a photo op and a quick rider's meeting about the road ahead. The discussion points were:

  • “Watch for sings saying to slow for the turns”. 
  • Don’t expect the next turn to be the one that the sign is talking about. 
  • If you see “SLO” written on the road then you seriously need to show respect for the corners that will be following that marking. 
  • The corner that is just the other side of the bridge on 28. I believe the keywords were “Gravel, wet, slippery, caution and slow”.

    Photo courtesy eflyguy:  Just for that, I'm going to bring a proper tripod!
    Photo courtesy eflyguy:  I actually like this one!

    Photo courtesy eflyguy.
    Photo courtesy eflyguy.
    Photo courtesy eflyguy.

    The proper amount of respect was paid and perhaps a bit more just to be safe when we rolled over that corner and 28 was quickly put behind us. 

    What he means is, I nearly came to a complete stop to be sure those who had not ridden the road knew that was the corner on the other side of the bridge.

    I love 28, I like the Dragon but I’d ride Hwy 28 fifty times in a day and the Dragon only once and be completely satisfied.At the end of 28 we turned off to Deals Gap Resort for lunch. There was a rumbly in more than one tumbly as we arrived. There were bikes and people a plenty in the parking lot. It is my belief that if this group of people and bikes were viewed form space by space aliens, we would be assured a space alien free existence. I mean what could be scarier than people wearing leather, body armor, and helmets and not to mention those roaring machines? Then there are the really scary ones that are half naked with helmets that ride behind someone else. This planet has to be totally nuts. 

    After taking in the sights and sounds that only Deals Gap Resort can offer in this abundance, we headed in to check out their wares and to take care of some rumbling of our own.

    Lunch at the resort is not about the food. What you get there is better than any of the meal in a box places, but were not talking fine dining (IMO) but their prices are reasonable and the food is fresh, the onion rings are huge (but a bit thick) Well enough of the restaurant critique because we were never there because of the food anyway. We were there to see the other bikes and the people who ride them.

    After lunch we meandered back out to the parking lot to ogle the bikes and the people when we notice a blue Gen1 in need of a front tire. Trust me when I state that need is a huge understatement. My only guess was that he rode the dragon then the Skyway and noticed that his tire was getting past the wear bar, and because he didn’t know the area he turned around and rode it the opposite direction only to get to deals gap resort and realize that he left his girl friend back at the overlook and went back to get here, but when he got there he realized he was supposed to bring her a coke and so on for about 2 days and 20 trips. That or he had new tires when he got there and made 129 trips up and back in one day. 

    It turns out this bike his a celebrity bike! There is a forum post about a guy who got his bike stolen and recovered it himself when he spotted his license plate on a black FZ1. Turns out the thieves had painted it black. Anyway, the bike is blue again; MadBull stripped the black paint off. It is far from perfect cosmetically, but if those tires are any indication I would not offer to race this guy for pink slips!

    We never really even considered a ride on the Dragon. With two fairly new riders, neither theWolfTamer nor I believe that a fair ride on a great rode is as good as a great ride on a very good road. Plans are in the works to get this group back up there very soon.

    So with our tails between our legs we left a great riding road behind and headed south down 129 to take the Cherohala Skyway challenge. This section of 129 is another of my favorites in this area. To be honest I didn’t appreciate this road until the FZ1 rally in June where I followed PokieHokie and Crazy Biker down this section of road. I don’t know how they knew that there would be no cops on this road that day, but I really enjoyed the high double digit speeds in the sweepers and near triple digit speeds on the straights. Riding it this day made me smile and think back. I opened my bike up just a little to sort of relive that prior day's ride and it left a huge smile on my face.

    I was stuck behind Teddy for that section of the road back in June.  I didn't get to relive squat!  As a matter of fact, I was doing something to my gps so I fell back a little.  I was kind of looking forward to catching up with the group but as I rounded a corner, eflyguy was about to turn around and come get me.  So much for a spirited catch up!

    All too soon our turn came up and we stopped to get the Gen2 another feeding. I knew this was unnecessary, but peace of mind is a terrible thing to waste, so I just watched good time being ticked away and took the opportunity to strap my little video cam on my home built tank mount and we headed off.

    I took the lead on the first half of the Cherohala and had a wonderful time. None of us were really letting the FZ1s run wild. But the road was beautiful, well cared for, mostly car free, and no LEOs in sight. Oh how I love this road! Our mid point was reached all to quickly and for me it was just quick enough. I also love their little outhouse on the mountain. What a great idea, everyone else seemed pretty found of it too.

    on 143 going towards the Skyway
    Need to practice this shot more.
    Photo courtesy eflyguy.

    I got to lead from the break, and I wanted to stop somewhere that had a better view.  I ended up here,

    but it wasn't the spot I had in mind.  It was good enough though.

    This is what happens when I play with editing software!
    Photo courtesy eflyguy.

    kyfa25 had a huge grin all day long.  I guess he really liked playing in the mountains!

    Photo courtesy eflyguy:  behind the scenes!
    photo OF eflyguy
    theWolfTamer took over the second half of the ride and I took sweeper position. I got the camera setup pretty good and the videos look much better now than when it was on my helmet. I just need to get a wide angle lens adapter for it and I think that will be even better. I say this because at one point we had a pretty good bike ballet going. We were all pretty tight, riding in a single file line and were banked over in a corner or two before we got all stretched out. 

    That is how I remember it, but when I review the video all I can see is the one bike in front of me….. Really need that wide angle lens…. The second video ends just as you see us catching up on an RV. The batteries ran out at that point, but you didn’t miss much, theWolfTamer and kyfa25 made a pass but eflyguy and I managed to follow it for 3 or 4 miles till we spotted theWolfTamer and kyfa25 off to the left taking a brake at a really nice place along the edge of the river.

    It was more than 3 or 4 miles, more like 10! We had gotten so far ahead of them, I had time to slow way down and remind kyfa25 to use his hips and apply pressure to the footpegs while in the curves. We even got stuck behind a Subaru from Florida that was riding their brakes all the way downhill. Fortunately, I didn't have to work to pass them, they pulled over at the next pullout and let us by. We got stuck behind another RV when I decided to pull over and wait, 3 or 4 miles outside of Tellico Plains. I waited more than a minute before I took my jacket off!

    Skyway 0829 0001 from David Grimes on Vimeo.

    Skyway 0829 0002 from David Grimes on Vimeo.

    Photo courtesy eflyguy.  I've always wanted to stop here.
    After a short break we headed out and went to the first gas station in Tellico Plains, the Cherohala Market. We took a longer break and filled up the Gen1s and the Gen2 got some more just so we wouldn’t have to stop again at the next gas station we saw.

    Photo courtesy eflyguy.
    I took the lead from the gas station and took us south on 68 where we meet up with 123 which turns into 294 if I can read a map right. 
    TN123/NC294 going towards Murphy, NC
    This took us back out to Murphy were we jumped on 64/74 for a couple of miles before we turned off on Blairsville highway 129 south. At the last stop there was some discussion regarding an alternate route back to Dahlonega and I wanted to make sure I knew what the deal was.

    I was told we would take 180 to Suches and 60 South to Dahlonega. Both of these roads are very nice and are a great way to end a wonderful ride. However with me coming at them from a way I was unfamiliar, I found myself taking the 180 north (or was it West?). Anyway it was the wrong way and I had to swing a you-e to get back with the group. I slotted into second position with eflyguy leading the way. This worked well since eflyguy made the suggestion and made it sound like he knew the roads. 

    As we turned of on to 180 I could tell something came over eflyguy, he looked more comfortable and confident. Now this is the most technical road that we had ridden today and so far I had only seen eflyguy on sweepers and 20+ mph corners, but he was having fun with this road and you could just tell that he has a special relationship with it. It was as much fun to watch him ride as it was to be riding this road. I am also keeping an eye on kyfa25 who later tells me that he has learned to gauge the corners by the actions that I take. As we hit tight corner after tight corner kyfa25 is right there, not a bobble not a hiccup looking poised and in control like you need to on a road like this. All too soon the road comes to and end and we're dumped out on 60. 

    On 60 South, eflyguy is still leading the pack and making good use of the corners. kyfa25 is getting more experience under his belt and I am just basking in the glow of what a wonderful day it has been. eflyguy leads us to where 60 joins up with hwy 9 at the rockpile and relinquishes the lead to me. I pull away and look for some corners to tame as the leader and not a follower. These will be the last good corners of the day, and I want to have a bit more fun before the day is done. As I take the second or third corner I look back to check on my no 2 rider and he is there true and steady. 

    I was pretty impressed with how well kyfa25 handled himself in the most spirited riding we did all day long.  Almost as glad as I was to see eflyguy hadn't forgotten how to ride.  All day long I followed him wondering what was the matter.  As soon as we crossed state lines, he seemed to be uncomfortable.  It was great to be riding sweep in such a tight formation as we got the most out of the last twisty roads of the day.  I wish I had the camera running for that part of the ride.  
    Most of the video I took was really bad, but I'll edit it and post what I haven't deleted yet anyway.

    We soon get out of the twisty part and theWolfTamer, kyfa25, and I pull over to visit this little convenience store that for me marks the boring ride home. We chat and exchange stories decide even the Gen2 can make it home from here and soon roll out making for Cumming, GA. The ride down 400 is the worst part of this day. It reminds me of work. It reminds me of rush hour traffic and it reminds me that I live in a place that I am no longer am attracted to. I start to fantasize about getting out of the rat race. Living in a one bed room shack and eating fish every night because I can catch fish for free. Hell, all I need is gas and tires and I am in heaven. 

    I see the exit for hwy 20 where theWolfTamer and I jump off and kyfa25 continues on for a few miles more where he will exit and be home safe and sound. theWolfTamer and I discuss future rides and what were going to do and if I will need tires for the fall rally. And then it is time to leave and make the final ride home. For me it is 60 miles of interstate. For her is a bunch of surface streets and traffic lights.  (I think I got stuck at every one of them too!)  We arrive home within minutes of each other. Share a “Home safe and sound text” and greet our families that have allowed us to take this journey. After some food and a little wind down period I get to thinking about the ride. Get my GPS status and update the forum with what I did today. 

    Somehow what I did today wasn’t all that important any more. What was important was What was I going to do the next time.  

    Thanks for reading,
    patrice, theWolfTamer
    David aka "Cruzman"


    1. Thanks "P" for editing out most of my mistakes.

    2. Thanks Oldschool!

      Cruzman, I would have edited more out -- both yours and mine -- but the formatting kept getting messed up so I quit while I was ahead.

      Also made a separate post for my video of riding US129 (after the route change) and Hwy 28


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