05 March 2011

Ride Report: Reunited

19 Feb 2011:  An easy ride to lunch in Helen
Cruzman and I made a "date" to meet his co-workers and friends in Helen for lunch.  I wasn't sure what would happen after lunch, but I knew we'd take it easy getting there.  Cruzman insisted he'd follow me up there, one concession to assure he wouldn't make another right in front of me and I wouldn't slide into him again!

We decided to meet at our usual Cumming spot, at the BP off of 20 and 400 at 9.  As usual, I was about 15 minutes late but this time it really wasn't my fault.  Ebony, my dawg, decided that this was the morning she needed to do a full perimeter check.  Unbeknownst to me, that included our house and both neighbors.  Usually she gets this done before I'm ready to go but this morning, she must have caught the scent of something because I had to chase her down!

Good thing for me she wasn't expecting to see me outfitted for a ride running across our yard to get her.  She cowered then ran into the house.  That took the first 10 minutes I should have been on the road.  The other 5 I spent catching my breath and wishing I was in better shape!

After my ride earlier in the week, I came home and discovered my replacement replacement windscreen, a Maier Aero Bubble.  It offers the same "double bubble" design as the Zero Gravity DB without the added wings or fragility.  I was curious to see if its performance all day was the same as my initial impressions.  Only problem I noticed was an insistent whistle on the right side that probably had more to do with the holes in the fairing than the windscreen.  I'd put up with it all the way to Elberton and was looking forward to my replacement parts to hopefully get rid of it all together.

Fairing repair?
As usual, Cruzman was already parked and waiting for me, looking unlike himself with no yellow in his replacement gear.  I too no longer wore yellow.  We spent a while exchanging parts--I gave him my old bar ends and some brake pads and he gave me a new slider--and catching up before leaving for Rider's Hill in Dahlonega around 10.  In the exchange, he gave me another T-rex sticker that I decided to use to cover the biggest hole in the fairing.  Maybe that would reduce that annoying whistle!

Leave it to me for the second sticker I put on the bike to be on a part that's destined to be replaced!  The first sticker?  Pink Dragons, of course.  Before we left, we took the time to go over our route in detail.  We'd skip riding through Cumming by taking GA 400 up to 3-something-or other, then take Hwy 9 into Dahlonega.  We would stop at Rider's Hill to ogle bikes and assess Cruzman's physical state.  If he still felt up to it, we'd ride Blood Mountain then take Richard Russell into Helen hopefully arriving in time to meet his friends for lunch.

The route for the day
Since our last ride, I'd sent the Motocomm off for diagnosis and repair and the repaired/replaced parts were working great.  I'm hoping they delve into the bluetooth market by the time I'm ready to switch to wireless communication.  As promised, Cruzman fell in behind me when we left the parking lot and followed at a safe distance.  When we pulled into the light to make the turn onto 369, we landed behind a group of 4 or 5 Harleys.

Since this was supposed to be an easy ride, when the light changed and a car was turning right in the passing lane, I decided we could wait to pass them until the road re-opened to four lanes.  In the meantime, I hung back and enjoyed the day.

It was a beautiful day like all the others had been that week.  High blue skies with a few puffy clouds, comfortable temps that promised to get warmer, and a light breeze with a few gusts.  I could only hope this was the beginning of warmer weather with no more cold snaps, but since it was only mid February, I knew better.  It wasn't too warm though because when we passed the hated chicken coups, there was no retching smell just the perfume and music of motorcycle exhausts.

When the road opened up again, I'd dallied so much that the distance was too far for both Cruzman and I to be able to pass the whole group safely.  Besides, they weren't riding like typical weekend crusier riders.  In fact, they had a "cruiser" ballet going similar to the bike ballet I've witness countless times riding with other sport-touring/sport bikes.  I mentioned it on the radio about the time Cruzman questioned why I hadn't passed, "They aren't riding that bad and we're supposed to be taking it easy."

"Not that easy," he chirped back.  But a few more miles down the road the character of the road got sweepy, and in some spots curvy, so that he could see the bike ballet too, "Hey, they ride pretty good!"

That's when I noticed they were from Alabama!  Hmm, maybe Alabama does produce something worthwhile afterall--Pirates that are motorcyclists!  I decided to stay with them because they set a good pace that removed the temptation to push it.  Unfortunately, we parted in Dawsonville.  We continued on 9 toward Dahlonega and they went left.

I was inspired by their pace though and set a similar one up 9, aided by a silver car that seemed to be on the road just to enjoy the day with no real destination in mind.  It's one thing to enjoy the dance that motorcycles make when they ride in unison and another to be stuck behind a car that's struggling to handle the meandering of the road.  The first chance I got, I passed it but Cruzman was too far behind to take advantage of a legal pass on the dotted yellow like I did.  Thanks to working comms, I was able to let him know it was all clear as Baby and I got into the meandering of the road with little trouble.

Soon enough, the sound of "I made it" preceded  blue-green colored HIDs gaining on me.  Cruzman was back in his spot.  It didn't take long for another car to block the open road followed quickly by Dahlonega's city limits.  My only hope was that car wasn't going where we were going.  I was right.  We made it though the maze of traffic lights before continuing on 9 past that lake who's name I don't know.  There were ducks and people fishing.

A little sooner than I expected, Rider's Hill appeared on the left and I signaled, slowed, and turned in one motion.

We spent about an hour ogling bikes and clothes before answering the call of Blood Mountain.  Hwy 197 around Lake Burton is my favorite road in Georgia, Hwy 19 climbing up Blood Mountain is my second favorite.  I put two of my video cameras on the front of the bike, one on each signal, hoping to get a full view of both sides of the road.  I'd seen something similar on one of the rc plane forums and wanted to emulate it.  My attempt was poor because I didn't aim the cameras correctly.

With such a perfect day, we didn't get a free road but there's a passing lane not too far from Stonepile Gap.  We left Rider's Hill stuck behind another moving road block and I was left to suffer as I watched a "performance" sedan struggle with the curves and meanderings of the road.  I'm not sure why car makers bother making those cars when most of the driver's can't handle them.  Of course, the same can be said for motorcycles!

With working comms, Cruzman took advantage pointing out things he thought interesting, like a Mazda M-something or other.  Nice?  Finally, the passing lane opened and I took the shot, passing the car despite it's attempt for me not to pass by speeding up on the straight.  I took him in the corner and check to make sure Cruzman was still with me.  I did this periodically, looking for his HIDs, as we leaned and swayed with the road.  Then...

I was concentrating on the road while periodically checking my mirrors.  When I looked there was nothing and the lane was about to end.  I decided I'd merge over during the curve but out of the corner of my eye, I saw burgundy.  Where did that come from?  I'm sure I flinched but you can't tell it in the video!  Cruzman said he saw them gaining on us but he never said a word on the radio.

The rest of the way was uneventful.  I was sure we could catch them.  I didn't try to catch them and it's a good thing I didn't.  My ego would be irreparably damaged because they disappeared with only glimpses as they disappeared around the curves ahead.  Then I caught my final sight of them when they turned left just before Wolf Pen Gap Road.

We continued on to 180 then Richard Russell where a little bit of gravel then warning signs about ice made a leisurely pace become a crawl as I kept expecting to see an iceberg creeping from the shadows.  As we climbed in elevation, I didn't see an iceberg but the gravel got heavier then we saw Ice!

Near the top of Richard Russell.

Of course we stopped to get pictures!

Behind where we parked.  A mudslide?
See that gravel?  Yep, snails pace for sure.  Then Cruzman took off and left me.  I guess I was setting too slow a pace.  Actually, he was ready before I was so I told him to go ahead with plans to pass him.  He led the rest of the way down Richard Russell and into Helen.  There was too much gravel on the road to catch up and pass him plus he knew where we were supposed to meet his friends, I didn't.

We pulled into the lot about 10 minutes before 1 with no sign of his friends.  They showed up about 20 minutes later and we walked around the main drag searching for a place to eat.  The thing about Helen I've learned is if you want to eat on the main drag, you need to get there early otherwise you'll have about an hour's wait for a table.  In the end, we went back to the bikes and rode over to Bigg Daddy's where I had a pretty damn good burger.

I forgot my tripod so the cam was stuck under the bungie holding Cruzman's backpack.
From left to right:  Larry, Barbara, Clark, Richard (?), theWolfTamer, Cruzman
I think it was nearly 3 by the time we finished lunch and I decided it was time to head home to take care of TheMomma.  Cruzman decided it was time to head home too so we left his friends and made our way back, the quickest most boringest way possible.

It was warmer in the afternoon so I did get a couple of rolling pics on the way home.

The Aero Bubble is awesome!  I can't wait to try it once the new fairing arrives.  I knew when I ordered the ZGDB to replace the ZGST that I might be making a mistake.  It arrived and was nearly as wide as the ST, I knew it was a mistake.  It meant more being extra careful when making full lock turns.  Then, while attempting a u-turn a few weeks after I gotten it, the damned thing broke.  The Aero Bubble works just as well without the wings or interfering with the levers or guards.  The bonus is it's smoke and not clear.  I wanted a smoke screen but I didn't want to pay the premium to get it.  This one was a couple of dollars less than my seconds ZG screen and it was smoke.  Great deal.  I might get another one just to have a spare since I can't find them on the Maier website, only on eBay and one online store.

Thanks for reading,
patrice, theWolfTamer

1 comment:

  1. Good ride report as usual. Although I do take some offense to some of the words you chose and the order that you put them in. :)


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