14 June 2011

Trip Report: FZ1OA Rally, Day 1

Thursday 9 Jun 2011 about 216 miles

My original hope was to be going to the rally at the end of a long cross country trip to see my friend in Washington but due to some problems with TheMomma's health, I was leaving from the house after getting about three hours of sleep because her sugar dropped to 31 as we were putting her to bed the night before.  Since eflyguy and I would be leaving at roughly the same time, we agreed to ride into Fontana together taking basically the same route Cruzman and I had a couple of weeks before when we went to the same area.

I was a little late leaving the house than I wanted but finally got on the road after gassing up with the plan to get to 129 the quickest way I knew:  985 to Limestone PKWY to 284 to 129 ending up just outside of Cleveland, GA.  As I was leaving the gas station, I gave eflyguy a call to let him know I was running a little late and we agreed to meet at Turner's Corner.

It was a beautiful morning, not too cool and not quite hot, with perfect skies and little traffic that allowed me to get to I-985 quicker than I ever remembered.  Once I was off of the interstate, I was on the familiar "quick" way to the mountains.  I often wonder if taking 284 is actually quicker and found myself pondering it when I was struck in the neck by a large bug.  He landed with a loud "splat"!  It hurt so bad, I thought for sure I'd been stung but I decided to keep rolling because eflyguy would likely be waiting for me at Turner's.

A few minutes later, the pain began to subside and a welt formed on my neck but I no longer thought I was stung but that the bug must have been pretty big.  I pressed on hoping that it wouldn't take as long I remembered to get to Turner's Corner from Cleveland.  Once I was on the other side of Cleveland, it didn't.

The bug wasn't forgotten though because I thought I felt something moving in my jacket.  I was relieved when I saw eflyguy standing alongside the street and hoped he hadn't been there really long.  In fact he asked if I wanted to just keep going but I had to take a break.  There definitely was something moving in the front of my jacket that was not me.

I got out of my helmet and jacket as quick as I could but saw nothing.  Then I felt something against my skin and when I pulled my collar to see what it was a yellow jacket flew out of my shirt to freedom.  He must have been stunned from the impact with my neck because it didn't start moving until several minutes after we met.  He flew away without lingering around and I was relieved that he didn't sting me.  eflyguy said he must have been stunned twice: first from the impact with my neck and second when he woke up in my bra!  Maybe?

We were't stopped for long before we were on the road, heading up Blood Mountain towards North Carolina with the plan to stop for gas in Blairsville and again in Tellico because eflyguy's gas gauge was malfunctioning.  No problem.  When we got stuck behind a long line of traffic, efly pulled into the next gas station at the Booger Hollow store where we topped off with ethanol free gas before continuing on.

eflyguy's gen1.
When we passed Fields of the Wood, eflyguy turned around.  He said he never knew that place was there.  Fields of the Wood is a bible park but we didn't go past the front arch.

For this trip, I decided to use the seat with the hard case rather than soft tail bag on the oem seat.  My butt was grateful even this soon into the trip.  I was much more comfortable than I had been when Cruzman and I reached the same point during our BRP trip.  I'm still arching my back and need to figure out why so I can stop but overall I've done a good job on the mods to this seat.

Coming out of the Fields of the Wood there's a long straight section with no driveways and eflyguy took the opportunity to make sure his Gen1 was running right.  I made sure Baby was feeling good too and by the time we reached the turn onto 68, I think we were both sure our bikes were okay.

As usual, HWY 68 going into Tellico was joy to ride.  This time no accidents and I was surprised by eflyguy's pace compared to the last time I rode on the same road with him.  He says he doesn't like to go faster than he can see so I can only guess he can see farther now than he did last time!

We gassed up at the Cherohala Market and took some time to have snack before riding the Skyway.  When we pulled in, there was another gen1 at the pump.  It turns out they were not there for the rally and we gave them directions on how to get back to Atlanta. We also discussed not riding all the way into Robbinsville and decided to ride through the Joyce Kilmer Forest.  While we were talking, a couple pulled up on a custom trike that looked like it had a keg on the back.

This lady built this rig herself about 9 years ago.  She was driving and her hubby was in the back seat.

Springer front end and serious rake!  It's a prize winning trike.

Baby getting ready for the Skyway

They were going to jump in the falls before returning to their camp site.

It was really hot and I was glad when we finally got going again.  I kind of wished we could have followed the trike couple to those falls and take a dip but I knew we'd get cool as soon as we got to the top of the Skyway.  eflyguy reminded me to stop at some of the pullouts so he could get some pics.  I like riding with him because I can take pics while I'm stopped!

on the Skyway.  There's rain in them clouds.
eflyguy wanted me in front because I knew the way.  He was also taking video with his Go Pro camera.  I have plenty of video on the Skyway so I decided to wait until later in the weekend to take video.  I'd decided to leave the laptop at home so I had no way to transfer video files from my cards.  I needed to be judicious with my videoing and I wanted to be sure to get video on HWY 28 this time.

At the store, several riders were complaining about LEO presence so I made sure to stay around the speed limit (rather than race across like I did at last year's rally).  We never saw any LEOs and very little traffic.  There was a couple that apparently fell for the Can Am Spyder ad campaign and were out testing the ad line "You can get your license on the Spyder and be riding tomorrow."  I think they must have picked them up on Tuesday, got their License on Wednesday, and were on the Skyway today.  The lady in the back basically stopped in the middle of the curve to let us go by.

I think we must have startled her because one minute there was no one behind her and the next two blue missiles were filling her mirrors.  I never realized how wide those things are, it looks like a three wheeled car from behind.  To pass her would be just like passing a car, but she made it easy by nearly driving off of the road to give us room.  Her husband on the other hand may not have known we were there until we went screaming by.

Not long after we passed them, we went through a little rain shower and the thermometer I stuck on my inner fairing started to fall off.  The shower wasn't enough for us to stop and was over nearly as soon as it began.  When I reached over to make sure the thermometer didn't go flying into eflyguy's path, I hit the kill switch but didn't realize it.

It took a moment until I got the bike running again but by then there where three bikes in my mirrors, not the one I was expecting.  Baby came back to life with a loud backfire and I resumed our a little over the speed limit pace.  When I glanced in my mirrors, eflyguy had let the two bikers pass him and I had a cruiser on my ass!  WTF?  That's never happened before.  I would leave him in the curves but he'd catch up on the straights so I just let him and his buddy (on a real bike) pass.  We were about to turn anyway so no need to have the wrong people on my ass.

eflyguy were talking about suspension when we were in Tellico.  When I turned onto Joyce Kilmer Road I realized this was the perfect road to test one's suspension.  He says his upgraded bike just soaks up the bumps and is rock solid.  He was behind me so I didn't get to see this in action but I'll take his word for it.  For me, it's a rocky ride but it was a lot cleaner than it had been the last time I was on it.

From there it was left onto 129 where I opened it up a bit on the sweepers.  The signs all say the speed limit in NC is 55 unless posted otherwise.  I never saw a sign so I took them at their word, 55 it was!  We reached the Cheoh Dam pretty quickly.

eflyguy noticed they were releasing water and stopped to get a pic
I pulled into Deals Gap Resort because I thought he said he wanted to stop there.  He didn't, he only wanted to go that way to Fontana.  Oops.

We weren't there long before deciding to go ride around the Fontana resort before checking in.  eflyguy was kind enough to offer me space on the floor of his cabin since his family wouldn't be joining him as planned and I was thinking about it.  I really like the campground there and sleeping alongside the river is very peaceful.  I was really torn.

But then Fontana is about 12 miles from Deals Gap so I could think about it.  Since I really like HWY 28 between the two places I doubt I'd be thinking much about that.  I would concentrate on the road.  As we left CROT, I noticed the darkening skies and was hoping for a similar shower to the one we had on the top of the Skyway.

That's not what we got.  What we got was a frog strangler.  At first it was small cold drops, then big cold painful drops.  I pulled over at the boat launch to put my luggage covers on but then it started to hail.  Pea sized at first but it was enough to get me back on the bike and seek the pavillion I knew was covering the picnic tables in front of the Fontana gas station.  That was a long two miles!  The longest of my life because the pea sized hail grew into bigger more painful nodules and my boots were already filled with water.

My new First Gear Mesh-Tex 2.0 pants had been great all day long until they got wet and heavy.  I was quickly becoming miserable and the idea of sleeping on efly's floor was beginning to look really good.  It'd be dry and warm.

I've never been so happy to see the slow down for pedestrians signs on that part of 28 in my life.  I wasn't the only one who was seeking shelter from the storm.  There were three Goldwings and a harley already there and they made room for us to squeeze in.

The Frog Strangler also was a transformer killer.  The lights were out at the resort!
I think they were there before the rain came because they were all dry
The power came on for a few minutes before going out again for a few hours
While we were waiting for the rain to abate, Fastnfurious walked up then TKO showed up on his Gen2.  A little later, Scotty arrived too.  It was good to see a familiar face.

When the rain slacked, we checked in and got into some dry clothes before going to get dinner.  We ran into Fastnfurious again, this time with his wife and TKO, and joined them for dinner.  I already felt more welcomed than I had at any time the year before.  I guess the trick is not to be scared away by the aloofness.  They had hamburgers on the grill and beer on tap.  Dinner was pretty good, the potato salad was really good!

The rain appeared to be gone for the night and I decided I wanted to be in the campground rather than in a cabin.  I'd been looking forward to it.

The skies after dinner.  At first you couldn't tell if that was mountain or more storms.

After dinner, we went back to efly's cabin where I repacked the bike and hurried to the campground a mile away from the resort.

Earlier in the day, I hoped to get the tent setup before dark but the rain changed those plans.  eflyguy and I planned to meet in the morning to get our Dragon runs out of the way before the squids and traffic arrived.  After that, we'd decide what else we wanted to do.

It was around 11 or so when I finally crawled into the tent and I was sleep shortly there after.  I loved being serenaded to sleep by nature!

Thanks for reading,
patrice, theWolfTamer

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