30 January 2012

Ride Report: First Ride of 2012

28 Jan 2012:  Playing Nice with Others

This ride was delayed because of my front wheel bearings.  After I installed the extensions, I noticed the front wheel was a bit loose.  I could actually wiggle it.  With the image of the black powder from my rear wheel bearings fresh in my mind, I didn't hesitate to call OTC to see how much it would cost to get them replaced.  It turned out to be a good thing because the Sunday we'd scheduled to ride dawned foggy then cloudy and finally rain.

The early forecast for the next weekend looked promising and Cruzman sent out an email to a bunch of us about riding on either day.  There was a lot of back and forth that I just observed before finally offering my opinion toward the end of the week.  All the way to Friday afternoon it was up in the air as to who would join us, what day we'd ride, and where we'd go.

By evening it was determined that it'd only be Cruzman and I.  We decided to meet up with MrTwisty and the fjriders.com guys who were meeting Saturday morning at Rider's Hill in Dahlonega.  I met Cruzman at our usual spot right at the set KSU time.  I had my new balaclava on and it was already proving to be worth the money I paid for it.  I think this one is the best solution I've tried even if the eye hole is a bit narrow.  It works great with my hair and glasses.

We were leaving the parking lot right around 9 taking HWY 9 into Dahlonega, figuring we'd arrive just in time for the gates to open.  We were a little early so we continued north on 60 past the Rockpile to the first overlook on the right.  There was a little bit of traffic on the way up so we ended up behind a line of cars.  With the comms open and conversation flowing, it didn't seem so bad.  The bonus was I had some stuff to look up on the internet when I got home!

On the way back to Riders Hill, Cruzman got a little antzy following an SUV and decided to pass as soon as the double yellows gave way to singles.  I wasn't as prepared so when he said "I'm passing.", I was left to watch and wait for my turn.  Or so I thought.  Instead, I saw the left turn signal on the SUV come on as soon as Cruzman got into the other lane.

The SUV was a bit away from anywhere he could turn but was coming up on it with Cruzman bearing down on him.  I managed to call "NO, No, NO!" and saw Cruzman get hard on the brakes about the same time resulting in a white puff of smoke rising from the rear tire.  The SUV hadn't initiated his turn and cleared Cruzman before doing so.  The entrance was a double one so he feinted before he actually turned making me think he wasn't going to turn at all and put on the indicator just so Cruzman couldn't pass.

Once he finally made the turn, we had clear highway ahead of us and made the most of it before arriving at Riders Hill a little after 10 to find MrTwisty and the others already waiting.  It was good to see them again.  They had a rough 2011 with accidents and such so we had a fair bit to get caught up on.  It was good to see how well MrsTwisty had recovered from her shoulder injury and to learn that their son was recovering well from his crash on Fort Mountain.

We took a few minutes to warm up inside before heading out for Blood Mountain and other places that I missed because I was putting the cameras on the bike.  I barely got them started before MrTwisty was pulling out of his parking spot.  I'd forgotten how fast they get ready to go!  I would have to speed up if I wanted to keep up.

We took a new way for me to Turners Corner.  I was commenting how the guy in front of me could be on his brakes so much.  I gave him a little more room because I couldn't tell when he was slowing down.  No sooner than we'd made the turn off onto the new road did I remember the pace at which they ride.

The lead rider, who was on an ST1300 with a go pro on his helmet and whose name I can't remember, launched up the hill and was gone before I could even straighten up from making the turn.  I was glad to be the second from last bike in this group.  We were "bringing the mail" going down that unfamiliar road.  Cruzman mentioned something about it before deciding that we'd better stop talking to each other and do job 1:  ride our bikes.  I can't tell you what the scenery was because I didn't see it.  The road however was nice and clean with fairly good pavement.  I think there were a few driveways but if there were there was no one in them so they went by unheeded.

Before long, we caught up to the leaders waiting for us so we could make a turn.  We pretty much stayed together, probably because it wasn't that far, until the next turn which was HWY 9 that goes to Turners Corner.  At first I didn't recognize it until I saw a familiar gas station on the right.  Next up?  Blood Mountain.  If the other roads were any indication, this was going to be fun and fast!

Boy was it!  I didn't have time to think about the new extensions on the forks or how the new bearings felt.  I didn't have my music on and somewhere after a few curves, the gps started telling me that I was exceeding the speed limit and I should slow down.  In a corner?  Really!  Okay I need to go in and change some settings.

The front end was right with the extensions, now that I have time to reflect on it.  The bike performed like it should have as I worked my way up the mountain.  Riding at near the speed limit on Blood Mountain is more like work on the bike.  You have to be sure of your lines and commit to the curves.  You need to be in the right gear so you can stay smooth on the throttle.  You need to be smooth on the brakes so you can commit to the curves.  It was an exhilarating ride up to say the least.

On the way down we were stuck behind an '80s era Toyota Corolla hatchback.  It was going so slow down hill, I wondered how it ever made it up hill to begin with.  At least I had a chance to catch my breath and get ready for where ever we were going next.  That turned out to be 180 to Richard Russell. Richard Russell had the familiar Ice on Road warning at the start of the road but there really wasn't any nor too much gravel for the time of year.

Once again, the leaders disappeared on me but this time it was due to a hard to pass SUV from Florida that finally gave way and let Cruzman and me by.  After that, it became a game of pursuit for me.  How far up the road did the guy in front of me get?  He was out of site once I had clear road.  Could I catch sight of him?  I know Richard Russell and like riding that road so I got to work.

I knew once we got to the top, the road conditions might change a bit so I was careful there.  There were some folk at the pullouts taking pictures and marveling at whatever it is you marvel at when you pull over there but more importantly, just ahead....brake lights!

Was it them?  Cruzman didn't know or couldn't see them.  The good thing about having the comms open when someone is behind you is that you don't have to check the mirrors to see if they are still behind you.  As long as they're talking, they're there.  If something happens you can hear it and be turning around to offer assistance.

We crested the hill where there's usually a ton of gravel this time of year to find very little.  Rounded the next corner and got confirmation:  It was him.  Then I blew the corner after that with a bad shift.  It happens.  I guess I was distracted by the impending "catch".  It happened but not as soon as it should have.  Then we were at the end of Richard Russell heading for 17/75, another of my favorite roads.

This time there was never any separation.  Well at least not between me and the bike in front of us.  The two bikes in front of them passed a car and were out of sight by the time we got to the passing zone I knew was coming.  I nearly passed the bike in front of me anticipating it and certainly pulled beside him in the next lane a couple of times before slowing down to keep him in front.  The bike in front of him pulled away.

Next right onto US 76 towards Clayton.  I was reminded how cool the Twisties look going down the road.  He just dips that big FJR into the curves like nothing and accelerates away.  You can't tell if it's one or two people on board because MrsTwisty isn't a passive passenger.  A rider could get mesmerized watching them.  I had to remind myself not to so I could do job 1:  Ride my bike.

There was a pass made difficult by a stubborn Expedition putting two tires over the yellow line in protest but he was easily dispatched by a little twist of the wrist.  Sweeping corners on 76 are a joy to ride.  The scenery is nice too but I only know that from other days, not this one.  Then we made a left turn onto another new to me road.

This one winds uphill through a neighborhood of sorts before forking off to follow a creek/stream.  It was reminiscent of Wolf Pen Gap but not as dirty.  I kept hoping that my suddenly loquacious gps was getting these tracks because I wanted to ride those roads again.  The road goes on around and ends farther down 76 coming out by the hospital sign.  I didn't see a hospital.

From there, Cruzman jumped up front to lead us to lunch at the Peking Palace.  He had to show off his riding skillz so I didn't see too much of him once he dipped into the first curve.  We were still talking though so I teased him about it from about a mile back.

After lunch, the others had to get home so we went separate ways.  They headed westerly home and we went easterly to ride Hwy 28 and 106.  After gassing up, Cruzman followed me down Warwoman to Hwy 28 N at a pace that while not sedate was not nearly what we'd ridden earlier.  At least it didn't feel like it.

I like Warwoman because of the horses and cows that live there.  They're usually doing something worth noticing.  This time there were a couple playing in the mud when we rode by.  The best part of Warwoman is the last two or three miles before it meets Hwy 28.  Unfortunately for that part we were stuck behind a red Pontiac who's driver had knowingly pulled out in front of me.  I say knowingly because I looked in her eyes before she started to turn.

For some reason, that got my ire up and I was determined to pass her in first gear with high rpm's so she'd know she'd just been passed.  Since it was winter, there was no foliage which improved the view up the road.  I took ole gurl coming out of a corner went screaming by then flashed a little brake for good measure before diving into the next one.  I didn't see her again.

Cruzman didn't think much of my show but I heard him pass her a little later while I told him how clear it was.  Before long we were in North Carolina then Highlands were we stopped for a soda and got to talk to some of the locals.  I realized how different our afternoon was compared to our morning.  We hadn't stopped once during the morning, speeding up one road then down another.

The locals added a little character to the day.  We met a guy who finally got his dream bike after waiting 20 years and telling his wife he wasn't going to buy a Harley.  Instead he went home with an 07 VMax but said it was too cold to be out.  The guy with him said it'd likely snow by night but Cruzman assured him we'd be safe in Atlanta by then.

After 106, we really didn't have a plan (beyond me putting the balaclava back on because I should never have taken it off when we stopped in Highlands) so we decided to ride around the lakes again.  This time, we stopped at the dam to take pics.

Cruzman got a laugh out of the name of the park:  Nacoochee.  It's right at the base of the Nacoochee Dam and Powerhouse.  We didn't take pics of the dam because there really was nothing to see and the sun was in our eyes.  Next time I guess.  From there, we followed a sign for a house for sale and kind of meandered our way over to 197.

I saw one view that I just had to take a pic of, sun be damned.

We discovered a couple of roads I'm sure we'd like to remember for another day too.  After that we made our way into Cleveland where the allure of Dairy Queen forced us to stop and have ice cream outside despite the temps.  It was really good!!!

Thank God for heated gear because my hands were freezing after holding my sundae.  From there we took GA 400 home into the setting sun.  I really like riding at dusk heading home.  I know it's the worse time of day to be riding a motorcycle but there's a point when the sun's out of the way and light is just about perfect.

I got home and discovered that my front video camera didn't turn on and the rear facing one was aimed bad.  I have 20 mins of video showing the left lane and side of the road!  Next time I'm bringing my laser pointer and aiming the cams before I start socializing!

How do I ride?
For the last couple of days this thought has been in the front of my mind.  As much as I liked tearing up the roads Saturday morning, I don't think I want to ride that way all the time.  I really enjoy riding at pace when I want then taking time to see the horses or cows or that awesome waterfall alongside HWY 106.

I like being able to know that there aren't any clouds in the sky or where exactly that little dawg came from without guessing if it's the same one we saw earlier that'd just taken a shortcut through the woods to get another shot at us.  I like watching Cruzman interact with the locals in a way I can only envy.

I need to decide if I'm riding for the joy of being on the road (like in the morning) or for the joy of seeing things and talking to people (like in the afternoon).  At this point I think a mixture of both.  We'll see on my next ride.

Thanks for reading,
patrice, theWolfTamer

Whole day's track (from Cruzman)

1 comment:

  1. Like you I believe that there is a time and place for everything. I really liked zooming up blood mountain. I would have gone faster if not for the bike infront of us. I like parts of a lot of roads, but I don't desire to ride at a pace that limits my options, or doesn't allow me to enjoy the scenery from time to time. It turned out to be a really fun morning, with no scarry parts, but when we pulled into eat lunch my mind was reeling some from being taxed a bit. The afternoon was a beautiful one. I really enjoyed the roads we were on. I enjoyed the conversations that we had. And I can not think of a single instant that would have been any better by going 15 = 30mph faster.


Search This Blog